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Saturday, July 20


Iím in Ventura, California, for a wedding.† My cousin Teresa is getting married, and Christina is officiating at the wedding, so we flew down yesterday.


There was a little extra time this morning, so I headed up the Ojai Freeway to Canada Larga Road.† I had seen reports on eBird of a couple of species that I need for this year, ones that I wonít see anywhere else Iíll be going this year.† I saw several species as I drove up the road, including Western Scrub-Jay, Black-headed Grosbeak, Mourning Dove, and a little woodpecker that was probably a Nuttalís Woodpecker.† I pulled over when I saw the woodpecker, and as I stopped, I saw a couple of smaller birds fly up into a tree.† I searched the tree with my binoculars, and did see some birds up high.† One of them looked like an oriole, either a female or a juvenile male.† Itís kind of difficult to distinguish between species of female and juvenile orioles, but I thought it was probably my target species.† I played the song on my phone, and in a couple of minutes heard a response and spotted a lovely male HOODED ORIOLE, a new one for my year list.† I had tried for that species in San Diego, and when I didnít see one, I gave up on it for the year, as they donít come up north.† I even got some pictures of the handsome guy.



Here is one of him singing back to me.



And this last one is my favorite.† Again he was singing to me (or my phone).



So, with that one under my belt, I continued up the road.† At another stop, I saw three birds fly into a bush, and they turned out to be Lark Sparrows.† Since I have so few pictures today, here is a blurry picture of a Lark Sparrow, with its striking head markings.



I only had about 20 or 30 minutes for birding, so I was glad to get the oriole.† The other species I was looking for on that road was Blue Grosbeak, which I didnít see, but on my way back to the hotel, I did see a couple of birds, and I picked up blue on them.† They turned out to be Western Bluebirds, though.† Maybe I can get back up there tomorrow and look for the grosbeak.


After picking up Christina and dressing for the wedding (tropical casual Ė right up my alley, with the Hawaiian shirts that Christina makes for me), we drove over to my cousin Tomís house, where the wedding is to take place later this afternoon.† From the deck at his house, I noticed hummingbirds in his yard, and I managed to get a good look at several of them, and they were ALLENíS HUMMINGBIRDS, another one I had given up on when I missed them in San Diego.† I have tried for a picture, and Iíll try some more.† Maybe Iíll have more to add to this later.† For now, it is back to the party for me.


A little later in the afternoon, still before the wedding itself.† Here is a picture of me in my wedding finery, with Tomís ceramic macaw.



Still no picture of Allenís Hummingbird, but here is a lovely butterfly from the side.



It didnít spread its wings very often, but I eventually managed to get this shot of it fairly well spread out.



Here is a picture of a female House Finch.



Cousin Tom has a spectacular house with a fantastic view, and he also has many acres of avocado trees.† Here is one hillside of avocado trees.



Thatís it for now.† Maybe Iíll add again later.


OK, one final entry.† We had the wedding ceremony, the drinks, the dinner, the dancing, and I got some more pictures.


Here is a picture of the people gathered around as Teresa and Buff exchanged their vows.



And a closeup of Christina and the happy couple.



I was still trying to get a picture of an Allenís Hummingbird, and they were around, but they never sat still for long at all.† I finally managed this one, of a male Allenís Hummingbird.



That was good, but technically, you canít tell that isnít a male Rufous Hummingbird, because you canít see the color of his back or the top of his head.† So, I kept trying.


While waiting, a couple of Lesser Goldfinches flew in briefly, and I got these two pictures of a male Lesser Goldfinch.




Meanwhile, the party had moved on to dancing.



There were a couple of hawks overhead.† I didnít have my binoculars with me, and I canít tell for sure from the pictures, but most likely they were Red-tailed Hawks, although they donít really look like it to me.



Finally, I got some definitive pictures of a male Allenís Hummingbird.† You can see the green back and the green color on the top of the head in the second picture.




Iíve heard some birders say that a small percentage of male Rufous Hummingbirds have a green back to some extent, and Rufous could be migrating through here now, but Iím calling the ones I saw today Allenís Hummingbird.


