Lake County has many resident bids that are fun to spot including Great Blue herons, Clark's and Western Grebes, Ospreys, Green Herons, Double-crested Cormorants, and Black crowned Night Herons, to name just a few. As is true with other birding areas, you will find a wider variety of birds here during the winter months and early spring. Birdwatching is best in the morning before 10 o'clock as the birds are actively gathering food. The use of binoculars greatly enhances birdwatching. A7 X 35 magnification is recommended. The following is a general list of nice birdwatching sites in Lake County and the birds that you are likely to find here.
CLEAR LAKE STATE PARK Clear Lake State Park, between Kelseyville and Soda Bay (see county map for directions), is an excellent place for birding year around. You will have to pay a small day use fee. A check list of the birds of Clear Lake State Park is available at the entrance gate or the Park's Visitor Center. Park your car in the Visitor Center parking lot, walk over the bridge, return to the main road and take it to the beach. On the west side of the Visitor Center parking lot, along the creek bed, you might look for Killdeer. Crossing the bridge, on the east side, look for Great Blue Herons, Clark's and Western Grebes, Green Herons, Black-crowned Night Herons, and Belted Kingfishers. Land birds you may see on your way to the beach include California Quail, Brown Towhees, Scrub Jays, Oak Titmice, Common Flickers, White-breasted Nuthatches, Acorn Woodpeckers, and maybe even a California Thrasher. During winter months, American Robins are a common sight as is the Varied Thrush. Clear Lake State Park is known for its nesting Osprey and in summer months you will easily spot them circling above you. Red-tailed Hawks are another common sighting. Well-marked hiking paths throughout the park also afford good birdwatching.
LAKESIDE COUNTY PARK Located west of Clear Lake State Park (towards Lakeport) and also off of Soda Bay Road, the County Park is the place to visit in early and middle spring if you want a good sighting of the wonderful Yellow-headed Blackbird. One can almost always count on seeing these vocal fellows at this park in springtime along with Red-winged Blackbirds, Pied-billed Grebes, American Coots, herons and Clark's and Western Grebes.
HIGHLAND SPRINGS RESERVOIR Located south of Hwy. 29, between Lakeport and Kelseyville, the Highland Springs Reservoir is reached by taking Highland Springs Road off Hwy 29. Take a lunch along and enjoy a picnic as you watch for Buffleheads, Coots, Mallards, and other waterfowl on this man-made lake. The more adventuresome birders may want to continue up Highlands Creek Canyon (past the reservoir, towards Shelby Creek Campgrounds). This is a good area to spy the Sage Sparrow and Rufous-crowned Sparrow and Rufous-crowned Sparrow. In spring and summer it is a good location to look for the Lazuli Bunting, Ash-throated Flycatchers, and the Nashville Warbler.
BOGGS MOUNTAIN The Boggs Mountain Demonstration State Fortest off Hwy. 175 in the Cobb Mountain area is a good example of Lake County's mountainous terrain. The birding is sometimes sparse here but is a great place to hike. Experienced birders, who get out early, may be treated to the sight of a Duskly Flycatcher, Solitary Vireo, Olive-sided Flycatcher, or Black-throated Gray Warblers in the spring and summer. Entrance to the forest is 1.2 miles past the town of Cobb as you head north on Hwy .175. There is no sign right at the entrance, but a few yards before the turn-off is a blue sign that reads "State Fire Station" Turn right just pass this sign and head into the forest. Stop at the main office if you would like a map of all the hiking trails and campgrounds.
