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Friday, March 13, 2015

 

There was a report yesterday of a bird I'd like to see, at Marymoor Park, which is one of my local birding sites.† The weather was good, so I headed out about 9:15 to see if I could get lucky.

 

First I went to the model airplane field and scanned around the meadow where the bird was seen.† I didn't have any luck there, so I went over to the little hill on the other side of the meadow and I spotted the bird in the distance, NORTHERN SHRIKE, a great one for my year list.†

 

They are quite uncommon in Washington on this side of the mountains, and in the summer they go north to breed.† One has been wintering at Marymoor for the last four years, and I've seen it two or three times before.† I assume it is the same bird, coming back each winter.† Today it was much too far for a picture, so I headed off down the path to the other side of the meadow, but I wasnít ever able to locate it again.† Here is a picture of a Northern Shrike I took at Marymoor in February of 2012 - probably the same bird.

 

While I was looking for the shrike I noticed that the Great Blue Herons are nesting again in the tall trees along the river.† I was about to take a picture of them on and near their nests when something spooked them, and they all flew up with a lot of noise.† I counted 48 of them, and there were probably more.† Here is a picture of them flying around over their nests.

 

You can see the nests in the trees just to the right of center.† I looked more closely and I could see what put them up.† There was an immature Bald Eagle sitting by one of the nests.† Eagles prey on young herons and eggs, and there are eagles at Marymoor.† I saw at least five different eagles there today.† Here is the immature one near a nest.

 

Before I left, the eagle must have flown off, because the herons were returning to their nests.† It will be interesting to see how the herons do this year.† Eagles sometimes wipe out a whole heron rookery and the herons then end up abandoning it.† This rookery at Marymoor has only been there for 5 or 6 years, but it has survived the eagles that long, anyway, so maybe they'll make it another year.

 

Here is a picture of the off-lease dog park at Marymoor.† The heron nest trees are within the fenced off-leash area, but the dogs don't seem to bother the herons at all.

 

The dog park area starts just beyond that path across the middle of the picture.

 

I looked around the mansion area for Red Crossbills, which were reported there yesterday, but I didn't see or hear any.

 

So, I added one more to my year list today, bringing me to 187 species for the year, of which 2 are lifers.† I head for San Diego next Tuesday, for ten days, so I should have some reports from there as I add Southern California birds to my year list.

 

 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

 

Today I flew to San Diego.† Iím here visiting my sister and doing some birding.† I had a nice quiet flight down, and I picked up my rental car.† Avis had a brand new Nissan Pathfinder 4WD for me Ė it had 5 miles on the odometer when I got it.† I prefer white, especially in a sunny place, but this one is a pretty red color.† It has a keyless ignition system, which I really like for birding because I can jump out of the car when I see something without bothering with a key.

 

I drove on out to my sisterís house in Rancho Santa Fe, about 20 or 30 miles north of San Diego proper, and I plan to spend the next five nights here.† They have just finished up having a heat wave here Ė temps in the 90 degree range Ė but today was pleasantly in the high 70ís.† We sat out on the patio and watched the birds as they came in to the feeders.† There werenít many because there is a Cooperís Hawk that hangs around and catches one now and again.† While I sat out there, the hawk swooped through and hit the finch feeder when there were two House Finches on it, but I donít think the hawk got either of them.† After that, the birds didnít come back for a while.

 

There was a Song Sparrow feeding on the ground under the feeders.† It was much lighter in color than our Song Sparrows back home.† Here is a picture of it.

 

I kept wanting to make a Lincolnís Sparrow out of it, because it was so light colored, but it was just the local subspecies of Song Sparrow, I think.

 

Eventually I got good looks at a year list species I wanted to see here, SCALY-BREASTED MUNIA.† The species used to be called Nutmeg Mannikin, and it is called Spice Finch in the cage trade.† Itís an Asian species, I think, and they were brought here as cage birds, and now escapees have established themselves in the wild.† Hereís a picture of one.

 

There were hummingbirds around, and Iím looking for a particular species of hummer that lives in California, because I wonít see it anywhere else I go this year.† Today all we had were Annaís Hummingbirds, though.† I took some pictures for practice, anyway.† Here is a male Annaís Hummingbird hovering by the water fountain.

 

He took a little bath, and here he is sitting next to the water.

 

So, that was the extent of my birding today Ė sitting out on the patio with drink at hand (and a little bowl of mixed nuts), watching the birds come in.† The best kind of birding!† My year bird today brings me to 188 species on the year, of which 2 are lifers.† I have some business to take care of with my sister for the next few days, but I might get out and look for birds as well.† Iíll be watching the yard for Allenís Hummingbird, too.† Weíll see how it goes.

 

 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

 

I had time this morning to run down to the beach to look for a couple of rarities.† At the mouth of the San Dieguito River, the tide was too high for one of the species, but I did pick up a SPOTTED SANDPIPER for my year list.† It was much too far away for pictures, but I had good views of it with my scope, and I had a year bird.

 

I went on into Del Mar to the site where a Black-throated Green Warbler has been seen, but I didnít see anything interesting after wandering around a bit.

 

After lunch I went back again when the tide was at its lowest, to try again for the Pacific Golden Plover that has been seen at the mouth of the San Dieguito River.† I also tried again for the warbler.† The tide was indeed down, and there were sand bars in what had been river in the morning, but I didnít see any plovers.† I did pick up another year bird, though, BONAPARTEíS GULL.† Here is a picture of four of the little gulls.

 

In the summer their heads will be all black, and some of these are starting to get black feathers on their heads.† Here is a shot that shows the relative size of a Bonaparteís gull and a ďnormalĒ sized gull.

 

As you can see, they are a lot smaller than most gulls.

 

Hereís a picture of the river mouth at low tide.

 

There was a Horned Grebe at the north end of the lagoon.† They arenít real common around here.

 

On my way back to Kathyís house, I stopped at the entrance road to the stables at the polo grounds, just to see if any birds were around.† The only thing I saw was this California Towhee up in a tree.

 

Back at Kathyís house, I got a drink and some mixed nuts and sat on the patio and watched the birds that came in to the feeders.† There werenít a lot of them, probably because the Cooperís Hawk is hanging around. †This morning there were a lot of Mourning Dove feathers on the patio, so the hawk got a feed this morning.† It flew through once this evening, too, so it is still around.† I guess that just because it catches a dove, it doesnít take the rest of the day off.

 

Here is a pretty male House Finch at the feeder.

 

Female House Finches look pretty much like the males, but without any red at all.† They might be a bit more streaked underneath, too.

 

The only hummingbird that comes around is a male Annaís Hummingbird.† At one point, I did see another hummer approach, but the local tyrant chased it off before I could tell what species it was.† Here is the male Annaís Hummingbird at the top of a pine tree.

