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Wednesday, March 1, 2017
I was up shortly after 7 this morning, and after enjoying the hotel's excellent breakfast buffet, I headed out to look for birds at about 8:45.† I had arranged for a noon checkout so I would have plenty of time.
I headed over to Railroad Bridge Park, where I knew there was a Wednesday morning bird walk just starting.† I didn't feel like I could manage the mile and a half they walk, but I thought I would watch for them.† I saw a group of obvious birders when I got there, but I didnít join them right off.† Instead, I watched the feeders a while and walked the other way on the paved trail, looking for quail.
I got this picture of a Song Sparrow that was singing to me in the morning sun.
Here is a an interesting view, looking right down its throat.
A male Spotted Towhee popped up and posed for me, too.
After a while I walked west on the trail, over the old railroad bridge that gives the park its name.† I looked for American Dipper in the river, but didnít see one.† I joined the bird walk and asked about the dipper and quail.† The leader gave me some info, and I hung around until they started to move on (they hadn't seen a dipper or a quail this morning either).† Just before they left I spotted a Ruby-crowned Kinglet high in a tree.† I didn't need that for Wednesday, but Sequim is in Clallam county, and I needed that one for Clallam county.† It's tricky to keep track of which list I'm working on at any given time.† Today it was Wednesday and Clallam county, and of course I needed a BAD bird, like every day.
I walked back to the visitor center area and watched the two sets of feeders for quite a while.† I got Golden-crowned Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Black-capped Chickadee, and Anna's Hummingbird for Clallam county. †Here is a male Anna's Hummingbird, which is supposed to be uncommon in Clallam county.
A Red-breasted Nuthatch flew in several times, and I needed that for both the county and Wednesday lists.† Here are two pictures of a Red-breasted Nuthatch.
A female Downy Woodpecker came to the suet feeder, and I needed that one for both the county and Wednesday, too.
Finally, after standing around for over an hour, a male CALIFORNIA QUAIL showed up under one of the feeders - it was a species I needed for both of my lists.† I had been watching the other set of feeders for a long time, and I walked around to see the eastern feeder mainly to loosen up.† I was just in time to see the quail show up.† Here is an interesting picture of a male California Quail looking right at me.
Here is another more conventional shot.
He kept pecking at the ground, and with the shutter lag of my new camera, it was hard to get a good picture, but here is another one, in which his head is a bit blurry from motion.
There were a lot of Dark-eyed Juncos around, which I didn't need for either list, but here is a picture anyway.
There were also a lot of Golden-crowned Sparrows around, and here are two pictures of one of them.
There were also a lot of House Sparrows, and I needed that for Wednesday.† It was getting on for eleven o'clock by then, so headed back to my hotel, stopping at Subway on the way to get a tuna sandwich for later.
I checked out and went over to John Wayne Marina.† I scanned the sheltered water outside the marina and came up with a couple of Wednesday birds, much too far away for pictures.† I got Harlequin Duck and Rhinoceros Auklet there.† On my way back to the highway I saw a Hooded Merganser on a little lagoon, which was good for my Wednesday list.† I thought I had some pictures, but it was far enough away that my camera was focusing on the reeds behind the duck.† I've noticed a problem with focusing with this new camera - it wants to focus on the background rather than the bird in the middle of the frame, if the bird is a small part of the frame.† It is set for Center Spot focus, but it seems to interpret that differently than I would interpret it.† I have had that problem a lot over the years with my Sony cameras, but this seems worse than the most recent Sony cameras in that respect.† There was a Gadwall in that same little lagoon, for my Clallam county list.† I also got Green-winged Teal and Glaucous-winged Gull for my Clallam list around that area.† I took off for the Kingston-Edmonds ferry at that point, and at some point along the way I saw a Common Raven fly over the road right in front of me - another one for Wednesday.
I started eating my humble lunch sitting in the car waiting for the ferry to depart, and I finished it once I was onboard.† I spent the half-hour crossing in the car, as it was gloomy and cloudy out, and I felt like just sitting, as opposed to walking.† I got home a little after 2:30.
It was a very successful trip, as far as birds were concerned.† Yesterday I brought Jefferson county up over 50 species, and today I added another 12 species to my Clallam county list, without really trying, to bring it to 70 now.† I added 8 species to my Wednesday list to bring it to 117.† (Yesterday I had added 11 to Tuesday, to bring it to 114.)† The California Quail today brought my year total to 227 species.† I'll take California Quail as my BAD bird today.
