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Saturday, October 1, 2016


Today I went to a memorial celebration for my long-time best friend, Ted.  He passed away last Thanksgiving, and today his friends and family gathered at his daughter’s house in Campbell, which is next door to Saratoga, where I’m staying with my sister.


As a result of that, I didn’t go anywhere to look for birds today, but my sister has a bird feeder in her back yard, and I spent part of the morning taking pictures of the birds coming to the feeder.  It wasn’t what I would call birding, exactly, but it was fun to try to get pictures of common backyard birds for a change.  Here are my best pictures of the day.


First, here is a Golden-crowned Sparrow, one of three that were feeding on the ground under the feeder.


Here is another picture of a Golden-crowned Sparrow from an interesting perspective, right in front.


Several House Finches came to the feeder, and here is a male House Finch.


Here is a picture of the plainer female House Finch.



As an introduction to the next species, here is a picture of a female House Sparrow and a Chestnut-backed Chickadee.


So, moving on to Chestnut-backed Chickadee, there were several of them there today.  They would fly in, grab a seed from the feeder, and fly away, so they were hard to get pictures of.  Here are a couple of my best pictures from today of Chestnut-backed Chickadee.



A hummingbird flew in to the water feature at one point, and here are a couple of pictures of an Anna’s Hummingbird at the water.



There were also Dark-eyed Juncos around, and here is a picture of a male Dark-eyed Junco.


Juncos usually feed on the ground, but once in a while one would come to the feeder instead.


None of those birds were new for Saturday for me, but I did add Oak Titmouse to my Saturday list today.  Here are three of my best pictures of Oak Titmouse.




Oak Titmouse brought me to 208 species for Saturday.  Tomorrow I head back to Sacramento to Fred’s house, and I plan to stop at the same places I stopped on Friday when I came here, to try for the same birds, as needed.



Sunday, October 2, 2016


This morning at my sister’s house I saw another yard bird, under the feeder.  Here is a picture of a Mourning Dove.


I didn’t need Mourning Dove for Sunday, but I did need Oak Titmouse again, and I saw one this morning.


Today was my day to drive back to Fred’s house in Sacramento.  I stopped north of Stockton and got a Subway tuna sandwich, then took it to Cosumnes River Preserve and ate it in the car.  I added Sandhill Crane to my Sunday list there.  Here are some Sandhill Cranes flying overhead.


Here are a couple of Sandhill Cranes on the ground.


As I drove down Desmond Road I saw a very strange-looking goose.  I stopped and got out and got some pictures.  I guess it was just a Canada Goose that was partially leucistic, which means that the black pigment is missing from some of its feathers.  Here is a picture of the strange-looking goose.


Here is a normal Canada Goose for comparison.


A little later there were some Savannah Sparrows, not one I needed for Sunday, but I got this picture.


I was looking for Cattle Egret again, in the same field where I had seen them a couple of days ago, but today there was no sign of them among the cattle.  I did see 4 or 5 Yellow-billed Magpies, though, and I needed that one for Sunday.  Here is a picture of one of them posing for me.


I saw a Say’s Phoebe, too, another one I needed for Sunday.  In fact, that “completed” Say’s Phoebe for me this year – I’ve seen them on each day of the week now.


I got this picture of a Great Egret, another one I didn’t need today.


Today was my day for odd-plumaged birds I guess, because I saw a male Brewer’s Blackbird with a lot of snow-white feathers mixed in with the normal black ones.  Here are a couple of pictures.



Normally a male Brewer’s Blackbird would be all black with white eyes.


There were also a couple of scrub-jays on a wire.  Here is a picture of a California Scrub-Jay (formerly Western Scrub-Jay) with an acorn it seemed proud of.


There were also White-crowned Sparrows along that stretch of road, and here is a picture of one of them.


I didn’t need either the sparrow or the scrub-jay for Sunday, but I like the pictures anyway.


My final birding stop was at Cosumnes River College, where I had seen Burrowing Owl twice before this week.  This time there were no owls out in front of any of the burrows.  I drove past and turned around.  On the way back I got out of the car and approached the burrow where I had seen the owls the other day, and I played the calls of Burrowing Owl.  I had no idea if that would do any good, but it didn’t cost anything to try.  To my pleased surprise, I saw an owl approach the opening of the burrow I was looking at with binoculars.  It didn’t get as far as the entrance, but I saw it well before it scuttled back again.  So, Burrowing Owl went onto my Sunday list.


That was a total of five more species for Sunday, to bring me to 209 now.


I’m hoping to have a good day of birding tomorrow, as Monday is my lowest day and I’d like to build it up.