 

The local Song Sparrow came in a few times, but it is pretty cautious.

 

At one point there were at least seven Mourning Doves on the ground under the feeders.† Here are some of them.

 

Red-winged Blackbirds came in a few times.† Here is a male who is showing his red patches off.

 

Usually male Red-winged Blackbirds are much more visible than females during the breeding season.† A couple of females did come in today, though.† Here is a picture of a female Red-winged Blackbird.† Note that she doesnít look much like the male.

 

Finally, here is one more picture of the male Annaís Hummingbird.† Kathy has these very pretty hummingbird feeders, and this shot shows off one of them well, I think.

 

So, that was my exciting birding day today.† I have one more day of helping Kathy with her taxes for last year, and then Iíll spend more time on birding for the rest of the trip.† The two year birds I got today bring my total to 190 species for the year, of which 2 are lifers.

 

 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

 

Before I get into todayís report, I need to add to yesterdayís.† Last night about 9 PM, Kathy mentioned that she heard an owl calling.† I went outside and heard it, too.† It was the call of a GREAT HORNED OWL, and since I now count ďheard onlyĒ birds, it went onto my year list.† I played the Great Horned Owl call on my phone, and I seemed to get a response.† After a couple of times, I decided to try to track it down.† I could tell it was coming from the west, so I walked around the block to the west and when it kept calling, about once a minute, I kept getting closer to it.† I would play my call, and the owl would answer.† Eventually, about two blocks over, I could tell it was in a particular tree in a back yard.† Just as I spotted the bird, it flew and I didnít hear it call again.† I wouldnít have been able to identify it by sight alone, but the call identified it, and I did see the bird, so it wasnít even a ďheard onlyĒ bird when all was said and done.† Thatís the first time Iíve chased an owl at night, and it was fun to actually track it down and see it, even though it was only really a large shadow flying off..

 

So, this morning we had an appointment with Kathyís accountant and took care of that business.† After that we stopped by the house of an old friend of Kathyís by the name of Jeanne.† Jeanne welcomed us into her beautiful house that has a lovely view out over the valley, and we sat out on the deck.† They are surrounded with trees and flowers, and there are lots of birds, which is why we stopped there.† We had one particular species as a target, and after a while I was able to add HOODED ORIOLE to my year list.† Here is a distant picture of a male Hooded Oriole, with poor lighting.

 

The bird was at the top of a very tall palm tree, and the sun was right behind the tree.

 

There were a number of House Wrens around, and I like them, so I took several pictures.† Here is a picture of one of them singing.

 

Here is a picture looking down on one, and it shows the pretty barring on the wings and tail.

 

I have another picture of one singing, and I couldnít decide which picture I liked more, so Iím showing them both.

 

There were a couple of Northern Mockingbirds around, and they kept serenading us.† Here is one of them.

 

The oriole came back, and here is another picture of a male Hooded Oriole.

 

There were a lot of other birds around as well, including Acorn Woodpeckers, California Towhee, Spotted Towhee, Bushtit, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Lesser Goldfinch, and probably ones Iím forgetting.† It was a beautiful day and a beautiful place to listen to and watch the birds.† Thanks for hosting us, Jeanne.

 

After lunch I went off to San Elijo Lagoon, to look for a couple of species of gnatcatchers.† I didnít see either one, but I got some pictures, and I did add two more birds to my year list.† The first one for my year list was a male ALLENíS HUMMINGBIRD.† Here is a picture of that little beauty.

 

The brown head, tail and flanks, along with the green back is what identifies him as an Allenís Hummingbird.† Real purists would point out that about 2% of male Rufous Hummingbirds can have some green on their back (the other 98% have all brown backs, with no green color), and thus be confused with male Allenís Hummingbird, but Iím willing to take the 98% chance and call it an Allenís.† A little later I saw another one and got more pictures.† Here is a different male Allenís Hummingbird.

 

That one seems to have a little more green on its back, actually.† Here is a different view of that second bird.† I thought the view was interesting.

 

From that last picture, you wouldnít be able to tell it was an Allenís and not a Rufous Hummingbird.

 

While I was taking pictures of that guy, a male Lesser Goldfinch flew in briefly, and I got off one shot of him.

 

The second bird I added to my year list there was CASPIAN TERN.† Here is a very distant shot that shows the birdís bright orange-red bill.

 

There were a couple of American Avocets there, and they just begged to have their picture taken.† Here are the two avocets with a male Green-winged Teal in the background.

 

Here are the two avocets on their own.

 

I think that American Avocets are very attractive birds.

 

I sat on a bench for a while and enjoyed the afternoon, and as I got up to leave I noticed some little shorebirds fairly close by, that I had overlooked.† Here is a picture of a couple of Dunlin with a couple of smaller Least Sandpipers.

 

The identification points for the Dunlin are the slightly drooping bill and their size.† The yellow legs of the Least Sandpipers distinguish them from Western Sandpipers, which have black legs.† Here are the two Dunlin, each showing its drooping bill.

 

Here is a picture of a Snowy Egret.† Note the black bill, which immediately identifies it.

 

For comparison, later I got this picture of a Great Egret, which has a yellow bill.† The Great Egret is also larger and has a longer neck, but size is often difficult to distinguish, when there arenít other birds around to compare it to, so I always look to the bill color for the identification.

 

I was basically done birding by then, but on my way back to Kathyís house I stopped by the mouth of the San Dieguito River for the fourth or fifth time, in search of the rarity that has been reported there.† There werenít any parking places at all, so I drove by slowly and looked, and didnít see any shorebirds at all.† I made a U turn and on my way back pulled over on the north side of the bridge.† There are No Parking signs there, but the road is wide enough to pull off completely and not even block the bike lane, so I sat in my car and looked over the north end of the lagoon.† As I understand it, if you are still in the car, you arenít parked, you are merely stopped.† It didnít say No Stopping, as it sometimes does Ė it said No Parking, so I think I was legal.

 

Anyway, there were a few birds around, and I wasnít able to immediately identify one of them, so I took a lot of pictures to look at later.† It turned out to be a Least Sandpiper.† It was much smaller than I realized Ė I thought I was looking at a 10 inch long bird, but least Sandpiper is only 6 inches.† Another shorebird flew in and I could use that for a size comparison, and I realized it was only a Least Sandpiper.† Here is a distant picture of the Least Sandpiper, taken from the car.

