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Birdathon 2017

Was this the windiest the Kerncrest Birdathon has ever been? It would be interesting to know. I can remember days when the wind came up during the afternoon and blew whitecaps on the China Lake Ponds, but this year it blew all day.

Nevertheless, we saw 104 species of birds, in spite of the fact that our usual birder of the high local canyons did not participate.

The high count might have been in spite of the wind, or it might have been because of it. Or it could have been because the event was a week or two later than in years past.

Flycatcher species were up (almost certainly as a result of the late date), as were warblers (likely staying below the wind), with highlights being a Black-throated gray warbler and a Yellow-breasted Chat in Terri Middlemiss’s mulberry tree. Both were spotted/heard by Team Barnes.

Highlights for Team Sutton were a Green Heron and 2 late Canada Geese at the golf course.

Probably the strangest birds of the day were 2 Snowy Egrets spotted by the Bushtits on Highway 14 just south of the intersection with 178 from Inyokern. The poor birds were hunkered down on the ground, above a road cut on the west side of the highway, pointed into a fierce south wind. We hoped they would find their way to water when the wind let up.

Another phenomenon of this count was that Phainopepla were migrating through. Every team saw at least one.

A complete list may be found in the Chat. The Chat May 2017

Don’t forget to mail your contribution to PO Box 984, Ridgecrest CA 93556, or call any board member to pick it up.

Memorial for Shelley Ellis

A dedication of an interpretive panel and sharing of stories about Shelley will be held in Sand Canyon at 2 pm on Sunday, April 23rd. Later, from 3:30 to 5:00 pm there will be refreshments, more tributes to Shelley and sharing of her photographs at the Maturango Museum.

Bird-Friendly Coffee

The Burnetts were directed by a friend recently to Birds and Beans when our then bird-friendly organic coffee source went extinct. We have been delighted with their service and their coffee. At $23 for a really-2-pound bag, it is a reasonable price for 100% Arabica, gourmet coffee. And it is fresh! Birds & Beans roasts the coffee on-site, grinds it to order (or not) and ships it the next business day after roasting. All that and the satisfaction of knowing you are supporting Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center certified bird habitat as well. Do visit their website at and order some coffee. If you are interested in forming a coffee club and ordering as a group, let any board member know.

The Cornell Lab Of Ornithology and our local conservation Partners Recommended Birds & Beans

Some of our most beloved Neotropical migrant songbirds – especially our thrushes, orioles, tanagers, and warblers — are suffering from loss of habitat when they fly south for the winter. One of the easiest things we can all do to support our migratory songbirds is to make sure that the coffee we buy comes from coffee farms that preserve bird habitat. Birds & Beans is certified by the best in the business, and makes it easy to be confident that the coffee we drink is also providing habitat for birds.”

— John W. Fitzpatrick, Director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Thank You from the Poo-Poo Project

Kerncrest Audubon received a thank you card pictured above from the folks at the Poo-Poo Project. The thank you was for purchasing 10 Poo-Poo screens for the Sequoia National Forest to cover the large open vent pipes in vault toilets. This is closely aligned with the work we have done to cap open pipes and mining claim “posts”. Open pipes are death traps for cavity nesting birds.

The Long-eared Owl pictured above looks mad and probably was mad because it had just been fished out of a sewage-holding tank under an outhouse. It was lucky. Most birds that get trapped in these “Vault-Toilets” struggle to get free but can’t and die there. All the vault toilet vent pipes in the Sequoia National Forest, we have been told, are now screened over so birds can’t get trapped in the vaults. These ten screens were the last ones needed to complete the local effort.

Good news!! Wetlands protected!

From Bob Barnes:

“HSVW ACQUISITION COMPLETED! As of this afternoon, [Feb 2] the Kern River Valley Heritage Foundation … is owner of the 189.26 acre Hot Springs Valley Wetlands Project property at the

edge of the community of Lake Isabella. THANK YOU to hundreds of grassroots donors (including many, many of you), Audubon California, and California Department of Natural Resources for funding acquisition, and to The Trust for Public Land for facilitating the purchase.”

From Alex Size, the person at the Trust for Public Land who really did a lot of the work on this project by facilitating the complicated process:

“As of this afternoon, the Kern River Valley Heritage Foundation is the proud new owner of 189 beautiful acres of California land.  Congratulations!!!  You should all be very proud of yourselves and all the blood, sweat and tears you put into preserving this property.  Now comes the fun part…restoration!

“I feel honored to have played a small role in helping you guys achieve this dream.  I hope you all take some time off to reflect on this accomplishment and what it will mean for the critters and people who will enjoy this land for generations to come.  A job well done indeed.”

And from The Chat Editor: Even though all we did was write letters and submit the application for the Audubon Wimberley Foundation grant for $100,000 for this project, I feel happy and proud for Kerncrest to have been part of it. Thank you to all our members who contributed! Do visit and click on Hot Springs Valley Wetlands to see a complete description of the program and grass roots funding.

Volunteers Needed

The Southern Sierra Research Station in Weldon has some unique opportunities for volunteering this winter and spring! They have teamed up with the Kern River Audubon Preserve and California Department of Fish and Wildlife and are planting 63 acres of field and old forest.

They need HELP! All ages are welcome. They will be planting trees every weekend in February and March. As you can see from the picture above, holes are dug, so you need only place trees and backfill. If you are interested in volunteering, please RSVP to Patti Wohner at 760-378-3345. She will organize work days only if volunteers have scheduled in advance.

Volunteer Opportunities

The Southern Sierra Research Station in Weldon, together with the Audubon California Kern River Preserve and California Department of Fish and Wildlife, are working on restoring 63 acres of field and old forest by planting trees.

Volunteer help is desperately needed! Work will be ongoing almost every weekend throughout the winter and spring. In January, hoped-for work dates are the weekends of 7/8, 21/22, and 28/29.

If you are interested in volunteering, please RSVP with Patti Wohner at 760-378- 3345 and let her know your dates of choice. Work parties will only be scheduled as workers are available.

Bob Powers Gateway Preserve Update

Work is underway to further improve Tricolored Blackbird breeding habitat on the preserve. A good location has been identified around some existing stinging nettle, and water has been brought to the site.

Volunteers will be needed to help transplant more nettle! We will be sending out a further announcement when the dates are known. For the Hot Springs Valley Wetlands acquisition many Friends donated $10 or more as part of the “Grass Roots” campaign. Others made pledges or did both. Still others indicated they would be willing to help when it was clear that the acquisition was doable. It is doable! Now is the time to honor that pledge, make that donation or add to what you’ve already given.

You can donate online at or Or contact We can close escrow in 2016 with your help!