COUNTY BIRDING LOCALITIES
Click on the words below to go to the region described
West Central Valley
Sierra Nevada Kern
County birding can be extremely rewarding. Three of North America's ten
floristic provinces intersect in Kern County making this region one of the most
ecologically diverse counties in the state. The county comprises the
southernmost section of the San Joaquin Valley, the southern Sierra Nevada,
Tehachapi's, and the westernmost Mojave Desert. It has an area of 8,172 square
miles. The following are some of the county's better birding spots.
Caution: Unless otherwise directed please respect private property and bird only
from the road.
Listing the birding hotspots is an extremely time intensive project and was
started because of a list that John Wilson had put together for the Kern County
Board of Trade. All suggestions for areas to add
are happily accepted. If you would like to add your favorite birding spot, know
of someplace that has been missed, or have comments - please contact
Habitat destruction by park staff bother you? Please send notes to all park and
recreation supervisors letting them know how important these parks are to our
sport/hobby. Send them an email letting them know just how many birders they get
visiting their parks and spending money in their community. Most of these people
are really nice they just don't know how many of us there really are!
Kern County Parks &
Bakersfield Dept. of
Recreation & Parks
California City Parks & Recreation
North of the River Recreation and Park
West Side Recreation
& Park District
Kern/Pixley National Wildlife Refuge Complex
Northern Valley - Kern County
Annette area – This northwestern grassland offers unique birding opportunities
for county listers. Annette/Davis Roads are the only roads that Yellow-billed
Magpies have been recorded in the county. In winter the area offers Vesper
Sparrows and Rough-legged Hawks. In summer the area is visited by Grasshopper
Sparrow, Cassin's and Western Kingbirds.
DIRECTIONS: Highway 46 – 3 miles east of the 46/33 junction - Take Bitterwater
Valley Road 12 miles southwest. Turn right on Simmler/Bitterwater Rd. (San Luis
Obispo County) - drive 7.5 miles turn right onto the unmarked Annette Road (back
into Kern County), there is an abandoned building at the intersection signed
Greensberg General Store. Annette Rd. continues as a no outlet road at the
intersection with Davis Rd. Davis Road offers two more miles of Kern birding
before the San Luis Obispo County line.
Kern National Wildlife Refuge - KNWR
two auto-tour routes. The 4.5 mi north route is open year round for birding and
the south 6.5-mile auto-tour route is only closed on Wednesdays and Saturdays
between October 1 and February 1 each year for waterfowl hunters. Most of the rest of the refuge is open to hiking
although the same closures are in effect during waterfowl hunting season. Open 7 days a week from dawn to dusk.
Birding is best from November to April. Summer birding is also rewarding
although extreme temperatures can be uncomfortable. Due to the effects of El
Niño, 1998 was a banner year for wildlife because 2000+ acres of this 10,600-acre
refuge remained flooded all year (although a problem with heat and water causes
botulism during summer with huge losses of life.)
Waterfowl species to look for include: Northern Pintail, Mallard,
Cinnamon/Blue-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Redhead,
and Canvasback. Refuge staff is working hard to keep many ponds shallow for
shorebirds. Recently White-faced Ibis and Great Blue Heron have begun nesting at
the refuge. Watch for winter Peregrine Falcon and Bald Eagle, and all year
Yellow and Tri-colored Blackbirds, Burrowing Owl, Black-tailed Jackrabbit,
Desert Cottontail, Striped and Spotted Skunk, Coyote, California Ground
Squirrel, and Bobcat. KNWR is home to the following endangered and sensitive
species: Buena Vista Lake Shrew, San Joaquin Kit Fox, Blunt-nosed Leopard
Lizard, and Tipton Kangaroo Rat.
A checklist of birds of the KNWR can be found at
DIRECTIONS: From I-5 - take Hwy. 46 exit and head east on Hwy 46 for 5 miles -
turn left onto Corcoran Rd - drive north 10.6 miles until you reach the entrance
to the refuge on the left at the intersection with Hwy 155/Garces Hwy.
From Hwy 99 - if traveling from Delano or further north - exit at Garces Hwy.
Drive west for 19 miles - the refuge entrance is at the intersection of Corcoran
Rd. and Garces Hwy.
