Summer Birding Hotspots: 2023
Bravo Lake and Lake Success have a nice assortment of waterfowl year round. Bravo has no shade and Lake Success has very little, so go early in the day.
Sequoia National Park: Hwy 198 passes several different habitats with different species at each level. Foothill and chaparral birds extend to Hospital Rock- again you need an early start as the birds are much less active late in the morning when it’s hot.
Giant Forest will cool you down pretty quickly. When the Valley goes over 100 degrees, thunderclouds form in the high country, followed by spotty thundershowers. Be prepared with some rainproof covering just in case. These Sequoia Groves are home to Pileated Woodpecker, White-headed Woodpecker, Brown Creeper, Hammond’s Flycatcher, Pacific Slope Flycatcher, Mountain Quail, and the raucous Steller’s Jay. Sometimes the difficult warblers can be seen, such as Hermit and Townsend’s Warblers.
Mineral King: The winding road, partly dirt, is a long slog. But the MK Valley is good for Lazuli Bunting, Green-tailed Towhee, Olive -sided Flycatcher, Purple Finches, Northern Goshawk in addition to the more common mountain birds. Atwell Mill is another Sequoia grove.
Tulare Water Treatment Plant: There is a shallow settling pond just east of the motorsports park on Paige Ave with easy access. If there is water in that pond, it is one of the few shorebird habitats in Tulare County. Shorebird southward migration begins in July and extends through September. You can also view the 8 raised ponds south of Paige Ave. They have more waterfowl.
Atwell Island/ Ton Tache Wetland: Water is kept on this pond through summer. It has become overgrown with cattails and tules but still provides homes to waterfowl, Sora,Common Yellowthroat, Yellow-headed Blackbird Visiting is best at dawn or dusk
because many birds will feed outside Ton Tache in the daytime and just spend the night there. Take the only road going south out of Alpaugh until it makes a hard left. Instead of turning left with the paved road, go straight ahead on the dirt road. Turn right at the T and then take the first left to reach the parking lot. Viewing platform is on the right to the west.
Corocoran Reservoir is located at Nevada Avenue and 6th Avenue. This is a series of ponds that can be viewed from a few different points. Waterfowl are common, including a variety of terns and sometimes white pelicans. Passerine species can be seen in the vegetation on the pond edges. This area is best birded with a scope due to the large size of the ponds and early in the morning due to the bright reflection from the sun later in the day.
Alpaugh County Park in Alpaugh is a small maintained lawn with many deciduous trees surrounded by weedy vegetation. A narrow drainage ditch runs on the west side of the park and provides an entertaining place to watch birds bathe when it’s filled with water. The park mostly attracts locally common and urban birds. The park is accessible on foot.
The corner of 10th Ave and Utica Avenue (35.933985, -119.644711) offers a variety of habitats. There is a small patch of willow, ash, and oak trees on the southwest corner that attracts migrants and locally common birds. The freshwater canal attracts some waterfowl and shorebirds. And in the patches of tules on the northeast corner, you may find numerous passerines. This area can be enjoyed by a short walk at the different corners.
A large dairy at 10 1/2 Avenue and Lansing Avenue is flush with birds when its ponds are full, which is intermittent. Expect to see species of teals, sandpipers, and a large variety of other shorebirds and waterfowl. Birding can be done from a car because the ponds are located on private property at a busy enterprise.
Alpaugh Canal (Road 30 to Road 38/Old BLM Trail) is a dirt levee road along the Alpaugh Canal. Willow trees form a dense canopy in some areas that attract passerines and raptor. This area can be birded on foot by parking on Road 38.
Hidden Valley Park (2150 N 11th Ave, Hanford) is an urban park with manicured grass, large conifer trees, a small pond, and a meandering drainage with some native trees and shrubs. This park invites a variety of urban birds, passerines, and waterfowl, with occasional rarities.
Kings Row can be entered from South 6th Ave at Burris Park Drive. It runs the extent of Burris Park Road from South 6th Ave in Kingsburg and terminates at the south end of Burris Park. This shady paved road runs along an irrigation canal that is lined with Valley oaks and orchards. The vegetation hosts warblers, raptors, woodpeckers, sparrows, and a variety of other species.
Burris Park is a large semi-urban park sandwiched between a meander of the Kings River. Enter from 6500 Clinton Avenue in Kingsburg. Large nonnative and Valley oak trees populate the maintained turf while other shrubs and native trees run the edges of the park in the riverbed. This vegetation invites a variety of passerines and raptors to the area. Adjacent wheat fields host red-winged blackbirds.
When driving from site to site, don't forget to look for red-winged blackbirds or tricolored blackbirds in the wheat fields!
Check eBird.org for other Tulare/Kings hotspots