 

The point of all that is that the other bird that flew in was a plover, and the rarity I was looking for there was also a plover.† I didnít think it looked like my bird, but I wasnít sure, so I took lots of pictures.† Eventually I decided that it was indeed the rare bird I was looking for, PACIFIC GOLDEN-PLOVER.† Well, it is rare for the West Coast of the US.† It should be in Hawaii or the South Pacific now, and it breeds in the far north, in Alaska or Siberia.† A few typically winter in the San Diego area, but they are rare and sought after by birders.† I took tons of pictures, and Iím going to show several here, for my future reference, and in case someone thinks what I saw was the very common Black-bellied Plover, which looks a lot the same.† This bird seemed to have a nice golden color to it, though, and Black-bellied Plover is just shades of black and white in winter plumage.† This bird is just starting to get its breeding plumage.† You can see the black feathers on the breast, in patches.† Eventually the whole breast and belly will be black.

 

 

 

I think it is interesting that I would have missed the bird completely if I hadnít stopped to take pictures of the Least Sandpiper.† While I was doing that, the plover flew in from somewhere.

 

So, that ended my very successful day of birding, which actually only ran from 11 AM until 4:45 PM, with a generous time out for lunch.† I added four more year birds today, as well as the owl last night, so my total now is 195 species for the year, of which 2 have been lifers.† Tomorrow Iíll look for some more.

 

 

Friday, March 20, 2015

 

This morning I was off about 10 oíclock.† My first destination was Del Mar, to look for the Black-throated Green Warbler again.† There had been another report last night, and I went to where it was seen at 5:20 PM on Thursday and walked around the neighborhood, but I didnít get a sniff of it.† That was the third or fourth time I had looked for it, and I guess I wonít go back again.

 

Next I made my way along the coast to La Jolla, with several wrong turns and detours.† I stopped and got a sandwich at the Subway I had scoped out ahead of time, thanks to Google Maps.† At La Jolla cove, I got really lucky and found a great parking place right away.† It was crowded as hell at La Jolla, which wasnít really a surprise.† I was hoping to see Black-vented Shearwater offshore, but didnít see anything like that.† I was also hoping for Wandering Tattler on the rocks, but didnít get that one either, although Iíll have more comments on that later.

 

I saw all three West Coast cormorant species.† Here is a Double-crested Cormorant with the white eyebrow breeding plumes they get in the spring.

 

Brandtís Cormorant gets a bright blue color under its bill in the spring.

 

Pelagic Cormorant gets white patches on its flanks, but this picture doesnít show that.

 

There were lots of Brown Pelicans around, and they get a red color on their neck in breeding season.

 

They arenít actually brown, so I donít know where they get their name.† Today I saw this brown one, though, and I guess it was a juvenile.

 

I donít recall ever seeing a plain brown one like that before.

 

Here is a picture of the cliffs at La Jolla.

 

As I mentioned, there were tons of people around.† Some were playing at the edge of the water, although the water must have been pretty cold.† I call this next picture ďButtsĒ.

 

I didnít see a Wandering Tattler, so I moved on down the cliffs and found another parking place where there were a couple of tables overlooking the water and the rocks.† As I put my lunch on the table, I saw a couple of birds on the rocks, and they looked like they could be my tattlers.† I went back to the car for my scope, but when I got back, the birds had flown and people had moved out onto the rocks where the birds had been.† I suspect that what I saw were Wandering Tattlers, but I didnít get a good enough look to count them in my year list.† I debated it while I ate my humble lunch, but ended up deciding against counting Wandering Tattler.† So, after I finished lunch, I moved on, not having a year bird yet for the day.

 

I made my way down to Crown Point, on Mission Bay.† I have seen at least three species there that I still needed for my year list, so I thought Iíd check it out.† First I checked out some shorebirds in the closed area Ė closed for wildlife protection.† You can look at it from behind a fence that isnít very high.† I spotted a couple of interesting birds and eventually decided they were RED KNOTS, a good one for my year list that I wasnít at all sure I would see here.† Here is a picture of a couple of Red Knots.

 

They are very nondescript looking, but there were some Black-bellied Plovers near them, and that gave me a good size comparison that helped me identify them.† You might remember that yesterday I counted Pacific Golden-Plover for my year list, and I might have mentioned that it looked a lot like a Black-bellied Plover.† Here is a distant picture of a Black-bellied Plover from today.

 

Here is a picture of the Pacific Golden-Plover from yesterday.† I think you can really see the golden color on the back of the golden-plover.

 

Pacific Golden-Plover is also supposed to be more slender than the Black-bellied Plover, and with a longer neck and smaller head, and I think you can see that, too.† Anyway, it was nice to see the comparison today and to be able to compare pictures.

 

While I was shooting the Red Knots and plovers, a Great Blue Heron flew in.† I happened to be taking a picture of it just as it took off, and I think this is an interesting picture of it, just about to take off.

 

I also picked up LITTLE BLUE HERON for my year list, but it was too far away for a picture.† Iíll probably be able to get a picture at the San Diego River next week sometime.

 

I also added ROYAL TERN to my year list there.† They were too far away for pictures, but a little later I saw some that were closer, and I got this distant picture of three Royal Terns.

 

At the south end of the Crown Point park area, I found the roosting BLACK SKIMMERS.† Here is a distant picture of some of them.

 

Here is one with its bill wide open.† I call it Yawning Black Skimmer, but I donít know it if was actually yawning or not.† Do birds yawn?

 

Here is a picture of Mission Bay with downtown San Diego in the background.

 

The Black Skimmers and Royal Terns are on that dark colored beach on the near side of the channel.

 

It was about 2:30 by then, and I wanted to try to beat the traffic on I-5 on the way back to Kathyís house.† As it turned out, 2:30 was already too late on a Friday afternoon.† It took me a full 45 minutes to go the last 5 miles on the freeway, before I got off on the street to Kathyís house.† How do people do it?† I just canít imagine doing that every day.† I suppose Friday is worse than most days, but Iíll bet by 4 PM it is that bad every single week day, and I doubt that it breaks before 6 or 7 PM.† By 4 PM today, it must have been backed up several more miles, too.† Sitting in that traffic today sure reinforced my decision to move to a motel in the Mission Bay area for my birding in the southern half of the county next week.† I certainly wouldnít want to face that traffic every day, morning and afternoon, as I made my way to and from Kathyís house from the places I plan to bird.† Itís too bad, because I have a very comfortable bed here in a beautiful house (not to mention that Kathy makes dinner every night as well!), and I plan to move to a Howard Johnsonís that is probably something of a dump.† I really hate sitting in traffic, though, and it would take at least two hours a day away from my birding.

 

So, I added four more species to my year list today, to bring me to 199 for the year, of which 2 are lifers.† Will I get number 200 tomorrow?† Maybe, but maybe not, as I plan to spend most of the day going out to see an old friend who lives just east of San Diego proper.† On Sunday the real birding part of the trip starts, though, and I should be back then, if I miss tomorrow.