Hwy 99 - if traveling from Wasco or further south - exit Hwy. 46 exit and head
west on Hwy 46 to Corcoran Rd. - turn left onto Corcoran Rd - drive north until
you reach the entrance to the refuge on the left at the intersection with Garces
Hwy. For information or riparian tour reservations contact Refuge
Manager - at (661) 725-2767
Yellow-billed Magpie - There is only one place in Kern County where
Yellow-billed Magpies are seen regularly. It is along the 3-mile stretch of
Highway 41 that is in Kern County. Directions: take Hwy 46 to the junction of
Hwy 41. Drive northeast on Hwy 41 for about 6 miles. There is a county sign as
you enter Kern. The hills in the oak woodland drop swiftly as they follow a
small drainage on the east side of the road. Look for a large turnout as the
canyon widens and you start seeing cottonwood trees. Pull over and listen for
the magpie call. The most I have seen at this location is 9, so when they are
silent they are easy to miss. They occupy the cottonwood trees between this
turnout and the corrals further along the road.
Lake Woollomes - Near Delano the park is 455 acres in size and has a lake that
covers 300 acres. It is owned by the Bureau of Reclamation and leased by the
Kern County Parks Department. An equalizing reservoir for the Friant-Kern Canal,
the waters attract many ducks, geese and other waterfowl. The park offers year
round picnicking, fishing and boating. Fall through spring are the best seasons
for viewing waterfowl in the southern valley.
DIRECTIONS: From Hwy 99 - 3 miles southeast of Delano, CA - exit at Pond Road
- Lake Woollomes follow the signs to the lake.
Central Valley - Kern County
Santa Maria Valley/McKittrick – Along Hwy 58 bird the road from McKittrick to
the Kern County line. This quiet drive through upland scrub, grassland savanna,
and oak woodland habitats gives rise to an interesting assortment of birds. Find
Phainopepla in the oak/juniper habitat and a significant number of wintering buteos below in the grassland. Along the road you should see Loggerhead Shrike,
Grasshopper Sparrow (summer only), and Western Meadowlark. Although no one
has reported yet, I suspect the summit harbors visiting Yellow-billed Magpies,
if you ever observe this species here, please let me know right away. This drive
is within some of the most significant habitat left for the San Joaquin Kit Fox
and other endangered species. East of this area is the oil town McKittrick -
just south of town along Hwy 33 – tar seeps catch significant amounts of
wildlife, bones of recent victims are readily seen. Hwy 58 west leads to the
Carrizo Plain, where one finds over 100,000 acres of mostly undisturbed valley
grassland, scrub, and alkali sink habitats.
DIRECTIONS: From Hwy 33, south to Hwy 58. From I-5 take the Hwy 58 exit west
toward Buttonwillow. The town of Buttonwillow has the last easy gas and food, so
fill up there. The road winds for many miles through the northern reaches of Elk
Hills and through the town of McKittrick continue west up to the summit and the
Kern County / San Luis Obispo County line.
Drive along the road - please respect private property - and bird only from the
Taft/Maricopa Area – (Le Conte’s Thrasher country) Interspersed throughout the
saltbush scrub this elusive thrasher can be found early in the morning singing
from the tops of the bushes. The best season is spring when the males are most
vocal. Several good spots to find the birds are along Kerto Rd., Petroleum Club
Rd., and Honolulu Rd. Off of Airport Dr. The California thrasher is also in the
area and I have seen some very strange thrashers here (hybrids?). Sage sparrows
make their home here as well. During winter Peregrine Falcon, Ferruginous Hawk,
and Rough-legged Hawk soar above the valleys. Burrowing Owl, Golden Eagle,
American Kestrel, Prairie Falcon, and several different morphs of Red-tailed
Hawk can be observed year-round. DIRECTIONS: From Hwy 33 south, through the town
of Taft, turn left at the intersection with Hwy 119, and then right .... From
I-5 drive 18 miles to Taft - Off of Taft Hwy 119 – turn left..... at Airport Rd.
- drive to the summit of the hill and take a left on Honolulu Rd. Drive to the
end of the paved road and turn around. You may have to drive on dirt road down
the hill and keep bearing left back to the road that heads up the hill. Drive
back to Airport Rd. Turn left at Hwy 119/33 and head toward Maricopa. Turn left
at Petroleum Club Rd. (across from the wooden derrick), stop at the washes and
listen for singing thrashers. The best spot for seasoned veterans has been on
Kerto Rd. The area where the Lakeview Gusher occurred is a great place to spot
Le Conte's Thrashers. Take Hwy 99 or I-5 to Maricopa turn right on Hwy 33 - head
north 1.3 miles to Kerto Rd turn right. At Kerto and Petroleum Club park along
the road. Walk up the wash on the northeast side towards the railroad tracks -
look ahead in the bushes for the thrasher. The best time to see Le Conte's
Thrasher is when the males are singing in April.
