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Wednesday, June 01, 2016

 

I was up and out this morning before nine.† The complimentary buffet breakfast here at my motel was great.† I enjoyed my two free wines last night, along with a salad and some split pea soup.† The free cookies in the lobby are great, too.† Not so good Ė the wi-fi was so slow last night that I couldnít send out my report, so I ended up resorting to my cell phone.† Fortunately, I have an app that will allow me to tether my laptop to my cell phone and use my cellular data plan to connect to the internet.† The bed is really quite good, but it is too firm for me, which makes me sleep lightly and makes my back sore.† Nonetheless, I got a decent nightís sleep.

 

My first stop this morning was at Subway, to pick up a tuna sandwich for later.† My first birding stop was at a park and ride lot at the intersection of Highway 12 and Highway 410.† I had read that one of my target species could be seen there.† Sure enough, as soon as I pulled in, I saw my first LEWISíS WOODPECKER of the year.†† Here is a picture of that beauty.

 

From there, I went on to Oak Creek State Wildlife Area.† I walked across the road and over the bridge over the Tieton River.† No birds around at all.† If I had walked up the trail a couple of miles, I probably would have seen some, but walking a couple of miles just isnít in my range of possibilities these days, what with my bad heel and my overall lousy physical shape.† Here is a picture of the Tieton River from the bridge, though.

 

I next drove slowly up unpaved Oak Creek Road with my windows open, to listen for birds.† At one point I heard a bird, so I stopped.† It turned out to be a Western Wood-Pewee, a good one for my Wednesday list.† It wouldnít sit still for pictures, unfortunately.† The next time I heard a bird, I spotted this male BULLOCKíS ORIOLE.†

 

I know Ė it isnít exactly a classic field guide view of it, but at least I have a record of my first one of the year.

 

As it turned out, the oriole wasnít even the bird I had heard that caused me to stop.† That one kept calling, and eventually I remembered the complicated call and played the call on my phone.† That caused the bird to re-double its calling effort and I got my first YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT of the year.† Here is a picture of that one.

 

Once you get a Yellow-breasted Chat calling, you canít turn it off Ė it just keeps on going.

 

There were tons of Lewisís Woodpeckers along that road.† I must have seen 15 or 20 of them.† Here is a picture of one of them.

 

I also got this picture of a Western Kingbird, not one I needed for Wednesday, but I always like good pictures.

 

I also got this picture of a pretty butterfly at one stop.

 

Next I went farther west to Bear Canyon.† On the way, I thought I saw some swifts over the river, so I went back, and not only got my first WHITE-THROATED SWIFTS of the year, I also added Cliff Swallow to my Wednesday list.† Bear Canyon was disappointing.† I set off up the canyon on the nice trail, but after 100 yards with no sights or sound of birds, I decided that walking uphill in the sun wasnít how I wanted to spend my day, and I turned back.† Iím sure there were tons of great birds up the canyon, but this fat, old dilettante birder wasnít going to see them today.

 

I backtracked to Naches and drove over the hills into the next valley, the Wenas Creek valley.† I stopped at Wenas Lake and ate my lunch in the car with the a/c running and the windows rolled up.† I had read about the fierce mosquitoes there.† I saw a Killdeer and also a Spotted Sandpiper while I ate, but I didnít need either one for Wednesday.

 

Moving up the valley, I added Western Bluebird to my Wednesday list.† At Moloy Road, I went west to the Wenas Creek crossing, where I had read about all the great birds that people had reported there.† On the way I had a female California Quail in the road, for my Wednesday list.† I pulled over at the creek and there was lots of birdsong.† Iím sure the birders who had reported such great birds there had relied on their knowledge of birdsong.† Of course, I was clueless.† I did try playing a couple of songs and actually got a good look at a WARBLING VIREO.† I had to look it up, as it had more yellow on its underside that I had expected, but my field guide said that the amount of yellow on their undersides varied considerably.†† I saw what I think was a flycatcher in some deep foliage, too, which was unusual for a flycatcher.† I suspect it was a Gray Flycatcher, but I didnít see enough of it to make the call, so I didnít call it anything.

 

I backtracked to the main road and went up Audobon (that is how it is spelled on the signs) Road toward Wenas campground.† I saw a bird at one point and stopped.† It turned out to be a RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER, one of my targets for that area.†† Here is a picture of a Red-naped Sapsucker.

 

The road was really rough, like 10 miles per hour rough.† I was planning to go up to Wenas campground again tomorrow, but I donít want to drive that rough road again.† At the campground, I ate the second half of my sandwich in the car, while listening and watching for birds.† Nothing at all.† Over Memorial Day weekend, there had been about 200 people camping there, on a birding extravaganza, and maybe all the human activity had scared the birds away for the time being.† Anyway, it was disappointing to me.

 

I tried playing some songs and walking along the road beyond the turnoff to the campground, along the creek, but it was very quiet.† I did manage to pick up Mountain Chickadee for my Wednesday list, at least, but no pictures.

 

On my way back to civilization, on the rough road, I stopped to play some song or another, and saw a bird near the top of a tree.† It turned out to be a CASSINíS FINCH, my first of the year.† Here is a picture of a male Cassinís Finch.

 

A little farther along, I saw a hummingbird on a wire.† I got my binoculars on it, through the windshield, but the light was poor, with a bright cloudy sky behind it.† It soon flew off, leaving me to ponder what it was.† I would guess Black-chinned Hummingbird, which would have been a great year-bird, but I just didnít get a good enough look to make the call.† The only other possibility is Calliope Hummingbird, which would be equally great, but I donít know which one it was.† I wish the light had been better or I had had more time to observe it.

 

I drove to the Wenas Creek crossing on Maloy Road again, but got nothing.† By then it was time to be heading for home, so I started back down N. Wenas Road toward Yakima.† I saw a lot of birds to stop for, but got nothing new until this bird on a wire.

 

I think it is a Chipping Sparrow, and it goes on my Wednesday list as such.† It had an insect in its bill.† In that picture I can see the red on the top of its head, but I couldnít see that with binoculars (10x magnification) at the time.† Again my camera (50x magnification) turned out to be a great tool for me.† My scope is 20x to 60x magnification, but I never once took the time to get it out of the car and set it up today.† It takes too long to get set up with it, for the type of birding I was doing today.

 

At another point, I got this front view of a windblown male Bullock's Oriole.

 

Today was supposed to get up to 90 degrees, but I never saw my car thermometer get higher than 82.† It was also supposed to get windy this afternoon, and I did see that.† Tomorrow is supposed to be cooler, but then hot again on Friday.

 

I had seen more than a dozen Western Kingbirds today, but every time I saw one, I had to stop to see if it was an Eastern Kingbird, which it never was.† At one such stop, I couldnít see the normal yellow on the belly of the bird, so I wondered if it was possibly an Ash-throated Flycatcher.† I took a lot of pictures, and here is one of them.

 

I can see the yellow in the picture, but I couldnít see it at the time.† I got this interesting picture as the bird took off.

 

It landed in a nearby tree, and then I could see the yellow on its belly.

 

By that time, it was getting later than I had intended, and I got back to my room after five oíclock.

 

It seemed like a slow day.† I certainly didnít see anywhere near the numbers of birds I had read about, but I wasnít walking and I donít know the birdsí calls, so I canít really expect to see what other people have reported.† They spend a couple of hours or more at a site, and I make a quick ten or twenty minute stop there, so I canít really expect to get what they get.† I kept getting new year-birds and new Wednesday birds along the way.

 

I ended up with 14 Wednesday birds, of which 6 were new year-birds.† Those are actually quite respectable numbers, considering the type of birding I do and the type of birder I am.† Iím pleased with the results today.† I had thought I would be visiting some new places, but when I got to them, I recognized that I had actually birded those areas before, though Iím not sure when it was.† Wednesday is up to 138 species now, and my year total is now at 178.

 

Iím not sure just what Iím going to do tomorrow, but I know what my options are, and Iíll decide overnight.† I expect to start by going up the Yakima River Canyon to Ellensburg, and then back over Umptanum Road, but there are some side trips I could take along the way.† Life is an adventure, after all.

 

 

Thursday, June 02, 2016

 

I was up and out of here by about 9:15 this morning.† I slept in a little, rising about 7:30.† Sleep isnít easy for me, so Iím glad to take whatever I can get at any time.

 

I first went back to the Poppoff Trail, which is just a few minutes down the freeway from here.† I wasnít sure how my heel was going to hold up today, but I thought I might walk to the end of the little spur trail where I saw the Gray Catbird on Tuesday.† As it turned out, as I entered the greenbelt area, I saw a dark bird fly across the path, and something about it made me play the Gray Catbird song.† Sure enough, I soon saw a Gray Catbird hiding in the foliage, but checking me out.† It never stayed still for long, and it never came out in the open for a picture, but it did sing its complicated raspy song back to me.†

 

Next, I saw some birds in a dead tree, and I approached to get a closer look.† One of them turned out to be an EASTERN KINGBIRD, a year-bird I had been looking for yesterday on the drive back from Wenas.† Here is a poor picture, looking up into the cloudy bright sky.

 

The white tip of the tail is one of the distinguishing characteristics of this species.† Later I saw a couple of them much better, but they didnít stick around for pictures.

 

I also added California Quail (heard only) and Mourning Dove to my Thursday list there.† Here is the Mourning Dove.

 

So, with those species under my belt, I turned back north and went up the Yakima River Canyon.† I had several places to stop in mind, but even before I came to any of those, I saw a woman on the side of the road with binoculars, looking toward the river.† I saw a couple of Ospreys flying around over the river, and I thought she must be looking at them.† It was a good spot to stop anyway, to look around for flying raptors, so I parked and got out.† As it turned out, the woman had been looking at five AMERICAN WHITE PELICANS on the river.† They all had their heads tucked in, but I was patient and eventually I got this picture of one of them.

 

Here is a picture of the canyon, looking downstream toward Yakima.† The five pelicans are barely visible in the middle of the picture, out in the river, if you look very closely.

 

Barely visible, if you have a good monitor and know exactly where to look.† They show up better in a larger version of that picture.† Anyway, that is the canyon at its south end.† It is about 20 or 25 miles to Ellensburg, at the northern end of the canyon.† Itís a very scenic drive, with lots of places to stop to see birds along the way.

 

I stopped a lot of places, and I canít remember them all, but one of them was the fishing access at milepost 10.† I had been told about a nest of a very desirable species that could be seen from there, across the river on the cliffs.† I never was able to find the nest, but while I was looking I saw a bird flying and watched it land.† It was a PRAIRIE FALCON, which is the bird whose nest I was looking for.† I had great scope views of the falcon, which was better than finding the nest with a couple of young ones in it, anyway.† I never did see the nest.

 

At that same place, I played the song of House Wren and got one to respond.† Here is a House Wren.

 

I had a couple of Black-billed Magpies fly across the road along in there, so that one went on my Thursday list.† At another stop I saw a female Bullockís Oriole, another good one for Thursday.† I stopped at Umtanum Creek recreational area.† Here is a picture of the pedestrian bridge across the river there, and the canyon of Umtanum Creek behind it.† It is a nice 6 or 8 mile hike up to a spot that I planned to visit later in the day, along Umptanum Road.† The Creek and the wildlife area are called Umtanum, but the road is named Umptanum, with a ďpĒ.† Go figure.

 

I debated about stressing my heel with walking, but I ended up walking across the bridge.† Here is a picture of the Yakima River, looking upstream toward Ellensburg, taken from the bridge.

 

Look at the difference in the sky in those last two pictures.† They were taken only a few minutes apart, but the first one was looking west, and the second was looking north.† It looked like it might rain at some times today, and at other times it was nice and sunny.† It never got too warm; the highest I saw on my car thermometer was 78 I think.† It was fairly breezy, which didnít help the birding any.

 

I went across the bridge and walked a couple of hundred yards up the trail.† I didnít see or hear any birds except a very vocal Yellow-breasted Chat, a good one for my Thursday list.† I played his very complicated and long song, and he kept singing back to me, but I could never get him to show himself.† Back across the river at the parking lot, I heard another chat singing, and I was able to entice this one to show himself.† Here is a Yellow-breasted Chat.

 

At one of my stops along the canyon I added Cedar Waxwing to my Thursday list, too.

 

I stopped in Ellensburg at Subway and got a tuna sandwich.† Like everything else, the price just keeps going up, I notice, despite what the government tells us about inflation.† A couple of years ago Subway offered a promotion for footlong sandwiches for five bucks.† The normal price was about $6.50 for tuna then.† It was $8.95 at both the Subways I stopped at on this trip.† Plus tax, of course, here in Washington, making it almost ten bucks for a sandwich.

 

I headed up Umptanum Road (with a ďpĒ).† I had directions to a Great Horned Owl nest, but the last report I saw said the nest was empty.† I did manage to find it, but it was indeed empty, as far as I could see.† Here is a picture of the empty Great Horned Owl nest.

 

I had five main target species for my trip over Umptanum Road to Wenas, and two bonus species that I didnít really expect to see.† The Great Horned Owl was one of the bonus species.† Shortly after that I got one of my five target species, Western Wood-Pewee.† Here is a picture.

 

I pulled off onto Durr Road and ate the first half of my sandwich there, while watching for birds.† Nothing there, though.† Later I saw a woman who told me that she had seen the target species I missed today, Mountain Bluebird, a little farther along that road, so I should have gone farther.† Back on the main road, which was unpaved from then on, I saw the second of my five target species, Western Bluebird.† I ended up seeing maybe 15 or 20 Western Bluebirds, but not a single Mountain Bluebird.† There are dozens of bluebird nest boxes along that route, and both species use them.† Another birder had posted about the lack of Mountain Bluebirds in the last week or so, compared to a month ago, and his theory was that the Mountain Bluebirds had nested a little earlier than the Western Bluebirds, so most of their young had fledged by now, and the birds had moved on to wherever they go in the off-season.† Or, maybe they just spread out, and donít spend their time near the nest boxes at this time of year, once their broods have fledged.† Anyway, Mountain Bluebird eluded me today, as it did on Tuesday when I had hoped to see them on Bettas Road, north of Ellensburg.

