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Saturday, August 2, 2014

 

Iím actually writing this first part of the report on Saturday, August 2, but I donít plan to send it until I get a year bird.† Iím hoping that will be tomorrow.

 

Yesterday, Friday, August 1, I went up to Edmonds Marsh in search of a couple of species that had been reported there.† Either one would have been great, as neither was on my list of local BAD birds.† They were both migrant shorebirds, rather unusual for Edmonds.

 

I got there and didnít see anything except the usual Killdeer.† At the overlook by the tennis courts, there were a couple of birders, and I asked them about the two species.† They said they had seen both of them Ė Lesser Yellowlegs and Greater Yellowlegs, but neither was in view at the moment.† Here is a view of the Edmonds Marsh from that overlook.

 

When the tide is high enough, those muddy areas are flooded, but even though it was near high tide when I was there, I guess the tide wasnít all that high or something, as it was mostly mud.† I saw the dowitcher that the other birders had mentioned, but I had no way of knowing which of the two dowitcher species it was.† I also saw both Western and Least Sandpipers.† I moved around to the other overlooks, but an hour went by and I hadnít seen either of the yellowlegs species.† I was just about ready to pack it in and give up when a shorebird flew in and it was a Greater Yellowlegs.† The two yellowlegs species look very similar, but the Greater is quite a bit larger than the Lesser.† The Lesser is about the same size as Killdeer, and the Greater is several inches longer.† Here is a distant picture showing the yellowlegs and a couple of Killdeer.† The heat haze was bad enough that it is a terrible picture, but it does establish the size of the bird (significantly larger than the two Killdeer), so it was a Greater Yellowlegs.

 

The bird didnít stick around long at all, but it moved to where I could see it from another viewpoint, and I got these two pictures of it on its own.

 

 

Itís hard to tell in those pictures, as they are small, but looking closer, you can see that the base of the bill is gray, rather than black like the rest of it, which also indicates a Greater Yellowlegs.† So, Greater Yellowlegs was my BAD bird for that day, and it was an excellent one.

 

Today, Saturday, August 2, I left on my California trip.† I got away about 9:30, which is par for me on the getaway day for a trip.† I stopped a couple of places along the way in Washington to look for shorebirds, but never saw any.† In Oregon, I went through Warrenton and stopped at NW 13th St, but the only shorebirds were a couple of Killdeer.† I was hoping for Marbled Godwit or Black-bellied Plover for a BAD bird.† I tried the area around the Hammond Harbor, but all I saw there was some Brewerís Blackbirds, which would be an acceptable fallback BAD bird, but I would rather have saved that one for my drive home in two weeks, as I see them along the highway in Oregon.

 

My destination for tonight was Seaside, Oregon, and I got here just after three oíclock.† I went to the overlook of Seaside Cove on the south side, hoping to see something better than Brewerís Blackbird.† It didnít take long for me to see that there were many dozens of Common Murres out in the bay, diving for fish most of the time.† Most of them were too far out for pictures, but I did get some pictures of some closer to the shore.† Here is my favorite.

 

It was very hard to get pictures of them, both because of the distance and because they kept diving for fish.† They would only be on the surface for about 4 or 5 seconds before they dove again.† I would have to find the bird in my viewfinder (not so easy at 50X zoom), focus on them (also not so easy when they were going up and down with the waves and I was standing on rough rocks), and snap the picture before they dove again.† Here is another one.

 

Thatís a more common view of one, without its white belly showing.† Here is one that flapped its wings and showed off the white belly.

 

So, I had a decent BAD bird for the day, but I preferred to save Common Murre for the next couple of days, since they are indeed very common, and I might not see anything else good.† I knew there was another bird that spent its time on the rocky shore of Seaside Cove, so I walked down the beach a bit, looking for it.† Sure enough, I soon saw a number of Black Turnstones.† There was a group of about 30 or 40 of them there.† There was one Ruddy Turnstone with them, too.† That is a much less common species here, but I had already taken that one in Texas for a BAD bird, earlier this year.† It was a good opportunity to compare the two turnstone species, though.† Here is a side view of Black Turnstone.

 

Here is a Ruddy Turnstone for comparison.

 

The ruddy brown color on the back and the bright orange legs are the biggest tells for this species.† There is more white around the face as well.

 

There is another difference, too, seen from a front view.† Here is a front view of a Black Turnstone.

 

Here is the Ruddy Turnstone from the front.

 

Note that the black on the breast has two lobes in Ruddy Turnstone, while there is only a single lobe in Black Turnstone.

 

Iím sure that is much more about turnstones than anyone wanted to read, but here is a final picture, showing both species together.

 

Hereís a view of Seaside Cove from the south side, where I was watching the birds.

 

The turnstones and some gulls were on the rocks in the foreground.

 

Here is a picture of a California Gull.† Note the yellow legs and dark eye.

 

Here is a Heermannís Gull in winter plumage.† Iím not sure if it is a mature gull or a third year immature one.† They take four years to reach full maturity and their adult plumage.

 

There were dozens of gulls, Caspian Terns, and Brown Pelicans flying around and diving into the water to catch fish.† It is always a challenge to get a picture of a flying bird, but I tried for well over half an hour, while also trying to get a decent picture of a Common Murre, when they kept diving.† My murre pictures are above, and here is my best picture of a flying Caspian Tern.

 

And, finally, here is my best picture of a flying Brown Pelican.

 

So, that was my adventure for today.† I gave it up about 4:30 and checked into my humble Motel 6 room.† I have a microwave and small refrigerator, and the Marinerís game is on TV, so Iím fine here.† It is about the most expensive Motel 6 room I have ever stayed in, but everything else was absurdly more expensive, here on the Oregon Coast on an August weekend.† I have my dinner and my breakfast with me, and I have the fixinís to make my own lunch for tomorrow, too, so Iím golden, as my friend Chris Willis says.

 

Iíll take Black Turnstone for my BAD bird for today, saving Common Murre in case I donít get anything better tomorrow or the next day.

 

Iíve changed my mind, and Iím sending this report out today.† If I see a year bird tomorrow, like I hope to, Iíll send another one then.† What a life!

 

 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

 

I had a kind of slow day today.† Not many birds and I didnít travel very many miles.† I woke at 4:15 and only slept a little after that, and finally got up just after 8.† I got out of there at about 9:30, but only to go over to Seaside Cove again to see what the bird action was.† There were tons of birds flying around and hitting the water, with others on the surface.† They were all the same ones as yesterday, though.† Cormorants, gulls, terns, murres, and pelicans.† I went back to my room and checked out about 10:30 or so and hit the road.

