Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Lava Beds National Monument

I went to the Lassen/Modoc county area for my last stint of meadow surveys this week. Most of the sites were not very impressive although some did produce some different bird species that I hadn’t seen all summer, like Lazuli buntings. I also got great looks at Virginia rails, which didn’t respond to our play back (ha). We had a lot of storms...but also rainbows.

It was really hot in the afternoons and kept storming so we escaped the heat by getting ice cream and playing on the computer in the Adin Library. But when the library was closed we headed for Lava Beds National Monument (almost to Oregon) to check out some caves and do some birding. What better place to escape the heat than hiding in caves that are on average 57 degrees?

Lava Beds National Monument is geologically outstanding because of its great variety of volcanic formations including: lava tube caves. Lava flows dated to about 30,000-40,000 years ago formed most of the lava tube caves in the monument.

Next, we went to Tule Lake to look for birds in the marshes. Grebes, ducks, geese, black-necked stilts, sandpipers, and many common yellow-throats singing like crazy. We ended the trip with a visit to Petroglyph Point (below) which had some awesome birds like a peregrine falcon, prairie falcon, and rock wrens running up the walls. I also found what appeared to be an owl’s messy kitchen (or trash can?)—hundreds of owl pellets and bones of various critters under a rock ledge. Woulda been awesome to see the owl! Overall it was a good trip and a nice afternoon activity between survey sites.

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