 

Two of the species on my target list live in sagebrush habitat, and I was going through a lot of that today.† I stopped a number of times and played the songs of both species.† At one stop, I thought I heard one of the songs, even before I played it, and when I played it, a BREWERíS SPARROW flew in and flitted around for me to see.† It never stopped long enough for a picture, though.† It was a great year-bird to get, the least likely of my five species, in my opinion.† A little later I saw the other sage species, sitting on top of a bush, and I added SAGE THRASHER to my year list.† That was the fourth of my five target species, and as I said, I never got the fifth one, Mountain Bluebird.

 

I stopped at the Umtanum Creek (no ďpĒ) parking area.† This was the uphill trailhead for the trail I had visited down by the river, at that pedestrian bridge.† I ate the second half of my sandwich there, and got out and looked around.† I met a woman there, the one who told me she had seen Mountain Bluebird on Durr Road.† She also pointed out a nest hole for a House Wren, and the wren was sitting near the hole.† Later, after she left, I got a picture of one of the wrens peeking out of the nest hole.

 

It has something in its bill, and I wonder if it is a fecal sac.† The young of most small birds do their ďnumber twoĒ into a membrane and the parents take the fecal sacs away from the nest.† That keeps the nest clean, which makes sense, but I think it is interesting that they have evolved in such a way to solve that problem.

 

As I said, I saw lots of Western Bluebirds today.† Here is a female Western Bluebird, near her nest box.

 

Here is a male near the same nest box, with what looks like a grasshopper to me.

 

The male then went to the nest, presumably to feed the grasshopper to a young bluebird.

 

One of my bonus birds, which I didnít really expect to see was Bank Swallow.† I had a place to look for them, and I found it.† Here is a picture of the site.† Bank Swallows nest in holes in the banks of rivers and creeks, and you can see a couple of banks in this picture Ė they are the dark areas in the middle of the picture.

 

There were a few swallows flying around, and I was able to see that they were Bank Swallows.† That is a difficult species to see, so I was pleased to get this bonus bird.

 

A little farther along I added an unexpected bonus, and saw a Lewisís Woodpecker.† I had read that they were seen along that road, but I had never seen one in that area before.† As the road descended into the Wenas Valley, I picked up Lazuli Bunting for my Thursday list.† Here is a distant picture of a male Lazuli Bunting.

 

I know it doesnít look especially distant, but that is the power of my little super-zoom camera.† It was at least 75 yards away, barely visible to the naked eye.

 

When I got down to the intersection of N. Wenas Road and Audobon Road, where I had been yesterday, I decided to go to the Wenas Creek crossing of Moloy Rd, as I had yesterday a couple of times.† As soon as I got to the creek, I saw a flycatcher in the middle of the vegetation near the creek.† It was the same bird I had seen yesterday, and I wasnít able to identify it then.† There are five or six different flycatchers of the same family that it could have been. I had a really great look today, and was within one second of getting a picture, when the bird flew.† I consulted my field guide and was really only able to narrow it down to about three species.† The differences are very subtle, and they say the best way to distinguish them is by voice.

 

I parked my car and got out, and a little later I saw the bird again.† This time I was able to get a picture of it.

 

The bright orange lower bill, the prominent eye ring that is wider in the back and comes to a point, along with the greenish color indicated that was probably a PACIFIC-SLOPE FLYCATCHER, and the calls it was making confirmed that.† Iím not sure I could have made the identification if it hadnít been calling, though.† The call made it certain.† It was very satisfying to make the ID on that one.† An expert probably would have known immediately what it was, but it was a struggle for me.

 

I also got this picture of another flycatcher, Western Wood-Pewee, there.

 

I played the song of a bird I saw there yesterday, and I got lots of singing back from at least a couple of Warbling Vireos, but I never could see one.† It went on my Thursday list as a ďheard onlyĒ species.

 

After that I headed back to my humble room, and settled in for the evening.† I processed my pictures, had a couple of drinkies, had some dinner, and now Iím writing this report.† I just now remembered that I wanted to look for a bird over the river at dusk, and although it is a little later than I had intended, I was able to see a COMMON NIGHTHAWK flying around over the river.† I had forgotten to look for that species the last couple of nights, but I remembered just in time tonight.

 

So, with the nighthawk, I got 21 species for my Thursday list, to bring it to 135.† 7 of those were year-birds, to bring my year total to 185.† It has been an outstanding trip so far, as far as numbers are concerned.† I should be able to add some Friday birds tomorrow, but I canít think of any more year-birds I would likely see tomorrow.† I havenít looked at a list yet, though, so maybe there are some.† Tomorrow I head for home, and I need to leave this area early enough to beat the traffic on I-405 when I get over the mountains.† Iím about two hours from home, but Iíll be birding along the way.

 

 

Friday, June 3, 2016

 

Before I start today's report, I want to show my DOTW birding report card after 19 weeks (as of last night).

 

After†††††††††††††††† Fri††††††† Sat†††††† Sun††††† Mon††††† Tue†††††† Wed†††† Thu

 

4 wks††††††††††††††† 51†††††††† 47†††††††† 55†††††††† 53†††††††† 44†††††††† 55†††††††† 52

8 wks††††††††††††††† 57†††††††† 60†††††††† 73†††††††† 67†††††††† 69†††††††† 79†††††††† 68

12 wks††††††††††††† 90†††††††† 87†††††††† 82†††††††† 81†††††††† 96†††††††† 100†††††† 95

16 wks††††††††††††† 100†††††† 105†††††† 106†††††† 114†††††† 111†††††† 111†††††† 107

17 wks††††††††††††† 107†††††† 110†††††† 114†††††† 119†††††† 115†††††† 122†††††† 113

18 wks††††††††††††† 109†††††† 112†††††† 115†††††† 120†††††† 117†††††† 124†††††† 114

19 wks††††††††††††† 112†††††† 113†††††† 118†††††† 123†††††† 130†††††† 138†††††† 135

 

I never imagined that my streak of adding at least one new species to each day list would last this long.† It hasn't been especially difficult; I just had no idea what to expect, since I hadn't done anything like this before.† I have learned a lot about strategy, and I might try it again next year.† One of the best things about the whole Day Of The Week birding thing has been that it has gotten me out birding every day this year, other than the three weeks I took off because of medical issues (hospital stay and major surgery).† Without those three weeks off, I might not have gotten this far, and one reason I want to try it again next year is to see if I can get this far without taking any time off.† I have learned a lot of strategy things that I can put to good use.

 

Anyway, to today.† I was up and checked out by about 9:15 this morning.† Not exactly the crack of dawn, but it's consistent for me, anyway.† I'm a dilettante birder, after all.† While I was brushing my teeth I added California Quail to my Friday list; I heard one calling its distinctive call from across the river.† That's one call I know very well.† It sounds like "Chi-CA'-go".

 

On my way north out of Yakima, I picked up Osprey for my Friday list.† There is a nesting platform right along the freeway, and I have seen at least one Osprey there each time I've gone by.† Today there were two.

 

On my way to my first real birding location, Old Vantage Road, I stopped at Fox Road to try for the Long-billed Curlews that have been reported there lately.† I had seen a pair of them there in April.† Nothing today, though.

 

At the Quilomene Wildlife Area I got out and walked a little, trying for species that live in a sagebrush habitat.† Almost immediately, as I played the song of Brewer's Sparrow, one flew in to check me out.† It is a difficult species to see, so I was quite pleased.† I had seen one yesterday, but today I got pictures, despite the fact that the bird never stayed still for long.† Here is a Brewer's Sparrow in the dappled shade.

 

Here is a close-up of its face, in the sun.

 

I tried for Sage Thrasher, which I have seen at that site before, but didnít get one.

 

I moved on down the road, keeping an eye out for Mountain Bluebird, as I have seen them there before.† At one point I saw a bird on a fence wire across the small valley next to the road, and I stopped and got out.† It was a terrible place to stop, on a curve, and I was only able to get partly out of the roadway, but there wasn't a lot of traffic, so I did it.† The bird on a fence wire flew off, and I got nothing there.† At least no traffic came along.

 

A minute or two later, as I drove along, I happened to notice that the rubber tip to the eyecup of my binoculars was missing.† It had fallen off a couple of weeks ago, and I had glued it back on.† It seemed to have fallen off again.† I turned back but saw nothing on the road where I had stopped.† I found a place to turn around, and I stopped to check around in the car, but I couldnít find it.† Back at the place I had stopped, dangerously, I stopped again and got out and looked around.† Nothing.† The reason I'm telling this long, seemingly pointless story is that as I was going back to look for the rubber piece, there was a male Mountain Bluebird on a wire - the only one I saw today, and one of my targets for my Friday list.† Even better, as I was getting back into my car at the dangerous stopping place, I saw a Sage Thrasher and got a good look at it.† If it had stayed there for 3 more seconds, I would have had a good picture, but I had left my camera in the car as I was looking for my rubber eyecup piece.† So, because I lost the binocular part, I added two more species to my Friday list.† Birding is interesting.† It is so much a matter of timing.† The binoculars are usable without the rubber piece, and I happen to have a couple of replacement eyecups anyway, here at home, so it isn't a problem that I lost the rubber piece today.

 

So, after that adventure,† I moved on and tried for Sagebrush Sparrow at a place I have seen them in the past, but I didn't see one today.† I drove down Recreation Road as I got to the bottom of the canyon, and I played the song of a bird I haven't ever seen there before, but I had read reports of there.† At the second or third place I played it, a cute little ROCK WREN flew in and sang back to me, a good year-bird I hadn't really expected to see.† It stuck around and sang back to me, and I got this picture of it while it was close.

 

That's the ventilation stack of a pit toilet that it is sitting on, and it soon flew up onto the rocks, and I got a more distant shot of it, but in a natural setting.

 

Some birders and photographers like a natural setting better than one that contains man-made structures, but personally, I prefer the first picture because I like the blurred background.† The natural setting one is too cluttered for me, and the bird blends in too well.† Both pictures are flawed, in different ways, I guess.

 

After a stop at the state park there to use the rest room, I headed toward home.† I stopped in Ellensburg and filled my gas tank and got a sandwich at Subway.† I took a back road to Cle Elum and stopped at my Red-eyed Vireo site and ate half the sandwich.† No sign of any birds I needed there, although there was lots of bird sound there.† If I knew the songs and calls of the birds, I could do a whole lot better.† If I had wings, I could fly, too.

 

I moved on to the Railroad Ponds in Cle Elum.† I saw the Pygmy Nuthatches at their nest hole again, as I had on Tuesday.† I didn't bother with pictures today.† I parked and ate the second half of my sandwich while I watched and listened for birds.† I picked up House Wren for my Friday list there.† I also got this picture of a White-crowned Sparrow singing.

 

It's not an especially good picture, but I like it because I had to shoot through an opening in the branches between me and the bird, and it was a challenge.

 

I made one more birding stop, at Bullfrog Pond.† I had seen an American Dipper there on Tuesday, but today the river was higher and the rock the dipper had been standing on was underwater.† No dipper today.† I dipped on it, as British birders put it.

 

There was lots of birdsong, but I was clueless, as usual.† Other birders report huge numbers of species there at Bullfrog Pond, but they must be relying on their knowledge of bird vocalizations to have such big lists.† I did recognize one song, after I had played it a number of times and heard responses.† I added VEERY to my year list, although I would have much rather seen the bird.† They stayed high in the trees and wouldn't approach me.† My final Friday bird of the day was a male Bullock's Oriole in a tree.

 

That brought me to 122 species for Friday and 186 for the year.† I added 17 species to my year list on the trip, which is great.† I had been to that same area back in April, but most of those 17 species weren't there in April - they are summer residents and breeders that have shown up since then.† Others were difficult ones that I missed in April.† Some of the numbers for my year birds donít add up in my reports because of a couple of errors I found when I put everything into my spreadsheets today.† I think that 186 is the correct number for the year so far.† I added species to my Kittitas county list and to my Yakima county list, too, but I haven't had time to add those up yet.

 

In two weeks we leave for our annual Yosemite trip, and my plan is to try to keep my streak going until we leave.† I think I can do that, but it might take a little luck and will definitely take some planning, which is part of the fun for me.† I also plan to concentrate on the treatment for my bad heel, which mostly will involve doing more icing of the heel.† What a life!

 

 

Thursday, June 9, 2016

 

Here's an update for the last week, since I've been back from my Yakima trip.

 

On Saturday, June 4,† I went over to the north end of Lake Sammamish and picked up Purple Martin for my Saturday list.† Now that I know where the nest boxes are there, I can go there any time and pick up that one for a day list, until I have gotten them on all seven days.

 

After that I went into Marymoor Park and looked for the Lazuli Bunting I had seen there a couple of times.† No luck that day, though.† There was a female Northern Flicker sitting at the top of the bunting's favorite tree.† Here is a shot looking up into the bright blue sky.

 

Here is a shot from the back.

 

I waited around a while, but the Lazuli Bunting never showed up.† I saw a report of one at Marymoor a couple of days later, though, so it might still be around.† The Purple Martins around their nest boxes brought me to 114 species for Saturday, which is my lowest day of the week.† I need to come up with a good day trip I could make this Saturday, to up my Saturday total.† The trouble is, the only ones I can think of would involve more walking than I want to do on my sore heel.

