Sequoia National Monument
20 - 22 June 2008
 by Henry Detwiler

A short, three-day trip with the family in the gorgeous Sequoia National Monument, just south of Sequoia National Park.

68 species seen  Click here for bird checklist.
Click on thumbnail pictures for full-sized photos. border  

FRIDAY, June 20, 2008

On Thursday after work we drove from Yuma to Mojave. The next morning we drove north to Porterville, and then east to Pierpont, where we checked into our cabin. After a quick lunch we headed up the hill to the Freeman Trail and Quaking Aspen Meadow, and enjoyed the intensely green meadows, forest, and the purple shooting stars. Birds included singing Fox Sparrows in the brush, House Wrens in the forest, and Lincoln's Sparrows in the meadows.

Quaking Aspen Meadow

fox sparrow
Fox Sparrow


Yellow-rumped Warblers were the most common of the insect-eaters, followed by Wilson's, Orange-crowned, and Hermit Warblers.

yellow-rumped warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler

Since it was only minutes from our cabin, we hiked a portion of the Belknap Trail several times during our visit. Starting at the end of the road that takes you to the Belknap Campground, this beautiful trail skirts the Middle Fork of the Tule River. Going upstream you'll pass through a lush forest of sugar & ponderosa pines, cedar, and smaller sequoias. Within half an hour you'll reach several massive sequoias towering over the rest of the forest.

tule river
Middle Fork Tule River

hairy woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker

A family of Hairy Woodpeckers were busy collecting food along the trail--it was reliable on all three visits we made.

A carpet of beautiful flowers and undergrowth provided nesting sites for MacGillivray's (seen & heard) and Winter Wren (heard). The river itself looked perfect for American Dipper, but we did not see any.

Scarlet Flowers

SATURDAY, June 21, 2008

shooting stars
Shooting stars

shooting star and bee
Shooting star and Bee

At Holey Meadow we ate our lunch among singing Black-headed Grosbeaks, wrens, and robins. Showy shooting stars adorned the meadow..

golden-crowned kinglet
Golden-crowned Kinglet
We drove a little over half way up the road to the "Needles", just north of the community of Ponderosa, and then hiked up a little farther. Red-breasted Sapsuckers and Cassin's Finches were common there. This Golden-crowned Kinglet responded well to my pishing. Still, it never did stop moving around--these two snaps were the best from a long sequence of blurry photos.
Just as we were about to leave, Suzanne heard the low hoot of what she thought might be an owl. But no--it was a Sooty (Blue) Grouse! So that began a 30-minute search for a couple (?) of birds that I swear must have been wearing bark overcoats. We followed the sounds uphill and downhill, in and out of trees, and we never did see a one of these birds. They have got to be the best ventriloquists I've ever encountered.

golden-crowned kinglet
Golden-crowned Kinglet

SUNDAY, June 22, 2008

california quail
California Quail

At Camp Nelson this California Quail was calling from its perch on a power/phone line. Here, too, were Bullock's Oriole, Band-tailed Pigeon, Anna's Hummingbird, Red-winged Blackbird, Brewer's Blackbird, Lesser Goldfinch, Pine Siskin, and California Towhee

At several spots along the road waterfalls tumbled down from the slopes above. At one of these a number of butterflies were fluttering about. Among the many blues was a Spotted Skipper and this Hydapse Fritillary.

Hydapse Fritillary

Giant Sequoia


Even if there wasn't a single bird along the "Trail of 100 Giants", this would still be a "must-see". Towering sequoias reign supreme here, some with burned out "hollows" at their base. But to make the walk even better, in and among these magnificent trees were a number of forest-loving bird species.

giant sequoia
The view up from a hollowed out giant sequoia

Red-breasted Nuthatches and Brown Creepers scampered up and down the limbs while Mountain Chickadees flew about after bugs. American Robins hopped around the forest floor in search of worms. A pair of Cassin's Finches was feeding a fledgling. This perfect cup nest lining made out of Steller's Jay feathers had fallen to the ground.

red-breasted nuthatch
Red-breasted Nuthatch

cup nest
Feathery Bird's Nest

On this trip, woodpeckers were represented by three species. A Pileated Woodpecker hammered away in the upper reaches of the woods beyond the trail. A pair of Red-breasted Sapsuckers called every now and then next to the trail, and a White-headed Woodpecker flew from tree to tree..

On the way home we stopped for lunch at the Kern Audubon Sanctuary, where we were pleased to see a male Summer Tanager, numerous Tri-colored Blackbirds, and dozens of Anna's & Black-chinned Hummingbirds.
About Us | Site Map | Advertising | Contact Us | ©2007 Southwest Birders