 

 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

 

No new year birds yesterday, so there wasnít a report.† I went out and visited my old friend, John, and we went to Lake Murray and Mission Hills Regional Park, but I didnít see any new birds.† Here is a picture of a male Great-tailed Grackle at Lake Murray, though.

 

In the evening, while sitting on Kathyís patio with my drink, I took this picture of a hot air balloon flying down the valley, over the golf course.

 

It sure is interesting what people find to spend their time and money on.† Iíve never been up in a hot air balloon, and I guess I never will do so, at this point in my life.† Iíd enjoy it, I think.

 

So, this morning I was up and out of Kathyís house before 10, and I headed out to look for some rarities.† I didnít end up finding any of the rare birds, but I picked up some common year birds along the way.† Thatís the way of it sometimes Ė you go looking for rarities, but since you are out and about, birding, you end up seeing common species, even if you miss the rarities, as I did today.

 

My first stop was at Marston House, in San Diego.† Both Summer Tanager and Hepatic Tanager have been seen there, but I didnít find either one of them.† I did pick up ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, a very nondescript yellow-green bird that Iíll see more times this trip, no doubt.† I also ran into a birder from the Seattle area who was looking for the same birds.† We joined forces, but still couldnít find either tanager.† I think I might have heard the Hepatic Tanager calling down in a canyon, but I wasnít sure enough of the call to count it.† I ended up running into the same Seattle area birder at two other places today, as we both were chasing rarities in the area.

 

My next stop was the Greenwood Cemetery, where I looked for a Black-throated Green Warbler.† No luck.† Just tons of Yellow-rumped Warblers.

 

Next I tried for a Thick-billed Kingbird in Chula Vista.† I didnít get that one, either.† I did pick up WESTERN BLUEBIRD for my year list there, though.

 

I got a burger at Burger King for my lunch† (I had some mini-peppers and sugar snap peas with the burger, which I had instead of fries, Iím proud to report), and next stopped at the Dairy Mart ponds.† I was looking for White-collared Seedeater, but never got a sniff of one.† As I drove away, though, I spotted a GREATER ROADRUNNER, which was a big surprise, as I didnít even know they were in the area.† I got a couple of poor pictures, which Iíll show because I have so few pictures today.† Here is a Greater Roadrunner.

 

I told you it was a poor picture.† Here is a slightly better one.

 

That was the last I saw of it, as it boogied out of sight.† It was a nice surprise.† I expect Iíll see them in Arizona in May, but now I have it on my year list.

 

I stopped at the Bird and Butterfly Garden, but it was totally quiet there.† I think I only saw one bird in the half hour I was there, and I wasnít able to identify it.† As I drove away, there were some NORTHERN ROUGH=WINGED SWALLOWS on a wire, so that easy one went onto my year list.† That was number four for the day, but I wasnít seeing any of the species I was looking for.

 

My final stop of the day was at the J Street Marina in Chula Vista.† I didnít see the rare Reddish Egret that has been seen there, but there were a lot of dowitchers feeding there, and I needed one of the two dowitcher species.† The two species are very hard to tell apart, and their call is the best way to distinguish them.† Unfortunately, they donít call very much.† Here are some pictures of dowitchers I saw today.

 

 

 

I finally heard a few calls, and Iím willing to say they were SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER calls, so that one goes onto my year list.† I had already put Long-billed Dowittcher on my year list on my Northern California trip in January.† Now I can quit worrying about dowitchers.

 

Here is a male Blue-winged Teal, an uncommon duck on the West Coast.

 

And here is a picture of a Snowy Egret that shows its goofy yellow feet.

 

So, that was my birding today.† I didnít see any of the rarities I was looking for, but I ended up adding 5 species to my year list.† The only ďgoodĒ one was the roadrunner, but they all count.† Iíll see them all again this year, no doubt, including the roadrunner (in Arizona).† That brings me to 204 species for the year, of which 2 are lifers.

 

Iím staying for five nights in a Howard Johnsons near Mission Bay.† It isnít nearly as bad as I feared, and Iíll be fine here.† I canít remember the last time I stayed for five nights in the same hotel, though Ė maybe in Sydney in 2013, while I adjusted to the wrenching time change.† It could have been four nights here, and probably three.† I donít have all that many birds to find here, but I can keep looking for some of the rarities, I guess. †The weather is great (about 70 degrees every day and mostly sunny), but the damn traffic is terrible.† Too many people.† Weíll see what I can find.

 

 

Monday, March 23, 2015

 

I was up and out of here by 8:45 this morning, a bit on the early side for me.† My first stop was Marston House, where the two rare (for the West Coast) tanagers have been reported.† I saw on eBird that two birders saw both of them yesterday morning, about two hours before I was there (I didnít see either one, of course), so I guess they are still around.† I spent an hour this morning looking, but came up empty again.† I got this picture of a Townsendís Warbler in the big oak tree to the west of the house, though.

 

OK, it is an odd view, but it was the only shot I got, and it shows its back well.

 

At one point a group of five parrots flew over, squawking like mad.† They landed in some trees in the distance, and I got this distant picture of a couple of RED-MASKED PARAKEETS for my year list.

 

The parakeets were a nice compensation for not seeing either tanager, but I expect Iíll try again for the tanagers.† Marston House is only about ten minutes from my motel.

 

I got this picture of a Black Phoebe.† They are quite common, and they are a nice little bird.

 

My next stop after that was Greenwood Cemetery again, for the Black-throated Green Warbler that has been seen there.† No luck.† I did see a Nuttalís Woodpecker this time, as well as Western Bluebirds.† Next it was Main Street in Chula Vista, to try again for the Thick-billed Kingbird.† I spent at least half an hour there, but never saw a kingbird.† There were about two dozen Cedar Waxwings in a tree, though, and I got this picture.

 

A Red-tailed Hawk flew in and landed near the top of a tree while I watched, too.

 

The other day I asked if birds can yawn.† This hawk opened its mouth like it was yawning.† No sound came out, so it wasnít vocalizing.

 

Maybe it was just stretching its jaw muscles, thinking of its next meal.

 

From there I found a Subway and got a tuna sandwich, which I took to Nestor Community Park.† I ate at a table there, looking for the Baltimore Oriole that has been reported there (very rare on the West Coast), but didnít see anything.† It seemed like all day long I kept missing the birds I was looking for, but then I would see something else and I got a lot of pictures.† I ended up taking 202 pictures today, which is much higher than usual, and 26 of them made the cut and will be in this report Ė also a very high number.

 

After lunch I went over to the Sports Park in Imperial Beach to look for the Yellow-crowned Night-Herons that Iíve seen there before more than once.† No luck today.† There were a number of Black-crowned Night-Herons, including several juvenile ones, but I couldnít find any Yellow-crowned ones.† Here is an adult Black-crowned Night-Heron.

