Kern River Valley Fall Arrival & Migration Periods
MAPS & DIRECTIONS TO BIRDING HOTSPOTS
Edited version of Bob Barnes excellent notes.
What is the deal with the fall season lasting from August until November? In birding the fall season covers the post-breeding / migration season. Although some nesting birds will stay in our area until well into October and others will disperse sooner, the major migratory push begins in early August. Hummingbird migration actually begins in July with the peak in mid-August. The latest migratory birds normally fly through by November although during the Christmas Bird Count season stragglers may continue to be seen.
Information on Selected Fall Migrating or Wintering Species
Ferruginous Hawk - Perennial Grasslands. mid September to early March - winter resident
White-crowned Sparrow - Kern River Preserve. second week in September through mid May - winter resident
Northern Harrier - perennial pastures. mid September - (sometimes stays and breeds in the KRV)
Sharp-shinned Hawk - feeders and forest. mid September through early March - winter resident
Vaux's' Swift - Migrant Corner trail. mid September - fall migrant
Gray Flycatcher - Migrant Corner trail. mid September - fall migrant
Sage Thrasher - desert habitats. third week in September - fall migrant
Yellow-rumped Warbler - feeders and forest. third week in September through early May - winter resident
Birding is best in the early morning. If you are going to cut your birding day short, it is highly recommended that you do so at the end of your birding day rather than at the beginning. The most successful birding in the Kern River Valley and vicinity requires an early start (30-45 minutes before sunrise). Spend the mornings in the valley and desert areas and the afternoons in the mountains. If you are able to spend several days birding this area, try to visit the mountains before noon for the best bird experience (in the afternoon find many species of butterflies along the nature trail, Queen and Great Purple Hairstreak).
ACCESS FOR THE LESS ABLED: Universal access varies depending on time of year. Feeders at the Kern River Preserve may be viewed from vehicles displaying handicapped placards in the handicapped parking area, all others should park in the parking lot and sit at the picnic tables for ease of viewing feeder birds. Canebrake Ecological Reserve has a wheelchair accessible trail but the gate to the parking area requires an able bodied person to open. There are many pullouts and vehicle access points all the way around Isabella Reservoir and most of the campgrounds around the lake have paved interior roads that wheelchairs can move easily on. Tillie Creek Campground is an amazing birding area and except on busy holiday weekends has many closed roads that provide a leisurely birding experience. The Trail of 100 Giants is wheelchair accessible and normally open until the first snow storm in November but remains closed through the winter until sometime in May.
SOME GOOD LOCATIONS FOR SELECT SPECIES OF HIGH INTEREST: Greenhorn Summit area: White-headed Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, Townsend's Solitaire. Kern River below Isabella main dam off Hwy. 155 from Main Dam Campground to Bureau of Land Management Slippery Rock river rafting access areas on north and south side of the river on the west side of Hwy. 155: American Dipper, Spotted Sandpiper, Canyon Wren. Kern River Preserve Headquarters: California Quail, Nuttall's Woodpecker, Anna's Hummingbird plus 5 other hummingbird species in migration, Oak Titmouse, Spotted Towhee.
Tillie Creek Campground: California Quail, Acorn Woodpecker, Nuttall's Woodpecker, Phainopepla, Western Scrub-Jay, Oak Titmouse, Spotted Towhee.
BIRDING STRATEGIES - MORNINGS/HALF-DAY, FULL DAY, and MULTI-DAY TRIPS:
Kern River Preserve Headquarters, Half-Day (All Fall)
1. Arrive before sunrise at Headquarters. Check here for sunrise and sunset input Lat. 35.66733 and Long. 35.66733
2. Check out the birds in and around the yard for several minutes. Bird for 30-90 minutes west along the Colt Pasture trail leading from the southwest corner of the parking lot. Look for roosting Turkey Vultures before 9 a.m. on the Colt Pasture, Restoration, and Rabbitbrush trails west of the overflow parking area in late September and early October. Listen and look for Nuttall's Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, and Red-shouldered Hawk in the forest on your left as you walk west. 3. Return to Headquarters for 15-30 minutes to bird the feeders again in early August to early September the hummingbird migration is in full swing. 4. Bird the Nature Trail for one to two hours. 5. Return to Headquarters for a birding break of 15-30 minutes in the yard. 6. Bird the entrance driveway out to the open pastures. 7. Return to Headquarters for lunch.
Kern Plateau Full Day - 1. Lower Chimney Peak Road (year round) 2. Chimney Creek Campground (late spring through fall) 3. 5000'-6000' Kennedy Meadows Road (late spring through fall) 4. 7000' Troy Meadow Campground (late spring through fall (not on holidays or weekends) 5. 8000' Black Rock Ranger Station (late spring through fall) 6. 9400' Bald Mountain Lookout (late spring through fall)
Canebrake Ecological Reserve is a great birding spot owned and managed by the California Dept. of Fish & Game.
KRV birding guide...Bob Barnes local area guide to bird locations and seasons.
Venture Out into the Wilds with local volunteer researchers