Tule Elk State Reserve - The reserve is located at the northern edge of the
mouth of the Kern River. There is a park fee ($8.00 honor system). The elevated
elk viewing area is also good for birding, as an artificially watered marsh is
located just beyond the fence. Yellow-headed, Tri-colored, Red-winged, and
Brewer's blackbirds can be seen here. House, Brewer’s, and Marsh Wren as well as
rails inhabit the marsh. For the last few years an albino American Robin has
been visiting the park. A Swainson's Hawk began nesting in the park in 2001. Nearby alfalfa fields have attracted Peregrine and
Prairie Falcon. DIRECTIONS: From I-5 take the Stockdale Hwy exit west -
approximately 3 miles to Morris Rd. - turn left - turn right on Station Rd.
Behind the scenes tours of the reserve can be arranged. For more information or
to arrange tours call (661) 764-6881
Southern Valley - Kern County
Bittercreek National Wildlife Refuge - This 14,054-acre preserve is condor
foraging habitat. It supports many upland passerine species. Some birding
available from the road - no easement access is granted due to the extremely
sensitive nature of condor recovery.
DIRECTIONS: from Hwy. 99 or I-5 – drive west on Hwy 166 - through Maricopa -
left on Cerro Noroeste Rd. - as you begin to ascend into oak woodland you will
notice the signs for the NWR.
Wind Wolves Preserve - Private funding purchased this 95,000-acre ranch at the
base of the Grapevine. A major foraging habitat for the California Condor, it
also supports raptors and many upland passerine species.
DIRECTIONS - Hwy 99 or I-5 - west on Hwy 166 - to Landslide Lease. This preserve
is not open to the general public so call for permission - David or Sheryl
Clendenen (661) 858-1115.
Transverse Range - Kern County
Los Padres National Forest -Mt. Pinos District
- At the southwestern tip of Kern
County you will find a wonderful resource. Los Padres National Forest contains
the Chumash Wilderness an area set aside for the California Condor.
Mt. Abel - North of Mil Potrero Park - Mt. Abel is nice Pine Forest almost as
high as Mt. Pinos. Montane species such as Northern Flicker, White-headed
Woodpecker, Steller's Jay, Mountain Chickadee, White-breasted Nuthatch, Pygmy
Nuthatch, Clark's Nutcracker, Cassin's Vireo, and Yellow-rumped Warbler are
found regularly. Look for Condors on the way back down.
Mil Potrero Park - I-5 to Frazier Park exit - West on Frazier Park Road - right
on Cuddy Valley Road, and bear right at Y with Mil Potrero Hwy and Cuddy Valley
road. Mil Potrero road to Pine Lodge.
Mt. Pinos - I-5 to Frazier Park exit - West on Frazier Park Road - right on
Cuddy Valley Road, and bear left at Y with Mil Potrero Hwy and Cuddy Valley
road. A road goes 2 miles up to the view site which is where a condor was
spotted in spring. It can be partially driven by passenger car, but high
clearance is required for the last 1/4 of the trip. Most of Mt. Pinos except the
summit is in Kern County (summit = Ventura)
Tehachapi Mountains - Kern County
Tehachapi Mountain Park - This conifer forest is isolated like many others that
ring the great valley. It provides unique birding opportunities.
DIRECTIONS: The park lies 8 miles southwest of the town of Tehachapi. It is
located on the southern side of Hwy. 58 between Mojave and Bakersfield, CA.
Woody's Peak (elevation, 7986 ft.) overlooks the park from its dominion in the
Tehachapi Mountains, the dividing line between the San Joaquin Valley and the
Los Angeles Basin.
Buena Vista Aquatic Recreation Area - The mouth of the Kern River used to drain
into the 34,000 acre Buena Vista Lake Bed which dried up when Lake Isabella Dam
was completed in 1953. In 1973, an artificial lake was created for boating
enthusiasts. The 20-year absence of suitable habitat eliminated nesting activity
of many species. Though pelicans and cormorants no longer nest in the area, they
have returned as winter residents. During winter, at the west end of the park,
Lake Evans is the best place in the county to have close encounters with
American White Pelican. Numbering sometimes in the hundreds, they can be a
nuisance to fishermen. The mild winter climate can cause some unusual behavior
in the winter residents. In 1992, the Buena Vista Christmas Bird Count saw both
Western and Clark's Grebes with young as well as nesting Mourning Doves. Other
species of note: The larger lake (Lake Webb) Double-crested Cormorant, Cinnamon
Teal, Green-winged Teal, Bufflehead, and Bonaparte's Gull, Green Heron, Great
Egret, Common Merganser, Common Snipe, Osprey, and Great-horned Owl. Make sure
you let the park staff know why you are there, so the park administration will
get the message that birding creates revenue. Click here for the Buena Vista
DIRECTIONS: From I-5 take Taft Hwy 119 exit - Drive west toward Taft - the first
crossroad is Hwy 43 - Enos Lane - turn left - drive approx. 2 miles south to
Buena Vista Recreation area entrance. Entrance fee - 1-10 people in vehicle
Kern Water Bank - Good birding is found at this site when water is present
although access is limited to invitation only. Contact Cheryl Harding (661)
398-4900 for information.
