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Posted by: atowhee | May 25, 2018

ALWAYS SOMETHING TO LEARN

A MacGillvray’s Warbler taught me something today: lift up your eyes.  I was birding on Mt. Ashland despite the wind, clouds on the deck and rain squalls.  During one brief clam interlude I stopped nest to a promising thicket between the ski lodge and Grouse Gap. After a day and a half of  missing MacGillivray’s Warbler I felt I had a good chance here.  As soon as I was out of the car I heard the warbler.  At nearly 7000′ elevation the aspens were still naked and the dense shrubs were just starting t put out leaves, plenty of viewing space in the thicket,  THe warbler called in a steady sequence.  No movement could I detect.  Where was he? Sitting inside some bush behind layers of twigs, I thought.

After a few minutes what remains of my conscious brain whispered, “Hey, that’s a Mountain Quail calling.”  I listened.  At least three male quail were duelling with their calls.  I drifted back up the road, hoping hopelessly that one of those guys would show himself.  They kept calling fro different compass points as I kept not seeing them.  After afew minutes the wind, the low clouds (just 7000 feet high) and bowing rain was coing back.  I turn toward the car.  Just before I the opened the door to get I happened to glance up at the only conifer within 100 yards.  There at the tops was a small, round-bodied bird.

“Aha,” I think, “this could be my Cassin’s Finch for the day.”  Nope, it was the singing MacGillivray’s Warbler…forty feet above the ground.  I know they have to migrate across the sky, but I have never seen one more than ten feet off the ground…and never out on the topmost, conspicuous-most limb.MAC TREEAbove: the tree with thicket at its base.  Mac on top, below:MAC WAY UPI did get a consolation prize later.  Two Mountain Quail flew over my car on Pilot Rock Road.
Busy on Mt. Ashland, staking claims, were various members of the sparrow clan.  Here the GT Towhee and Lincoln’s Sparrow, both very active until the rain drove us all to ground:LS STILL2GTT ON TOP2

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