 

Here is a juvenile Night-Heron, and I think it is also a Black-crowned one.

 

A Cooperís Hawk flew in while I was there, too.

 

I stopped at the headquarters for the Tijuana River Valley NWR to use their rest room, and while I was there, I walked the hundred yards to the bridge where I have seen rails before.† I played the call on my phone (you arenít supposed to do that, because the rail is endangered or protected or something, but I was just refreshing my memory of what it sounded like).† I got an immediate response from right under the bridge.† That was good enough to count, but then two of the rails came out in the open and posed for pictures.† Here is a picture of a RIDGEWAYíS RAIL (lifer).

 

I mentioned that I have seen them there before, but still I list it as a lifer.† Whatís going on?† Well, it is a ďback doorĒ lifer.† The species called Clapper Rail was split last year, into two species.† The ones I saw in Texas are still called Clapper Rail, but the California ones are now a separate species, called Ridgewayís Rail.† I actually could have taken what is called an ďarmchair liferĒ when the split was made, since I had seen Clapper Rails in both California and Texas, but I hadnít done that, so I took it today as a lifer.† Not the first time I have seen it, but the first time since it was a separate species, and it now goes onto my US life list.† Isnít this birding thing fun?

 

So, with my back door lifer under my belt, I headed back up the freeway toward home.† It was 2:45, and the freeway southbound was backing up, but I was going into San Diego (northbound), so I was fine.† I stopped at the J Street Marina again, to try again for a couple of species.† To my very pleased surprise, one of the them was not only there, it was very close and I got lots of pictures.† Here is a juvenile REDDISH EGRET, one I hadnít really expected to see.

 

Here is another view of it.

 

And finally here is one of it when it was jumping.† My field guide says that is a fishing technique.

 

I thought at first it was a Little Blue Heron, but there are two or three differences, and I soon realized it was a juvenile Reddish Egret.† The bill color is one of the tipoffs, and also the size.† I saw it near a Snowy Egret, and that told me it was much larger than a Little Blue Heron.† Here is a Little Blue Heron at the San Diego River, where I went next, for comparison.

 

Note the bi-colored bill of the Little Blue Heron, while the juvenile Reddish Egret has an all dark bill.† You canít see the size here, but that was a giveaway, too.

 

So, I beat the traffic and got to the San Diego River, across the road from Sea World.† At one point I saw a white bird that stumped me for a minute.† Here it is.

 

I thought it was a Snow Egret at first (same size), but the bill is the wrong color and so are the legs.† Then I remembered that the Little Blue Heron is white for its first year, so this was a Little Blue Heron that had hatched last year and hadnít gotten its adult plumage yet.† This was the first time I had seen a first-year Little Blue Heron, so it threw me at first.† Later I saw an adult Little Blue Heron with a juvenile one next to it.

 

When I took that picture, I thought it was a Little Blue Heron and a Snowy Egret, and it was only when I saw my picture that I realized that was a juvenile Little Blue on the right.† The legs and bill colors are the key.

 

It was getting late, but I moved on to Robb Field, which is the mouth of the San Diego River.† There were lots of roosting gulls, some shorebirds, and a few terns there.† I got the tern I wanted, ELEGANT TERN, so that was satisfying.† Here is a very distant picture of four Elegant Terns.

 

Here is a larger Royal Tern for comparison.† The bills are the biggest difference, besides the size.

 

A male Northern Pintail swam by and I couldnít resist taking its picture.

 

I also got this picture of a Brown Pelican (not in breeding plumage) flying by.

 

It was almost five oíclock by then, but I drove into Ocean Beach to look for parrots.† There are several species that roost there at night, and I was hoping to see something.† I did see one small flock, and I got a good look at them and decided that at least one of them was a RED-CROWNED PARROT, the most common of the wild parrot species in the area.† No picture; they flew off.† I managed to find a parking place (not easy) and walked around the block, but never saw any more parrots.† Iíd like to get a better view and a picture of Red-crowned Parrot, but I (barely) got a good enough view to count it.

 

I headed for home, but made one more stop along the way, at Famosa Slough.† I got this picture of a Black-necked Stilt with a fish.

 

It seemed to be having a hard time getting it down, and it kept dropping it and picking it up again.† I guess it finally got it down, although I didnít actually see that.† Maybe it gave up.

 

Since the habitat was perfect for it, I played the song of the COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, and one flew in immediately.† Here is a picture of it.

 

Here is one more view of the little cutie.

 

Here is a Snowy Egret, with its black bill and black legs (and yellow feet).

 

It jumped around a little, too, like the Reddish Egret did.

 

As I was ready to leave, I spotted a Ridgewayís Rail in the distance, and as I got ready to take a distant picture, it flew across the pond.

 

So, that was it for the day.† It was 5:30 by the time I got back to my room Ė a long day of birding for the Old Rambler.† I missed most of the birds I was looking for today, but I still ended up adding six species to my year list, to bring me to 210 for the year.† One today was a (back door) lifer, so that gives me three lifers so far this year.

 

I have three more full days here, and I donít know just where Iíll go.† I have most of the regular San Diego birds now, so I guess I can continue to chase rarities.† Maybe Iíll get lucky one of these days with one of those rare tanagers.† We shall see.

 

 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

 

My first destination this morning was La Jolla, mainly to look for Wandering Tattler again.† I never found one.† I saw several Spotted Sandpipers on the rocks.† Here is one of them.

 

That picture was heavily overexposed and I had to make major corrections to it, so it isnít very satisfying.† Here is a picture showing the front of the bird.† In the winter the breast and stomach are completely white, and in the summer the bird gets the spots that give it its name.† This bird is just starting to get its spots for the summer.

 

I saw a number of Black Turnstones, too, another bird that lives in the same habitat as Wandering Tattler.

 

I walked up and down the sidewalk looking at the rocks, but never could find a Wandering Tattler.† The tourists sure come out in La Jolla, and I fit right in with my binoculars and camera around my neck.†

 

At one point I set up my scope and looked out to sea.† To my pleased surprise, I saw some birds flying south that could only be shearwaters, based on how they flew.† I could see that they had white undersides and were white under the wings as well.† That was enough for me to call them BLACK-VENTED SHEARWATERS, the only common shearwater there at this time of year.† I hadnít seen them when I was here last week, so I hadnít expected them today.† I saw a number of them today.† It was good to get one for my year list, anyway, even if the Wandering Tattler eluded me.

 

I finally gave it up and headed back to San Diego.† I stopped and got a ham and cheese sandwich at Subway and went on up to Marston House again, to look for the two rare tanagers.† I had a nice walk around and I sat on a couple of benches and ate my sandwich in two installments, but never saw any tanagers.† I got this picture of a California Towhee that I kind of like, though.