So, that is my report for the day.† Two more birds for my year list, and a wedding.† What could be better?† I seriously doubt I will see anything else new before we go home on Monday, but Iíll be back.† If nothing else, I leave for Australia on September 23, and then there will be a report just about every day for six weeks.† I forget exactly how many species I have for the year now, and I donít have internet access at the moment to check my website, but Iím doing well, somewhere over 312 species so far.†† Iíll send this out from the hotel tonight, and upload it to my website.† What a life!



Sunday, July 21


Hereís another report.† Most of the relatives were heading for home either last night or this morning, so we had an extra day here.† After breakfast here at our hotel, Christina went walking to meet Teresa and Buff, where they were having breakfast, and I headed back up to Canada Larga Road to look for the species I had missed there yesterday.


Upon arrival, I saw a nice little flock of Bushtits foraging in a small tree.† A little farther on there were lots of Western Bluebirds.† I also got Western Scrub-Jay, California Towhee, Northern Mockingbird, one of the kingbirds (Western or Cassinís), and this guy, over a hundred yards away.



Greater Roadrunner.† Beep beep. †The picture is blurry because I was hand holding the camera at 50X optical zoom, but at least the bird is recognizable.† I couldnít have even attempted that picture with any other camera.


I stopped 6 or 8 times as I drove up the canyon, playing the song of my target species at each stop, and walking up and down the road.† No response.† I didnít even know if this particular species responds to recorded playback, but I was trying it, to see.† For some reason, there was a whole lot more traffic today than yesterday.† The road only goes for 4 or 5 miles before ending at a gate to a ranch.† Maybe there was some kind of event going on at the ranch, I donít know.† I also saw a huge batch of people riding horses up into the hills.† There had to have been 30 or 40 of them.† Later, I saw all the horse trailers parked in a field.† That didnít seem connected to all the traffic on the road, though, as the horse people were a mile or more from their trailers when I saw them.


By the time I got to the end of the road at the gate, I had been looking for well over an hour, with no luck at all.† So, I gave up and headed back.† For some reason, I decided to try once more, and I stopped just off the road and played the song out my window, without even getting out of the car.† I didnít hear or see any response, and I was about to leave when I spotted a bird in a little tree about 30 feet down the road.† I got the binoculars on it, and what do you know, it was a beautiful male BLUE GROSBEAK, the very bird I had been looking for.† Here is a picture of it from the back.



The blue back and tail is like a male Western Bluebird, but the brown and black on the wings is different, as is the silver colored chisel-like bill and the black around the bill.† Here is what it looks like from the front.



It was actually making a little ďchipĒ sound, which is the contact call of that species, probably in response to the song I had been playing.† I presume it perched up in the tree to look around because I had played the song, although I didnít actually see it fly in, and it could have been there all along.† It didnít hang around long, but I had my bird, so I pumped my fist and did a little dance.† Not really, but I was happy.


So, I headed back down the road, and at the point where I had seen all the Western Bluebirds before, I saw a bird perched up on a bush.† I was sure it was still another bluebird, but for some reason, I put the binoculars on it, and it was a second male Blue Grosbeak.† It was pretty far away, and I was only able to get off one shot of it before it flew off, but here is a poor picture of what it looks like from the side.



Two Blue Grosbeaks.† Fantastic!† Iíve seen Blue Grosbeak less than half a dozen times before, so that was great.† I hadnít really expected to see one today, but there you go.


That was it for the birding today.† After some lunch, we went out of the harbor on Buff and Teresaís power boat and roared around for 15 or 20 minutes in the hazy weather.† You really couldnít see anything, but at least the seas were calm.† I enjoyed the cruise through the harbor and the canals with houses on them more than the open ocean part of the cruise.† It was a lot quieter and a lot smoother, too.† Lots of beautiful houses and boats.


So, tonight we plan to go out to dinner with some relatives who are still around, and then tomorrow we make the long trip back home again.† The drive to Los Angeles International Airport will be the worst part, probably, although I donít enjoy plane flights at all any more, and the plane will almost certainly be very full.† Ugh.


So, with my Blue Grosbeaks today, I am up to at least 313 species for the year.† Iíll probably try to pick up a handful more in the Seattle area before I head for Australia in September.