City of Bakersfield Water Resources Dept. 2800 acres Recharge Area – A fantastic
riparian marsh is what the City of Bakersfield has created in their water
recharge effort. Egrets, waterfowl, raptors, shorebirds, kingfisher, quail,
gnatcatchers, flycatchers, passerines, and so much more live in the area. When
the area has water it is almost as good as the national wildlife refuge, and it
is within the boundary of the City of Bakersfield. The area can be reached off
of Hwy 43 (Enos Lane), where it crosses the Kern River just north of Panama
Lane. Turn onto the dirt road and park. Hike into the area beyond the fence.
Please call Bakersfield DWR, in advance for permission. (661)
Vernon Sewer Ponds – Take the Mount Vernon Ave. exit off of Hwy 58. Regular
visitors include waterfowl, shorebirds, cattle egrets, Peregrine Falcon. Access
is limited, you must call for access. Wastewater Division at (661) 326-3249.
DIRECTIONS: Hwy 58 east, take the Mt. Vernon exit, turn right (south) and drive
approximately one mile. Turn right and check-in at the office.
Kern River Parkway - Bakersfield area - The parkway is located along the Kern
River between Manor Street and the CSUB campus and offers 10 miles of scenic
bike path for birders, hikers, bicyclers, joggers, and roller blading. The
newest section of the bike path is northeast of town and runs along the Kern
River from Hart Park past the Kern County Soccer Park, California Living Museum
and goes to Lake Ming. Eventually the bike path will stretch from Buena Vista
Lake to the mouth of the Kern River Canyon. The following are places along the
valley portion of the Kern River where birders can gain access. All along the
bike path no permission is necessary to gain access, but below CSUB you need
permission to trespass. Kern River Parkway
Checklist of Birds
Riverwalk Park - This park has a large body of water that should attract
birds. Really disappointing that the habitat has been destroyed along the Kern
River, but alas, greed is the motto of Bakersfield.
Bakersfield Educational Studies Area - This area has many acres of valley
grassland and riparian habitat. Acorn Woodpeckers, Downy Woodpeckers, Turkey
Vultures, and Red-tailed Hawks can be seen almost every day. Access off of
Coffee Rd. and Truxtun or from CSUB.
Lake Truxtun - Parking is available on Truxtun Extension at Mohawk St.
Ring-billed Gulls (winter), Caspian Tern (summer), Pied-billed Grebe, and many
shallow and deep-water species use this lake and the nearby river. Rose-ringed
Parakeets frequent the cottonwoods near the parking lot.
Beale Park - This park is home to many from the naturalized flock of
Park - This park is located off Truxtun Ext. to Empire Dr. the
Kern River runs along this park.
Beach Park - An older park along 21st St. and Oak St.
the city of Bakersfield tries to have water in the river next to this park
during major holidays and during high rainfall years.
Pin Oak Park - This park has two wetland areas
that provide an amazing diversity of bird life. A checklist of the birds of Pin
Oak Park can be found here.
Elm St. - Take 24th St. to Elm St. Head towards the river. A small park on Elm
St. has a footbridge crossing a canal that runs parallel to the river. Observe
Kingfisher, egrets, gulls, and Osprey.
Kern County Water Agency - Explore the KC Water Agency ponds off of Rio Mirada
Dr. Take Buck Owens Blvd. (Pierce Rd.) to Rio Mirada Dr. drive to water agency
offices and ask to bird the property.
Riverview Park - Take Airport Dr. to -right- Roberts Lane to -right- Oildale
Drive to -left- Willow Dr. to Riverview Park. This is the easiest place to
access the Kern River west of Chester Ave. Bridge.
