2017-07-16 Mammoth Lakes Birds

Orange-Crowned Warbler - Oreothlypis celata

Mammoth Creek connects a string of high elevation lakes in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Starting above Skelton Lake (9,920′), it drains into Arrowhead Lake (9,690′), Lake Mary (8,920’), Lake Mamie (8,900’), and finally Twin Lakes (8,540′) which looks to be three bodies of water. I was informed I might find a Pacific Wren along Twin Falls as it drops from Lake Mamie to Twin Lakes, and there might be Pine Grosbeaks as well.

I followed the navigational instructions given me to the campground on the west side of the first lake, but found the bridge was barricaded to vehicles. So I parked my van and walked with my camera gear over the bridges to investigate. Reaching the campsites on the west side of the lake, I saw all the damage that the spring thaw floods had caused. Tree branches had fallen to block pathways, picnic tables were submerged in mud and creeks flowing over normally dry trails. There were workers laboring to put the pieces back together, but much work remained. None of this bothered the birds in the least. I wasn’t wearing suitable footwear for creek-forging, so I had to forgo the pursuit of the wren, at least for the time being.

I found this unoccupied campground well suited to my purposes. I found a site near a marshy thicket where there were many Orange-Crowned Warblers dashing about and Song Sparrows were singing their cheerful refrains. Parking my folding stool in an out-of-the-way spot, I setup my camera and observed my surroundings. In a few hours I’d captured Dark-Eyed Juncos, Nashville Warblers, Orange-Crowned Warblers, Ruby-Crowned Kinglets, Song Sparrows, Warbling Vireos, and a Western Wood-Pewee.

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