 

On Sunday, June 5, I went up to the Edmonds waterfront, although there wasn't going to be much I needed for Sunday at this time of year.† There was a waterfront festival going on, but people were just arriving for it when I got there, so it wasn't too bad fighting my way through the traffic.† I didnít see anything at Marina Beach, but at the central beach area I saw a single Common Murre, a great one to get for my Sunday list.† They are usually off somewhere else at this time of year, but this one seems to have stuck around this summer.† I went on to Yost Park, which is several blocks inland from the waterfront, there in Edmonds.† There were a fair number of people around, since it was Sunday, but I walked the easy main trail (trying to take it easy on my bad heel), playing the songs of several birds that people have recently reported being there.† Eventually I ventured down one of the steep trails into the valley.† At one point I played the song of a bird I hadn't seen yet this year, and a lovely little male WILSON'S WARBLER flew in to check me out.† He stuck around, singing back to me, but he just wouldn't sit still long enough to get a decent picture.† Here is the best I was able to do, heavily processed, since it was looking up into the bright canopy.

 

The bird has an all yellow underside, just like a Yellow Warbler, except that Wilson's Warbler has a black patch right on the top of its head.† You can just barely see the black patch in my picture, but I had a good look at it as the bird flitted around singing to me.† The murre and the warbler brought me to 120 species for Sunday, and Wilson's Warbler was number 187 for the year.

 

On Monday, June 6, I went down to Juanita Bay Park to look for the nest hole of a Red-breasted Sapsucker.† I had read of the nest in an eBird report, and I had emailed the guy who had made the report, and he had given me explicit directions to the nest hole.† As I approached the location of the nest hole, at the south end of the old highway bridge, I actually saw a Red-breasted Sapsucker and got this picture.

 

It was close enough to the nest that it was probably the same bird the guy had seen at the nest.† I found the nest, but it seemed to be empty by then.† Later I saw an adult Red-breasted Sapsucker feeding a recent fledgling, so the young one must have fledged between Saturday and Monday.† I wanted to get a picture of the adult feeding the nestling at the nest hole, but I was too late, it seems.† I walked along the old highway bridge and played bird songs, but never attracted anything.† I did see an Orange-crowned Warbler, though, an excellent one for my Monday list.† That brought Monday to 125 species.

 

On Tuesday, June 7, I went back over to Marymoor Park, stopping on the way to pick up Purple Martin for Tuesday, at the north end of Lake Sammamish.† There was a lot of traffic in the area, and when I got into the park I realized why.† The Ladies Professional Golf Association is having a tournament this week at a nearby golf course, and they were using parking lots at Marymoor for the fans, then taking them by bus to the golf course.† They had the parking at the east end of the dog park blocked off, so I wasn't able to look for the Lazuli Bunting.† I went to the west side of the dog park instead and walked along the slough.† I was looking mainly for Willow Flycatcher and Spotted Sandpiper, but I didn't see either one of those.† I got another excellent one, though, as a couple of VAUX'S SWIFTS flew overhead and swooped around long enough for me to get a good binocular look at them.† They look superficially like Swallows, but they fly somewhat differently and the shape of their wings is different.† I also added Bullock's Oriole to my Tuesday list, and I got these two distant pictures of a male Bullock's Oriole.

 

 

There was also an Osprey perched in a tree across the river.† I didnít need it for Tuesday, but here is a picture.

 

While I was watching and taking pictures of the Osprey, a much smaller bird flew near it and the Osprey flapped its wings like it was going to take off.

 

It didn't take off, however, and when it settled down again, I got this next picture, which shows the smaller bird that had disturbed it, in the background.† It was a male Bullock's Oriole, presumably the same one I had gotten pictures of a few minutes earlier.

 

I don't know what the oriole was doing.† It didnít look like it was harassing the Osprey, so maybe it just happened to want to land in that tree for some reason, and startled the Osprey.

 

So, I had added three species to my Tuesday list to bring it to 134, and I had added Vaux's Swift to my year list, to bring that one to 188 species.

 

On Wednesday, June 8, I went back to the Edmonds waterfront.† There wasnít a festival there in the middle of the week, but there were hardly any birds either.† It's interesting that in the winter there are many dozens of birds offshore there, but in the summer there are very few.† I didnít see any of the water birds I had hoped to see (all were unlikely, and I knew that), but I did see a single male Purple Martin sitting on the top of the pole that has Purple Martin nest boxes on it.† There are five or six nest boxes, mounted on two pilings, out in the little bay, but so far this year, Purple Martins haven't nested there.† It seems too late for them to start now, but this male was sitting out there, maybe wondering where all the action was.† It flew off before I could get a picture, but it was probably too far away anyway.† I went to Yost Park again and walked a little on the main trail.† I played the songs of several species but again couldn't attract anything.† Then I saw an excellent bird - my first PILEATED WOODPECKER of the year.† There wasnít much light and the bird kept pecking at the dead snag it was on, so most of my pictures are badly motion-blurred.† Here is one that isn't too blurry, but it was brightly lighted from behind, unfortunately.

 

Here is one with better lighting, although it is a bit blurry.

 

The red at the base of the lower bill indicates it was a male.† I don't see Pileated Woodpecker often, so I was pleased.† That brought me to 189 species for the year.† My year total keeps creeping up.† We leave for our annual family Yosemite get-together next week, and I expect to go over 200 on that trip.† My Wednesday total was 140 after that.

 

Today, Thursday, June 9, I had a couple of doctor appointments in the morning, so I didnít have a lot of time to look for a Thursday bird.† I also am trying to stay off my bad heel as much as possible, which means driving and walking as little as possible, since both of those things aggravate it.† I opted to go down to Juanita Beach Park (five minutes from home) for the "gimme", California Gull.† I saw a couple of them on the east end of the beach, where the gulls roost on the docks of the next door apartments.† While I was out on the dock I got this picture of a pair of Gadwalls.† It shows the differences between the sexes.† The lower one is the male.

 

Here is a close-up of a male Gadwall.† From a distance they just look plain, but up close you can see the intricate patterns and subtle colors.

 

So, the California Gull brought me to 136 species for Thursday.

 

Here is my scorecard for my DOTW birding thing, at this point.

 

After†††††††††††††††† Fri††††††† Sat†††††† Sun††††† Mon††††† Tue†††††† Wed†††† Thu

 

4 wks††††††††††††††† 51†††††††† 47†††††††† 55†††††††† 53†††††††† 44†††††††† 55†††††††† 52

8 wks††††††††††††††† 57†††††††† 60†††††††† 73†††††††† 67†††††††† 69†††††††† 79†††††††† 68

12 wks††††††††††††† 90†††††††† 87†††††††† 82†††††††† 81†††††††† 96†††††††† 100†††††† 95

16 wks††††††††††††† 100†††††† 105†††††† 106†††††† 114†††††† 111†††††† 111†††††† 107

20 wks††††††††††††† 122†††††† 114†††††† 120†††††† 125†††††† 133†††††† 140†††††† 136

 

Saturday is clearly lagging.† My streak of adding at least one bird to that day's list, every day so far this year, is alive.† At this point, I ought to be able to make it through the Yosemite trip, but July is when it will end probably, although we will see.† By July, Heerman's Gulls should be back at Edmonds after a six month absence, and that alone will give me a full week, as I add it to each day's list.† There are other summer birds I haven't seen yet, too, partly because I haven't wanted to stress my heel by doing too much walking.† Maybe my heel will be better in July.

 

I have completed 76 species now, meaning I have seen those 76 species on each day of the week, at some point this year.† My year list stands at 189, after adding three since I got back from my Yakima trip.† I forget if I mentioned it, but I added 17 species to my year list on that trip last week.

I hope to find time to make a list of possible year-birds I could add on the Yosemite trip, with probabilities, but that might be more effort than I want to make.† I plan to visit my friend Fred in Sacramento on my way home, and if I stick around there for a few days, I could add quite a few California birds to my year list.† We plan to leave next Friday, June 17.

 

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

 

 

Monday, June 13, 2016

 

Not much to report, but I have a few pictures.

 

On Friday, June 10, I went down to Juanita Beach Park (across the bay from my usual Juanita Bay Park) to get California Gull for my Friday list.† I didn't want to do much walking on my bad heel, so I chose to go for an easy Friday bird with a short walk.† I got the California Gull, but I also saw three Bonaparte's Gulls on the beach.† I had only seen them once before this year, so that was nice.† Here is a picture of what I think is a first summer Bonaparte's Gull, meaning it was hatched last year. †In full adult plumage at this time of year, it would have a solid black head, without the white feathers around the face.

 

Here are two more Bonaparte's Gulls, along with the first one.† I think that they were also hatched last year, but their summer plumages aren't as far along yet.

 

Bonaparte's Gull is the smallest commonly seen gull in the US.† Here is a size comparison with a "normal" sized gull.

 

The Bonaparte's Gulls look tiny when seen next to a regular size gull.† The two gulls, California and Bonaparte's, brought me to 124 species for Friday.

 

On Saturday, June 11, I decided to see if the Bonaparte's Gulls had hung around.† I didn't really expect it, but it was easy enough to check, since it is only five minutes from home and a hundred yard walk to the beach from the car.† To my pleased surprise, I did spot one of the three gulls - the one with the darkest head, so that took care of my Saturday bird.† I see Great Blue Herons all the time, but they are very photogenic I think, and this one seemed to beg for its picture to be taken.† I like the feather definition.

 

I saw a female Common Merganser with young down the beach, so I walked down and got some pictures.† Here is the mama Common Merganser with five young ones on the beach.

 

As I got there, they were getting up to go swimming around.† Here they are parading to the water.

 

Here they are in the water.

 

Here is a close-up of three of the young Common Mergansers.

 

While walking in the trees on the west end of the beach, I saw an Osprey through the trees, and that was another one for my Sunday list.† That brought me to 116 species for Saturday, my lowest day.

 

On Sunday, June 12, I thought I might as well try for the hat trick and get Bonaparte's Gull for three days in a row.† Sure enough, they were on the beach again.† Here is a close-up picture of one of the juvenile Bonaparte's Gulls.

 

I didn't get anything else that day, and I had 121 species for Sunday after that.

 

On Monday, June 13, I didn't need Bonaparte's Gull because I had seen them while crossing Puget Sound on a ferry on my way to the Kitsap Peninsula back in April.† My options for new Monday birds are getting small, but I went on down to Juanita Bay Park to see if I could get something new for a Monday.† It was breezy and overcast, and there weren't many birds around, but out at the end of the eastern boardwalk I heard a couple of Marsh Wrens singing.† I managed to get a good look at one of them.† That saved my streak for the time being, bringing me to 126 species for Monday.

 

Oh yes, I got this picture of a Red-breasted Sapsucker, looking up into the bright cloudy sky.

 

That's it for now.† I have three more days here at home before we leave for our annual Yosemite trip on Friday.† I have my "day" birds planned for the trip down, and it should be easy to get a new one for each day while in Yosemite.† Then I'll just have to deal with my travel days going home, but I won't be in a hurry, and I should be able to manage it with good planning.† The streak is alive!

 

 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

 

Here's a short report and my weekly DOTW birding scorecard.

 

On Tuesday, June 14, I went down to Juanita Beach to look for a couple of gulls I needed for Tuesday.† I found a California Gull roosting on a dock with the other gulls, as usual, and I saw one Bonaparte's Gull on the beach in front of the apartments to the east of the public beach.† Success, but no pictures that day.† The two gulls brought me to 135 species for Tuesday.

 

On Wednesday, June 15, I tried again at Juanita Beach, because I still needed Bonaparte's Gull and I also needed Osprey, which I have seen there several times recently.† I didn't see either one, but as I was leaving I saw some swifts flying around overhead.† Swifts look superficially like swallows, but their wings are thinner and curved back, and they fly somewhat differently.† These were large swifts, and I got great looks at them as they soared overhead.† They were BLACK SWIFTS, not only a year bird, but one that I had only seen 1 or 2 times before in my life!† Very exciting.† There were at least a dozen of them, and probably more.† I tried for pictures, but they move fast (might I say swiftly?) and it is always hard to get focus on a bird in the sky.† All I can do with this kind of small bird is focus on something on the ground that might be about the same distance away, and then move the camera up and try to catch one in the frame.† Here are some out of focus pictures of Black Swifts.† Even though the pictures are really blurry, you can see the wing shape that marks them as swifts.

 

 

 

I don't know how much of the blurriness is due to being out of focus and how much is due to motion blur, since I was moving the camera all the time, trying to find a bird in the view finder.† At any rate, I was thrilled to see Black Swift for the second or third time in my life.† That brought me to 141 species for Wednesday, and brought my yearly total to 190 species.

 

Today, Thursday, June 16, I went down to Juanita Beach again, to see if the Bonaparte's Gulls were around.† No luck with them, and the Black Swifts weren't back, either, which didn't surprise me.† I think the swifts roost at night in the mountains, maybe 20 miles away, and they forage far and wide for food each day.† Since I didn't see any Bonaparte's Gulls, I decided to go around the bay to Juanita Bay Park, to see what I could find there.†

 

On my way back to my car at Juanita Beach, though, I saw a couple of birds feeding in some weeds, and I got some pictures of juvenile White-crowned Sparrows.† Adult birds have plain breasts, and these stumped me for a minute or so, but I finally figured out what they were.† Here are three pictures of juvenile (hatched this year) White-crowned Sparrows.

 

 

 

As a comparison, here is a picture I took earlier this year at the same place, of an adult White-crowned Sparrow.

 

Not only will those birds I saw today lose their streaky breasts, they will develop their black and white crowns.† Based on location, I would guess that the adult bird in that picture is one of the parents of the two juveniles I saw today.

 

After driving around to Juanita Bay Park, I tried using playback to entice a Brown Creeper to show itself, but no luck.† I walked out onto the eastern boardwalk and played Common Yellowthroat, and one flew right in to check me out.† I didnít hear it singing back, like they were doing earlier in the year, but I got this picture of a male Common Yellowthroat, which I needed for Thursday still.

