2014 Early June On Santa Rosa Mountain

Plumbeous Vireo - Vireo plumbeus
The Springs at Santa Rosa Mountain. Riverside County, California.

I never grow tired of visiting Santa Rosa Mountain, a sky island in southern Riverside County California, a stone’s throw from the border with San Diego County. Part of me connects to this place because of memories of visiting here with my dad in the early 1970s, and camping in Steve Ragsdale’s cabin (now gone) at the 8,000 foot peak of Santa Rosa. Read more on this topic on my Santa Rosa Mountain page.

I’ve paid the mountain many visits since then on my own, and on missions for the San Diego Natural History Museum. Regardless of my motives for going, and despite the 13 miles of rocky, rutted miserable road to get to the summit, transitioning from the low desert scrub and chaparral into the old growth pine and cedar at the top is always a near religious experience for me.

There are numerous worthwhile destinations all along the route to the upper slopes, but since becoming interested in birds and capturing their images, I find the springs at 7500 feet has the strongest pull for me. There, the persistent water source attracts a wealth of bird life. I am able meet hundreds of birds, dozens of species without moving more than a few feet. The highlight of this visit was my first ever meeting with the Plumbeous Vireo. When I shared these images with my friends at the San Diego Natural History Museum it caused some excitement as it documented the southernmost breeding season range for this bird in California. Of three birds in the ‘solitary vireo’ complex, the Cassin’s Vireo is more expected here.

On this visit I met the Ash-Throated Flycatcher, Olive-Sided Flycatcher, Western Wood-Pewee, Cassin’s Finch, Purple Finch, Lesser Goldfinch, Western Tanager, Pygmy Nuthatch, White-Breasted Nuthatch, Dark-Eyed Junco, Violet-Green Swallow, White-Headed Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, California Chipmunk, Steller’s Jay, Mountain Chickadee, Orange-Crowned Warbler, Yellow-Rumped Warbler, Plumbeous Vireo, Western Bluebird.

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