Date: 6/11/19 9:01 pm
From: Martin Meyers <Martin...>
Subject: Spooner Lake and North Canyon Trail, 6/10/19
Yesterday (6/10/19), I took a very nice hike up North Canyon (Spooner
Lake State Park). The weather was perfect -- calm, nearly cloudless,
mid-70's. I started at the Tahoe Rim Trail parking lot on Highway 50,
hiked down to Spooner Lake, then over to the North Canyon Road. Then up
the road to the hiking trail, and up the trail to the saddle above
Marlette Lake. I did not hike down to Marlette Lake. It would have been
passable, but still quite a bit of snow there. (The trip up to the
saddle is all south or southwest exposure and there is very little snow
left -- just a couple of small patches near the top. But once you go
over the top down toward Marlette, you have the opposite exposure,
which, of course, holds snow much longer.) My hike covered just over
eleven miles round-trip.

The trail around Spooner Lake was fairly crowded, but once I started up
North Canyon, I was alone most of the time. A few bikes on the road
portion (but only a few), and few people on the trail (I think I
encountered a total of eight people on that whole hike.)

I saw or heard most of the species I could expect . Unfortunately, I did
NOT have three woodpeckers I'd have liked (Pileated, which was reported
on the trail recently, Williamson's Sapsucker, which I occasionally find
on the trail down to Marlette, and Black-backed, sometimes encountered
near the top. Somehow, I also seem to have missed Flicker -- no great
loss.) Nor did I hear a Pygmy Owl -- this hike has had at least one
calling Pygmy Owl many times, but not yesterday. And I sort of would
have expected a Townsend's Solitaire, but did not come up with one. But
other than those, I sure found a lot of birds.

There were two real highlights on the trip. The second best was a
California Tortoiseshell that landed on my finger and sat there for a
couple of minutes, long enough to get out my phone and snap some photos.
(There were lots of California Tortoiseshells.) But the number one
highlight was a brief sighting of a Northern Goshawk, my second most
favorite bird in North America (second only to Great Gray Owl.) I heard
the Goshawk calling, and after considerable frantic searching, saw it
fly in and land not too far away. It only sat for about twenty seconds,
but long enough to see it and quickly pick out some diagnostic field
marks such as the wedge-shaped tail, gray underside (could not see
vermiculations), and the broad white supercilium. The bird was pretty
much facing straight at me so I never saw the back except for an instant
as it flew off down-canyon. Like I said, a very brief sighting, but any
day I encounter a Goshawk is a great day! (For those of you who were
into the early days of birding listserves, I'll add the inside joke that
I should sign my posts as "The man who does NOT see Goshawks".)

At Spooner Lake, I was a bit surprised to spot a Clark's Grebe (and even
got a not very good photo of it with a sizable trout in its bill.) I
couldn't remember ever having seen one there before, and a check on the
computer when I got home verified that I'd never had one there. I
thought for a little while it might have been a new Douglas County bird,
but realized once I looked at the computer that I've had several at
Topaz Lake.

I had several White-headed Woodpeckers, one of which was very
cooperative, yielding excellent photos (to add to the countless other
photos I have of that bird -- in the days of film, White-headed
Woodpeckers cost me almost as much money as Hooded Mergansers!)

Here are complete lists for the day:

Spooner Lake State Park (Douglas County -- Highway 50 Rim Trail Parking
Lot down to Spooner Lake and across to North Canyon Road):

Canada Goose
Clark's Grebe 1
American Coot
Spotted Sandpiper 1
Hairy Woodpecker 1
White-headed Woodpecker 1
Western Wood-Pewee 2
Warbling Vireo 10 (Way undercounted, I'm sure. There was almost no
time on the whole hike that I wasn't hearing Warbling Vireos.)
Steller's Jay
House Wren 3
Bewick's Wren 1
American Robin
Cassin's Finch 4
Spotted Towhee 1
Song Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Western Tanager 6

North Canyon (Carson City -- North Canyon Road and Hiking Trail to
saddle above Marlette Lake):

Sooty Grouse 1 (Heard only, as usual.)
Northern Goshawk 1
Red-breasted Sapsucker 2
White-headed Woodpecker 2
Western Wood-Pewee 2
Dusky Flycatcher 1
Cassin's Vireo 1
Warbling Vireo 20
Steller's Jay
Clark's Nutcracker
Common Raven
Mountain Chickadee
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch 1
House Wren 2
Bewick's Wren 2
Golden-crowned Kinglet 1
Hermit Thrush 2
American Robin
Green-tailed Towhee 1
Fox Sparrow 1 (Thick-billed, as would be expected.)
Song Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco 4
Red-winged Blackbird
Macgillivray's Warbler 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Wilson's Warbler 1
Western Tanager 8


Martin Meyers
email: Martin (...AT...)
Photo website:
Truckee, CA

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