Monday, October 3, 2016


Fred and I set off this morning at about 10.  Our first stop was the Yolo Bypass, also known as the Vic Fazio Preserve.  We soon saw a couple of White-tailed Kites, one of the good ones I needed for Monday that I had hoped to see there today.  Here is a picture of two White-tailed Kites.


The species used to be named Black-shouldered Kite, and I sometimes forget and still think of them as Black-shouldered Kite.  There is a species in Australia that is almost identical, and it has the Black-shouldered Kite name, which is maybe why it was changed here.  Here is a close-up of one of them.


I think they are really cool looking.  We saw 4 or 5 of them today, at various points.


Here is a picture looking down one of the channels at the preserve, showing a whole passel of egrets, both Snowy Egrets and Great Egrets.


I can count about 30 egrets in that picture, but with my binoculars, I counted over 50 of them along that channel.


I actually needed Snowy Egret for Monday, too.  Here is a picture of a Snowy Egret that I took later.


There was a Cooper’s Hawk in the road, and it had its wings spread out.  There had been a pretty heavy rain shower that had ended a few minutes earlier and I think that maybe the bird was drying its wings.


We flushed it a couple of times, and a little later we saw what was presumably the same Cooper’s Hawk in a tree with its tail spread, maybe drying the tail out.


I didn’t need Cooper’s Hawk for Monday, but while taking pictures of the hawk another bird was suddenly on the road near it.  This was one I needed very much, an American Bittern.


Fred and I hadn’t seen a bittern the last few times we had been to Fazio, so this one was very welcome.


We saw a small heron flying and it turned out to be another one I didn’t need, but I got this picture of a juvenile Green Heron.


We don’t see Green Herons there very often at all, so it was another excellent sighting, even if I didn’t need it.


Down the road from there we saw three birds flying.  It wasn’t immediately obvious what they were, but we saw them go down a little bit ahead of us.  I got out of the car and managed to get a good view of them, and they were juvenile Black-crowned Night-Herons, another excellent bird that I needed for Monday.  Here is a picture of one of them on the side of a channel between a Great Egret and a Snowy Egret.


The Great Egret has an orange bill and the Snowy Egret has a black bill.


We drove around and looked for other birds, and the next one I saw that I needed was LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE, my first one of this year.  It was a quick look through the windshield with my binoculars, but it was good enough for an identification.  I hoped to get a picture, but as soon as I opened the car door, it flew and I couldn’t locate it again.


I got Black-necked Stilt for my Monday list, and then saw a single Dunlin in the midst of a group of dowitchers.  I needed the Dunlin for Monday, but not the dowitchers.  A little later I added White-faced Ibis to my Monday list, and I got this picture.



On the way out of the preserve I saw a single Common Gallinule, formerly called Common Moorhen.  That was an excellent one for Monday, but it disappeared behind some reeds and I couldn’t get a picture.


I didn’t need it for Monday, but I got this picture of a Black Phoebe on the way out, too.


It’s always a challenge to get the eye on a Black Phoebe, and this picture is fairly successful at that.


We stopped at Subway and I got a tuna sandwich for my lunch.  Fred doesn’t eat lunch (or breakfast), so I ate my sandwich as we drove to our next birding site, which was Lake Solano County Park, west of Winters.  There were a couple of Green Herons flying around, and I got this nice picture of a mature Green Heron, which I didn’t need for Monday.


Here is a picture of another bird I didn’t need for Monday, a Eurasian Collared-Dove.


There were a lot of Indian Peafowl (peacocks and peahens) around, and that was one of the ones I needed for Monday.  I had known I would see them there today, and I got some pictures.  Here is a female Indian Peafowl (peahen).


There were several young ones with the females, and here is a picture of one of the little ones.  Note the little topknot on the top of its head.


Here is a picture of one of the females with a young one.


There were other birds around, but nothing that I needed for a while.  Then there was a Merlin at the top of a tree.


Merlin is a great bird to see, but I had already seen them on all seven days of the week this year, thanks to a nest in North Seattle that I visited a number of times in the summer.  From time to time the Merlin would fly around, and it was fun to watch.  Here it is at another perch.


My final Monday bird was another excellent one, Pileated Woodpecker.  Here is a picture of a female Pileated Woodpecker.


Finally, here is a picture of a California Scrub-Jay (formerly Western Scrub-Jay).


We drove through the neighboring campground but didn’t see anything interesting.  I ended up getting 11 species for my Monday list, to bring me to an even 200 for Monday.  I had hoped to get all my days up to 200 on this trip, and now I only need to get 7 new Tuesday birds tomorrow to achieve that goal.  The quick look at Loggerhead Shrike today brought me to 309 species so far this year.  Our old high school and college buddy, Chris, is supposed to fly in tomorrow afternoon for three days of card playing and telling lies, but I have the morning and early afternoon to get my seven species for my Tuesday list.