 

My first stop was Cannon Beach which is only about 10 or 12 miles down the highway.† I was looking for a sea bird that nests on Haystack Rock there.† I stopped on the road overlooking Haystack Rock, but it was too far away to see my target bird.† I found a public access to the beach and lugged my scope down onto the sand and approached the rock.† Here is a view of Haystack Rock from my vantage point on the beach.

 

You can see that the tide was out.† I could have gotten closer to the rock, but then my viewing angle would have gotten steeper and I wouldnít have been able to see as much.† As it was, I was close enough to easily see all the gulls and murres on the rock, at their nests.† The murres nest in burrows, and hereís a picture of a number of them clustered around some burrows.

 

Note that that picture was taken from the same point as the one above.† I soon was able to see TUFTED PUFFINS from time to time, as they flew off or onto the rock.† The ones coming back usually had fish in their bills, for the young ones waiting in their burrows.† It was really distant for pictures, but I did get one of a puffin on the ground that is recognizable anyway.

 

I had excellent views of them as they flew almost overhead sometimes, while returning to the rock with fish, but I couldnít ever get a picture of one that is in focus.† I got one more distant picture of a flying puffin, with a gull.† I think the gull was probably trying to steal the fish that the puffin was bringing back to the nest.† You canít see the puffinís colorful head, but the orange feet are a giveaway.

 

Here is a picture looking south along Cannon Beach.

 

Everywhere I went today there were mobs of people.† Traffic was slow and parking was difficult everywhere.† I sure like the Oregon Coast better in the winter, even if it is raining, which it often is.

 

Hereís one more picture of Haystack Rock, with the Needles, the two rocks to the left of it.

 

I stopped a number of other places, but didnít stay long anywhere, mainly due to the crowds.† I took the scenic Three Capes Loop road out of Tillamook, although the north part of it has been closed since a slide in January 2013.† It was a little hazy in the distance so I didnít take many pictures of scenery today, and I didnít see many birds.† Here is a picture of Lookout Cape from the state park there.

 

Oregon has really great parks all along the coast, dozens of them.† They were all crowded with people and cars today, though.† Some of them were temporarily closed to entry due to being full.

 

I finally made my slow way to Lincoln City, which is less than 100 miles down the highway from Seaside, where I stayed last night.† I planned it this way for two reasons.† First, I wanted plenty of time to look for puffins Ė I had a couple of other places I could have tried for them if I had missed them at Cannon Beach Ė and second, I wanted to hit a couple of places just south of here tomorrow, because I think I can get Black Oystercatcher at one or the other of them, and that would make a good BAD bird for tomorrow.† If I miss the oystercatcher, I can use Common Murre as my fallback bird, since I haven't used it yet, even though I have seen a ton of them the last couple of days.

 

So, with the addition of Tufted Puffin to my year list, Iím now at 437 species for the year, of which 17 have been lifers and there was one new one for my US list as well.† Tomorrow I plan to go another 200 miles down the coast to Gold Beach, which is supposed to take about 4 hours and 20 minutes of driving, although at the pace of traffic along the highway at this time of year, that could be longer, Iím sure.† In addition, I will stop a number of places.† I donít expect to get a year list bird tomorrow, but maybe I can get some good scenery pictures.

 

 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

 

On Monday, August 4, I headed south at about 9:00.† The sun was shining when I left, but by the time I got to my first stop, Boiler Bay, only about 12 or 15 miles down the road, it was overcast with low clouds.† At least it wasnít raining, like the last time I was there, in January.† I immediately spotted my target bird, Black Oystercatcher, so that was satisfying.† I got a distant picture in the poor light, but since it is the only real bird picture I have for Monday, here it is.

 

I stopped briefly at Depoe Bay, but since I already had the oystercatcher, I didnít spend much time there.

 

In Newport, I stopped at the Hatfield Marine Science Center, to look for a Gray Catbird that has been reported there.† That is a very unusual bird for the Oregon Coast, but I saw lots of them in Texas, so it was really just an exercise for me, and a chance for pictures.† I found the spot where the catbird has been seen, but it didnít show for me today.† I did see one Whimbrel out on the beach, and that would be a good BAD bird, if I wanted to use it.† The light was completely wrong for a picture, though.

 

My next stop was to take this picture of the Heceta Head lighthouse.

 

At that point, the sun was peeking through the clouds a bit, but I soon was back in the overcast.† I stopped in Bandon for a late lunch Ė ham, cheese, peppers, peas, Fritos, and a Diet Coke.† I ate it while sitting in the car looking at and listening to the ocean.† After I ate, I moved on down the road a quarter of a mile and stopped to look at Face Rock.† Here is a picture of it.

 

Do you see the face?† Here is a close up of some murres in the mouth of the face.

 

They are kind of dribbling out of the mouth down the chin, it appears to me.

 

Here is a picture of the beach there at Bandon, looking north from the Face Rock overlook.

 

You can see that it was still overcast and also a bit hazy in the distance.† My pictures would have been a lot more satisfying if it had been a bright, clear sunny day.

 

I stopped to check out a few more parks and waysides, and then stopped at Port Orford and sat on a bench and watched the ocean for a while.† The sun was out again by then, and it was very pleasant.† Here is a picture of the bay there at Port Orford, where I sat on a bench in the sun and strong wind.

 

Itís hard to tell the scale in that picture, but those are two people with three dogs, at the waterís edge right in front of the white surf line, in the middle of the picture.

 

After a couple more short stops, I got to my humble Motel 6 in Gold Beach.† Again I have a microwave and fridge, and the room is clean and fresh smelling.† I even have a king size bed tonight.† I stopped in Port Orford and bought a couple of ears of corn, and I plan to cook them in the microwave to have with my tuna mac and cheese.† I donít recall ever cooking corn in a microwave, but Iím going to give it a shot.

 

I saw some Great Egrets just north of Coos Bay today, so I have four potential decent BAD birds Ė Black Oystercatcher, Whimbrel, Great Egret, and Common Murre.† Iím going to take Whimbrel for todayís Bird-A-Day bird.† Iíll add to this and send it out in the next few days sometime.

 

Today, Tuesday, August 5, I moved on down the road another 130 miles to Arcata, California.† My first stop was to gas up the car in Brookings, Oregon.† Not only is gas about 20 cents a gallon cheaper in Oregon, the California gas has an additive that always cuts down my gas mileage.† I always try to enter California with a full tank of gas.

 

My second stop was at the discount liquor store just over the border in California.† The prices were comparable to Liquor Barn, where I usually stop on my way home, but I got a couple of cases of whiskey anyway, since I was there.† Iíll get a couple more at Costco or Liquor Barn before I leave California.† I figure I save $60 to $80 a case by buying in California, and I donít mind being a smuggler.† Washington liquor taxes are that much higher.