 

On my way back to my car, I stopped and sat at a picnic table and enjoyed the beautiful morning.† While I was sitting there, I noticed a couple of swallows flying around overhead.† But, wait, those aren't swallows.† They were swifts.† Small swifts this time - the other swift species we get here, Vaux's Swift.† I only see swifts a very few times each year, and today was the second day in a row.† It was a great day-bird, but not a year-bird, as I had seen them over at Marymoor last month.

 

So, with the yellowthroat and the swifts, I'm at 138 species for Thursday now.

 

Here is my DOTW birding scorecard at this point, as my streak continues.

 

After†††††††††††††††† Fri††††††† Sat†††††† Sun††††† Mon††††† Tue†††††† Wed†††† Thu

 

4 wks††††††††††††††† 51†††††††† 47†††††††† 55†††††††† 53†††††††† 44†††††††† 55†††††††† 52

8 wks††††††††††††††† 57†††††††† 60†††††††† 73†††††††† 67†††††††† 69†††††††† 79†††††††† 68

12 wks††††††††††††† 90†††††††† 87†††††††† 82†††††††† 81†††††††† 96†††††††† 100†††††† 95

16 wks††††††††††††† 100†††††† 105†††††† 106†††††† 114†††††† 111†††††† 111†††††† 107

20 wks††††††††††††† 122†††††† 114†††††† 120†††††† 125†††††† 133†††††† 140†††††† 136

21 wks††††††††††††† 124†††††† 116†††††† 121†††††† 126†††††† 135†††††† 141†††††† 138

 

We plan to leave for Yosemite tomorrow morning, and I have plans to find a new day-bird each travelling day.† Once we arrive in Yosemite Valley, I expect it to be easy, as there are lots of Acorn Woodpeckers around.† We don't have them up here, so it will be new for me every day, assuming I see or hear one.† I'll see if I can get some pictures to share.

 

 

Saturday, June 18, 2016

 

On Friday, June 17, we left for Yosemite.† Out first stop was just over Snoqualmie Pass to pick up Rufous Hummingbird for my Friday list, at a house with hummingbird feeders that I have visited several times before.† We went through Ellensburg and stopped at Subway to pick up lunch, and then went down through Yakima and south on Highway 97 toward Oregon. †We had lunch at Brooks Memorial State Park, as usual, and I tried for Friday birds there, but it was cold and I didnít see anything worthwhile.† We had our first rain showers about then, too.† While crossing the Columbia River I saw two American White Pelicans on the river for my Friday list.† We got gas in Biggs Junction, just across the Columbia River and headed down Highway 97 in Oregon.† At a rest stop I saw a male Western Bluebird for my Friday list.† We had rain for most of the rest of the afternoon to our stop at La Pine, Oregon.† I got three birds for my Friday list, to bring me to 127 and keep my streak alive.† No pictures that day.

 

On Saturday, June 18, it was cold and raining when we got up, and we headed south.† I saw a Turkey Vulture (a new Saturday bird) perched in a tree just about when the rain stopped.† Later we saw lots more TVís along the way, as the rain stopped and the sun came out.† We stopped at Hagelstein Park, just north of Klamath Falls, and I saw my first GREAT EGRET of the year as we were slowing for the turn in to the park.† In the park we saw dozens of Cliff Swallows, another one for my Saturday list.† As we left the park I saw a flycatcher and we stopped to chase it.† I never got a good look at it, but it called and I could identify it as a Western Wood-Pewee for my Saturday list.† There was also a House Wren on a wire, another Saturday bird.

 

Back on the highway, we went south a mile or so to a flooded field and I made Christina, who was driving, pull over to the side of the busy highway.† She didnít like it, but I got out and looked at the birds in the field.† The gulls I had seen that I was really interested in flew off when I got out of the car, but they landed again, fairly far away.† I took distant pictures, and with the help of the pictures was able to make some identifications.† Here is a picture of a FRANKLINíS GULL, a great year-bird.

 

 

Franklinís Gull looks a lot like Bonaparteís Gull, and either one could be there at this time of year.† Franklinís gull has a red bill, though, and Bonaparteís has a black bill.† This bird in the picture obviously has a red bill, so I counted it as a Franklinís Gull.† There were others there, and some may have been Bonaparteís Gulls, but I couldnít tell that for sure from my pictures, so only Franklinís Gull goes onto my list today.

 

There was another year-bird in the field, too, WHITE-FACED IBIS.† Here is a terrible picture of three of them.

 

I didnít need Caspian Tern for Saturday, but here is a picture of some of them.† I think that the two on the left must be young ones, since it looks to me like they are begging the one landing for food.

 

So, I got a couple of good year-birds there, and we moved on.† We gassed up in Klamath Falls and I got a tuna sandwich at Subway.† Christina had made an egg salad sandwich for herself at the motel in the morning.† We went to the Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) and ate our lunch at the visitorís center. †It was plenty cold, maybe in the high 50ís, so we ate in the car.† I had worn shorts and hadnít brought my heavy coat, since in the past, it has always been very hot on this trip.† These areas we are going through now are supposed to be at least 25 degrees warmer in a day or two.† We hit the end of a cold weather spell.† I saw a California Quail at the visitor center, but I didnít need that for Saturday, sorry to say.† I did add Mourning Dove to my Saturday list there, though.

 

After lunch we drove south through the refuge and saw lots of EARED GREBES on the lake.† Here is a poor picture that at least shows sort of what they look like in breeding plumage.

 

There wasnít much else, but toward the south end of the lake there was a group of maybe a dozen American White Pelicans.† American White Pelicans form a circle in shallow water and herd fish into the center, where they go after them.† Here is a picture of an American White Pelican feeding circle.† Too bad I was so far away.

 

There were a lot of Western Grebes around them, probably hoping to take advantage of the herding that the pelicans were doing.† I knew that some of the ďWesternĒ Grebes were probably the rarer species that looks much like them, but I didnít want to take the time to get out my scope and take a closer look.† Instead I took some pictures, and in this next picture you can see at least one CLARKíS GREBE, another excellent year-bird.

 

Most of those grebes on the left are Western Grebes (which I didnít need for Saturday), but the one closest to the pelicans is a Clarkís Grebe, with the white under its eye going above the bill.† If we could see it better, we could see that ďthe eye is in the whiteĒ, which is the test for Clarkís Grebe.† The bill color is a little different, too, but you canít see that in this picture.† It is a marginal identification, but I think this picture is definitive enough to count it, so Iím going with it.

 

A little later I stopped to get pictures of some Cliff Swallows gathering mud for their nests.† Here is a picture of a couple of them.† It was interesting how they kept their wings up while they were gathering the mud.

 

While I was taking their picture, I noticed another bird, closer to the car.† Here is a picture of my first CALIFORNIA TOWHEE of the year.

 

We were running pretty late by then, so we boogied on down the road.† We went through Lava Beds National Monument, but we didnít stop to explore any of the caves there.† The lava was interesting, though, as we drove through on the road that got pretty rough by the end.

 

We stopped at our favorite little rest stop, Willow Creek, south of Adin, and I had intended to play the call of a woodpecker I have seen there before.† Before I could even do that, though, I saw a woodpecker, and it was indeed the WHITE-HEADED WOODPECKER that I was looking for.† Here is a peek-a-boo picture through the branches at it.

 

Here is a picture of it on a branch.

 

That was the end of my birds for the day, and we motored on down the highway to Carson City, where we are spending the night.

 

I added a whopping 13 species to my Saturday list, which needed it because it was the lowest day.† That brought it to 129.† I also got 7 new year-birds, to bring me to 197 species for the year.† It was a long day in the car (about 9 Ĺ hours), but we had frequent stops and it was certainly productive for my birding lists.† Tomorrow we plan to drive over Tioga Pass into Yosemite and the parties will begin.

 

 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

 

We were up and out of our humble motel room by 8:15 this morning.† After stops at Mickey Dís for breakfast, Costco for gas, and Trader Joeís for Yosemite picnic supplies, we were on the road for Yosemite by 9:15.† While we were packing the car and getting ready to go I heard California Quail calling around our motel, so that one went onto my Sunday list.

 

Along the way I saw a bird on a wire as we drove by at 60 MPH, and I was able to identify it as a Western Scrub-Jay (Christina was driving at the time), a good one for my Sunday list.† Our first birding detour was at Bridgeport, where we went off for three or four miles to get views of the Bridgeport reservoir.† I soon added Eared Grebe to my Sunday list.† I thought I had added American White Pelican, too, but later discovered I had already recorded that one on a Sunday.† Here is a picture of one anyway.

 

I wonder what baby pelicans look like.

 

There were also Western Grebes on the lake.† I didnít need Western Grebe for Sunday, but I did need Clarkís Grebe, a very similar species.† I saw both species today.† Here is a Western Grebe, with its yellow-green bill and its ďeye in the blackĒ.

 

Here is a Clarkís Grebe, with its yellow-orange bill and its ďeye in the whiteĒ.

 

I was pleased to see both species and to get pictures illustrating the differences.† Western Grebes are much more common than Clarkís Grebes, especially up in Washington.

 

Here is a picture of the Bridgeport reservoir with the Sierras in the background.† There are three American White Pelicans in the foreground on the water.

 

On our way back to the highway, I made another stop to look at the waterís edge and picked up Caspian Tern and also AMERICAN AVOCET, the latter for my year list.

 

Our next stop was the Virginia Lakes Resort, at an elevation of 9770 feet.† There are several high altitude species I have seen there before.† Today I missed Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch and Clarkís Nutcracker, but I did add Pine Siskin, Cassinís Finch, and Brown-headed Cowbird to my Sunday list.† Here is a picture of a Pine Siskin at a feeding sock.

 

I see Pine Siskins in our yard at home, but not real often, and Sunday was the last day I needed to complete the species for the year.† I see Brown-headed Cowbirds around home, too, and Sunday was the last day I needed for that one, too.

 

Here is a female Cassinís Finch.

 

Here is a male Cassinís Finch, stretching out.

 

Here is a pair of Cassinís Finches, interacting.

 

Hereís a picture of Virginia Lake with the mountains as a backdrop.

 

We ate our lunches there and then headed back down to the highway and over Tioga Pass to Yosemite Valley.† There was a 45 minute delay in stop and go traffic coming into the valley.† Partly it was due to the fact it was a weekend, partly it was because visitors to the park are up 15% this year, and partly because President Obama left the valley at about 2 PM and they had closed parts of it until he left.† I think the delay was also made worse by a new traffic scheme that reserves one of the two lanes on the south side of the valley for buses.† During our 45 minutes in the line, maybe 3 or 4 buses came by, and the lane stood empty for the rest of the time, except for the cheaters who whizzed by everyone who was following the rules.†

 

We finally got to what used to be called Yosemite Lodge, and now is called Yosemite Park Lodge or something slightly different because of a trademark dispute between the former and current concession holders.† There are other name changes as well, such as the famous old Awahnee Hotel is now called the Yosemite Majestic Hotel, or something similarly stupid.† Curry Village has some name I canít even remember.† Like most visitors, Iíll just continue to use the old names, trademarks or not.

 

It was 87 degrees as we arrived in late afternoon, and that is supposed to go up by 5 to 10 degrees over the next few days.† Too damn hot for me.† It does cool down quickly when the sun goes behind the cliffs, though, which happens about 5:15 PM.† Mornings are quite pleasant, too, so it is really only a few hours in the afternoon that are so bad.† The rooms donít have air conditioning, though, and our room doesnít even have any windows that open Ė just a tiny ventilation opening.† We could open our door to our patio, but that would invite the mosquitoes into our room.

 

Here is a picture of Yosemite Falls that I took while stuck in traffic on the way in.

 

Here is a picture taken from our patio.

 

Once we got all our stuff hauled from the car to the room, I sat out on the patio and enjoyed the afternoon with a little drinkie or two.† It wasnít too bad as far as heat was concerned, and the mozzies didnít bother me either.† There was a nice little breeze, which helps with both the heat and the mozzies.† After the sun goes behind the cliffs, it cools right down and was very pleasant out there.† I picked up White-headed Woodpecker and Bullockís Oriole for my Sunday list, too.† Both were excellent birds.† We have visited Yosemite and stayed here in the lodge at least a dozen times since I took up birding, and I only can remember seeing White-headed Woodpecker around the lodge once or maybe twice before.† We stay for six nights each time, so that is at least 72 days Iíve been here, and this is only the second or third time Iíve seen White-headed Woodpecker here on the grounds of the lodge.† It is probably about the same for Bullockís Oriole.

 

So, I got eleven more birds for Sunday, to bring me to 132 species.† I added one to my year list, to bring that one to 198 species so far this year.† Now the annual Yosemite festivities start, including our ďpicnicĒ each evening for the next four nights.† I understand that there are about 35 people expected this year, family and friends of family members.

 

 

Monday, June 20, 2016

 

Weíre into the Yosemite Experience now.† I had the ďlodge breakfastĒ at the dining hall, as usual, and set out to look for birds at about 9:15 AM.† Before I left I saw a male Western Tanager hawking insects across the little meadow outside our room, so that one went on my Monday list Ė a fine addition.

 

My first stop was at the meadow below El Capitan.† Iíve seen woodpeckers there before, and today I heard ACORN WOODPECKERS a number of times, but never actually saw one.† I count ďheard onlyĒ birds now, though, so it went on my lists.† I also saw a White-headed Woodpecker and got a mediocre picture.

 

Actually, I guess I got two mediocre pictures of the male White-headed Woodpecker.

 

I moved on and went down toward Foresta on Big Oak Flat Road, which is a turnoff from the road to Crane Flat.† Iíve seen good birds on that road before, and today was excellent, as it turned out.† Thereís very little traffic on that road, as it doesnít go anywhere except to some houses and summer cabins.