Tuesday, October 4, 2016


Fred had some errands to run on Tuesday morning, so I headed off on my own to find some birds for Tuesday.  My first stop was Cosumnes River College and one of the Burrowing Owls was out in front of its burrow, so that one went onto my list without my even having to get out of the car.


I drove on to Cosumnes River Preserve, and as I approached it I saw Sandhill Cranes flying and also in fields.  Another expected score!  To my pleased surprise, there were at least three Cattle Egrets in the same field as before, with the cattle.  That made three for Tuesday, and I still hadn’t gotten out of my car.


I drove around to the parking area near the boardwalk and looked at the shorebirds.  Here are pictures of four of the shorebirds there.  First is Lesser Yellowlegs.


Next, here is a Long-billed Dowitcher.


Here is a Pectoral Sandpiper, my main target of the morning there.


And finally, here is a picture of a Black-necked Stilt.


Pectoral Sandpiper and Black-necked Stilt were new for my Tuesday list, bringing me to 5 for the day.


Having gotten my target species there, I drove back north to a pond in West Sacramento where American White Pelicans have been reported recently.  I didn’t find any pelicans, but I did see a couple of juvenile Common Gallinules for my Tuesday list.  There were also a couple of Northern Mockingbirds chasing each other around, and I needed that one for Tuesday also.  There were also Snowy Egrets there, still another one for Tuesday.


It was coming up onto noon by then, and I was due to pick up Fred so we could go pick up Chris at the airport.  I picked up Fred and on the way to the airport we did a quick drive-through at Vic Fazio Wildlife Area, after I made a quick stop at Mickey D’s for a gut bomb.


We saw a couple of Black Phoebes for my list and one White-tailed Kite on the same dead tree where we had seen two of them the day before.  Finally, at one point we flushed a mature Black-crowned Night-Heron, near where we had seen three juveniles the day before.  So, that was three more for my Tuesday list.


We picked up Chris at the airport and our 25th Reunion began.  Our first one was in January 1998 after 25 years of mostly being out of contact with each other.


We started the card playing, and while Fred was working on prep for dinner, I went out in his back yard and added Oak Titmouse to my Tuesday list.  Here is a picture of the cute little Oak Titmouse.


So, when all was said and done, I had added 12 species to my Tuesday list, to bring it to a total of 205 species.


There might not be any reports for a while now, since I don’t plan to do much birding, if any, for the rest of the week.  I will probably head for home on the weekend, so it could be a while before there is another report.



Wednesday, October 5, 2016


On Wednesday my buddies and I played cards all day, but I managed to add Oak Titmouse to my Wednesday list, in Fred’s back yard.  That brought me to 205 species for Wednesday.



Thursday, October 6, 2016


On Thursday, after a morning of card playing, we took a break and went to Ancil Hoffman county park.  It was pretty birdy, and I took some pictures.  Here is a picture of an Acorn Woodpecker, which I didn’t need for Thursday.


Here is a close-up view of an Acorn Woodpecker.


Here is a picture of a Northern Flicker, another woodpecker species I didn’t need for Thursday.


The red moustachial streak indicates that it was a male.


I saw another woodpecker that I did need for Thursday, Nuttal’s Woodpecker, an excellent California bird to see.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a picture.  I ended up seeing about 20 different species at Ancil Hoffman Park in an hour or so, which is excellent for a city park.  One of the surprising ones was Black-throated Gray Warbler, a bird I only see a handful of times each year, if that many.


I was hoping to see a California Towhee, and I saw a bird on the ground that was behaving like a towhee, but it disappeared into the brush before I could get a good look at it.  I played California Towhee calls on my phone, and the bird seemed very interested and kept coming into view, but back in the poorly lighted bushes.  I got these three pictures of it.




I couldn’t identify it at the time, but after seeing these pictures, I think it was a winter-plumaged Golden-crowned Sparrow, a bird I have seen on all seven days of the week this year before now.


My two new Thursday species, Nuttal’s Woodpecker and Black-throated Gray Warbler, got me to 202 species for Thursday.


Here is my weekly report card after Thursday:


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

24 wks              141       138       145       150       155       162       152

28 wks              180       169       180       158       159       169       159

29 wks              182       172       181       160       160       170       161

30 wks              183       173       182       161       161       171       163

31 wks              184       193       203       188       192       202       186

32 weeks          213       206       204       189       193       202       186

37 weeks          222       208       209       200       205       205       202


My total for the year is 309 species so far.  I have seen 119 species on each of the seven days of the week.




Friday, October 7, 2016


This morning, Friday, we again went to a local park and walked, sat, and talked.  At one point I played the calls of California Towhee on my phone and two of them flew right in and hung around.  They stayed up high in the trees, so pictures were difficult, but here are two pictures I got of California Towhee, a good one for my Friday list.