I'm learning stuff about this Day Of The Week birding thing as I go.† One thing I have learned is that getting a fast start, with lots of birds at the beginning of the year, is going to make it tougher to keep adding a new one each day to that day's list (the streak).† Trying to extend the streak is in conflict with normal birding.† With normal birding, you try to see as many species as you can on any given day, but in order to maintain a streak in DOTW birding, you want to get just the minimum needed each day, which is one new bird for that day.† That would mean going somewhere to bird and then just quitting and going home as soon as you had your one new bird for the day.† I'm not going to do that - that would be absurd.† So, I have to deal with that conflict of goals.† It is made even more complicated by the desire to get a good BAD bird each day, which again suggests I should keep on birding and see as many species as I can, in order to get a strategically good BAD bird.† OK, that's much too complicated for 90% of my audience, but I wanted to record it for myself, as I am thinking about it all the time.
My next trip is to California - Sacramento and the San Diego area - and I plan to leave on March 18 or 19, depending on the weather forecast.† In the meantime, I'll continue to try for a DOTW bird and a BAD bird each day, locally.
Thursday, March 2, 2017
It was threatening rain this morning, but I headed up to Edmonds.† It did rain on the way, but it had pretty much stopped by the time I got there.† I went up to Sunset Avenue and looked around, but there wasn't much out there.† I did see three female Harlequin Ducks on the log offshore, for my Thursday list.† There were some Brant, as usual, around the Brackett's Landing jetty, another one for Thursday.† Other than that, I saw a handful of Surf Scoters, a couple of Horned Grebes, and two Red-breasted Mergansers.† I didn't need any of those for Thursday, but I took Red-breasted Merganser for my BAD bird for the day.† The two Thursday species brought me to 118 species for Thursday.
It was cold and threatening to rain again, so I went home.
Friday, March 3, 2017
It was raining this morning when I got up, and it pretty much rained all day long.† This has been a very rainy year so far - it was the second wettest February for Seattle since they started keeping records.† I headed out for some rainy day birding, meaning mostly from the car.† My first stop was Cottage Lake, between Woodinville and Duvall.† I was looking for Ruddy Duck, which I had seen there last week.
I couldn't see any birds on the lake from the car, so I got out and went out onto dock in the rain.† There they were - five Ruddy Ducks out in the middle of the lake.† I had my Friday bird.† Now all I needed to do was to find a decent BAD bird for the day.† I had already used Ruddy Duck for a BAD bird, last week.
I went on out to the Duvall area, having read of sightings of Northern Shovelers out there.† I turned into West Snoqualmie River Road NE and saw a group of ducks in the flooded field.† A couple of them were Northern Shovelers.† They will be heading north in a month or so, so they were on my list of winter birds to take as BAD birds before they leave.† They were too far away for pictures in the rain.
Having driven that far, I decided to go around the loop and check out the Monroe prison farm pond.† The prison farm is long gone, but birders still call the pond the prison farm pond.† Here is a picture of the pond, which dries out in the summer.
There were about 50 swans out on the main pond, and some ducks in the near part of the pond.† Among the nearby ducks were several Northern Shovelers, so I took some pictures.† Here is a male Northern Shoveler in breeding (summer) plumage.
Here is a pair of Northern Shovelers. †The female is the drab one, of course.
There was a male in eclipse (winter) plumage, too.† Here is a male Northern Shoveler in non-breeding eclipse plumage.
Here is a picture I kind of like that shows four ducks - a pair of Green-winged Teals and two male Northern Shovelers, one of which is in breeding plumage and one in eclipse plumage.
One reason I like the picture is because it shows the goofy bill of the Northern Shoveler from two different angles.† It also shows how small Green-winged Teals are.† The shovelers are about the size of Mallards.
The rain had let up for a few minutes, but as I headed for home it started again.† I was satisfied with Northern Shoveler as a BAD bird candidate, but on the way down the valley I saw a Northern Harrier swooping around, and I'm going to take that for my BAD bird today.† I'll try for Northern Shoveler again in the next few days.† The Ruddy Ducks brought my Friday total to 137 species.
Back at home I heard a Steller's Jay calling, so I threw out some peanuts to attract it, in an attempt to get a picture.† I didn't get a great one, but here are two pictures of a Steller's Jay.† I do like blue colored birds, you know.
That was it for my birding for today.
