Saturday, August 25, 2012

The right place to be, Yosemite

We got to Wawona about noon, Thursday, August 23rd. The info center told us there were few campsites to be had. We decided to get one of the last reservation required sites at Wawona campground. The reservation clerk found us a really nice site, up a hill, above the campground proper and near a bathroom (most important at night!) We set up our tent and drove down to Bridalveil Falls viewing area. There were no swifts by the falls, but a couple of granite pillars to the right, John spotted them. He has 18 power image stabilized binoculars so eventually he managed to see the field marks on all three species of swifts that had been reported there, Black, White-Throated, and, the one he needed, Vaux's Swift. 629

If you have never been to Yosemite, you must come in by the tunnel view road.

It was only 3:10 PM, John wanted to go out to Glacier Point. The drive there is SLOW. We started on the trail to Ilouette Falls about 4 PM. On the first switchback, I spotted the White-Headed Woodpeckers way high in a tree. There were a couple of chipmunks up there fighting the birds for the tastiest cones. John finally got good looks. 630 Later, some WHWO came in at eye level to pose for great pictures and chuckle to each other.

Unfortunately, some hikers returning from the falls said that they had seen tame 'chickeny' birds on the trail. Could there be Sooty Grouse out there? We would have to hike further than we had planned. Later, we canvassed some other hikers and they had not seen the 'chickens'. We turned back. Still, there were flutters and tweets to check out on the way. We didn't get back until about 6. We opted to take a trail to the point, then I opted to take a shortcut straight down to the parking lot and saw movement in some bushes. John! Take the shortcut! Mountain Quail! A whole flock of them! A male, two females, two immature males and several half-grown chicks. Before this, we have only had fleeting glimpses of this species. These birds wandered under some bushes and over some rocks, then across the street a patch of weedy grass by the parking lot. I even got a good picture of the male with my point and shoot. If we hadn't dilly dallied and taken the shortcut, we wouldn't have seen them. 631

We got back to Wawona about 8 and celebrated with a REAL dinner at the Wawona Hotel. We were glad we had set up camp already, crawled into bed and slept until 8:30 the next morning.

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