 

At my first stop, where I have seen them before, I added Western Bluebird to my Monday list, to complete that species.† Iíve seen Western Bluebird on each day of the week now, which is pretty good for a bird that I havenít seen in my home county this year.† A couple of years ago I saw a bird at that same place that stumped me, and it turned out to be a very young Western Bluebird.† Today when I saw one, I remembered.† Here is a picture of a recently fledged Western Bluebird.

 

Neither the male nor the female adult Western Bluebird has markings like that on the breast.† The yellow on the bill is typical for a recently fledged bird in many species, for some reason.† Maybe the yellow bill makes it easier for the parents to feed it or see it when itís begging for food.

 

I also got a quick look at a Western Scrub-Jay at that stop, and I saw another one later, too.† Then there were some small birds in some long grass, feeding on the seeds, and I eventually decided they were LESSER GOLDFINCHES, a species we donít get in Western Washington and most of Eastern Washington.† There were also some Bushtits flying around, another good one for my Monday list.† That made four Monday birds at that first stop on Big Oak Flat Road, and I had two others that normally would be considered ďgoodĒ, but I had them already on Monday this year Ė Lazuli Bunting and Orange-crowned Warbler.† I didnít need it for any lists, but I got this picture there, too, of a calling male Spotted Towhee.

 

That was a very birdy location, and Iíll certainly be stopping there again this week.† I moved on and stopped a couple more times.† At one stop I heard MOUNTAIN QUAIL, a very difficult bird to see, but fairly easy to hear.† The call is very loud and very distinctive.† At another stop, I heard a woodpecker drumming, so I got out of the car and looked around.† I finally spotted it, and it turned out to be my first HAIRY WOODPECKER of the year.† It stayed up high, but I got this picture.

 

I stopped where the road crosses a creek and got out and walked a little, playing the song of MacGillvrayís Warbler, which I have seen there before.† I didnít see the warbler, but I did pick up my first BLACK PHOEBE of the year.† Black Phoebe is a common flycatcher here in California, but I donít usually see them in the mountains.† I also saw a couple of House Wrens, who seemed to be reacting to the MacGillvrayís Warbler song I was playing.

 

Back at the car, I heard a bird singing repeatedly, and I knew it was familiar, but I couldnít remember what it was.† Eventually I saw a bird fly in nearby, and it was a cute little CASSINíS VIREO, which is the bird I had heard singing.† The reason it had sounded so familiar is that I had played that song a lot of times on my trip over to Yakima at the end of May.† I hadnít ever gotten a response then, though.† The best thing about the vireo was that it when it flew in, it landed on a little nest nearby.† I got a series of pictures of the two Cassinís vireos who flitted around singing back to my phone, as I played their song.

 

Here is one of them singing back to me.

 

Notice the very fluffy yellowish feathers on its side.† I wonder if they are so fluffy because the bird is sitting on the nest, the better to keep eggs or young warm at night.† Here is a picture of one of the Cassinís Vireos on the cute little nest.

 

It seemed to be looking down into the nest, and repeatedly sticking its head down, as if it might be feeding some young birds.† I never saw any young, but the adult bird or birds kept going back to the nest and never stayed long, so there might be babies in it.† Here is a picture of it looking right at me, seemingly, as it sat briefly on the nest.

 

After I took that picture, I got back in the car and drove on to where I could turn around.† When I came back a few minutes later, I stopped the car where I could see the nest and got another picture of one of the birds at the nest, from another angle.

 

It was getting on for lunch time by then, so I headed back, but I did so via a side road that loops over the hill back to Big Oak Flat Road.† I stopped at the crest and again played the Mountain Quail call.† I heard a couple of them, and one sounded kind of close.† I periodically played its call, and it would call back.† I walked up a side road toward the sound and saw some movement through the bushes.† I ended up getting pretty good binocular views of a Mountain Quail as it walked through the bushes.† It was only the second time in my life I have seen a Mountain Quail, so that was exciting.† It actually came out onto the road eventually, but before I could get my camera ready to go, it started scampering up the road, away from me.† I got these two pictures as it boogied away.

 

 

I donít usually show pictures of birds that donít show the face, but Mountain Quail is so hard to see that Iím happy to have these pictures of its back.

 

So, it was an extremely productive morning.† I added 12 species to my Monday list, to bring it to 138.† Six of those were year-birds, too, which is very darn good at this point.† I have 204 species so far this year now.† I had figured I would go over 200 on this trip, but not this early in the trip.† I wonder whatís left to get here in Yosemite.† Iíll be trying to get these same birds for each dayís list, though, so Iíll have plenty to look for.† Itíll be interesting to see how many of them Iíll see on visits to Big Oak Flat Road later this week.† After todayís great results there, Iíll certainly be going back.

 

We had our first of four picnics this evening.† We had ham, rolls, potato salad, green salad, fruit salad, and a cheesy peppery corn muffin type thing.† Brownies for dessert.† The appetizers were great, too, including some Trader Joeís shrimp and shrimp sauce.† Some wine and beer were consumed, too.

 

Tomorrow Iíll go looking for Tuesday birds and see what I can find.

 

 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

 

I was up and out of here by about 9:30 this morning.† I stopped at the meadow at the foot of El Capitan again, and this time I saw a couple of Acorn Woodpeckers, rather than just heard them like yesterday.† I also heard another bird and saw it fly across the road.† I picked it up in the distance across the road, and I could see it was a flycatcher in the Empid family.† The Empids are notoriously hard to tell apart, except by their songs.† I had heard this one sing several times, and I whipped out my phone and played some possible species.† I was able to tell it was a Pacific-slope Flycatcher, one I had only seen once before this year (and not on a Tuesday).† I was kind of surprised to make identification from the song.† Maybe thereís hope for me yet, to become a decent birder.

 

My next stop was the pullout on the Big Oak Flat Road to Foresta, where I had gotten so many good birds yesterday.† Today Ė almost nothing.† I saw a couple of Western Scrub-Jays, but Tuesday is the one day I had seen Western Scrub-Jay before this trip, so it didnít help.† It seemed hotter today, and maybe that quieted the birds, but I think it is just a matter of luck.† I didnít see or hear anything else along the road until I got to the creek crossing.† The Cassinís Vireos were still around, tending their nest.† I tried playing MacGillvrayís Warbler again, but again got no response.† While walking the road along the creek, I did see a Hairy Woodpecker, though.† I also got the bright idea of playing Mountain Chickadee, and one flew in and kept flying right past me as I played its song.† I got these two pictures of a Mountain Chickadee.

 

 

As I got back to the car I saw a woodpecker and figured it was the Hairy Woodpecker again. †But, it turned out to be a White-headed Woodpecker, which I hadnít seen in the El Capitan meadow today.† I got this picture of a male White-headed Woodpecker, a better one than I got yesterday.

 

While I was trying to get in position for pictures of the woodpecker, I noticed some little brown birds.† I think there were three of them, and I think one or more was a young one being fed by an adult.† I had only seen Brown Creeper once before this year, and wouldnít you know Ė it was on a Tuesday, so it didnít go on a list today.† I did get a pretty good picture of the little dear, though.

 

Brown Creepers feed by running up tree trunks and finding insects in the cracks in the bark.

 

I headed back toward the main highway, taking the route over the hill like I did yesterday.† At the place I had heard and seen Mountain Quail yesterday I heard them again today, but not real close today.† I saw a flycatcher, but it turned out to be a Western Wood-Pewee, which I already had on Tuesday.† Here are a couple of pictures of it, though.

 

 

There were actually two birds there, so Iím not sure if the birds in each picture are the same bird or not.† I kept trying to make them into an Olive-sided Flycatcher, but I heard one of them singing, and it was the Western Wood-Pewee song.

 

While I was trying to get pictures of the wood-pewees, another small bird showed up.† It turned out to be an excellent one, my first BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER of the year.† I donít see them very often, and I even got a pretty good picture today.

 

The picture even captured the tiny yellow spot in front of its eye.

 

Next I went through Crane Flat and up Highway 120 to Tamarack Flat Road.† The local Indians have the campground at the end of the road for two weeks each June, and I was hoping they were through by now.† The ďCamp FullĒ sign was still up, but the Road Closed sign was not blocking the road, so I went on in.† I didnít care about going to the campground anyway Ė I just wanted to bird along the road.† I stopped a few times and played some bird songs.† I stopped and ate my humble lunch in the car at one point.† There was a lot of traffic on the road, which makes me think the Indians arenít done yet with their big annual campout.

 

I had no luck attracting a Hermit Warbler, which I have seen along that road in the past.† I did manage to attract a GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE finally, and I got this picture of its head, peeking out from a little tree.

 

I also attracted Fox Sparrows at two stops, but I didnít need that one for Tuesday.† Here is a picture of one of the Fox Sparrows, though.

 

That was it for my birding today.† I headed back toward the valley and stopped at the gas station at Crane Flat.† Gas was $3.60 something a gallon.† Mountain prices.† No water in the window washing containers, so I used some of my own drinking water to wash my front windshield.

 

I stopped again at yesterdayís great spot on Big Oak Flat Road, but saw nothing at all in the heat of the day.† It had been in the low 80ís up on Tamarack Flat Road, but it was in the low 90ís in the valley.† I stopped along the road into the valley and got this distant picture of Half Dome.

 

At another pullout I got this picture of the Merced River valley with Bridal Veil Fall in the background.

 

At our picnic tonight we had 29 people, and the food was pulled BBQ beef with various salads and rolls.† On the way back to the hotel after dinner I stopped and got this picture of Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls in the evening.† It was about 7:40 PM.

 

That pile of rotting wood in the foreground used to be a dead snag that is in some of my old pictures, from years ago.

 

I also walked out onto Sentinel Bridge and got the classic picture of Half Dome in the evening light, with the river in the shadows.

 

The trick is to get both the river and Half Dome to be visible in the picture, with the extremes in lighting.† It takes some processing afterwards to get even this much to be visible.

 

So, I didnít get as many day-birds as I did yesterday, but each day is different.† I added 9 species to my Tuesday list, to bring it to 144 species.† Two of those were new for the year, to bring me to 206 species.† Tomorrow the adventure continues.

 

 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

 

Today my brother, Rick, went birding with me.† We took our lunches and got out of here a little after nine.† While I was eating my breakfast on the patio, though, I saw a couple of White-headed Woodpeckers fly over and then an Acorn Woodpecker landed on the dead snag across the path from our room.† So, I had two Wednesday birds before I even started birding.

 

Our first stop was the pullout on the Big Oak Flat Road that had been so productive on Monday, but had been very quiet yesterday.† Today it was quiet again, although we did see a Western Scrub-Jay there, as I had done each of the two previous days.† That was an excellent one to get for my Wednesday list, as we donít get them up in my neck of the woods.

 

It was pretty quiet all along the road today.† I did get this picture of a male Western Bluebird at one stop - I now have that one for all the days of the week, but I still enjoy seeing them.† As Iíve mentioned many times, Iím partial to blue colored birds.

 

We stopped where I had seen Hairy Woodpecker on Monday, and we heard some woodpecker drumming.† I played the Hairy Woodpecker call and one flew right in to the tree above us.† We also got a bonus woodpecker fly in, a White-headed Woodpecker.† Iíve seen way more White-headed Woodpeckers this year than ever before in Yosemite.† I wonder if the numbers are up a lot or if it is just coincidence.† Iíve had the woodpecker trifecta each day this week, and all of them were new for the year on this trip.† Thatís White-headed, Hairy, and Acorn Woodpeckers.† Iíve seen White-headed Woodpeckers in multiple locations each day this week, I think.

 

We stopped at the Cassinís Vireo nest I showed pictures of on Monday, but they werenít around today.† I hope they didnít abandon their nest because of my presence on Monday and Tuesday.† We walked across the bridge and along the road and I did see a Cassinís Vireo there, so it went onto my Wednesday list.† We also got great looks at a Black-throated Gray Warbler there.† I didnít bother trying for pictures, since I had gotten an excellent one yesterday.

 

Back at the car near the vireo nest, we saw a couple of birds near the creek.† I was able to get a good look at one of them, from the back, and I decided it was a Black Phoebe, which I had seen there on Monday as well.† It is another good California bird for my lists, and I havenít seen them around Yosemite very often. †Then I had what I think was my best bird of the day Ė a pair of LAWRENCEíS GOLDFINCHES in the road.† I got this distant picture of the two of them.

 

I hadnít expected to see Lawrenceís Goldfinch this year, as they are pretty uncommon, and we donít get them in Washington at all.† They look similar to each other, except that the male has a black face, which you canít really see in that picture because it is turned away.

 

We drove back to the highway over the hill, like I had done the last two days, and again heard Mountain Quail at the top.† There were at least two of them answering the calls I played on my phone today.

 

Next we drove up to White Wolf, which is at an elevation over 8000 feet, I think.† We planned to eat lunch there and try for some higher elevation birds.† Unfortunately, White Wolf was closed.† The sign on the gate said it was closed from June 17 to June 21 for some volunteer group, but this is the 22nd, so I donít know why it was still closed.† We turned around and went back down to Tamarack Flat Road.† I had three main target species there, and I kept stopping and playing the songs.† We never got any response from Hermit Warbler, but we got good looks at a responsive Fox Sparrow, which I needed for my Wednesday list, and we saw and heard Green-tailed Towhees in two or three locations.† The towhees were very reclusive, and it was hard to get a look at them, even when they were singing back to us regularly.† I finally got a couple of mediocre pictures of a Green-tailed Towhee.

 

At least you can barely see its red cap in that picture.† It was in the shade and I was looking toward the sun, so it wasnít exposed well at all.

 

What I like about both pictures is that you can see the greenish tail that gives the species its name.