ANDERSON MARSH STATE HISTORIC PARK AND McVICAR PRESERVE Anderson Marsh State Historic Park is located off Hwy. 53 between Lower Lake and the city of Clearlake. A creekside boat trip through the Anderson Marsh is the best way to see the Grebes, Herons, Marsh Wrens, Coots, Mallards, Great Egrets, and many other birds of this area, but many land-based birds are ready for viewing too. So far, 151 different species have been identified at the park. We can recommend a rather long hike at the park (approximately 3 miles in and back) that provides an excellent overview of the park's habitat and if you are lucky will acquaint you with the Lewis Woodpecker. The hike will take you to the Redbud Audubon Society's McVicar Preserve a 170acre wildlife preserve on the shores of Clear Lake. If you are ambitious, follow the trial all the way through the preserve and you will find a picnic table
awaiting your use, courtesy of Redbud Audubon Society. Anderson Marsh State Historic Park is open Wednesday-Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., but is accessible every day of the week. During off hours, park across the highway from the park entrance. We recommend obtaining a brochure on the park either at park headquarters or from the Lake County Visitor Information Center in Lucerne. A checklist of birds of Anderson Marsh is available at the Ranch House (seasonally opened) for $2.50. A park brochure outlines the trails to the McVicar Preserve and other areas of the park. If you are unable to obtain a brochure, just remember to follow the well-marked trail, next to the fence line on the south boundary of the park leading to the Native American Round House on Lewis Ridge. To reach McVicar, continue south of the Round House heading west and northwest on the well-marked trail. When the trail splits, turn left to go to McVicar (past the Bald Eagle sign). As you pass by Lewis Ridge, the site
of the Native American Round House, keep your eye out for the elusive and beautiful Lewis Woodpecker. You may see it flying from one huge Valley Oak to the next. In winter, look for Bald Eagles flying over the marsh. Other birds like Acorn Woodpeckers, Nutall's Woodpeckers, White-breasted Nuthatches, Oregon Juncos, Marsh Hawks, Yellow-rumped Warblers, and a variety of Sparrows will also be spotted. If you decide not to embark on the McVicar trek, the other hiking trails in the park also afford good birding.www.parks.ca.gov/default.asp?page_id=483
BORAX LAKE An excellent winter birdwatching spot is Borax Lake. One can often spy flocks of Northern Shovelers, Ruddy Ducks, Scaups, and Buffleheads on Borax Lake during the winter months. Eared Grebes are also a fairly common sighting on this lake. It is also a good location to look for migrating shorebirds in late July, August, and September. There are currently records for Semi-palmated Plover, Greater Yellowlegs, Willet, Baird's and Pectoral Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowitcher, Wilson's Red-necked Phalarope, Western and Least Sandpipers, and Long-billed Dowitcher. The easiest way to find Borax Lake is to simply drive through the city of Clearlake on Lakeshore Drive, heading northwest. There are lots of turnouts along the main road where it is convenient to pull over and view the ducks with your spotting scope or binoculars.
BLM CACHE CREEK ACCESS TRAIL A hike along the BLM Cache Creek Access Trail will give birdwatchers a chance to see the magnificent Bald Eagle. The trailhead is located on the south side of Hwy. 20 just five miles east of the intersection of Highways 53 and 20 (The Y). The turnoff is west of the bridge over the North Fork of Cache Creek. Trail maps are available at the trailhead.
THE CLARK'S AND THE WESTERN GREBE The Clark's and Western Grebe are very similar in appearance, and until recently were considered one species. To differentiate between the two, study the black cap on the bird's head. In the Clark's Grebe, the black cap does not usually extend to the eye. In the Western Grebe the black cap extends to include eyes. Other differences include a yellow-green bill in the Western Grebe and a yellow-orange bill in the Clark's Grebe. Both birds are prevalent on Clear Lake.
BIRDING BY BOAT
If you are fortunate to own a boat or have access to one (boat rentals are available on Clear Lake) the world of birdwatching can be greatly expanded. An excellent way to tour Anderson marsh is via boat. In the spring you will see nesting herons on an island on the marsh. Canoeing through the marsh is also a rewarding experience. You can launch your canoe at nearby Shaws Shady Acreas Resort on Cache Creek just north of the park (turn left off Hwy. 53, then left again onto a frontage road). Shaws Resort also rents rowboats with small outboard motors which are useful in touring the marsh. If you are motoring, please approach tules slowly. Boat wakes can disturb nesting birds. If you launch your boat at the State Park or at the County Park, be prepared for some wonderful sightings, especially in early spring. In between the two parks is an active heron and cormorant rookery (nesting area). Clark's and Western grebes are also prevalent on this stretch of shoreline because of the
abundance of tules and natural habitat. An early and mid-spring boat trip will no doubt treat you to the sight of grebes doing their famous "dance" across the water. Osprey nests can be seen at the State Park and also along the north shore of the lake from Lakeport all the way to Nice. Rodman Slough also affords good birding by boat. While out on the lake, don't forget to look for a variety of gulls and the beautiful Caspian tern which has been recently sighted on Clear Lake. Winter months usually afford good sightings of large flocks of common Mergansers, Double-crested Cormorants, and an occasional Bald Eagle.
BOGGS LAKE PRESERVE Located on Harrington Flat Road off Bottle Rock Road, between Cobb and Kelseyville.