Manor Street - Hwy 178 to Union head north towards Bakersfield College - Just
past Columbus Ave. Union reaches a Y in the road - veer to the left heading
downhill as the road changes into Manor St. Take a left at the light at Delores
St. into the Bike Path parking area.
Panorama Park - Overlooking the Kern River and the Kern River oilfields many
raptors ride the thermals along the bluffs. Hwy 178 to Union head north towards
Bakersfield College - Just past Columbus Ave. Union reaches a Y in the road -
veer to the right heading uphill - road changes into Panorama Dr. Continue on
Panorama and park along the road.
China Grade Loop / Gordon's Ferry - From Hwy 99 - take the Hwy 58 / 178 exit -
turn right onto Hwy 178 / 24th St. Drive east to Mt. Vernon Ave. exit - left
onto Mt. Vernon - 1.3 miles to the Intersection with Panorama Dr. continue
straight as Mt. Vernon becomes Alfred Harrell Hwy - near the bottom of the hill
take the road to the left heading towards Oildale. Take the first left and park
on the side of the road by Darrell's Mini Storage.
Heritage Park - Mt. Vernon Avenue and Bernard Street. This older park gets a lot
of downslope winter migrants, one of the few places in winter that Mountain
Chickadee can occasionally be found.
Hart Memorial Park - The showcase for Bakersfield Birding - Hart Park is located
along the Kern River. For 25 years the Bakersfield Christmas Bird Count has been
centered at Hart Park. This CBC averages ± 140 species each year.
DIRECTIONS: From Hwy 99 - take the Hwy 58 / 178 exit - turn right onto Hwy 178 /
24th St. Drive east to Mt. Vernon Ave. exit - left onto Mt. Vernon - 1.3 miles
to the Intersection with Panorama Dr. continue straight as Mt. Vernon becomes
Alfred Harrell Hwy - continue 8 miles to the park entrance.
Checklist of Birds of Hart Park
Lake Ming - The last large body of water before the mouth of the Kern Canyon.
Bald Eagles winter here and migrating waterfowl inhabit the lake and the river
nearby. In 1999/2000 over 100 Great Egrets wintered. A pair of Cassin's
Kingbirds have taken up residence here.
DIRECTIONS: From Hwy 99 - take the Hwy 58 / 178 exit - turn right onto Hwy 178 /
24th St. Drive east to Alfred Harrell Hwy. Turn left and drive 3 miles to the
first stop sign. Turn right - drive down to the lake and explore the lake and
Rancheria Road - A small dirt parking area on the south side of Rancheria Rd.
bridge leads to a river trail that is not maintained. Look for wood ducks and
other waterfowl floating on the water up and downstream of the bridge. Pygmy
Nuthatches have been observed in the cottonwoods and oaks along the river during
DIRECTIONS: Take Hwy 178 east toward the mouth of the canyon, as you head down a
fairly steep hill notice a road that turns left at the base. This is Rancheria
Sierra Nevada Mountains - Kern County
Kern Canyon - Along Hwy. 178 just inside the canyon - Canyon Wrens and Rufous-crowned Sparrows are
found on the rocky hillsides. Look for White-throated Swifts flying above the
canyon. American Dippers can frequently be seen diving from the rocks into the
DIRECTIONS: Take Hwy 178 east into the canyon - park safely in turnouts (people
drive way too fast in the canyon beware).
National Forest - Kern County has two Ranger Districts - Greenhorn RD
encompasses the Piutes, Breckenridge Mountain, and the Greenhorns. Cannell
Meadow RD encompasses Lake Isabella, the Kern Plateau, and the land near
Kern River Valley
of Birds of the Kern River Valley and Watershed
Isabella Reservoir - This huge body of water is so huge and deep, birding can be
a challenge. Best by boat. The lake has attracted some very rare coastal birds
in the past. From the shore one can see gulls, terns, grebes, shorebirds, and
kingfishers near the water's edge. To view either the main dam or auxiliary dam
enter the Sequoia National Forest Visitor Center from Hwy 155, continue on the
dirt road beyond the visitor center building, to the left takes you to the boat
launch on the main dam fork, to the right takes you to the Auxiliary Dam. The
reservoir is best viewed before the afternoon winds, which normally get brutal
around 1 p.m.
The next few paragraphs lead you on a tour around the reservoir from Hwy 155
which becomes Wofford Heights Blvd which then becomes Kernville Road, turning
right on Sierra Way, turning right on Hwy 178 back to Isabella.
- Winter this side has lot's of grebes, mergansers, loons, and other goodies.