Note the cinnamon color of the undertail coverts.


A little later I heard a Nuttal’s Woodpecker calling and I played its calls on my phone.  Two of them responded, both by flying in and by calling back.  They stayed high in the trees, though, so no pictures.  It was an excellent California bird for my Friday list, though.  Those were all the new Friday birds I got today, but there were a number of other birds around, and I had fun chasing them and taking pictures.


Here is a Yellow-billed Magpie, a bird I never get tired of taking pictures of because I find them so striking.


Here is another view of a Yellow-billed Magpie.


There was a flock of at least 6 or 8 California Scrub-Jays in an oak tree, feeding.  They kept moving around and were usually obscured by leaves, but I got this picture of one that I like.


I’m not sure what the scrub-jays were feeding on in the tree.  It looked like maybe they were mostly looking for bugs, but one of them got this acorn.


A young male House Sparrow was singing for a while, and I got this picture of him.


There were a few Western Bluebirds around, and I got this picture of a female or young male Western Bluebird.


Here is a picture of an adult male Western Bluebird.  I do like blue-colored birds, you know.


Among the other birds I saw there today, there were a lot of Yellow-rumped Warblers.  It was hard to get close enough for pictures, but here are the best two I could get.



It was a beautiful sunny day, about 80 degrees by the time we left the park a little after noon.  Here is a picture of Chris, Fred, and Tugboat sitting at a table.


We don’t look as old as some 70-year olds, do we?  It doesn’t seem so to me, but maybe I’m looking through the eyes of memory to some extent.  At least we are still on the right side of the grass, knock on wood.


My two additional species today, California Towhee and Nuttal’s Woodpecker, were both birds that I won’t see outside of California, so they were great additions to my Friday list.  That increased Friday, which is my highest-total day, to 224 species.


Tomorrow morning I plan to head for home, going up I-5 in two days of driving (about 12 to 13 hours total over the two days).



Saturday, October 22, 2016


Before I get into today's adventures, I want to show a picture I took down at Juanita Bay Park on October 11.  I went down there looking for a couple of birds I needed for my Tuesday list (Sora and Redhead), but I didn't see either one of those.  I didn't get anything for my Tuesday list that day, but I did get this picture of a male Wood Duck that I like.


The reflection came out well, I think.


Today I headed out to the Snoqualmie River Valley.  We have had a lot of rain this month (over 7 inches so far, compared to an average of about 1.25 inches at this point in the month usually), and I wanted to see how flooded the valley might be.  As it turned out, it wasn't really very flooded, but it was a really beautiful sunny fall day, and I really enjoyed being out and about.  I was sort of looking out for a Great Egret, a pretty uncommon bird around here, but one that has been reported out in that valley lately.  I didn't see it.


I was glad to see that the Monroe Prison Farm pond is back for the winter.  It dries up in the summer and they graze cattle on it, but it was once again a pond.  Not many ducks are back yet, but in a couple of months there should be a lot of ducks there.  The swans aren't back yet either, but they will come, I'm sure.  I did manage to see a Red-tailed Hawk in that area, and that was a new one for my Snohomish county list.  I'm sure I've seen many Red-tailed Hawks in Snohomish county before, but somehow I had never added it to my list, so I corrected that today.  That one was too far away for a picture, but a little later I got this picture of one in King county.


You can just make out its red tail in that picture, but I could tell what species it was without that.


As I said, it was a really beautiful fall day.  The light was fantastic for some reason; I suppose the air was clean from our recent rains, but somehow the light was almost magical.  I like trees, and here are three trees showing off their fall colors.


There was a horseback rider riding in a field with the mountains in the background and I got this picture.


Here is a picture of the distant rider in the field in front of the horse farm there.


I stopped at Chinook Bend preserve and played the songs of Pacific Wren, but I couldn't get one to respond.  I had to settle for pictures of this dragonfly.



I ended up driving about 60 miles in about three hours, and it was really fun.  No new Saturday birds, but as I said earlier, it was really nice to get out and about.  My Achilles tendon tear still hurts, but it is very slowly getting better, it seems.  If I'm careful, driving or a little bit of walking isn't very painful now.  I'm not doing much birding because at this point there are very few birds I could get to add to my Day Of The Week lists.  I'm looking forward to the New Year, when I'll start over again.  I'm planning a four night trip down to Cannon Beach on the Oregon Coast, in mid-November, and I might stop in a couple of Washington counties on the way to try to add to my county lists there.  I have at least 39 species in each of Washington State's 39 counties, but I'm thinking of trying to increase that to 50 in each county, if that seems feasible.  It would get me out there again, visiting counties I normally would never go to, especially in the Eastern half of the state.  Maybe I'll get some pictures of the ocean, which I dearly love, and send those out in November.