 

My third stop was a birding one, at Crescent City.† I had several potential good BAD birds I could see there, and I had plenty of time to look.† Almost right away I saw a flock of Elegant Terns, one of my prime targets.† There were also a bunch of Black-bellied Plovers on the beach where a stream ran into the harbor.† There were three Black Oystercatchers, too.† I got a picture that is better than the one I showed yesterday, although it is no great shakes.

 

Here is a distant picture of a Black-bellied Plover that is still mostly in breeding (summer) plumage.

 

In the winter, they lose all that black color and are very nondescript gray and white.† This bird has started to change, but mostly still looks like the summer plumage.

 

Here is a picture of an Elegant Tern.† Note the slender yellow-orange bill.

 

Here is a picture of the other tern species seen in Crescent City in the summer, Caspian Tern.† Note the thicker, red-orange bill, with a black tip.

 

The fact that the Elegant Tern is white on its forehead and the top of its head is not significant Ė both species lose the black feathers on the top of their heads in the winter, and the Elegant Tern is just farther along in its molt to winter plumage.† Caspian Tern is also significantly larger than Elegant Tern, but you donít see that when the birds are on their own.

 

Iíve used Caspian Tern as a BAD bird already, but Black-bellied Plover, Black Oystercatcher, or Elegant Tern would be excellent BAD birds.† Oh yes, I forgot to mention, while driving between Brookings and Crescent City, I saw a Red-shouldered Hawk on a wire along the road, and that would also make a fine BAD bird.† So, today I was destined to have a number of choices for my BAD bird.† That will likely be the case for most of this trip, as there are a lot of species that are present here in California that we donít have in Western Washington.

 

Here is a picture of the Crescent City harbor, from the corner where all the shorebirds were feeding.

 

I drove out to the B Street Pier (still in Crescent City), and I saw four Red-throated Loons right next to the pier.† I had never seen that species so close, and I had never seen it in breeding plumage, either.† These four birds were starting to molt into their drab winter plumage, but mostly they were still in breeding (summer) plumage.† Here is a picture of a Red-throated Loon.† I havenít ever gotten a picture of one before, let alone one in almost-breeding plumage.

 

It was the first time I had seen the red throat that gives the species its name.

 

One street over, A Street, ended at a parking lot for the park around the Crescent City lighthouse.† I thought it was very picturesque.† Here is a view from the harbor jetty.

 

There were four Common Ravens around, and I got the best picture Iíve ever gotten of a raven, I think.

 

The best ways to tell a raven from a crow are the voice and the shape of the tail when they are flying.† Common Raven also has a much larger bill than American Crow, and the feathers grow out along the top of the bill part way.† Ravens are generally larger than crows, too, but both species vary a lot, and there is a size overlap.

 

I drove to the other side of the harbor before leaving, but there wasnít anything interesting there.† I stopped just south of Orick at a pullout that had a nice view of the ocean, and I ate my humble lunch.† Today it was beef fajitas strips, cheese, peppers and peas, Cheetos, and the usual Diet Coke.† The beef fajitas was disappointing, and I wonít get it again.† Yesterdayís ham was much better, and I have more of that for tomorrow.

 

I had time to kill, and I got off the highway at Patrickís Point, to check out the state park there.† They wanted 8 bucks to get in, though, and Iím a cheap bastard, and they wouldnít let me drive to through to look it over, like some state parks will, so I moved on.† From a cliff top near there, I got this picture of a rock with a bunch of sea lions on it.† I love the way one of them has claimed the very top of the rock.

 

It must take a lot of effort to get to the top, and it isnít clear why the animal would bother, but maybe it is some kind of dominant behavior.† I wonder if it has to defend its position sometimes.

 

I drove through Trinidad, and then I went to my humble Motel 6 in Arcata, to see if I could check in at 2:00.† No dice; the room they had for me wasnít cleaned yet.† I wanted that particular room because it was one of their six rooms with a microwave and fridge, and that is what makes Motel 6 acceptable to me Ė I can heat my own dinner and my own brekkie.† This makes four Motel 6 nights in a row, a personal record, I think.

 

So, I went over to Arcata Marsh to look for birds.† The tide was out, which I had expected, and there were no shorebirds in sight.† I went over to the other side of the preserve and walked out to where I could see the mouth of the creek or river that flows into the bay there.† Thatís where all the shorebirds were.† I saw Marbled Godwits, Willets, dowitchers, and a few small sandpipers, mostly just standing around waiting for the tide to come in.† Here is a picture of a Marbled Godwit.

 

That one was another potential BAD bird for me.† Here is an American Avocet, one I have already used for a BAD bird.

 

Here is a Willet, another one I have already used for a BAD bird.

 

I find that picture interesting because it shows a transition plumage.† In the summer, this bird was black and white and red-brown on its back, and in the winter, it will be all gray.† This bird looks pretty raggedy, as some of its gray winter feathers have come in, and some of its summer ones remain.

 

Here is a Marbled Godwit (closer to the camera) and a Willet next to each other.† The picture shows the relative sizes and you can see the differences between the species.

 

There were several groups of dowitchers feeding and loafing there.† I have gone on before about the difficulty of distinguishing Long-billed Dowitcher from Short-billed Dowitcher.† They look very similar and their plumage varies with the season, but I keep hoping to learn to be able to distinguish them by their look.† The safest way is by their voice, but they seldom call, in my experience.

 

Anyway, I took a lot of pictures, and Iíll show some of them here, with the idea that maybe someday I will learn to be able to tell the difference from appearance.† Here are four pictures of dowitchers.† The first two were taken about twenty minutes before the second two, and most likely represent different groups of birds.† Both species could be here at this time of year.† They are both migrating through here now.

 

 

 

 

I know, that was completely boring, even to me.† But, I wanted to record the pictures, in case I learn to tell the two species apart someday.† I did do one thing today that is a clue, I think.† With the group represented by the second two pictures, I played the calls of both species.† They totally ignored the Short-billed call, but all of them immediately stopped feeding and stood very still for 20 or 30 seconds when I played the Long-billed call.† I suspect that means that they were Long-billed Dowitchers, but what do I know?† So far, dowitchers remain a mystery to me.

 

Looking in the other direction, I spotted a group of shorebirds, and they turned out to mostly be yellowlegs.† There are two species of yellowlegs, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs.† As it turned out, both species were present in the group.† The easiest way to distinguish them is their size.† As you would expect, Greaters are larger than Lessers.† Here is a picture that shows a yellowlegs with a dowitcher.† I donít know which species of dowitcher it is, of course, but both are about the same size as Lesser Yellowlegs, and are much smaller than Greater Yellowlegs.† So, here is a Lesser Yellowlegs and a dowitcher.

