1. Serene Lakes (Ice lakes) - Lake Van Norden
Soda Springs Rd. off Donner Pass Rd. (Soda Springs exit from I-80)
Blue Grouse, Black-backed Woodpecker, Osprey, White Pelican, tundra swan and many other high-elevation birds.
2. Discovery Trail
Hwy 20 near the intersection of the Bowman Lakes Road just a mile West of the
Handicapped accessible with asphalt paths and boardwalks through a manicured
forest it was built by PG&E who maintain it. The paths lead over and along the
Bear River and throughout there are kiosks, benches and interpretive signage. To
get there turn on to the Bowman Lakes Road from Highway 20 and proceed about a
half a mile to an ample parking area.
There are a significant variety of birds in the area. Blackbirds,
Flycatchers, Swallows, Bluebirds are seen in the field as you enter the woods.
Along the river you may find Tanagers, Grosbeaks, several varieties of
Woodpeckers, Warblers, Thrushes, Mountain Chikadee, Brown Creeper,
Northern Flicker, Yellow-Rumped Warbler, Harry Woodpecker,
Dipper (water ouzel), Stellar Jay and Vireos.
3. Prosser Reservoir / Sagehen Creek / Alder Creek/ Boca Reservoir,
Highway 89 just North of I-80. Boca exit off I-80 for boca.
The Eastern slope of the Sierra's affords a distinctly different forest and
avian population. To reach these areas exit I-80 at the Eastern most Truckee
exit and take Highway 89 North. The second road is the Prosser Dam Road. The
reservoir is about 8 miles down this Road. The Creeks lie further North with
Roadside parking areas.
The Birds that may be seen here include some waterfowl such as White
Pelicans, Mergansers, Ducks, Gulls and Geese. The Horned Lark is seen
in the open areas, while the Streams harbor a variety of
Warblers, Thrushes, and Vireos.
4. Martis Peak / Martis Creek.
Highway 267 South ofTruckee
Within a half mile after leaving the Highway 267 via recently paved road, an
aspen grove on the right had both Williamson's Sapsuckers
and Hairy Woodpeckers nesting here in 1998.
This is undoubtedly the best area in Placer County in Summer for the sapsucker.
As you reach Martis Creek, along Highway 267, you are in the most extensive area
of sagebrush that Placer County has to offer. Wintering raptors such as
Rough-legged Hawk, Prairie Falcon, and Merlin can be seen right from the
wide shoulders of the Highway 267. Mountain Bluebirds assemble in small
flocks here in Spring and Fall. Get off Highway 267 at the sign for Martis Creek
Wildlife Area. While most of the lake is in Nevada County, the drive through the
sagebrush is good for Green-tailed Towhee, Vesper and Brewer's sparrows.
A hike upstream is worthwhile. The mouth of the creek where it joins the lake is
where the first county record of Sanderling occurred in May 1998. The campground
loop offers quiet birding among Jeffery Pines. Pygmy Nuthatch, White-headed
Woodpecker and Williamson's Sapsuckers can be heard and seen here. Nest
boxes for Mountain Bluebird have been successful.
Highway 267 Truckee to Kings Beach
A long, scenic drive good for Williamson's Sapsuckers, Evening Grosbeaks and
distant views of the Lake. A recent forest fire within 1.2 mile of Hwy 267 is
the site of some of the best opportunities to see Black-backed Woodpecker. In
September 2006 I found 5 Black-backeds here. In winter this side road may be
closed. Along the road where there is a large orange-painted boulder,take a turn
south to the beautiful Watson Lake.
Squaw Valley -
Hwy 89 to Tahoe City
A short hike will take you to the cliffs where Gray-crowned Rosy Finches
Hwy 89 to Tahoe City
As you cross the bridge over the Truckee River, look for American Dipper
right there at the bridge. As you leave Hwy 89, take a mileage at the turnoff.
In 0.7 miles the road makes a split. Take the right fork and park immediately.
In the meadow, Black-backed, White-headed woodpeckers have nested in the
dead trees 30 feet off the road (As of 2006 the nest tree was felled). Also,
Red-breasted Sapsucker, Evening Grosbeak and other passerines nest
along the meadow edge. A hike through the meadow will lead back to the bridge where
American Dipper nests along the creek. From the paved road, to the south,
on the slope behind you, Blue Grouse can be heard booming in spring and
summer in the morning or evening. This is where we had 3 booming grouse on the
1998 Placer County Big Day.
CALIFORNIA BIRD TRIPS & LINKS TO SITE GUIDES
Birding Hotspots of Placer County, California
# If you have any questions or would like guide service to see birds, contact me via email:
Bruce Webb or telephone (916) 797-0535, Granite Bay, Placer County, California.
Ten Birding Hotspots in Nevada County
Birds of Nevada County
Nevada County Natural Resources Report
Species spotted on hikes around Donner Summit and Fallen Leaf lake, by Jim McKinney on a trip in July, 2007.
dark-eyed junco (Oregon)
Western wood peewee
last updated 7 July 2007