Sapsuckers and Hummingbirds in the Fen

The Fen out by Happy Isles, at the east end of Yosemite Valley, is perhaps the most diverse and interesting habitat in Yosemite Valley.

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Wildflower Observations, 2012-05-27

Lots of stuff is starting to come up at higher elevations this week.

At the house, we got our first Five Spots and Wallflowers this week, 5/20-5.27.

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Nashville Warbler

I'm not sure what he's doing so far from Nashville, but he brings a splash of color to Yosemite. In fact, the Nashville Warbler was first observed in Nashville, but doesn't breed there.

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Sierra Newt (Taricha torosa)

During the right season, you can see tons of Sierra newts crossing the trail to Hite's Cove.

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Blooming, May 1-6, 2012

Already on April 29, we saw Wood Violets (V. lobata along the Chowchilla Mountain Road near Wawona (about 4200 feet in elevation).

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Saving the Large Blue Butterfly

I'm always fascinated by tight and intricate relationships in nature. Sometimes the effects are unpleasant — malaria that goes from human to mosquito to human. But we expect that from microbes.

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Carpenter Ants

I'm thinking about ants this morning for whatever reason, but these handsome fellows with their bejewelled butts are definitely worth of thinking about.

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Western Kingbird (Tyrannus verticalis)

If I were going to be a bird and wanted to coolest Latin name in perhaps the entire animal kingdom, I think I would want to be Tyrannus verticalis. How cool is that?

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Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)

The male Spotted Towhee's distinctive call often resounds around my house in the spring and early summer, but for several years running, he carried on a battle with my living room window.

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Sooty Grouse (Dendragapus fuliginosus)

The Blue Grouse was split into the Sooty Grouse and the Dusky Grouse in 2006. Before that, they were considered differently colored subspecies of the Blue Grouse.

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Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)

The most widespread and common North American hawk. The juvenile red-tailed doesn't have a red tail!

I have much better pictures than this, but finding them might take a while.

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Northern Flicker

The Norrhern Flicker is a beautiful bird whose wicka-wicka-wicka is heard throughout Yosemite Valley and Yosemite West in the mating season.

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Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)

The Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) is the largest "ringed" plover in the US and is distributed throughout North America, including Soda Springs in Tuolumne Meadows as witnessed by these pictures.<

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Hammond's Flycatcher (Empidonax hammondii)

According to the Audubon Field Guide, the Hammond's Flycatcher (Empidonax hammondii) flicks it's wings and tail more vigorously than other similar species.

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Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianis)

The Great Horned Owl is one of the most easily recognized owls in the area.

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Gray Crowned Rosy Finch (Leucosticte tephrocotis)

There's some debate about what does and does constitute a species of Rosy Finch, but following Laws Field Guide, p. 270 and, this would be a Gray-Crowned Rosy Finch.

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Cassin's Finch (Carpodacus cassinii)

Cassin's Finch (Carpodacus cassinii) is closely related to the Hous and Purple finches, but they are each found at different altitudes.

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Black Phoebe (Sayornis nigricans)

Black Phoebes (Sayornis nigricans) like open areas near water, sitting on exposed perches and making forays out to grab ill-starred insects.

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Band-Tailed Pigeon (Patagioenas fasciata)

The Band-tailed Pigeon is named for the light banding at the end of the tail feathers, visible in the back view in the pictures below.

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White-headed Woodpecker

The White-headed Woodpecker (Picoides albolarvatus) is the bane of homeowners in the Yosemite area (along with the Red-Breasted Nuthatch and the the Flicker).

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Everyone's favorite — the pika! The Pika lives at high elevations and for a while was the poster child for the negative effects of climate change.

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Mule Deer

Depending on who you ask, the Sierra Nevada has two species of deer or two subspecies of deer.

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Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel

The Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel is a favorite of tourists, and the feeling is mutual — he is an inveterate beggar who loves to share a picnic. Remember, NEVER feed the wildlife.

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Coyotes of Yosemite are beautiful animals, not the somewhat mangy character you see down at lower elevations. They are also probably a bit overabundant.

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Black Bear (Ursus americanus)

Everybody's favorite animals. I give a 1.5-hour program on bears in the summer, so this could get long, but I'll just throw out a bit of bear trivia.

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