The water can be viewed from the visitor center or from
French Gulch Marina off Hwy 155.
Keyesville south - enter
from Hwy 155 just across from the Sequoia NF Visitor
Center. Drive all the way down to the river bearing left at the bottom of the
hill. Good dipper and canyon wren territory.
Main Dam Campground - In winter this campground is locked but you can park at
the entrance along Hwy 155. The trees can hold many goodies. Four species of
sapsucker have been found here in winter. Along the river canyon wrens dance
with black phoebes.
French Gulch Marina - Enter off Hwy 155 between Lake Isabella and Wofford
Heights, park at the top of the hill and scope the main dam area. Best in the
morning before the wind picks up.
Tillie Creek Campground / North Fork Marina - Along Hwy 155 as you enter Wofford
Heights from the west, just before the road turns into a four lane divided road,
you will find Old State Road on the left and Tillie Creek Campground entrance on
the right. Turn into the campground road. Drive until the road tee's, turn
toward the right and then turn left onto a little stub of pavement with an old
boat dock sitting there, park along
the sides, people use this to drive down to the shore so don't block the road.
From here you can walk through the campground or down to the shore of the
reservoir without fee. Ospreys and bald eagles (winter only) hang out on the snags in the
water. Phainopepla and other oak woodland species are found in the campground.
Peregrine Falcons hunt along the shoreline.
Wofford Heights Park - This small park is found off East Evans Road. At the Hwy
155/Evans Road junction turn right down toward the reservoir. Park and walk -
depends on your vehicle if you want to drive along the shore of the reservoir -
high clearance and good traction required. Drive or walk down to the willows
near the shore. Interesting species can sometimes be found hanging around the
willows between the park and North Fork Marina, for several years this has been
the winter hangout for a Northern Shrike.
Kernville - Trees and the river throughout town are hit or miss for osprey and
great blue heron. There are a few nice delis in town and Riverside Park is a
nice area to picnic along the perennial river. Near the bridge oak titmice and
white-breasted nuthatch can be found. At the end of Kernville road, if you turn left
it will take you upstream to Johnsondale, Giant Sequoia Monument (road closed in
winter), Sherman Pass and the Kern Plateau. Turn right to continue around the
Camp 9 -
This campground is found along Sierra Way to the east of Kernville. Along the shore, you will find one of the more
frequent hangouts for wintering Bald Eagles. A dark morph Red-tailed Hawk
frequents the telephone poles along Sierra Way by the entrance. The campground
is fee based, tell them you are birding and most of the time they will just let you drive
this point on, most of Sierra Way is frequented by
roadrunners and rock wrens so look along the rock/grassland edges for
these two species.
Hurricane Point - Not marked as such but you will know why I call it this when
you encounter the winds at this turnout along Sierra Way, just about Stine Cove,
this is a great spot to find birds of all types riding thermals along the
cliffs. In summer terns, in winter gulls, eagles, and other raptors. Below on
the reservoir is where you can see western and Clark's grebes, American
white pelicans, and waterfowl. Best viewed early in the morning before the wind
gets too brutal. Bring your scope for this spot.
Gale Point - This turnout is found above Robinson Cove, not much difference in
the winds, but my nickname hurricane point was already taken. Birding is
different here, birds nest on the metamorphic cliff above the road, and you get
views of the pelicans from this spot. A close inspection of the rock just below
the southern side of the cliff is strewn with bedrock mortars from the Umubflap
village of the Pahkanapil people that lived here before being displaced by
roughneck settlers in the 1850's. Look across Robinson Cove on the slopes
facing this vista, this is the end of a lime dike that cuts through the Piute
Mountains. Just above the dirt road on this slope is the furthest northern
Joshua Tree forest. These are pygmy Joshuas, an unique variety of this plant
found nowhere else in the world. This population may disappear because
developers ignore unique members of our planetary society to line their pockets.
Hanning Flat - Enter this drive, keeping straight takes you along the old road
known as Patterson Lane. The rock pile is called Rabbit Island, named after the
reservoir was built, rabbits and other creatures took refuge here as the water
rose. The road gets very sandy here so walking is best beyond Rabbit Island.
Closer looks at the pelicans which stay on the spits of sand between here and Kissack Cove. This is the best area to find shorebirds. If you turn right as the
pavement ends, you can continue to drive toward a spring where icterids,
warblers, and wrens nest. Bearing left along the road under the hill takes you
along the lime dike, high clearance vehicles only on this bumpy rock strewn
trail. I have found teals, gadwalls, grebes, and blackbirds frequenting the
shallow water here.