 

I have used Greater Yellowlegs as a BAD bird, but not the Lesser, so far.

 

Here is another comparison, a picture showing three Greater Yellowlegs and two Lesser Yellowlegs.† I think it is easy to see which ones are larger and which ones are smaller.

 

So, that was it for today for pictures.† I stopped at the visitor center and asked about Black-crowned Night-Herons, which used to roost there.† I was told they still do, but the pond they roost around has gotten so overgrown that it is hard to see them these days.† I was interested because that would make a good BAD bird, and I was thinking I might stop by tomorrow morning and pick it up for a BAD bird, before heading out on the road on my last travel day.† I looked, but I couldnít see any night-herons, so I guess Iíll have to find something else for tomorrow.† The tide is supposed to be a lot higher tomorrow morning, so maybe I can pick up Marbled Godwit in the morning for my BAD bird.† I have at least 5 and a half hours of driving to do tomorrow, and it is likely to be somewhat longer as I will be hitting Sacramento right as rush hour is building up.† Iíll go over to the marsh in the morning and see what I can get, and then hit the road as soon as I can.

 

Iím going to take Elegant Tern for my BAD bird for today, as it is the least likely species I will see again this year, based on where I will be going.† No new year-birds today, but I have enough pictures that Iím going to send out a report anyway.

 

By the way, the corn on the cob cooked in the microwave was great last night, and I have two more ears for tonight, along with tuna mac again.† I love my Rambler dinners on the road.

 

It has been a very enjoyable drive down the coast, and next I have two or three birding days in the Sacramento area, before going on to the Monterey area.† My challenge now is to get a decent BAD bird for tomorrow.† Life rolls on.

 

 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

 

On Wednesday, I was up and away at 8:15.† I had 5 Ĺ hours of driving that day, so I needed to get a BAD bird and hit the road.† I went over to the Arcata marsh and immediately saw some Marbled Godwits, so that was my BAD bird for yesterday.† I was heading toward Sacramento by 8:30, and I drove the 5 Ĺ hours and got into Sacramento at about 2, beating the traffic, which was great.† I got a couple of pictures in Fredís back yard that evening.† Here is a California Towhee.

 

California Towhee is a very plain bird, but note the small streaks and color under the chin and the reddish-brown color under the tail.

 

Here is a Western Scrub-Jay at the feeder.

 

This morning, Thursday, Fred and I headed up into the mountains to Carson Pass.† We stopped in Jackson to get me a Subway sandwich, and then again at Ellis Road to look and listen for birds, but had no luck there.† We got to Carson Pass about noon, and I ate my lunch at a table there.† There were a couple of Western Tanagers around, as well as four Common Ravens, but nothing I needed for my year list.† I had 5 or 6 birds that have been reported there recently that I needed for my year list, so I was hopeful.

 

We took the trail to Emigrant Lake, but only planned to go as far as Frog Lake.† The elevation is about 8600 feet, and Frog Lake is about a mile from the trailhead.† It was almost all uphill, and I proceeded slowly at that elevation.† Fred and his dog, Tugboat, were patient with me and waited while I rested frequently, but eventually they went on ahead so Tugboat could have a swim in Frog Lake.† I had gotten about ĺ of the way to the lake when Fred and Tug got back to where I was, and I turned back then.† So, I ended up ďhikingĒ about a mile and a half, we figured, with lots of stops.

 

It was really quite birdy for mountain birding.† We saw and heard a number of species.† Shortly into the hike I saw a couple of CASSINíS VIREOS for my year list.† I tried for a picture, but although the little guys approached, they never posed long enough for a picture.† So, I had my first year-bird for the day.

 

A little later, after Fred and Tug had gone on ahead, I saw some little birds in a tree, and one was a Yellow-rumped Warbler (common), but the other was a female HERMIT WARBLER, my second year-bird for the day.† I wasnít sure of the identification until I got back to the car, where I had left my field guide, but I saw it well, and thatís what it was.

 

We also heard another one I needed, CLARKíS NUTCRACKER.† Fred saw a few of them, but I only heard them.† Iím counting ďheard onlyĒ birds this year, though, so it goes on the list.

 

We got back to the car at about 3 and headed down the mountain.† We stopped at one place, but saw and heard nothing.† We also stopped to visit Fredís ex-in-laws for an hour or so.† We sat on their porch and I got some pictures of the Red-breasted Nuthatches that kept coming to their feeder.† Here are a couple of pictures of Red-breasted Nuthatch.

 

 

We got home at about 6:30 and went out for pizza tonight.† My three year-birds today brings me to 440 species for the year, of which 17 have been lifers and one has been new for my US list.† The temperature was 97 here in Sacramento today, but it was very pleasant at 8600 feet, and we actually went through a heavy thundershower on the way down the mountain.† Tomorrow we plan to go up into the foothills in search of another year-bird I need.

 

 

Friday, August 08, 2014

 

Before I start into todayís report, I wanted to mention that I forgot to say what my BAD bird was for Thursday.† I chose Clarkís Nutcracker, although Cassinís Vireo or Hermit Warbler would have been just as good.

 

While I was waiting for Fred to get up this morning, I went out in his backyard and got this picture of a male House Finch at a feeder.

 

While I was sitting out in the yard, I was accompanied by Fredís cat, which is claims is actually his dog Tugboatís cat.† The catís official name is Tugís Toyboat.† Fred got the cat soon after he got Tugboat, to keep tug company.† They get along really well together.† Here is Tugís Toyboat, who is friendlier than he looks in this picture.

 

We didnít get out of here until about 11, and by that time the temperature was climbing up into the 90ís.† We stopped in Auburn and picked up a Subway tuna sandwich for me, then went on up to our birding destination for the day.† It was our first time at Hidden Falls Regional Park, northeast of Auburn.† The area around there was quite green considering the terrible drought they are having here.† It is rural residential, and the people seem to have plenty of irrigation water because they were watering their fields and lawns, not to mention their vineyards and small farms.† Lots of places had ponds, too, and there was one quite large residential lake with only two or three homes around it.

 

The park itself was very dry, though, with brown grass and dust everywhere.† It has lots of trails, most of which are shared with horses.† I had my lunch at a table in the semi-shade, and then we set out to look for my target species there.† There were very few birds around.† We saw one Mourning Dove on the way into the park, we heard and saw a number of Acorn Woodpeckers in the oak trees, and there was a single juvenile Brown-headed Cowbird on the ground by the parking lot.† Here is the cowbird.