 

In addition to the two rare tanagers, I was looking for Pacific-slope Flycatcher, as two or three people have reported seeing more than one of them there.† I had no sniff of one, though, despite spending over an hour there.† I did see the Townsendís Warbler and the Hermit Thrush again.

 

Eventually I gave it up and drove across town to Point Loma, on the coast, west of downtown San Diego.† I went to the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, where I always have gotten Cassinís Kingbird and Chipping Sparrow.† The cemetery was almost devoid of birds, and eventually I noticed the signs around that said they had sprayed with pesticide this week.† I guess the pesticide wipes out the bugs, and without bugs, the kingbirds (who are flycatchers) go elsewhere.† For whatever reason, there were no Cassinís or Western Kingbirds at all in the cemetery.† In past years, I would have seen more than a dozen, for sure. I got this picture of another flycatcher, Sayís Phoebe.

 

There were a few Black Phoebes and Sayís Phoebes around, but no kingbirds at all.† The numbers of phoebes were way down, too.† I did manage to see a couple of pairs of Western Bluebirds, but in past years there would have been at least a dozen pairs.† I think they eat bugs, too.† Here is a female Western Bluebird.

 

Here is a more colorful male Western Bluebird.

 

I managed to see two CHIPPING SPARROWS, when I have always seen at least a dozen in the past, and probably a lot more than that.† At last I had second year-bird for the day.† Here is one of the two Chipping Sparrows I saw.

 

They eat grass seeds, rather than bugs, I think.† I hope the poisoned grass doesnít hurt them.† Maybe that is why there were only two of them there today.† That cemetery used to be a birding hotspot for San Diego birders, and over the last two or three years they have done many things to discourage the birds from coming around, including cutting down old trees and shutting off some water that used to run a little all the time and attract birds.† Now the spraying is the latest thing, I guess.† The place is almost sterile now.† They seemed to be putting in artificial grass in places, too.† I guess thatís progress.† It used to be a big green area with lovely big old trees and a water source, and it attracted migrants as they flew north.† I guess the migrating birds will have to find somewhere else to stop off now.

 

I went on up to the end of the peninsula and drove down to the coast to see if I could see a Wandering Tattler there on the rocks.† No luck, of course.† Here is a picture of the rocky coast at Point Loma.

 

It was getting late by then, but I made one more stop, at Famosa Slough.† I have seen kingbirds there before, and since my reliable spot for Cassinís Kingbird (the cemetery on Point Loma) was out, I have to get creative to find a Cassinís Kingbird.† It is a common bird here, but I havenít run across one yet this year.† I didnít find one at Famosa Slough, but I got this picture of a Double-crested Cormorant with breeding plumes.

 

I made one more stop at the San Diego River, but saw nothing interesting, and I returned to my humble room at Howard Johnsonís.† I got two more year birds today, to bring me to 212 for the year, of which 3 are lifers.

 

I guess tomorrow Iíll go south again and try for the birds I missed down by the border.† There are several species I could use that have been reported at the Bird and Butterfly Park down there, and maybe Iíll go try again for the Thick-billed Kingbird and/or the Yellow-crowned Night-Herons again as well.† I might come back up the Coronado peninsula, just to do something different.† Weíll see if I can find anything.

 

 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

 

Iíve been doing well sticking to a relatively early schedule Ė to bed by 10:30 or 10:45, up at about 7 or 7:15, and out of here by about 8:45.† Thatís pretty early for this old night owl.† Of course, a serious birder would be out there birding by 7, when it is just getting light, but I donít pretend to be a serious birder, just a dilettante.

 

I headed south again today, down to the border area.† I stopped at J Street Marina in Chula Vista to look for a tern, and to my huge surprise, I found it immediately!† I had two GULL-BILLED TERNS right away.† Thick black bills, black legs.† Bingo!† Thatís the only tern here with those two characteristics, so it was an easy ID.† They were the right size, too, about the same as the nearby Forsterís Terns, smaller than the Royal Tern or the Caspian Terns nearby.† I really hadnít expected to get that one this year.† They are just starting to arrive for the summer Ė the first ones were seen last week, near where I was looking, as it turns out, which is why I stopped there to look for them this morning.† I only had it at a 20% chance in my trip spreadsheet.† Score!

 

While I was there, since I had my scope all set up, I looked across the water to the osprey nesting platform and added OSPREY to my year list.† There were two ospreys sitting at the nest.

 

So, that turned out to be just a 12 minute stop, counting the time to and from the freeway.† My first real stop was the Dairy Mart Ponds, almost at the border.† I had read that a particular vireo species had come back for the summer and had set up territories there, so I played the song, which is very distinctive.† I immediately got a response, and a couple of BELLíS VIREOS flitted around in the bushes and sang back to me for about ten minutes.† I never could get a picture, as they mostly stayed in the bushes and kept flying around, but I got excellent binocular looks at them to confirm the ID, although the song was enough in itself.† I hadnít even put Bellís Vireo on my spreadsheet, because I didnít think I had a chance at it.† This was only the second time I had seen one, and the first time was in 2011 in Arizona, where I had had a guide to point it out and identify it for me.† The Gull-billed Tern was excellent; Bellís Vireo was amazing.

 

So, I thought that maybe my luck was good today.† I moved on to the Bird and Butterfly Garden, but my luck ran out there, and I didnít see any of the species that others have seen there that I wanted.† I did get some pictures of a Yellow-rumped Warbler.† I have seen tons of Yellow-rumped Warblers on this trip, but they donít usually sit around for a picture.† There are two subspecies of Yellow-rumps, called Myrtle Warbler and Audubonís Warbler.† I guess they used to be considered two separate species, but now they are one species.† They look quite different.† Mostly I see the Myrtle plumage, but I think this one today was an Audubonís Warbler.† There are also different plumages in the summer and in the winter, and differences between the males and females as well.† Yellow-rumped Warblers can have all kinds of plumages, especially in early spring.† I think this bird was a male Audubonís Warbler, transitioning from winter to summer plumage, but Iím only a dilettante birder, so what do I know?† This first picture is at an odd angle, as so many warbler pictures are.

 

Later in the year, this bird will develop even more black on its breast and belly; itís transitioning from winter to summer plumage now.† Here is a picture that shows the birdís yellow rump that gives it its name.† In all the confusing plumages, at all times of the year, male and female, they always have that yellow rump.† Some birders affectionately call them ďbutter buttsĒ.

 

And here is another odd angle shot, showing its yellow chin.

 

So, it was kind of nice to get some pictures of a bird I had seen so much of and hadnít had a chance to get a picture of.† About the only other thing I saw at the Bird and Butterfly Garden was Annaís Hummingbirds.† Here is a picture of a male Annaís Hummingbird.