Saturday, March 4, 2017
Finally we had a sunny day.† I went first to Marymoor to try still again for the Northern Shrike, or even a meadowlark.† I would have settled for Cackling Goose, for that matter.† Any of those would have been a bird for my Saturday list.† No joy.† I drove up 196th Ave NE, where I had seen Cackling Geese earlier in the week, but no luck today.† I did see some geese a little farther north along that same road, but I think they were all Canada Geese.† Here is a picture of one that is definitely a Canada Goose.
Note the long neck.† Here is one that seems to have a much shorter neck, but it didn't seem much smaller than the others.
That one might have been a Cackling Goose, but I wasn't willing to call it such.
I stopped at the Redmond retention ponds, but there were only some Buffleheads and some Gadwalls there.† I went on to Cottage Lake, where I expected the Ruddy Ducks I had seen yesterday to still be hanging around.† I got there and got out and looked at the lake.† I didn't see the Ruddy Ducks, but I did see some Common Mergansers, which it turned out I also needed for Saturday.† Here are a couple of female Common Mergansers.
There were some Double-crested Cormorants, which I didn't need, sitting in a row.
Here is a closer view of some of the Double-crested Cormorants drying their wings.
On the grass there were a couple of Killdeer, which I didn't need, but they posed nicely for me.
I saw some Hooded Mergansers in the distance, and I needed that one for Saturday, too.† Here is a picture of a female Hooded Merganser that was much closer.
I also saw a pair of Pied-billed Grebes in the distance, which completed that species for me this year.
While I was out on the dock a Bald Eagle caught a fish right in front of me, not 30 feet away.† I wasnít quick enough to get a picture of it until it was perched in a tree with its fish.
A crow was harassing the eagle, although I don't know what the crow hoped to accomplish.
The crow kept making passes at the eagle, but the eagle didn't pay much attention.
Eventually the crow settled down nearby and just watched the eagle eat.
Meanwhile, the sun had gone behind some clouds, and I was able to see part of the lake I couldn't see before because the sun was in my eyes.† I saw some small ducks, and got my scope out to take a look.† Sure enough, there were five Ruddy Ducks out there, the same ones I saw yesterday, no doubt.† That was another one for Saturday.
There were a number of Mallards around, as usual.† I usually ignore them because they are so common, but I took this picture of a pair of them in the water.
There was a woman with a couple of little kids, and they were feeding the ducks.† I assumed they were feeding the ducks bread, which isn't really good for the ducks.† They came out on the dock and it turned out they had some slugs they had brought from home and were feeding those to the ducks.† The ducks loved the slugs, of course.† It was nice to see the woman teaching her kids not to feed the ducks human food, because it isn't good for them.† Here is that same pair of Mallards, I think, on the dock.
That picture was tough because the light was wrong, but I lightened it up with the new software I'm using, and it came out okay, if not great.† More contrast would have been nice, but more contrast made the male's head turn too dark, and you couldn't see the eye.† I'm continuing to learn how to use this new Canon software to process my pictures, and I like it.† It's all I use now.
So, I had four Saturday birds, but I still wanted to get a good BAD bird for the day.† I headed out to the Snoqualmie River Valley near Duvall to try for Northern Shoveler.† There weren't any birds on the water where the shovelers were yesterday, so went on up the road.† There was a fairly large group of several dozen ducks, a mixture of American Wigeons, Northern Pintails, Mallards, and Green-winged Teal.† No shovelers, though.† I looked through the wigeons to see if there was a Eurasian Wigeon among them.† I didn't need it for any lists, but they are uncommon, and the ducks were close enough for pictures.†
I did find one male Eurasian Wigeon, and here is a picture.
Here is a male American Wigeon.† You can see how different they look, making it easy to pick out a Eurasian Wigeon if one is in the flock.
American Wigeons breed in northern Canada and Alaska, but Eurasian Wigeons breed in Russia and northern Asia.† A few Eurasian Wigeons get lost in migration and join up with flocks of American Wigeons and spend the winter on the west coast.† I guess there is a small number of them that winter on the east coast as well.
I drove farther up the road and found a nice-sized pond with a lot of ducks on it.† Among the many wigeons, pintails and teal there was a single male Northern Shoveler, so I took that one for my BAD bird for today.† My 4 Saturday species brought me to 105 for Saturday so far this year.† My year total stands at 227 now, and I have completed 51 species - that is, seen them on each of the seven days of the week.
Last night they were saying that we should expect a rain and snow mix on Sunday morning, but now they seem to have changed their minds, and it might be showery, but not too bad.† I'll see what the weather looks like in the morning before I decide where to go looking for my birds (Sunday and BAD) tomorrow.