 

Here is another shot of it, showing the streaks on the breast that indicate it is a juvenile and not just an adult female.

 

At first I thought it was a female House Finch, because of the breast streaks.† It didnít look quite right for that, though, and I decided that the bill was wrong for House Finch, but right for Brown-headed Cowbird.† The streaks on the breast threw me off, but then I read that juveniles have streaks.

 

So, after lunch we headed out onto the trails, but the heat got to me very fast.† I just didnít feel like trudging around in the damn heat, looking for my target species, especially when it was so bird-less.† We walked a few hundred yards on the paved handicap trail, and stopped in some trees with three picnic tables and a little shade.† I didnít expect anything, but I played the song of the sparrow I was looking for.† After a few minutes, a bird flew in, and I was amazed when it turned out to be a RUFOUS-CROWNED SPARROW, the very species I was looking for.† It stayed up in the trees and sang back to us, but eventually I got this picture of it or another one.† I think there were at least two of them in that area.

 

The bestl sign of it being a Rufous-crowned Sparrow was the malar stripe Ė the black streak extending down from the back of the bill.† The rufous colored crown, the unstreaked breast, and the facial pattern were also indications.† I was very surprised and pleased to get it, as they arenít very common at all.† Here is a picture of that area of the park where we saw the bird.

 

Having gotten the target species, we decided to throw in the towel and head for home, out of the sun.† Ironically, as we were pulling out of our parking place, Fred spotted a couple of little birds on the ground in the parking lot, and they were Rufous-crowned Sparrows, too!† Here is a picture of one of them.

 

On our way back to Fredís house, we drove by Carmichael Park so Fred could show me the off-lease dog park there.† We have been there with Tugboat a number of times, and Fred goes there regularly.† It has been closed while they renovated it, and he wanted to show me the new look.† While we were there, there were about half a dozen Yellow-billed Magpies there, and I got this picture of one.

 

That was it for our birding for the day.† There is an Oak Titmouse that keeps coming to the feeder in the back yard, but it is too hot for me to go sit out there and try for a picture.† I am a real heat wimp.† The high here today was supposedly 95, which is about average for the summer.† I plan to leave in the morning and drive over to the Monterey area to visit my friend, Ted.† The weather forecast there is for highs of about 70 along the coast for the next few days, and that is much more my speed.† Weíll probably go inland a bit one day, and it will probably be low 80ís there, but low 80ís is much better than mid-90ís for this old heat wimp.

 

My sparrow today brings me to 441 species for my year list, of which 17 are lifers and one other one is new for my US list.† Iím taking Rufous-crowned Sparrow for my BAD bird today.† I have added five species to my year list on this trip now, which is outstanding.† I have hopes for one or two more in the Monterey area, and it could potentially be even higher than that if all went perfectly.

 

What a life!

 

 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

 

I got on the road this morning by about 10, and I headed for the Monterey area.† I ran into heavy traffic as I approached the coast, and the trip took about 4 hours, when it normally would be about 3 hours without traffic.

 

I schlepped most of my stuff into Ted and MaryBethís condo on the beach, and Ted and I went out to try to find a good BAD bird for me.† Our first stop was the Moonglow Dairy.† We saw a lot of blackbirds, as expected, and many of them were Tricolored Blackbirds, which is what I will take for my BAD bird for today.† I was hoping for Pine Siskin, as they have been reported there this summer, but we had no luck on a walk in the eucalyptus woods or while driving around.

 

After the dairy, which is a well-known birding site in Monterey county, we went down to the state park at Jetty Road on Moss Landing harbor.† I was looking for several potential BAD birds, but as it turned out, the Tricolored Blackbird was better than any shorebirds we saw at the harbor.† Here is a picture of a Black-bellied Plover in almost-breeding plumage.

 

Here is a Black-bellied Plover in non-breeding (winter) plumage, taken in Texas in April this year, for comparison.

 

Within a few weeks, the bird in the top picture will look like the one in the lower picture, as it loses its summer feathers and gets new ones for the winter.† You need to see the breeding (summer) plumage to understand where the species got its name.

 

Here is a Long-billed Curlew we saw today.† Either the plover or the curlew would have made a good BAD bird, and I might end up using one of them in the next few days.† We shall see.† Here is a Long-billed Curlew from today.

 

Back at Tedís condo, while having my evening drinkies, Tedís wife, MaryBeth, noticed that another species I was looking for was streaming by outside, just offshore.† I got my binoculars, and then my scope, and I watched many thousands of SOOTY SHEARWATERS streaming by.† I watched them closely for twenty minutes or so because there are two other shearwater species that could have been mixed in with them, in much smaller numbers, but I never really saw one well enough to count either of the other two species.† Iíll try some more while Iím here, but it was nice to get the Sooty Shearwater, anyway.† Either of the other two species would be a real bonus.

 

So, with the addition of Sooty Shearwater, Iím at 442 species for the year, and 17 of those were lifers.† Tomorrow we plan to drive to the east side of Pinnacles National Monument, in search of a couple more year birds.† Watch for a report.

 

 

Monday, August 11, 2014

 

I didnít get anything new on Sunday, but in the morning there was a mixed flock of Sooty Shearwaters and other birds having a feeding frenzy out in front of Tedís condo.† I grabbed my camera and monopod before breakfast and went out on the beach to see if I could get some pictures of the flock.† Here are a couple of pictures of the flock as they were feeding, just past the surf line.

 

 

Here is the best close up of a Sooty shearwater that I could get.

 

The breast and belly are dark, which is the distinguishing characteristic of the species, along the with the size and shape.

 

After we had breakfast, Ted and I headed down Highway 101 to the west side of Pinnacles National Park, out of Soledad.† We were mainly looking for California Condors, along with a couple of other unlikely species I could use for my year list.† Here is a picture of Pinnacles National Park from the West Entrance visitor center.

 

As you can see from the picture, it was extremely dry, which wasnít really surprising, since California is in the midst of a terrible drought.† There were very few birds around.† Here is a female Phainopepla, the bird I ended up using as my BAD bird for the day.

 

Note the gray color, the red eye, and the crest on the head.

 

We had our lunch at the picnic area at the trailhead on the west side, and it was pretty hot.† We kept scanning the skies for condors, but all we ever saw were Turkey Vultures, which look similar in the distance.† More on that in Mondayís report, a little later.† After our lunch and watching the skies for a while, we walked a couple of hundred yards up one of the trails.† Here is a picture from that trail.

 

Iím surprised in looking at the picture how colorful if was.† At the time, it just seemed hot and dry, and I didnít notice any colors.