South Fork Wildlife Area 1 - A part of the Sequoia National Forest this area is a
remnant of the great riparian ecosystem that once graced this valley. Endangered
and threatened species nest here. From Sierra Way there is a parking area
just north of the South Fork Kern Sierra Way bridge. Park and walk in.
Frequently flooded from November to June depending on rainfall.
Kern River Preserve migrant corner trail - At the northeast corner of the Sierra
Way bridge there is a pedestrian bypass that leads to the migrant corner trail
(an unmaintained track use at your own risk).
In spring this corner is awash in migrants hundreds of Lawrence's Goldfinch have
been seen here. Walk the trail look up for desert species, look below for
riparian species. Walk about 3/4 mile to a meadow/marsh then turn back.
Audubon Kern River Preserve - Home to breeding populations of Southwestern Willow
Flycatcher, Summer Tanager, and Western Yellow-billed Cuckoo, this preserve is a
private attempt to restore the great riparian forest ecosystem.
DIRECTIONS: The preserve is located along the scenic South Fork of the Kern
From Bakersfield -Take Hwy. 178 northeast through the Kern River canyon and past
Lake Isabella - continue through the communities of Mtn. Mesa and South Lake.
Slow down at the T-intersection of Hwy 178 and Sierra Way as the preserve is 1.1
miles beyond this point. On the left is a large sign for Audubon California's
Kern River Preserve, you are almost there. Turn left and drive down the dirt
road - slowly as cattle are frequently in the field. The field is not preserve
property - the road is an easement - so please respect the landowner and do not
stop or park until you reach the parking area inside the preserve.
From the Mojave Desert - The preserve is located approximately 30 miles from Hwy
14. From Hwy. 14 take Hwy. 178 west through Walker Pass - Canebrake - Onyx and
almost through Weldon. The preserve is 0.6 miles beyond the South Fork
Elementary School and only 100 yards past Kelso Valley Road at milepost 57.00.
On the right is a large sign for Audubon California's Kern River Preserve, you
are almost there. Turn right and drive down the dirt road - slowly as cattle are
frequently in the field. The field is not preserve property - the road is an
easement - so please respect the landowner and do not stop or park until you
reach the parking area inside the preserve.
Canebrake Ecological Reserve - A 1400-acre wildlife sanctuary owned and
managed by the California Dept of Fish & Game. This is a
great birding spot for migrating and breeding birds. This area is home to
dozens of species absent or rare downstream. Canebrake is approximately 11-miles
east of Audubon's Kern River Preserve on Hwy 178. An ADA constructed trail leads
from the parking area off of Highway 178 through the Joshua tree woodland down
to a wooden bridge that crosses Canebrake Creek. The path then winds through a
site restored by Audubon and Fish & Game in the late 1990's and early 2000's.
The trail is 1.2 miles to a picnic table that sits below a
steep slope that leads to the Domelands Wilderness. As for birds, there is a
nesting colony of Tri-colored Blackbirds, nesting Summer Tanagers, Blue
Grosbeak, Yellow Warblers, Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, Nuttall's Woodpeckers, and
Song Sparrows. Lots of great vagrants migrate through in spring. Northern Parula
have been spotted here. An Eastern Phoebe spent the winter a few years ago. In
winter Buteos rule. Red-tailed Hawks and Ferruginous Hawks are common along with
occasional Rough-legged Hawks. Golden Eagles nest in the nearby mountains. Other
wildlife include: Raccoon, American Black Bear, Bobcat, Coyote, Mountain Lion,
Gray Fox, and various rodents.
Audubon Kelso Creek Sanctuary - This 156-acre
Audubon owned sanctuary is 15-miles from Hwy
178 on Kelso Valley Road along Kelso Creek.
Purchased in 2000 to protect the riparian habitat within the sanctuary,
the loss of upland habitat recently makes the upland portions equally as
important. The sanctuary is an
interesting blend of Mojave and Great Basin Desert flora that
offers a really unique vista. On winter
mornings the sanctuary is a great place to look for Pinyon Jays.
South Fork Wildlife Area
2 - A part of the Sequoia National Forest this area is a
remnant of the great riparian ecosystem that once graced this valley. Endangered
and threatened species nest here. Enter from Hwy. 178 just east of South Lake
and just west of Sierra Way. Drive down a dirt road about 1/4 mile, the entrance
to the wildlife area is on your right. Park and walk in.
Can be flooded from November to June in high rainfall years, normally dry.