 

We ate our lunch along Tamarack Flat Road and then went down into the campground.† The Indians had departed earlier in the week, but the campground was full of people camping, mostly in tents.† On our way out, back at the entrance, there was a ranger in an official vehicle, and I pulled up and asked her how to get to the Crane Flat fire lookout and heliport.† She gave us directions and we drove up there.† We walked a little on the trail to the lookout, after we parked, and soon saw a small brown bird ahead of us.† I got fleeting looks through the bushes, but it flew off before I could get a good look.† Something about it, maybe the reddish rump and upper tail, made me think of a bird and I played the song.† Sure enough, I guess I was right, because a HERMIT THRUSH flew in and gave us good looks for a minute or so.† I wasnít able to get a picture, sorry to say, and it flew off.† That was an excellent year-bird for me.† There was a Mountain Chickadee nest hole in the distance, and we saw birds fly in and out of the hole a couple of times.† I didnít need Mountain Chickadee for Wednesday, but I do need it for Thursday and Friday, so maybe Iíll be back there then to pick it up.

 

We headed back after that, but stopped one more time on Big Oak Flat Road at my productive pullout.† There was a bird singing there, but we never could see it, and I couldnít identify the song.† While we were looking for that bird, a Red-tailed Hawk flew over.† I long ago completed Red-tailed Hawk on all seven days, but I got this picture of it overhead.

 

The temperature had been a pleasant 79 or 80 up in the Crane Flat area, which is above 6000 feet, but it was low 90ís in the valley, which is just above 4000 feet elevation.

 

Tonight was soft taco night at the picnic, always a popular meal.† My cousin, Tom, who is a doctor Ė not a farmer, has an avocado orchard on his property, and he always brings a huge amount of really great guacamole for taco night.† He brought us some avocados to take home, too.† Here is a picture of the Wednesday picnic, as people were gathering.† I counted 31 people tonight.

 

There are few pictures today, but it was actually pretty productive in terms of birds for my lists.† I had a target list of 18 species to look for today, for Wednesday, and I got nine of those, plus three additional ones.† Two of the additional ones were year-birds as well.† The 12 species for Wednesday got me to 153 species, the first day to go over 150.† The two year birds got me to 208 species for the year.

 

 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

 

I was out of here at about 9:15 this morning.† My first stop was the meadow below El Capitan, for woodpeckers.† I got Acorn Woodpecker, but I didnít see any White-headed ones there today.† I stopped at the viewpoint for Bridalveil Fall, and took this picture, partly to see how my camera would deal with the foreground in the sun and the falls in deep shade.

 

I had to process the picture somewhat, but it is okay, not great.† Cameras canít handle the range of brightness that the human eye can handle.

 

I stopped at my usual pullout on Big Oak Flat Road, where I had seen so many species on Monday.† I had seen Western Scrub-Jay there every day, and when I didnít see one today, I played the call on my phone.† Almost immediately I noticed one in a tree nearby.† Here is a picture of a Western Scrub-Jay looking me over.

 

I didnít see anything else there, so I moved on down into the valley.† I stopped at a different place, parking in a driveway that seemed unused.† I wanted to play the song of a bird I had seen there a couple of years ago.† I walked up and down the road, playing the song, and on the way back I spotted a little bird that was reacting to my playback.† Here is a picture of my first BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER of the year.

 

I like that picture, but I like this next one even better.† It looks to me like the little Blue-gray Gnatcatcher is yelling at me to stop playing its song.

 

It was actually just singing back to me, but I donít know what was in its little mind as it did that.

 

Next I stopped at my Hairy Woodpecker site.† I didnít hear any drumming today, but I spotted a woodpecker on a nearby tree.† It was actually two woodpeckers, both a Hairy Woodpecker and a White-headed Woodpecker.† I played the Hairy Woodpecker call, and one flew right over.† I think that both the male and female were there today, and I got this picture of a female Hairy Woodpecker.

 

I stopped at my Cassinís Vireo site and soon heard one.† Later I saw one, too.† The nest still seems to be abandoned.† I walked the road, playing the songs of birds I had seen there earlier in the week, but didnít get any of them today.† Itís interesting how a number of species can be in a location one day, and the next day, none of them are around.† Birds range over a fairly large territory, I think, unless they have a nest and are feeding young.† I did see a Brown Creeper there today, without playing the song, and I heard Mountain Quail calling from there today, so I skipped driving up over the ridge on the way back.† I also saw a Warbling Vireo, a great bird, but Thursday is one of the two days of the week I had seen Warbling Vireo already this year, on my Yakima trip last month.

 

I stopped again at the pullout that had been so productive, and a bird was singing repeatedly.† It was the same song that Rick and I had heard yesterday, at that same place.† We were never able to see any bird or figure out what it was.† Today I walked to the base of the big trees, and I was able to see that it was a male Lazuli Bunting, a bird I didnít need for Thursday, but one I like to get pictures of because they are so pretty.† I played the song, and the bird flew down to check me out and posed for pictures.† Here are three pictures of a male Lazuli Bunting, a very attractive bird, I think.

 

That one is my favorite, because of the blurred out background and the green leaves.

 

 

I like the last one because it shows the birdís blue wing and tail.† As I keep saying, I like blue colored birds.

 

Next I drove to the road to the Crane Flat fire lookout.† I stopped several times to try for Green-tailed Towhee there, but never saw or heard one.† I saw a couple of Fox Sparrows, but I didnít need Fox Sparrow for Thursday.† I saw a flycatcher, though, and I got some pictures.† I have often said how hard it is to identify the different flycatchers, but this one cooperated right away and bobbed his tail up and down a number of times.† The only member of that flycatcher family that does that is GRAY FLYCATCHER, so thatís what Iím calling it.† Here are a couple of pictures of the bird Iím calling a Gray Flycatcher.

 

 

I stopped a few more times, and at one stop heard a bird calling repeatedly.† It was just a single note call, and it was pretty loud.† I traced it to a bird high on a snag, and I got this distant, ambiguous picture.

 

I donít have any idea what it was.† If I had an idea, I would play the call, and maybe be able to identify it.

 

I went on up to the parking lot for the fire lookout and walked down the trial a little way.† I tried for the Hermit Thrush Rick and I had seen there yesterday, but it was a no-show today.† I did see the Mountain Chickadees going to and from their nest hole, and one came over when I played its song.

 

On the way back down the road, I stopped a few more times, but never got anything good.† I next went on over to Tamarack Flat Road, and had my lunch in the car, while looking for birds.† I particularly wanted Green-tailed Towhee, and finally I found one that cooperated by coming out in the open for pictures.† I had to play its song and chase it around for ten or fifteen minutes, but I was finally rewarded with some pictures.† Here is a head shot, showing the red cap of a Green-tailed Towhee.

 

Here is a full body shot from the side.

 

These next two shots show the bird singing back to me.

 

 

After chasing the species all week, while they skulked in the bushes, it was great to finally get one out in the open and in the sun.

 

So, when the day was over, about 3:00, I had added 11 species to my Thursday list, to bring it to 149 species.† The two year-birds I got today brought my year list to 210 species.

 

Itís the end of my birding week, which starts on Friday because January 1 was a Friday this year, so its time for my weekly DOTW birding scorecard.

 

After†††††††††††††††† Fri††††††† Sat†††††† Sun††††† Mon††††† Tue†††††† Wed†††† Thu

 

4 wks††††††††††††††† 51†††††††† 47†††††††† 55†††††††† 53†††††††† 44†††††††† 55†††††††† 52

8 wks††††††††††††††† 57†††††††† 60†††††††† 73†††††††† 67†††††††† 69†††††††† 79†††††††† 68

12 wks††††††††††††† 90†††††††† 87†††††††† 82†††††††† 81†††††††† 96†††††††† 100†††††† 95

16 wks††††††††††††† 100†††††† 105†††††† 106†††††† 114†††††† 111†††††† 111†††††† 107

20 wks††††††††††††† 122†††††† 114†††††† 120†††††† 125†††††† 133†††††† 140†††††† 136

21 wks††††††††††††† 124†††††† 116†††††† 121†††††† 126†††††† 135†††††† 141†††††† 138

22 wks††††††††††††† 127†††††† 129†††††† 132†††††† 138†††††† 144†††††† 153†††††† 149

 

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are lagging now, I see.† My streak is still alive, though Ė Iíve seen a new day-bird on each day this year, other than when I was taking time out for my stay in the hospital and for my surgery.† I skipped three weeks.

 

Tomorrow is our last day here, and then we head for home.† I plan to do some birding along the way, and maybe I can pull Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday up closer to the other days of the week.

 

 

Friday, June 24, 2016

 

Today my brother, Rick, went birding with me again.† We got out of here about 9:15.† Our first stop was the meadow below El Capitan, and I soon heard an Acorn Woodpecker, and we moved on.† Our next stop was my ďproductiveĒ pullout on the way down into Foresta.† I had really only seen very many birds there on Monday, but I had to stop every time after that, to show respect for the great birding there on Monday.† Today we immediately heard the bird we had heard singing there before, Lazuli Bunting, which I needed for Friday.† We enticed it down with playback and tried for Western Scrub-Jay, but got no response. †††We drove down into the valley toward the little settlement of Foresta, and saw a Western Scrub-Jay fly across the road, though, so it went onto my Friday list.

 

We stopped along the way and I played the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher songs, and one flew in for our viewing pleasure.† I didnít bother trying to get a picture, because I got great ones yesterday.† We stopped at the place I think of as my ďwoodpecker siteĒ, because I had had both Hairy and White-headed Woodpeckers there this week.† This morning we got neither one, despite playing the calls and looking around.

 

Moving on to the creek crossing, we heard and saw Cassinís Vireo where the nest was, but the nest still seemed to be abandoned.† We walked along the creek and played various bird songs, but not much was on offer.† We did manage to pull in a Mountain Chickadee, which I needed for Friday, but others I had seen there this week didnít show up.

 

Back at the creek, we saw a couple of birds I never was able to identify, but then a couple of birds flew in and I was able to identify a male Lawrenceís Goldfinch, an excellent bird.† We had seen a pair of them yesterday in that same location, so these were presumably the same birds.

 

You might have noticed that there are few pictures today.† I already had good pictures of some of the birds, and others just didnít pose for me today.† Anyway, after we finished at the creek crossing, we drove back to the highway over the hill, and stopped at the top.† We hadnít heard any Mountain Quail today, which I had heard every other day this week, all through the Foresta area.† We couldnít get one to respond at the top of the hill, either.† There were a couple of Western Wood-Pewees there, as there had been yesterday.† Here is a poor picture of one of them on a sign.

 

Hereís a picture of brother Rick at the top of the hill stop.

 

Today I noticed that the wood-pewees had a nest in that tree to the left of Rick in that picture.† Here is a picture of one of the Western Wood-Pewees at the nest.

 

It was difficult to tell what the bird was doing, but it kept sticking its bill down into the nest, and in this next picture, it looks like there is a baby in the nest that itís feeding.

 

After doing the feeding, if thatís what it was, it fluffed itself up and sat on the nest.

 

While driving back to the main road, I took this distant picture of a female American Kestrel at the top of a burned out snag.

 

From there, we moved on to Hodgdon Meadow, which is at the northern entrance to the park.† We drove through the campground, hoping to find the trail I had walked a few years ago on a bird walk with a ranger, but we never found it.† We stopped in an empty group camping area and ate our lunches.† I got White-headed Woodpecker there, but nothing else worthwhile.

 

Next we drove back to Crane Flat and up to Tamarack Flat Road.† I was looking specifically for Green-tailed Towhee and Fox Sparrow, which I had seen on that road most of the days this week.† At our first stop we saw a lovely male Western Tanager, a great one for my Friday list.

 

At subsequent stops we picked up both Green-tailed Towhee (excellent views, but I had gotten good pictures yesterday, so I didnít spend time today on pictures) and also Fox Sparrow.† I hadnít gotten a good picture of a Fox Sparrow before, so here is the one we saw today.

 

By that time we needed to be heading back to Yosemite Valley, but we took the turn off to Foresta, to try one more time for Hairy Woodpecker and Mountain Quail.

 

At the woodpecker site, we did see a White-headed Woodpecker, but not the Hairy Woodpecker I needed to get my woodpecker trifecta again.† The female White-headed Woodpecker seemed to be drilling a nest hole.† Here she is, pecking away at the hole.† She would peck a few times and then fling the wood chips away.

 

Here she is by her hole.

 

It seems kind of late in the year to be making a nest hole now, but I donít know the timing for nesting for White-headed Woodpecker at this elevation.† I wonder if the woodpeckers pair up first and the female has already been impregnated and is now making a nest hole for herself, or if they make the nest hole together, or how it works exactly.† I saw a male White-headed Woodpecker making a nest hole in Oregon in late May a couple of years ago, so the males do get involved, too.

 

We drove once more over the hill route back to the main road, and did hear Mountain Quail this time.† We also stopped and I got this picture of one of the Western Wood-Pewees back on the nest.

 

By that time we were running a little late, especially for a Friday afternoon, so we headed back toward home.†† I stopped at the lookout point on the main road for Bridalveil Fall, and got this picture.

 

Here is a close up of the top of the fall, with the wind blowing the spray around.

 

We were a little late getting back to the valley, about 3:30 by then.† The traffic was backed up and completely stopped for several minutes, while we were still quite a way from home.† We heard later that there had been a major accident a couple of hours earlier, and maybe that had bollixed up the traffic, but maybe it was just because it was late on a Friday afternoon.† It took about 45 minutes to go the last several miles, but finally we got ďhomeĒ.