 

So, that was it for Sunday. †No year-birds, and I took Phainopepla for my BAD bird.

 

Today, Monday, we headed down the coast, again in quest of condors.† Here is a picture of the coastline on our way toward Big Sur.

 

Here is another picture, looking back to the north.

 

Our first real stop was at the parking lot for a restaurant called Rocky Point.† That first picture was from there, I guess.† Our first real birding stop was at Grimes Point, but we didnít see anything from there.† Our next birding stop was at an overlook called Condor beach overlook, which sounded promising.† Before we even got out of the car, we saw a couple of Turkey Vultures, which we had been seeing all morning.† As soon as I got out of the car, though, a much larger bird flew over the ridge in front of us, and it was a CALIFORNIA CONDOR.† I yelled to Ted to take a look, and got my camera.† The bird circled overhead for several minutes, and I took several pictures, but only the first one came out at all well.† Even that one has more blur than I would like, but here it is.

 

There is a black and white number tag on its right wing, but I canít quite make out the number.† All California Condors in existence today were either born in captivity or are descendents of birds born in captivity.† They all have number tags on them and are fitted with radio transmitters.†

 

All the known wild-born California Condors in existence were captured back in the 1980ís, and a captive breeding program was started.† At that time, the total population of California Condors in the world was only 22.† As of May 2013, their numbers had increased to 435 birds, 237 of which were free flying in California, the Grand Canyon, and Baja California.† I guess the rest are in captivity still, for breeding purposes.† Our bird today was one of those 237, but I canít quite read the tag to tell me which one.† The history of each of them is available online Ė you can see where and when it was hatched and who its parents, offspring, and siblings are.† Since all the birds in existence now are the result of a captive breeding program, including descendents born in the wild, they arenít officially countable by birders who conform to the American Birding Association guidelines, but I ignore that, and Iím counting it as a year bird.

 

I had only ever seen one California Condor before, at the Grand Canyon in 2011, and today we ended up seeing 5 different ones at one point from our viewpoint.† I never would have believed it if you had told me we would see 5 condors today.† We were just blown away.† There were Turkey Vultures flying around with them, and the size difference was obvious.† In addition, if you saw one closely, they looked a lot different.† Here is a Turkey Vulture for comparison.

 

Here is a shot of the coast from the point where we saw the five condors.

 

It was lunch time by then, so we went back up the coast to Andrew Molera State park to eat our Subway sandwiches we had gotten on our way south.† We looked for birds there, but didnít see either of the two species I needed.† Here is a picture of a Western Scrub-Jay, though.

 

After lunch we went back up the road to Palo Colorado Road, and drove up into the hills.† There were a number of interesting houses along the canyon we were driving up, but maybe the most interesting was a tiny house that seemed to be all chimney.† We werenít sure whether to call it The Chimney That Wanted To Be A House, or The House That Wanted To Be A Chimney, but here it is.

 

The lighting was such that it was impossible to get a really good picture, but our impression as we drove up the road was that it was very small and had a huge chimney.† There is an outside firebox for the chimney, as well as an inside one, apparently, as there are two caps on the chimney.

 

We were looking for Mountain Quail on that road, but never saw or heard any.† We stopped several times, going up and coming down, and played the call of Mountain Quail, but never got a response.† We talked with the camp host at the campsite at the end of the road, and he said he sees and hears Mountain Quail all the time, but usually in the early morning or late in the evening.† While we were there, I heard a sound that sounded like a bird, but it turned out to be a chipmunk.† Here is a picture of that loud little guy.

 

At one of our stops on our way down, I heard a woodpecker drumming, and it turned out to be a couple of Hairy Woodpeckers who were persistently pounding away at a tree, presumably looking for bugs.† They seemed to be feeding another one, presumably a juvenile.† Here is the best picture I could get of the male Hairy Woodpecker.

 

I forgot to mention that as we were driving along the coast earlier we had seen an interesting bird flying just off the road, and we stopped.† It turned out to be a couple of White-throated Swifts, and we got great looks at them as they swooped around below road level in front of us.† Later we saw other White-throated Swifts at the end of the Palo Colorado road.

 

So, that was our birding for today.† Five California Condors completely exceeded my expectations for the day.† With that addition to my year list, Iím now at 443 species for the year, of which 17 have been lifers and one was new for my US list.† I have seven new species for my year list on this trip, and I seriously doubt I will get any more.† I had expected maybe 3 or 4, so it has been a great trip with respect to numbers.† I took California Condor for my BAD bird for today.

 

I donít have any realistic expectations for other new year-birds tomorrow (although there are always a couple of real long shots), so tomorrow is likely to be a low key birding day.† On Wednesday I expect to head back to Sacramento for another three nights at Fredís house (where I also have no real expectations for new year-birds, unless we drive up into the mountains again), and then head for home on Saturday.

 

 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

 

No new year-birds to report, but I'm home now, and I have a lot of pictures to show.† On Tuesday, August 12, I went out on the beach in front of Ted's condo and got this picture of some Sanderlings.

 

They are really cute, the way they all run together in front of the waves.† That would have made a fine BAD bird, but a little later I saw several Snowy Plovers, and I chose that for my BAD bird on Tuesday.† Here is a Snowy Plover, with leg bands that could be used to tell where and when the bird was originally banded.

 

I also got this picture of a Whimbrel on the beach that morning.

 

Back at Ted's condo, there was a little flock of Bushtits in the dunes, and here is a picture of a male Bushtit.

 

Female Bushtits look just like the males except that the females have light colored eyes.

 

While I was taking pictures of the Bushtits, I accidently got this one of a Bewick's Wren, perhaps a juvenile.

 

I didn't even realize it was a Bewick's Wren until I saw the picture.† I thought it was just another Bushtit.

 

Ted and I shopped for a new refrigerator at three places, and then moved on to Pacific Grove and Point Pinos, after eating our Subway lunch at a table at Lover's Point.† I was looking for a couple of sea birds that would have been year-birds, but we saw very little.† There was a Common Murre on the beach, and we wondered if it was injured or something, because it seemed to be trying to fly, but it couldn't get off the ground.† Maybe it was a juvenile, not yet able to fly, but the plumage looked like an adult bird.† It seemed to have some stains on its breast and stomach, so maybe it had gotten oiled somehow.† Several people noticed it on the beach, and one girl picked it up at one point.† It got away from her and swam out to a rock, where it sat in the sun until we left.† Here is a picture of it, sitting on the rock in the sun.

 

On Wednesday, August 13, Ted, his wife, and I went out to breakfast, and after brekkie, we drove to Jetty Road at Moss Landing Harbor, to get me a good BAD bird.† I saw Long-billed Curlew there, for my BAD bird for Wednesday.† I took them back home, packed up, and drove up to Sacramento, to Fred's house.