Sunday, March 5, 2017
It wasn't raining this morning, and in fact, the sun came out as I was preparing to leave.† I went over to Marymoor, to look once again for the Northern Shrike that has been hanging out there this winter.† I figure I had been to Marymoor at least 15 times looking for it, and I had seen it 3 times before today.† Still, that's birding - all you can do is put yourself out there where the birds are, and see what you can see.
I drove though the park, looking for the shrike, as well as for meadowlarks.† I had only seen meadowlarks there once or twice this year, but I knew they were there.† No sign of either species in the meadow north of the fields 8, 9, and 10.† No sign around the model airplane field.† I was about ready to leave and head up to Cottage Lake to see if the Ruddy Ducks were still around when I saw the shrike in the distance.† Here is a very distant picture of the Northern Shrike.
With my old camera I wouldnít have even bothered to try for that shot, but I wanted to see how this new camera would do.† The picture is terrible, of course, but it is good enough to identify the bird, which is a victory in my mind.
I would have tried to approach the bird, but it would have meant walking across the grassy field.† Instead I drove around to the dog park parking lot and walked out onto the path leading to where the bird had been.† I didn't really expect to find it again, but I felt like walking and the sun had actually come out.† To my surprise, it was sitting near the top of a small tree, fairly close.† I got this picture of the Northern Shrike on the north side of the East Meadow.
It soon flew and I didnít see where it went.† I walked around a little more and flushed a group of Western Meadowlarks, another one I needed for Sunday.† I flushed them a second time, but couldnít get close enough for pictures.† Here is a picture of the East Meadow at Marymoor in the winter.
I went back to my car, and when I got there, I heard meadowlarks singing.† I went toward the sound and a group of them flew off and landed in a bare tree in the distance.† I still felt like walking (my heel was pretty good today), so I walked out across the soccer fields toward the meadowlarks.† I flushed them a couple of times, and I kept chasing them, getting a little closer each time.† Here is a picture of a Western Meadowlark.
Here is another one, a little closer.
I kept pursuing them, and got this picture.
Here is one final picture of a Western Meadowlark, just before I stopped chasing them around.
So, that was my adventure for the day.† It was great to be able to do a little walking without much pain.† I hope I didn't overdo it on my Achilles tendon.† It feels okay tonight; we'll see how it feels in the morning.
I got two species for my Sunday list, to bring it to 113 species.† I'll take Western Meadowlark for my BAD bird, an excellent one.† Not only do I not see them often, the ones around here will be migrating off somewhere soon.† I don't know where they go, but they aren't seen in King county between about April and September.
Tomorrow is supposed to be showers, starting in mid-morning.† I'll have to take a look at my lists and figure out where to go looking for birds tomorrow.
Monday, March 6, 2017
Monday was the epitome of a boring birding day.† I drove up to the Edmonds waterfront, despite the wind and the showers.† On Sunset Avenue I set up my scope and saw a couple of Mew Gulls on the log that seems to be tethered offshore.† I needed that for Monday, and it was a decent BAD bird, since they will be flying off to breed in the inland north in the next few weeks.† I did a brief scan around in the wind, but didnít see anything else of interest.† So, I put away my scope and went home.† It was a half hour drive each way for five minutes of birding.† It seems pretty silly, but that's the game I'm playing, and the weather was nasty.† I got my DOTW bird and my BAD bird, and I went home.† The Mew gull brought me to 111 species for Monday.
Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Our rainy weather continued today.† It rained all day long.† I went out to the Sammamish Valley in search of Ring-billed Gulls, to use as a BAD bird today.† They'll be heading off somewhere in a month or so, and I want to use them as a BAD bird before I leave for California on the 19th.† I found a number of Ring-billed Gulls at the Sixty Acres soccer fields.† After that I moved on to Marymoor Park, which is farther up that same valley.
I saw Ring-billed Gull again at Marymoor, and this time I got some pictures.† Here is a Ring-billed Gull.† You can see where it gets its name.
I was looking for the Northern Shrike, but I didn't find it today in the rain.† There were a number of Great Blue Herons around in the various fields, and I got this picture of a Great Blue Heron hunting in the rain.
I like the way that Great Blue Herons get that plume at the back of their heads during breeding season.† Here is a closer view of the breeding plume of a Great Blue Heron.
You can see the rain in that picture if you look closely, and you can see that the plume is wet.
