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This blog is predominately about camera trapping in California. We camera trap to save our souls and to teach primary school students about biology and conservation. We will also touch on other camera trapping news and musings, sets from afar, mediocre herpetology, sucky birding, and other natural history discussions.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Water Runs Dry

No, I'm not talking about Boyz II Men ballads (though feel free to go on an early 90s junior high dance jamz youtube spiral with that link).

The focus here instead will be on Marble Hot Springs, a gem of a birding spot in the Sierra Valley. Apparently there used to be a hot springs resort here, but it is long gone and now the area is only visited by some cool birds, unfenced cattle and on the roads, the occasional birders and local tweakers.


For CTC it has become tradition that with each journey to the High Country for the Codger's workshop, a pilgrimage is made to observe the great bounty of birdlife at Marble Hot Springs.

Previous years' visits have yielded many a life bird and those birds being present in high numbers.

White-faced Ibis (Plegadis chihi)

Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis)

Yellow-headed Blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus)


shy Willet (Catoptrophorus semipalmatus)

Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica, with something in his beak 

Cliff Swallow, Petrochelidon pyrrhonota, in Nest.

This summer, when my companions came up a month early in June to pre-set cams for the workshop, they viewed nearly a hundred Ibis, a score of Sandhill Cranes, Horned Larks and insanely, a Little Blue Heron! A true winged treat for us Yay Area-ers.

The July visit was a whole 'nother tale. Nearly the entire Marble Springs area was dried up, with large swaths of land looking like

bonus Valley Gartersnake (Thamnophis sirtalis fitchi)

Cattle ran, well ok, stood and ate and shat, all over the damn place. Water only existed in irrigation ditches and small pools.

However, amid this dryness a few treasures were awaiting us:

American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus). Shake it but don't break it.

gulping down a bullfrog!

Wilson's Snipe (Gallinago delicata)

Random Truth splendidly covered the time we got to spend with these two. Check it out.

Finally, we were able to add two new lifers to the list: Virginia Rails and Soras, both of which had youngin's with them.


  1. Nice. Was hoping you caught a shot of the bittern licking its bill - I tried but failed. Lemme know if you want one of my lousy Sora shots to add in.

  2. Man I got prolly thirty shots of that devil -- a good portion trying to capture the licking of the lips -- no dice.

    1. I just rocked that entire video and now I am on to TLC. Thanks for the youtube kick.