 

On Thursday, August 14, Fred and I headed up to the Capay Valley, northwest of Sacramento.† I had a couple of target species for a year-bird, but neither was very likely.† Before we even got there, we saw a raptor perched on a wire, eating something.† We turned around and went back, and the bird was very cooperative, posing for pictures as long as we were there.† Eventually we decided it was a Swainson's Hawk, and I took that for my BAD bird for Thursday.† Here is a picture of that guy.

 

Just for good luck, here is a second picture of him.

 

We didn't see anything of interest in the Capay Valley, but it was a new place for both of us, so we enjoyed seeing it.† On our way back to Fred's house, we stopped at the Vic Fazio Yolo Bypass reserve and drove around.† It was quite dry, with only a few ponds with any water.† There were a lot of egrets around, though - both Snowy Egrets and Great Egrets.† Here is a picture of a Snowy Egret.

 

On Friday, August 15, I headed for home.† As I drove out of Fred's neighborhood, I saw a Black Phoebe, a species of flycatcher, and I ended up using that for my BAD bird for the day.† I stopped in Redding and got a couple more cases of liquor at Liquor Barn.† It turned out that it was about 15% cheaper at the discount liquor store at the California border on Highway 101, where I had stopped on my way into California.

 

My original plan had been to bird at Emigrant Lake, near Ashland, Oregon, but since I had the Black Phoebe as a decent BAD bird, I decided to drive up to the ski area at Mount Ashland instead.† There were five potential year-birds I could have seen there, but I didnít see any of them.† It was the usual story for me, on mountain birding - almost no birds.† There were some birds at the ski area, though, and I got this picture of a female Western Bluebird.

 

There was a little flock of Chipping Sparrows, too, and I got this picture of a juvenile one.

 

There also was a White-breasted Nuthatch there, and I got this picture.

 

I stayed in Ashland that night, and on Saturday, August 16, I drove up through Oregon.† I stopped at the Manzanita rest area on I-5, just north of Grant's Pass, because there were several good BAD bird candidates that had been reported to be there.† At first, I saw nothing, but eventually there were birds.† Here is an Oak Titmouse, which I ended up taking for my BAD bird that day.

 

The bird has a crest, but it is down in this picture.† I got this picture of a White-breasted Nuthatch there.

 

That's a more typical shot of a nuthatch than the one I showed from the day before - the bird is moving downward on the trunk of a tree, looking for bugs.

 

There were Acorn Woodpeckers flying around, too, and I got this distant picture.

 

Here is a closer picture of one.

 

There was a Downy Woodpecker there, too.

 

Having gotten my BAD bird, I motored up through Oregon and stopped in Vancouver, WA, just across the border.

 

This morning, Sunday, August 17, I stopped at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge and drove around the auto tour.† It was a lovely morning, and I saw a lot of birds.† I ended up taking Great Egret as my BAD bird, as I had planned.† There were lots of them around.

 

At one stop I walked to the bird hide, to see if there was anything to see.† There were some swallows flying around, and one of them swooped into the hide, to my surprise.† It turned out that there was a nest in the hide, and got this picture of the four young swallows in the nest.

 

The parent or parents kept flying in with food for them, and it took a while, but I got a couple of pictures of the parent at the nest.

 

 

A little farther along, I stopped at a trail and walked a little.† I saw a Cedar Waxwing, a Western Wood-Pewee, and some Black-capped Chickadees.† A little way along the trail I got these two pictures of a flycatcher.

 

 

Flycatchers are difficult, but I'm calling this one an Olive-sided Flycatcher for my Clark county list.† I saw a Purple Finch there, too, and also another flycatcher that I am calling a Pacific-slope Flycatcher, mainly because it was so greenish colored.† At that same place, there was a Mourning Dove sitting in a tree.

 

A little farther along the tour, there was a Turkey Vulture sitting on a snag.† Here are a couple of pictures of that one.† The light was terrible, coming from behind, but I'm showing what I got, anyway.

 

I like that one because it is such a typical vulture-like pose.† This next one shows the bird's naked red head.

 

Next were a couple of yellowlegs, a shorebird.† The two species of yellowlegs are similar, but the Greater is larger than the Lesser, and its bill is relatively longer.† I saw two birds near each other, and the relative sizes made it easy to see that one was a Greater and one was a Lesser Yellowlegs.† Here is a picture of a Lesser Yellowlegs.

 

Here is a picture of a Greater Yellowlegs.† Note the longer bill and the longer neck as well.

 

There were a lot of shorebirds on Rest Lake, and I got out my scope and identified Least Sandpiper, Western Sandpiper, and Long-billed Dowitcher for my Clark county list.† There were a couple of American Kestrels flying around in a field by the road, but I wasn't able to get a good picture.† I did get this picture of a Red-tailed Hawk, though.

 

It wasn't a typical Red-tailed Hawk because it didn't have a red tail, but I think that is what it was.

 

I ended up adding 17 species to my Clark county list this morning, to bring it to 49 species.† It was the first time I had birded in the county in the summer, so that helped.† I drove on home from there, and the Sunday afternoon traffic was terrible.† I had planned the trip home so I would be going through Tacoma and Seattle on a weekend, but the traffic couldn't have been much worse in rush hour on a weekday, and it was early afternoon today.† I figure the slowdowns added an hour or more to a trip that should have taken three hours.

 

So, now I'm home, and my BAD birding adventure is coming to an end.† I have 12 really easy species I can see locally, and once I have used all of those, I'll be done.† I could possibly see something else in the next 12 day, but it is unlikely, so I most likely will be finished with the Bird-A-Day project on August 29, assuming I can actually get all 12 of the ones on my list.† According to the rules you have to use a new species every single day, without skipping a day or repeating a species, and each day it has to be a bird you actually saw or heard that day.† I've done that now for 229 consecutive days this year, and it has been a lot of fun.† It will be kind of nice to be done with it, though, as it has gotten to be something of a chore to have to find something new every day.† There are still ten people on the BAD website who are "alive" in the game, including me.

 

I doubt I'll get any new year-birds in the next couple of weeks, but I'll post another report or two, just to finish off the BAD thing.

 

 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

 

Nothing new, but I have some pictures, and I want to report on the final days of my Bird-A-Day project.

 

On Monday, August 18, I went over to the Kirkland Costco to look for Brewer's Blackbird, for my BAD bird.† They hang around the food court there, especially when the weather is good and the doors are open to the outside.† I didnít see any blackbirds, so I drove around the neighborhood and past the nearby McDonald's.† Still no blackbirds.† I swung by Costco one last time, and three or four Brewer's Blackbirds cooperatively flew in, so I took that as my BAD bird that day.