 

Check out that cute little foot on the branch.† Talk about delicate!

 

So, having missed all the good birds there, I moved on to the Main Street Chula Vista site for Thick-billed Kingbird that I had visited twice before.† I had no more luck today than the other two times.† I did get this picture of a female Nuttalís Woodpecker there, anyway.

 

Next I stopped at a Subway and picked up a tuna sandwich, a Diet Coke, and a couple of cookies.† I moved on to the Sports Park in Imperial Beach to try for the night-heron there again, that I had missed the other time I went there.† I had done more homework this time, and I realized I hadnít looked in the right trees.† They seem to have moved from the trees they had been in when I saw them there before.† The Black-crowned Night-Herons had forced them out, I guess, because I saw nothing but Black-crowned Night-Herons in the old trees.

 

I pulled in to the parking lot and got out and immediately saw a YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON sitting right out in plain view, which is very unusual.† It was in one of the trees I hadnít looked in before, but it was so obvious, sitting out in the open like that, that I hope I would have noticed it.† If it had been back in the tree, I wouldnít have, though.† Here are a couple of pictures of it, out in the open.† Check out the breeding plumes, blowing in the wind.

 

 

While I watched and took pictures, it moved back into the tree, still in sight, but not nearly so obvious.† I guess it was just sitting out there in the open waiting for me.† I had that one at 80% in my spreadsheet, based on past history, so it would have been very disappointing to not to have gotten it.† I definitely wonít see that species anywhere else this year.

 

That had gone quickly, so I moved on up the Coronado peninsula to find a place to eat my sandwich and cookies (and mini-peppers and peas I had brought from ďhomeĒ).† I stopped at Silver Strand State Beach because people have reported seeing Redhead (a duck species I still need) on the bay side there.† It turned out that you couldnít drive to the bay side of the park, you had to walk under the highway through a pedestrian tunnel.† The park is on a narrow isthmus with the highway up the middle, and most of the park is on the ocean side of the isthmus.† I wanted the bay side, but I wasnít willing to carry my scope and walk through the tunnel to the other side, so I moved on.† I ended up stopping and eating in my car at the north end of the state beach, where I could watch a stretch of scrub land for birds.† I didnít see any birds of interest, but I enjoyed my tuna sandwich etc.

 

I missed a turn while driving through what I guess is the town of Coronado, but I did find a city park with a rest room, so that was a good trade-off.† I used Google Maps on my cell phone (been doing that a lot on this trip) to get back on track, and I went over the high rise bridge back to San Diego proper.† I found my way to Marston House and looked for the two rare tanagers for the third or maybe fourth time.† Still no luck, and I still havenít seen Pacific-slope Flycatcher there, either, as more than one person has reported there in the last week.

 

From there I beat my way across town to Trader Joes, where I picked up some lasagna for tonightís dinner and a chicken pasta dish for tomorrow nightís.† I also got a couple of bottles of Two Buck Chuck (sauvignon blanc), which now costs $2.49 a bottle.† My cousin Joe told me once that life is too short for cheap wine, and I guess I donít disagree with him, but Iím so cheap that I went for the Two Buck Chuck anyway.† My mother lives on in me, not that she ever bought wine in her life.† She was a total non-drinker, so I guess I was able to break the mold in that way, anyway.† My siblings have managed to do so as well, I might note.

 

I dropped my purchases off at my humble HoJoís room and put them in the fridge, and since it was only about 3:30 or so by then, I ventured out again.† I went over to Tecolote Canyon, in the hopes of seeing Cassinís Kingbird.† I walked up the canyon and saw a few birds and heard a lot more, but no kingbirds.† Both Western Kingbird and Cassinís Kingbird have been reported there in the last week, but I missed them both.† I did see several Western Scrub-Jays, and I got this picture of one.

 

I love those blue-colored birds.

 

I saw a California Thrasher at one point, a great bird, but one I had seen in the Monterey area already this year.† It scurried into the bushes, but I played its song, and a couple of them responded and sang back to me.† I got these two pictures of one that sat up in a tree and serenaded me.† The head was in deep shadow, and I had to process the pictures a lot of bring out any detail, so they look kind of strange.

 

 

It isnít an easy bird to photograph, so Iím glad to have even these pictures.

 

I had one more sighting of note in Tecolote Canyon, a pair of Hooded Orioles.† I got distant pictures.† Here is the male Hooded Oriole.

 

Here is the female Hooded Oriole, looking very different.

 

And, for good measure, here is the male again.

 

So, that was my day today.† I added four species to my year list, and three of them were excellent ones that I donít expect to see anywhere else this year.† That brings me to 216 species for the year, of which 3 are lifers.

 

Tomorrow my goal is to see Cassinís Kingbird, although I just looked it up, and I should see it in Arizona later this year anyway.† Maybe I should go back up to La Jolla and look for Wandering Tattler again, as I definitely wonít see that one anywhere else this year.† Iíll look over my spreadsheet of target species and come up with some kind of plan for tomorrow, my last day here.† Iím ready to go home, but my flight doesnít leave until Friday morning, so Iíll go out and wander around tomorrow, to see what I can see.† Maybe Iíll even go back to Marston House again, to try for the rare tanagers, although it seems like three (or is it four?) times is enough.† We shall see.† I havenít said it recently here, so Iíll say it now Ė what a life!

 

 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

 

Well, I didnít go back to Marston House again today for the rare tanagers, like I thought I might.† I figured that if I could strike out four times, that the fifth time wouldnít be any different, and I didnít like the idea of fighting my way through the traffic.† That one will just have to go down as a miss.

 

My main goal for the day was to get Cassinís Kingbird, which had eluded me so far.† I found a park I had never heard of, north of Mission Bay, in the hills just south and east of La Jolla, and people have been seeing the kingbird there.† Since I was going that way anyway, and the tide was low this morning, I first went on up to La Jolla to look again for Wandering Tattler.† I think this was my third trip to look for that one.† I got there early enough that it wasnít crowded yet, and the tide was lower than it had been on my earlier visits.† That was good, because Wandering Tattler feeds on rocky shores, and a low tide is meal time.† I had no luck at my first stop, and I moved on north to the area of the Childrenís Pool.† No luck there either, although it was a very pleasant morning, maybe a bit warmer than the last few days.