 

So, tomorrow we head for home.† Christina will go with Johanna, our daughter, to the Sacramento airport, and they will fly home on the same flight tomorrow evening.† I plan to stay in Sacramento for three nights with my friend, Fred, and then take three days to drive up the Oregon coast, unless I decide I want to be home sooner.† My heel hurts all the time, especially when I walk or when I drive, and it will be nice to get home.† I have an MRI scheduled for Tuesday, July 5, and I hope to find out exactly what the problem with my heel is from that.† Meanwhile, Iíll be trying to add California and Oregon coast birds to my day lists, and I hope to be sending reports with pictures

 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

 

On Saturday, June 25, we had the car all packed up and I was out of our Yosemite lodgings by about 9:45.† Christina was riding with Johanna to the Sacramento airport, to fly back to Seattle, and I was headed for my friend Fredís house in Sacramento.

 

I stopped at the El Capitan meadow and quickly heard and saw Acorn Woodpecker for my Saturday list.† I didnít see one on our arrival day last Sunday, but I saw or heard one on each of the six days we spent in Yosemite.† Next I headed down the road to Foresta, as I had done each day since we arrived in Yosemite.† I added Lazuli Bunting to my Saturday list, and then both heard and saw a Mountain Quail.† The quail was flying away from me, but I saw it well enough to identify it.† I tried for Blue-gray Gnatcatcher by playing its songs, but couldnít attract one.† I also couldnít see a Hairy Woodpecker at the regular site, despite stopping there a couple of times.

 

At the creek crossing, I did hear and see Cassinís Vireo, as I had each day since I discovered them there last Monday.† I walked up along the creek and I did manage to see a male Western Tanager fly through, a good one for my Saturday list, but nothing else.† I didnít get anything else in the Foresta area, sorry to say, and I got no pictures at all on Saturday.

 

I took a quick detour to Tamarack Flat Road and managed to call up a Fox Sparrow, but never could see a Green-tailed Towhee.† By then it was almost noon, so I headed out of the park.† As I left the park, there was a line of cars waiting to get in.† It must have been at least a couple of miles long.† I kept saying I canít believe it is so long, and it just kept going on and on and on.† The people in that line must have waited at least an hour to get into the park.†

 

A little later traffic came to a stop in front of me, and I could see a lot of smoke and a fire engine up ahead.† It turned out to be a huge pickup truck that was pulling and even huger trailer, and it caught fire, I guess.† We waited for a half hour, and when they finally let us go past, the truck was completely burned out, and the trailer was burned out for the first ten feet.† It seemed like a really long drive into Sacramento, but I guess it was only about 4 hours, even with the half hour delay.† I did see my first NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD of the year along the way, at least.† I ended up adding 7 species to my Saturday list, to bring it to 136.† The mockingbird brought my year list to 211.

 

This morning, Sunday, June 26, Fred was tied up with other things, so I went out birding on my own, leaving about 9 AM.† My first stop was Mather Field, where I saw Northern Mockingbirds for my Sunday list.† Here is a picture of one of them.

 

There were also a number of Western Meadowlarks, which I didnít need for today, but I got a picture of one from the back.

 

All day long I kept seeing birds with their bills open like that.† I thought it was probably because of the heat, which was about 90 degrees when I saw that mockingbird, and got to a high of 104 degrees by this afternoon.† Itís also possible that they were recent fledglings that were hoping to be fed by a parent, because in each case, there were several birds of the species around.

 

There were also several Western Kingbirds there at Mather Field, another one I didnít need for Sunday.

 

I moved on to Mather Lake, where I was looking for Mute Swans, which I didnít find today.† I did pick up Black Phoebe there, though, for my Sunday list, and also my first GREAT-TAILED GRACKLES of the year.† Here is a picture of a Great-tailed Grackle.

 

I guess thatís a female, although I thought only the males had white eyes.† It might be an immature male.† I donít feel like bothering to look it up.

 

I saw a Great Egret there, too, for my Sunday list.† I didnít get a picture of that one, but hereís a picture I took later of a Great Egret at Vic Fazio NWR.

 

Back at Mather Lake, there were a lot of swallows around, and hereís a picture of a Barn Swallow that I like.

 

I went around to the other side of the lake and stopped along the highway to look at the lake.† Still no swans, but I did pick up COMMON GALLINULE (formerly called Common Moorhen) and got this distant picture of two of them.

 

I also got a quick look at an AMERICAN BITTERN that stuck its head up briefly from the reeds.

 

After that I stopped at Costco and gassed up the car at $2.40 a gallon, which is damn good for California these days.† I also went into the store and bought some liquor because it was cheaper than the discount liquor store at the border, where I usually stop on my way back to Washington.† It was less than half of what it would have cost in Washington, so I bought a couple of cases.† I also had a Costco hot dog while I was there.

 

Then it was back to birding, and I drove to the Nimbus fish hatchery on the American River.† I walked for probably a third of a mile in the hot sun, on my sore heel, to get GREEN HERON, in one of the enclosures where they raise the fish.† Green Herons seem to live in the enclosure, with many thousands of fish to feed on as much as they want.† Here is a picture of a Green Heron from the back.

 

The bird has its neck pulled in there, but here is a picture from the front, with its neck stuck out somewhat.

 

I also picked up White-throated Swift there.† They were flying around under the bridge where they nest.

 

I went back to Fredís house after that.† The two of us then went out this afternoon, into the damn heat, to Vic Fazio NWR.† Summer isnít the best time to go there, but I figured I would get something I needed, and I wanted to see what it looked like in the summer.† Iím usually here in Sacramento in the winter or the spring.† The big advantage of the place, as far as I was concerned today, is that you can mostly bird from the car on an auto route that takes you around to various parts of the reserve.† Birding from an air conditioned car is vastly superior to walking around in the sun in triple digit heat, as far as Iím concerned.

 

I soon added SNOWY EGRET to my year list and White-faced Ibis to my Sunday list.† Here is a very distant picture that shows both of those species.† The white bird is the egret.

 

We drove around, but I didnít see much more for my lists.† I did see a couple of Marsh Wrens for my Sunday list, but nothing else for any lists.† I got this picture of a Western Kingbird on a wire, with its mouth open, though.

 

There were two or three of them there with their mouths open, and I figured it was because of the heat, like I mentioned earlier.† But, then I realized that there were at least five Western Kingbirds there, so maybe it was a recently fledged family and the youngsters were begging for food.

 

On our way out I got this picture of an American Avocet, which I had only seen once before this year, but it was last Sunday, so it didnít help my Sunday list.

 

Our last birding site was Mace Road, south of Davis.† I was hoping for two species there, and I got one of them.† Here is my first SWAINSONíS HAWK of the year.

 

Here is another picture from the rear.

 

The bird I missed there was Yellow-billed Magpie, a specialty of this area.† I could have seen one anywhere today, but never did.

 

So, I added 12 species to my Sunday list today, to bring me to 144 species.† I also added a whopping six species to my year list, to bring me to 217.† Thatís what happens when you go to a new area Ė you see a lot of new species.

 

So, I have one more day here, and then I need to head for home, so I can get home before next weekend.† I donít want to be on the highways on the 4th of July weekend, so I plan to be home by Thursday evening.

 

 

Monday, June 27, 2016

 

Fred had slept poorly because his back had hurt all night, and he didnít feel he could go out birding today, so I went out on my own.† I left about 9:45 and went to Ancil Hoffman park and the Effie Yeaw Nature Center, which is adjacent to the park, or maybe within it.† As I drove into the park I picked up my first year-bird of the day, WILD TURKEY.† Here is a picture of one of the group I saw.

 

I ended up seeing several groups of turkeys around the park.† I was a good citizen visitor and paid my five bucks for the use of the park and drove in.† I soon saw a California Towhee for my Monday list, and got this picture.

 

There were a lot of YELLOW-BILLED MAGPIES around, and I got some pictures.† Here is a picture of a Yellow-billed Magpie, one of the specialty birds of this area.

 

Yellow-billed Magpies only live in a limited part of Central California.

 

There were some Northern Flickers around, too.† I didnít need it for any list, but here is a picture of a female Northern Flicker, an attractive bird, I think.

 

Here is a male Northern Flicker, with his red moustache stripe.

 

There were also some Western Bluebirds around, another one I didnít ďneedĒ, but I still like to see birds, whether I need them or not.† Here is a picture of a young Western Bluebird.

 

Here is an adult male Western Bluebird.

 

I saw Acorn Woodpeckers throughout the day.† Here is a mediocre picture of one of them.† It wasnít one I needed, as I saw them in Yosemite each day last week.

 

It was very quiet and very slow at Effie Yeaw, as it was at Ancil Hoffman park.† I guess the birds lay low when itís so hot.† It was in the 90ís by late morning, and in the afternoon, my car thermometer said it was 107 all afternoon.† Too damn hot for me, but it bothered me a lot less than I would have expected.† I never stayed out in it long, and I retreated to my air-conditioned car over and over again.† I had forgotten my hat this morning, though, and I missed it when I walked in the sun.

 

I had been hearing some loud bird calls for a while, so I wandered over to that part of the park.† I flushed a juvenile RED-SHOULDERED HAWK at one point.† It had been calling for food I believe.† I walked away after that, missing my photo opportunity as it landed briefly in a dead tree, but then I heard the calls again.† I went back, and there was a second young Red-shouldered Hawk there, and it flushed, too.† I wish I could have gotten a picture; they were striking birds, and quite large.

 

I had been playing the songs and calls of a bird that had been reported there a lot, and finally I got some responses.† I had two or three small birds fly in, and I was having a hard time identifying them.† I eventually decided that I could add OAK TITMOUSE to my year list.† Here are two pictures of what I believe are juvenile, recently fledged Oak Titmice.

 

 

My field guide says that a juvenile Oak Titmouse looks like an adult, but these birds were pretty scruffy looking, and they didnít seem to have a crest.† Oak Titmouse is supposed to be able to raise and lower its crest, though, so maybe that isnít diagnostic.† Here are two pictures of an Oak Titmouse that is showing its crest.

 

 

As I left the Effie Yeaw Nature Center, I got this picture of a Black Phoebe, a bird I didnít need for Monday, but a common California one I wanted a picture of.

 

You might notice that the bird is actually dark brown, not black, like its name would imply.

 

It was coming up on noon by then, and I decided to go out to Mather Lake, where I had been yesterday morning, to try for a couple of species out there.† On the way I blundered into an In Ďní Out Burger by accident, so I loaded up on fat and calories.† At Mather Lake I soon saw Great-tailed Grackles, as I had expected, and then saw a group of MUTE SWANS, a year-bird I had missed there yesterday.† Here is a picture of a couple of adult Mute Swans and some young ones.† Very distant pictures, as they were across the lake.

 

Here is a picture that shows six immature Mute Swans.

 

Mute Swan is an introduced species, native to Europe, and they donít live very many places in the western US.† There have been Mute Swans at Mather Lake for a number of years,† though, and they are obviously reproducing there.† One of the adults came a little closer, and here is my closest picture of a Mute Swan, showing the black knob at the base of the orange bill.

 

The blurriness in that picture is mainly due to the fact that Iím hand-holding the camera.† If I used a tripod, my pictures would be sharper, but it would also be a major pain in the ass to haul the tripod around and would take a lot longer to set up to take the picture.† As I result, I hand-hold virtually all of my pictures.

 

I also saw a Great Egret there, another good one for my Monday list.

 

It was 107 degrees F by my car thermometer when I left Mather Lake, and it was nice to get back in the air conditioned car.† I drove by Mather Field because I needed Northern Mockingbird for Monday.† I had seen at least a half dozen of them there, along with a similar number of Western Meadowlarks and Western Kingbirds, yesterday morning.† Today, in the heat of the afternoon, I saw just one Northern Mockingbird, and it didnít stick around long.† No other birds were out there in the afternoon sun.

 

I had one more stop I decided to make, though - Lower Sunrise recreation area.† I drove there and parked at the end of the road.† I walked across the bike path, planning to play the songs of two species that I had seen there before.† Before I could even do that, though, I saw a couple of one of the species I was looking for Ė WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH.† It was hard to get pictures, since the birds never stayed still for long and they were in the deep shade.† Here are my best two pictures of White-breasted Nuthatch.

 

 

That was great, but I still wasnít done.† I played the call and a NUTTALíS WOODPECKER eventually flew in for a short time.† I got good looks at it, but couldnít get any pictures.† With that success, I headed back to Fredís house, getting back at about 3:30.† It was very nice to get into his air-conditioned house.

 

So, it had seemed slow all day, but by moving around to various habitats, I was able to get 11 species for Monday, to bring me to 149 for Monday.† Seven of those were year-birds, too, which was excellent, to bring me to 224 species for the year.† That makes 34 species I have added to my year list on this trip, which is outstanding.† Tomorrow I head for home.† I plan to spend three days on the road, getting home on Thursday afternoon, hopefully ahead of the rush hour traffic.† I plan to go up the Oregon Coast.† I love the ocean, and though this will be a quick trip, it will still be nice to see the ocean, and the temperatures are supposed to be in the low 70ís, which sounds wonderful to me at this point.

 

 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

 

Well, Iím in Arcata, but I havenít seen the ocean yet.† Hereís the story of my frustrating day.

 

I was up and on the road by 8:45, which is quite early for me.† I decided to make a quick trip over to Ancil Hoffman park again, to pick up a couple of Tuesday birds.† I saw two or three groups of Wild Turkeys, and the Yellow-billed Magpies were right where they were yesterday.† For a bonus, I drove by where I had seen California Towhee yesterday, and I actually saw two of them today, for my Tuesday list.† As I drove out of that parking lot, I heard and saw a couple of White-breasted Nuthatches, too.† I had gotten four Tuesday birds in about five minutes, without getting out of my car.† Excellent.

 

I made my way to the freeway and headed north.† I saw Great Egrets several places, making it five Tuesday birds from the car.† The big one I missed was Northern Mockingbird, as I drove through Sacramento to the freeway.† I did see a Western Scrub-Jay there, but I didnít need that one.

