Project Dates: September 28, 2010-May 17, 2011 Project Leader: Emily Frankel Email: email@example.com Phone: 760-780-8039 Address: 57087 Yucca Trail, Yucca Valley, CA 92284
Sensitive Bird Monitoring in the Newberry and Rodman Mountains
16 April: Drove from crew house in Yucca Valley to Lucerne Valley to meet with BLM contact Larry LaPre (wildlife biologist at the BLM CDD Office). From Luceren we drove to our camp site next to Kane Springs just south of the Newberry Mountains Wilderness. On the way we spotted a burrow owl nest with two owls present. After arriving at camp, we had lunch and went to a nearby nest that had previously supported a prairie falcon. Instead of a falcon, we found a Great Horned Owl sitting on a nest. Larry left that night and we set up camp.
17 April: Larry could not join us for work today, so the crew set out to monitor two sites in the centre of the Newberry mountains. On the hike in we saw two golden eagles in the sky. We split into two teams (Leah, Sara, Emily being one and Andrew and Sam being the other) to monitor the two nest sites. Leah, Sara, and Emily saw two more eagles (possibly the same two as earlier) near their nest site. Andrew and Sam found the nests, but saw no birds.
18 April: Larry arrived at camp early in the morning to monitor with us. First we headed east from camp along the pipeline road, before heading north along the eastern border of the Newberry Mountains. We stopped at a point that was recorded as a prairie falcon nest. We saw one bird, but were unable to find a nest. From there we traveled further north and accessed the north-east corner of the Newberry Mountains. We hiked about a quarter mile into the wilderness looking for an eagle nest. Despite seeing many possible stick nests and a red-tailed hawk, we saw no eagles. We ended the day with a point in the north-west portion of the Rodman mountains (just south-east of the Newberry Mountains), up a blind canyon. Again, we saw no eagles, but did see a number of red-tailed hawks. Larry spent the night out with us.
19 April: We set out from camp early in the morning, heading west to Camp Rock Rd and then north to I-40 to access a nest in the north of the Newberry Mountains. We had an enjoyable hike into the nest site, crossing many washes and ranges along the way. At the site we saw no eagles, but did see three stick nests. We also saw a Great Horned Owl nest with two adults and one chick in a crevice near the eagle nests. A spotted rattle snake and long-nosed snake were also sighted on the hike. Larry left the field again that night, and we were left to make our own way home.
20 April: We spent the morning taking a recreation/educational field trip to a petroglyph site on the south side of the Rodman Mountains. We met Larry on Camp Rock Rd and traveled with him to the site, were we met the archaeologist for the Barstow Field Office, Jim Shearer. He showed us around the petroglyph site and gave a detailed background of the site and the people who made the petroglyphs. We spent the afternoon going to a poorly marked eagle nest on the north side of the Rodman Mountains. The site was near Sheep Springs, but despite finding the spring we saw neither eagle nor a nest. Larry spent the night with us that night.
21 April: Today, Larry decided to return to the sites we had monitored on the 17th, to determine for himself the status of the nests we saw. Emily was not in the field with us that day (having taken an administration day), so Larry, Leah, Sara, Andrew, and Sam set out for the nests. Along the way the group split into two, Larry, Leah, and Andrew on one crew and Sam and Sara on the other. Larry, Leah, and Andrew returned to the nest that Sara, Leah, and Emily had monitored on the 17th and Sara and Sam went to a previously unmonitored nest. Larry, Leah, and Andrew found the nest, but did not encounter any birds. Sara and Sam arrived at their nest and saw no eagles. However, there was an active Prairie Falcon nest nearby with a mother falcon in it. Larry left the field that afternoon, leaving the crew to itself for another night. Emily returned to us around 8:20, bringing gifts of sugar in the form of cookies, brownies, and (believe it or not) ICE CREAM!
22 April: Larry could not make it out to the field until nearly mid-day, so he assigned the crew to take a GPS point a Prairie Falcon nest near camp and look at some mining material near camp. We went to the nest and were able to climb up to it and look inside, discovering five eggs inside. As soon as we got the point and some pictures, however, we left to allow the mother falcon to return to her eggs. Soon after, Larry arrived and took us to a nest on the east side of the Newberry Mountains. We found the nest, but no eagle. However, nearby was another active Prairie Falcon nest with a very protective mother falcon in it. For diner, Larry took us out to the famous Bagdad Café along Route 66.
23 April: Today was travel day and, for our enjoyment and continued education, Larry took us to an active Golden Eagle nest to the west of the Newberry Mountains. We hiked a short way up a hill towards the nest, but remained a good distance away so as not to disturb the eagles. We were able to see (with the help of high powered optic devices) two eagles and a chick, a delightful way to end the hitch. We made a pit stop on the way home at a stick nest south of Barstow along 247, but there were no eagles to be seen.
Overall, it was a productive and enjoyable hitch. Many of the nests were empty, but we were able to see plenty of eagles in flight. We also found three active Prairie Falcon nests, all with a high likelihood of producing chicks in the near future. The Great Horned Owls, the Burrowing Owls, and the Barn Owls were also wonderful to get to see. Of course, the highlight was working with an experienced and knowledgeable biologist who was more than happy to point out various local plants and animals and describe them to us and even (in some cases) catch them for us!