 

On Tuesday, I went down to Juanita Bay Park, to see what I could find.† I got this picture of a Great Blue Heron with its wings in an interesting position.

 

I also got this picture of a juvenile (hatched this year) Brown-headed Cowbird.

 

I took Great Blue Heron for my BAD bird that day.† I was working my way through the birds on my "easy" BAD list.

 

I was looking for an American Robin by then, as they seemed to have disappeared from everywhere I was going. †A few weeks ago, they were everywhere, and suddenly they seemed gone.† On Wednesday the 20th, I went down to Juanita Beach Park (across the bay from Juanita Bay Park).† No robins, but there were some gulls, mostly immature ones.† Here is a picture of an immature Ring-billed Gull.

 

I couldn't find the "easy" gull I was looking for, though, so I headed home.† On the way home I did see an adult Glaucous-winged Gull on top of a light pole, though, so I took that for my BAD bird that day.

 

On Thursday, August 21, I went over to Marymoor Park to continue my hunt for a robin.† I drove all around the park and walked along the river, but never saw a robin.† A couple of weeks before they were all over the place.† There was a juvenile Osprey in the nest there that I had been watching all summer, and I got this picture.

 

An indication that it is a juvenile bird is the white tips on the wing feathers.† I presume it could fly, but the parents were probably still feeding it.† There had been at least two juvenile birds in the nest, so maybe the other one was out flying around somewhere.

 

There were a number of Killdeer in one of the fields, and I got this picture of one of them.

 

Along the river, I got this picture of a Cedar Waxwing.† I always think they are such sleek looking birds.† Check out the yellow tip of its tail.

 

I couldn't find a robin that day anywhere, so took European Starling for my BAD bird, seen in my yard.

 

On Friday, August 22, I went out to lunch with my friend, Chris, who was taking that day off work.† We went to a great pizza buffet place on the Bothell-Everett Highway, and after lunch we went down to Canyon Park Wetlands, hoping to find a robin.† No robins, but I did get a series of pictures of juvenile Green Herons, a good bird.† Here is one that is looking for a meal.

 

You can tell it is a juvenile bird (hatched this year) by the streaked throat.† A little distance away, there was another juvenile Green Heron and it had caught a bullfrog tadpole.† I hadn't realized it, but in this climate, a bullfrog tadpole takes 2 or 3 years to fully mature, so this one much have been about 3 years old, as it was pretty much like an adult frog, except it still had its tadpole tail.† Here is a picture of the Green Heron with its catch.

 

I watched as it struggled to get the tadpole into position to swallow it.† Herons and egrets swallow their food whole, and this looked like a big swallow for this bird.

 

It got it into its mouth, though.

 

It managed to get it down, too.

 

Since there were no robins to be found, I ended up taking Mallard for my BAD bird that day.† At home, I got this picture of a Bewick's Wren at our feeder.

 

It never ceases to amaze me how many different bird species there are around our neighborhoods.† Most people are never aware of the variety and diversity of our common birds.

 

On Saturday, August 23, we had a party to go to in the afternoon, but in the morning I went over to Marymoor again to look for a robin.† Look as I might, I couldn't find one.† Afterwards I drove around some neighborhoods on the way home, as robins are often seen in residential neighborhoods.† Finally I did get a brief view of a rather distant robin, first flying into a tree and then flying out of it a little later.† Phew!† I was starting to worry that I would miss this common bird for my BAD list.† I took it that day, of course, and I haven't seen another one since.

 

On Sunday, August 24, I forget where I went and what I looked for, but I ended up taking Black-capped Chickadee from our yard for my BAD bird.† I was getting down to the last few very easy birds I hadn't used yet.† Remember, each day I had to count a bird I saw that day - one I hadn't previously used for a BAD bird this year.† I had just about used up all the local birds I was at all likely to see.

 

On Monday I had sinus surgery scheduled but not until 11:45, so I went down to Juanita Beach Park and picked up Canada Goose for my BAD bird, in the morning.† Here is a picture of a couple of Canada Geese.

 

I don't know why the one farther from the camera didnít have much of a white "chinstrap"; maybe it was a juvenile bird, although I haven't ever noticed something like that before.

 

I stayed home the next few days, recovering from my surgery, but I had saved four "yard birds" for my last BAD birds of the year.† On Tuesday, I took Dark-eyed Junco; on Wednesday, I took Feral Pigeon (also known as Rock Dove); on Thursday, I took House Finch; and on Friday I finished up my BAD bird project with American Crow.† I had decided at the start of the year that I wanted to use American Crow for my final Bird-A-Day bird for the year, and I did just that.

 

So, it was a very successful project.† It got me out birding every single day this year, except the last four.† I have never done so much birding before in any year. †I learned a lot about local seasonal bird movements, and I also visited a number of local birding sites I had never been to before, or even heard of, in many cases.† At the start of the year, I thought it would be tough to continue into June before I ran out of birds to use, and I got almost through August.† Outstanding!† It was 241 days in a row, counting a different species every day, with no repeats and not missing a day.† I also enjoyed the strategic aspects of it, deciding each day which bird to use that day.

 

For the record, I have seen 443 different species this year so far, of which 17 were lifers.

 

So, with BAD birding over, what now?† I am thinking of doing something new - keeping monthly lists.† Each month I would list all the different birds I saw or heard that month, and then each month I would start over again fresh.† It might be interesting to see how many I got each month and which months were better ones than others.† My hope would be that it would get me out of the house into the open more often than otherwise.† We'll see.† Maybe that will be too much, but it is an interesting idea to me, and I'll give it a try.† If I do it, I'll do a report each month to record the results, and I could show my favorite pictures for the month as well.† Of course, if I saw a new species for my year-list, I would write a report about that, too.

 

I also would like to work some more on my Washington county lists.† I've done some birding in 30 of Washington's 39 counties since I started county listing a couple of years ago, and it would be nice to visit some of the remaining nine counties this fall.† I've never been to some of those counties, even before I started the county listing thing.

 

My other birding news is that I'm considering a birding trip to New Zealand in October-November 2015.† There are some obstacles to doing that, and the one big one left to overcome is getting airline tickets with frequent flyer miles.† I used miles for free tickets for all 6 of my Australia trips, but over the years it got harder and harder to get seats, as more and more people wanted to take the small number of available seats.† I won't know if I can do that for a couple of months, but I'm having fun doing the preliminary planning for the trip, anyway.

 

So, that's an update.† What a life!