 

Driving up Interstate 5 was uneventful and boring, as usual.† There sure are a lot of trucks on the road, though.† I had chosen to take highway 299 from Redding to Arcata, and I stopped to gas up my car at the Pilot Travel Center in Orland.† I was looking for a Subway that was convenient at an offramp, but got to the turnoff for 299 before I found one.† I was through Redding and about to head out on highway 299 for the three hour drive to Arcata through the coastal range, and I saw a Carlís Junior and decided to stop there for lunch.† It was a little earlier than I would have wanted, about 12:20 or so, but I didnít want to drive the 56 miles to Weaverville without eating first, and the Carlís Junior seemed likely to be the last option.

 

As it turned out, Iím really glad I stopped there.† After eating my lunch in their air conditioned restaurant (it was 100 degrees outside), I went back to my car, and it wouldnít start.† I turned the key and just got a click.† At first I couldnít even put down the windows (100 degree heat, and the car was in the sun), but they went down after I fiddled with the window lock and some other controls.† But, the car still did nothing but click at me when I tried to start it.

 

Fortunately, Christina has always insisted that we have AAA, so I called them.† I only had last yearís card, but I assumed that Christina had renewed it for this year.† I guess she had, because they responded right away and were there within about 10 or maybe 15 minutes, after committing to 30 minutes.† The guy tested the battery, the starter, and the alternator.† He said the battery was totally dead, but the other stuff was fine.† He directed me to the local Honda dealer, which was only 1.4 miles away (that was the lucky part about stopping at Carlís Junior.† If I had not stopped, the next time I would have stopped would have been in the mountains, where I might very well not have had cell serviced, and a Honda dealer would have been a long distance away.)

 

So, the AAA guy managed to get me started, but he warned me it wouldnít start again if it died.† I drove to the Honda dealer with no problem, though, and they said they were busy this afternoon, but would work me in.† I sat around in their air conditioned lounge for about an hour and 15 minutes, and they replaced the battery under the warranty (less than two years old, with about 33,000 miles on the car), and at least it didnít cost me anything.† They also tested the alternator and checked the tire pressure (California law).† Total delay was about 2.5 hours.

 

So, I left the 100 degree heat and headed out across the mountains.† There was one long construction delay of maybe 20 minutes, which resulted in a long line of cars, some of which wanted to go about 5 mph less than I did.† It was very frustrating to follow along behind some jerk who wouldnít use the pullouts to let the people behind him by Ė I figure it was at least 40 minutes behind one jerk Ė no passing lanes all that time.† Eventually, about 40 minutes from my destination, I broke free and didnít have to deal with a slowpoke in front of me.† It wasnít the time delay that bothered me so much, it was more the constant braking and then accelerating again, for 40 minutes.† I was trying to use cruise control today, to baby my poor sore heel, but I couldnít do that with the jerks who wanted to go just under the speed limit and wouldnít use the pullouts provided.† I suppose it is a good preview of what I should expect the next couple of days, driving up the Oregon coast in the summer, with all the trailers and recreational vehicles.† Still, it wouldnít have bothered me nearly as much today if I hadnít had the 2.5 hour delay due to my battery.

 

So, when I finally got here to Arcata about 6:15, I didnít feel like going out looking for birds, which would have been easy at the local reserve, which is about 10 or 15 minutes away.† Iíll go there tomorrow, but there are 4 or 5 species I wonít get on a Tuesday this year because of my delay, unless I come this way again this year.

 

Okay, so I got that off my chest.† Nothing to do with birding, and no pictures, but what you see is what you get.

 

I added 5 species to my Tuesday list, to bring me to 149 species.† Nothing new for the year (would have had at least 3 or 4 if I had gotten here at 4, like I should have.† Weíll see if I can get them tomorrow.)

 

I should also mention that when I left Redding it was 100 degrees, and when I next got out of the car here in Arcata, three hours later, it was 62 degrees.† I like 62 degrees much much better than 100 degrees.

 

Tomorrow I head up the coast, stopping a couple of places to try to get some new birds.† It will be nice to get home on Thursday afternoon, GWATCDR.

 

 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

 

This morning I was up about 7 and after taking care of some of my morning things, I went out looking for birds.† I stopped on the way and got a couple of greasy breakfast sandwiches from Carlís Junior, and went over to Arcata Marsh.† The tide was at its highest, which is the worst time to see shorebirds, and this is the worst season of the year to see shorebirds there, too.† And, as might be expected, I didnít see any shorebirds, although there are at least three species around there now that I could use for my lists.† I did see my first BROWN PELICAN of the year Ė just a single one.† I also saw a couple of BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERONS, my first of that species this year, too.† On the way out, I stopped and looked out over a muddy flat area and added Great Egret and Snowy Egret to my Wednesday list.† I had a fairly long drive today, considering the roads and the traffic, so I set out at about 10:00, after checking out.

 

I stopped in Crescent City, but they had some streets closed and I couldnít access the jetty I wanted to access.† I found a place to look out at the rocks, though, and I managed to see a single Black Oystercatcher, the main target species I had there.† Here is a picture of the Black Oystercatcher I saw today.

 

Thatís my only bird picture today.† Here is a picture of the Crescent City lighthouse, taken from the same point I saw the oystercatcher.

 

The weather today was dry, although it was kind of misty when I first went out.† After that, I had clouds, then sun, then clouds again Ė off and on all day long.† There were low clouds when I took the picture of the lighthouse.

 

I moved on and my next stop was Subway, to get a tuna sandwich.† I pulled off the highway into a local park to eat my sandwich, but they had signs all over the place that it was 15 bucks to camp for the night, and no free picnicking was allowed at campsites.† Iíve eaten lunch at many campgrounds all over the place and have never seen anything like it.† I finally found the picnic area, but there was a closed gate that said ďno parkingĒ, although there were cars parked on the other side of the gate and people in the picnic area.† I gave it up and drove north a bit and ate in the car along a field, off the main road.

 

My next stop was All Star Liquor, just south of the Oregon border.† I loaded up on more booze (having gotten a couple of cases at Costco a few days ago), and moved on.† I stopped in Brookings at Fred Meyer for gas, and then headed up the coast toward my destination for today, Newport.† All my fooling around all morning had put me behind schedule, and road construction totally blew what was left of it.

 

I must have hit at least 6 or 8 construction sites where we were reduced to one lane, with traffic lights or flaggers to regulate things.† I figure I lost anywhere from 5 minutes to 20 minutes at each one, counting both the actual delay while stopped and the delay due to the knot of traffic it produced, which took a long time to break up after one of the stops.† Overall, I think the construction delays added somewhere between an hour and a half and two hours to my drive today.† I hadnít figured on that, so It was later than I like when I finally got to Newport.

 

The only other stop I made was to try for Tufted Puffin at Face Rock in Bandon.† Here is a picture of Face Rock.

 

I think you can see how it got its name.† There were hundreds of Common Murres on the rock and in the water around it, and I needed that one for Wednesday.† Someone had reported seeing two Tufted Puffins there recently, so I thought I would look with my scope to see if I could see one.† That would have been a wonderful year-bird.† Well, it was windy as the dickens, and the scope wobbled too much in the wind to really do a decent job of looking.† I couldnít even stand steady, let along get a steady view through the scope.† So, I gave it up and moved on.† Before I left, I took pictures looking north and south from there.† Here is the south view.

 

Here is the view looking north.

 

As you can see, that was during one of todayís sunny intervals.

 

I enjoyed seeing the ocean, but the drive seemed very long.† I wish I had had time to stop and just look at the ocean.† The construction delays and the summer trailer and recreational vehicle traffic helped make it longer still.† I finally pulled into my motel at about 6:15, the same time as yesterday.† I try to get to my lodgings by 5 PM, so I was late two days in a row.

 

I chose to stay at a Best Western tonight, because Iím tired of cheap motels.† The room is nice, and itís large, but I donít like the place much.† The parking is across a ďskybridgeĒ and is not overlooked by anything.† It makes me worry about my car and contents.† It is also a long walk to the car.† The internet is down, which could happen to any hotel, but itís still annoying.† Iím accessing the internet via my phone and the app I have to connect my computer to my phone.† As long as I donít watch videos, I should be okay with data usage.† The microwave is an old analog one with a dial you turn, rather than the modern digital ones that have been around for at least ten or fifteen years.† It works, but it seems cheap and old.† Iím probably being overly critical because I was frustrated by my longer than expected time on the road today.† Oh yes, they donít offer any kind of free breakfast at all, which also seems cheap to me, for a place that costs $123 a night for a non-view room.† Itís the first Best Western Iíve ever stayed in that offered no kind of breakfast at all.

 

Anyway, I got six more species for Wednesday, to bring me to 159 species for Wednesday.† My two year-birds today brings me to 226 for the year.

 

Tomorrow I head for home.† Itís about 300 miles to home, which is supposed to take just over 5 hours according to Google Maps.† Iíve found that Google Maps has very aggressive times, though, so I would expect it to take more like six hours, or more, by the time I stop for gas and lunch.† I want to beat the traffic into Seattle in the afternoon, which means I wonít have much time at all to look for a Thursday bird on the way.† Iíd like to be home by 4 at the latest, which means if I leave at 9, as usual, Iíll only have an hour to spend on looking for a Thursday bird.† Thatís assuming there arenít other delays like traffic or construction.† We shall see how it goes, but after today, Iím not too sanguine about it.† Itíll be nice to be home, like always, after a trip.

 

 

Thursday, June 30, 2016

 

My first stop this morning was at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area.† I don't know if I've ever been o an Outstanding Natural Area before.† I wonder how many there are?† It is a federal fee area, but my federal Old Farts pass was good enough for entry.† ( I found a partial list of Outstanding Natural Areas on Wikipedia, and they numbered 8.)

 

My target bird there was Common Murre, which I saw in the thousands, as I expected.† I had purposely stayed in Newport last night, so I could stop at Yaquina Head today and pick up Common Murre for my Thursday bird.† Here is a picture of the Yaquina Head lighthouse.

 

That big rock on the left had a lot of Common Murres sitting on it.† Here is a picture.

 

Here is a closer view of a lot of Common Murres.

 

Here is a picture of some of them in the water, along with a couple of other species.† There is a Pelagic Cormorant on the left, and three Pigeon Guillemots in front of the pack.

 

I was looking for Brown Pelicans, but never saw any.† There were two Bald Eagles flying around, and one Turkey Vulture, but no pelicans that I saw.† As I drove back toward the highway, I got this picture of the Oregon coast north of Newport.

 

I was satisfied with my one Thursday bird, and I was heading back toward the highway, when I saw a half dozen or so people with scopes and serious cameras with big lenses in a parking lot.† I turned around and parked and asked them what they were watching.† It turned out to be a family of Peregrine Falcons, a great bird for my Thursday list.† The three young ones had fledged last week, and today the parents were flying around hunting, while the young ones sat on the ground mostly and called out loudly for food.† Here is a picture of one of the fledglings.

 

Here is another picture, probably of the same bird, after it had flown to a new place.

 

Here is a picture of mama Peregrine Falcon, looking for food for the fledglings.

 

Here is another picture of mama, from an odd perspective.

 

If I had had more time, I would have stuck around longer, trying for better pictures, but I had miles to go, and I wanted to try to beat the afternoon rush hour between Portland and Seattle.† My two species brought me to 151 species for my Thursday list.

 

I stopped at the Boiler Bay lookout point, but saw nothing interesting.† After that,† I just drove and drove, with home in my sights.† I didn't have construction delays to speak of today, but traffic slowed me down in Portland, then again around Olympia, then in Tacoma, and finally, on the I-405 drive from Tukwila to Bellevue.† I figure I lost about half an hour, or maybe 40 minutes, to construction and traffic today, which is better than the last two days.†† I finally got home about 3:40, and it's great to be home.† Christina and I unloaded the car of its Yosemite crap, along with the almost five cases of booze I had bought along the way, not to mention all my normal traveling stuff.†

 

I also walked around the yard and dug up broadleaf weeds that had flowers or buds of flowers - a total of 48 of them.† As far as I could tell, only one had actually gone to seed, and I donít think any of the seeds had been dispersed yet.† If I had been gone another week, my weed control program would be in big trouble.† Now I need to spray the rest of them again, and I should be in good shape.

 

It's Thursday, so it's time for my weekly report card on my DOTW birding thing.† My streak is alive - I've seen at least one new bird for that day, each day this year so far.† I took three weeks off for my medical adventures, but I still never imagined the streak would go on so long.† Here is my current scorecard.

 

After†††††††††††††††† Fri††††††† Sat†††††† Sun††††† Mon††††† Tue†††††† Wed†††† Thu

 

4 wks††††††††††††††† 51†††††††† 47†††††††† 55†††††††† 53†††††††† 44†††††††† 55†††††††† 52

8 wks††††††††††††††† 57†††††††† 60†††††††† 73†††††††† 67†††††††† 69†††††††† 79†††††††† 68

12 wks††††††††††††† 90†††††††† 87†††††††† 82†††††††† 81†††††††† 96†††††††† 100†††††† 95

16 wks††††††††††††† 100†††††† 105†††††† 106†††††† 114†††††† 111†††††† 111†††††† 107

20 wks††††††††††††† 122†††††† 114†††††† 120†††††† 125†††††† 133†††††† 140†††††† 136

21 wks††††††††††††† 124†††††† 116†††††† 121†††††† 126†††††† 135†††††† 141†††††† 138

22 wks††††††††††††† 127†††††† 129†††††† 132†††††† 138†††††† 144†††††† 153†††††† 149

23 wks††††††††††††† 139†††††† 136†††††† 144†††††† 149†††††† 149†††††† 159†††††† 151

 

For the year, I have 226 species.† I've completed (seen on each of the seven days of the week) 83 species.† DOTW birding has been a great idea, so far.† Now that I'm back home, I need to see what there is locally to keep the streak going some more.† It's getting tough.