Kissack Cove - Continue driving along Hwy 178 back toward Lake Isabella. Drive
through the town of Mountain Mesa and just west there is an entrance to Kissack
Cove. Scattered throughout the grassland, horned larks and pipits will flush.
Paradise Cove - At Paradise Cove winter flocks of eared grebe number in the
Auxiliary Dam - Can also be entered from the South side off Highway 178 and
reach by entering campground entrance. Good deep water pelagic species found
here. Loons, grebes, and gulls.
North Mojave Desert - Kern County
Ridgecrest - Many great species have been found throughout
the area. The Ridgecrest sewer ponds are a watchable wildlife area, you access
this along County Line Road. Check
Audubon Society website for details on this amazing region. While in Ridgecrest
Museum they have a nice selection of area checklists.
Indian Wells Valley - Northeastern Kern County, California, and includes
parts of Inyo and San Bernardino counties. The valley is on the northern edge of
the high Mojave Desert and is bounded on the north by the Coso Range, on the
east by the Argus Range, on the south by the El Paso Mountains, and on the west
by the Sierra Nevada. The Indian Wells Valley has a wide variety of habitats and
is on many migration routes, which has produced a total of over 325 species of
birds on the local checklist.
Cerro Coso College
- 3000 College Heights Blvd. Ridgecrest, the campus has a
park like setting near the parking area and on the southeast side of campus there is
a trail through the creosote desert find Verdin in the native habitat. The
Mid Mojave Desert - Kern County
Canyon State Park - The Red Cliffs support an amazing number of White-throated
Swifts. Le Conte's Thrashers are reported nearby. Just south of the park along
Hwy 14 you will find Cantil.
Spring - A Nationally Important Bird Area, this conservation easement is
supported by Santa Monica Audubon Society. It provides the best place for
vagrant warblers in Kern County. A springtime don't miss site. From State
Highway 178 at Weldon take Kelso Valley Road 38 miles south turning left at
Jawbone Canyon Road turn left to Butterbredt Spring Road. --OR-- From State
Highway 14 south of Red Rock Canyon State Park, take Jawbone Canyon Road 14
miles west to Butterbredt Spring Road on the right. The Springs are marked with
a sign from Santa Monica Audubon Society. The roads are mostly dirt and the
Jawbone and Kelso Valley Roads are passable by passenger car. The road to the
spring is steep and can degrade to not passable by passenger car after storms.
- Central Park is a birding delight. Mature trees and several ponds, make this a
birding oasis. Lots of vagrants can be seen here. From Hwy 14 take
California City Boulevard through town. Find the park just after the McDonald's
lot. California City Golf course is next
door where many more migrants like to stop. Send them an email letting them know
of how many birders they get visiting their parks and spending money in their
community. And ask them to stop mowing down the tules in Central Park.
- One of the most unique oasis's in the desert - Galileo Hill is home to
the Silver Saddle Ranch. The variation in management leaves this a question as
for recommending. Still a worthwhile trek if you are in California City... it
may or may not be open for birding.
South Mojave Desert - Kern County
Force Base - Edwards is not open to the public for the most part, but it can
offer some rare glimpses of desert birds. Most of Edwards is untouched native
Mojave Desert. Just over the county line in Los Angeles County is Edwards sewage
discharge area "Piute Ponds", 400+ acres of prime birding.
Mojave - A
quick trip around Mojave offers a snapshot of bird life in the urban desert.
Look for parks and watering holes.
Rosamond - A nice quiet drive up Willow Springs Rd. through Rosamond takes you
through creosote bush habitat up to the windmills of Tehachapi. Along the way
there are a few springs with riparian vegetation, spring migrants can be found
in these little gems of habitat.
View Kern, Tulare, Kings and Inyo County Birding Spots in a larger map
Kern County Birding by
Michael McQuerrey - A listserve discussion group of Kern County Birding
CalBirds by Steve Sosensky
- A listserve discussion of rare birds, birding events and other things
significant to California birders
The Bird Digest by
Dave Ranney - A digest of bird discussion around California.
Ventura County Birding by Oscar Johnson
Los Angeles County Birding Locations by Dan Cooper
San Diego County Birding Locations
Nature Ali Publications - keeping you informed about the past, present, and future of the natural environment in Kern County.
The focus of Nature Ali Publications will always be
the natural history of Kern County, California, specifically the Southern San Joaquin Valley. You are invited to share in the development of a few
of my books and explore some of the pages of as they are written. Thanks for visiting.
Photographs, maps, and text are
Nature Ali and may not be reproduced without express written permission.