 

So, since I had to go south anyway, I swung back by the place I had first stopped and looked again.† Maybe something had flown in.† Sure enough, three birds had indeed flown in, and I thought I had gotten my tattler.† I grabbed my camera and started taking pictures.† They fed along the rocky shore, and I eventually made my way down on to the rocks to get closer pictures.† The rocks were slippery, and I gently slid to my butt at one point, but no harm done.† I got lots of great pictures and was congratulating myself on finally getting my Wandering Tattler.† But, alas, there were some things not quite right.† I consulted my field guide an hour or two later, looked at my pictures, and realized I had been seeing Surfbirds, not Wandering Tattlers.† Surfbird is an excellent bird, but I had already counted it for my year list in Crescent City in January.† I had never seen Surfbird in its summer plumage before, and these Surfbirds were much more slender and longer legged than ones I have seen in the winter, in addition to having somewhat different plumage.† That is my defense for having completely blown the identification.† Here is a picture of an obvious Surfbird in summer plumage.

 

Here is another one.

 

One of the things that had made me think about my identification was that I saw the birds flying, and the tails were white at the top part with a black strip across the base of the tail.† In this next picture, you can see that.

 

Wandering Tattler is completely gray on top when it flies.† If I had noticed the length of the birdsí bills, I wouldnít have been fooled, but I was looking for Wandering Tattler, and I never really focused on the bill length.† OK, enough defensiveness.† They were Surfbirds, and I blew the call.

 

So, I headed to my newly discovered park, Kate Sessions Park, feeling full of myself for having seen my target in La Jolla, Wandering Tattler.† It was only later that I realized I was wrong.† Kate Sessions Park is in a fantastically beautiful location, on top of a hill that has a panoramic view of Mission Bay and downtown San Diego.† Here is a picture of Mission Bay with downtown San Diego in the background.

 

Just to the right of that is western Mission Bay, with Point Loma in the background.

 

Itís a good sized park, and I walked around the edges, looking for birds.† I saw a Wrentit, which is an excellent bird that I donít see often, and there were lots of Yellow-rumped Warblers, as there are everywhere around here at this time of year.† I had California Towhee and Spotted Towhee as well.† Finally, after I stopped at the top of a hill and rested on a bench, I saw a bird of the right size, and it turned out to be a kingbird, which is what I was looking for.† Here is a picture of a CASSINíS KINGBIRD, I believe.

 

It looks an awful lot like a Western Kingbird, which could also be here at this time of year, just having arrived from wintering in Mexico or places south of there.† The white spot under the eye is supposed to be one of the differences, as is the tail.† The undertail of Western Kingbird is blackish, and the undertail of Cassinís Kingbird is brownish with a white tip.† Here is another picture of that same bird.

 

OK, the undertail certainly isnít blackish, but does it have a white tip?† Here is a close-up view of the tail.

 

I guess that is a white tip, but it sure wasnít obvious with my binocular view.† Iím calling it a Cassinís Kingbird, based mostly on the white spot under the eye.† Later I saw what might have been a different bird, and got this picture.

 

Now, I would say that tail has a white tip for sure.

 

So, I had my main target for the day.† Kate Sessions Park had come through for me.† There was another key Southern California target species that has been reported there, though, so I looked for it.† I played the song on my phone, just to refresh my memory of it, and eventually I was rewarded with great binocular views of a male CALIFORNIA GNATCATCHER, a bird that I certainly wonít see anywhere else this year.† That was very satisfying, and it was soon after that that I sat down with my field guide and realized I hadnít actually seen Wandering Tattler this morning.† So, at least I had the consolation of another great Southern California bird to console me.

 

I sat and enjoyed the view and the beautiful day (and cooled down from my hike around the edges of the park, which involved some hills).† A Cassinís Kingbird flew around right in front of me for the whole time, just to rub it in, I think.† Iíd looked for the bird for over a week, and now it was flaunting itself in front of me.

 

It was noon by then, so I made my way down the hill and through the traffic to In Ďní Out Burger and had my lunch.† That made two In Ďní Out Burger lunches in a ten day period, so Iím good until I get back to California again now.

 

I thought about going up to Marston House and looking for those two rare tanagers again, but decided to give it a miss.† Instead, I drove around Mission Bay and Fiesta Island, just enjoying the beautiful weather.† I noticed that Fiesta Island is still the ďgo toĒ place for Horned Lark in San Diego, and it was a good place to get close up views of Brant as well.† I stopped at the San Diego River across the road from Sea World and watched birds there.† From the comfort of my car, I watched a little drama going on down on the river.

 

There was an adult Little Blue Heron and a juvenile Little Blue Heron, with a Snowy Egret nearby as well.† They were feeding, and when the juvenile Little Blue Heron infringed on the adultís territory, the adult would drive it off.† Here is a picture of the adult Little Blue Heron (dark) chasing the juvenile one (white) away.

 

It was also a great chance to observe a juvenile Little Blue Heron and a Snowy Egret together.† Here is a picture of those two similar birds.† The egret is the one on the right.

 

This particular Snowy Egret seemed larger to me than either one of the Little Blue Herons, but they are supposed to be the same size, 24 inches long, according to my field guide.† The differences are the bill size and color and the colors of the legs and feet.† In that picture above, you can see that the bill of the Little Blue Heron (on the left) is longer and thicker than the bill of the Snowy Egret (on the right).† The Little Blue Heronís bill is also bi-colored, rather than the pure black of the Snowy Egretís.

 

Here is a picture of all three birds, with the adult Little Blue Heron again chasing the juvenile Little Blue Heron away, while the Snowy Egret just ignores them.

 

Here is the juvenile Little Blue heron on its own, showing its thicker, bi-colored bill and light-colored legs and foot.

 

Here is the Snowy Egret chasing the poor juvenile Little Blue Heron.† Note the black legs and yellow foot of the Snowy Egret.

 

In that picture, the Snowy Egret definitely looks a lot larger than the heron, to me.† Maybe it was just an especially large Snowy Egret.

 

So, that was fun, and I got some pictures I like.† I next stopped at Famosa Slough, although I didnít really have any expectations there.† I did see my only American Kestrel of the trip on a wire, though, and I got these two pictures of this small falcon.

 

 

So, that was it for my trip.† I ended up adding two more species to my year list today, and they were both excellent ones.† That brings me to 218 species so far this year, of which 3 have been lifers.

 

It has been a very successful trip, birdingwise, even though it seemed like I kept missing things.† I guess thatís because I kept chasing rarities, which arenít always easy to find.† I just kept plugging away at the San Diego specialties, and eventually I ended up getting most of the ones I expected.† In fact, I got all the ones on my target list that I had percentages over 50% on.† I ended up adding 31 species to my year list, which is much higher than I had expected.† Some of those were easy ones Iíll see other places, but I figure that 19 or 20 of those 31 species are ones Iím not likely to see anywhere else this year, and that is outstanding.

 

So, now I head for home, and my next big trip is in early May, to southeast Arizona.† I hope to make a short trip within Washington in April, though, to pick up some new counties.† Weíll see if I can work that in to my busy schedule (ha!).† I head for home tomorrow morning, and it will be nice to get home, as always after a trip.