I still needed a Tuesday bird, and my fallback was House Finch, which I could expect to see at our feeder at home, if I sat and watched for a while.† I decided to try for a little better bird, though, and I went to the feeders at the park office.† I sat in the car and watched Dark-eyed Juncos, Black-capped Chickadees, and Chestnut-backed Chickadees fly in regularly and constantly to the only seed feeder that had any seeds in it.† I didn't need any of those species for Tuesday, but I was hoping for Red-breasted Nuthatch.† I never saw a nuthatch, but after a while I spotted a Brown Creeper on a tree trunk close by.† I did need that one for Tuesday.† I couldn't get a picture today, but here is a picture of a Brown Creeper that I took last July, just to show what the species looks like.
I've decided that when I don't have many pictures and I see an interesting bird, I'll show "oldies but goodies" that I took of that species in the past.
That was it for my birding in the rain today.† The creeper brought my Tuesday total to 115.† Since I think I ought to be able to get Ring-billed Gull again easily in the next week and a half, I'll take Brown Creeper for my BAD bird today, and try for the gull another day.† Our rainy weather is supposed to continue, but maybe it won't be so constant all day long on some days, and I can do some actual birding.
Wednesday, March 8, 2017
It was sunny this morning, although there was a stiff breeze and it was still cold.† I went up to Edmonds and went out on the fishing pier to look for the Surfbird, which had been reported a couple of times in the last week.† No luck with that, and there was very little out on the water.† I did see the usual Pelagic Cormorants, Red-necked Grebes, Horned Grebes, a Pigeon Guillemot, Double-crested Cormorants, Red-breasted Mergansers, and Glaucous-winged Gulls.† I guess that isn't exactly no birds, but it seemed very sparse to me.† I did see a Mew Gull flying by into the wind, though, and got a good look at it.† I needed that one for Wednesday.† I decided to take Red-necked Grebe for my BAD bird, since they will be heading north in a few weeks.† The Mew Gull brought me to 118 species for Wednesday.
Thursday, March 9, 2017
It was supposed to be dry here this morning, but it was somewhat foggy when I got up.† I thought it might clear up, so I headed around the north end of Lake Washington to Magnuson Park, in northeast Seattle.† When I got to the park it started to sprinkle and it soon turned into a steady light rain.
I had intended to get out of my car and use my scope to look at ducks on the lake, but as it turned out, I didn't have to leave my car.† I saw a larger flotilla of scaup, and although most were Greater Scaup (which I didn't need for Thursday), there were Lesser Scaup mixed in with them.† I did need that one for Thursday.† Among the scaup was at least one pair of Green-winged Teals, too, and I needed that one for Thursday, too.
I went farther into the park, going north along the shore on the road, and at the wetlands ponds I saw some Ring-necked Ducks.† I didn't need that one for Thursday, but it was the species I was looking for today for my BAD bird.† Here is a picture of a male Ring-necked Duck.
Here is a picture of a couple of female Ring-necked Ducks.
Here is a male Ring-necked Duck out of the water.
I'm surprised to see the color of his underside.† I don't think that is normal, but I don't know why it is that funny brown color.
I've always thought the species name was odd, since they have a ring on their bills, not on their neck.† Actually, I had read that there is a brown ring on the neck that is hard to see, but I donít recall ever seeing it before.† This next picture is a bit blurry (more on that in a minute), but it does show the brown ring around the duck's neck.
I took a lot more pictures, but they came out quite blurry.† I think the lens on my camera fogged up.† At least, I hope that's what it was.† I tried a few pictures this afternoon, after I saw the blurriness, and it seemed ok.† Here is one more picture from this morning, of a Pied-billed Grebe.† It is somewhat blurry, but barely good enough to show.
Here is an example of the blurriness.† This is a pair of Buffleheads, very blurred out.
I would have liked to have had that shot, as it's difficult to get pictures of Buffleheads, and getting the male and female together would have been nice.† Oh well, as long as the camera is okay tomorrow, no big deal.
Here's another blurry shot of a female Hooded Merganser.
The rain was coming down steadily by then, and it was only 41 degrees out there, so I headed for home.
The two Thursday birds brought Thursday up to 120 species.† I'll take Ring-necked Duck for my BAD bird for today.
Friday, March 10, 2017
It was barely drizzling when I headed out this morning.† I went over to Magnuson Park in north Seattle again today.† I wanted to get Ring-necked Duck for my Friday bird and Ring-billed Gull for my BAD bird.† It turned out just that way.† There was a single Ring-necked Duck on the wetlands pond as I went in.† Here is a picture of a male Ring-necked Duck.
Here is another picture of him, from the rear.
On the other side of the road there was a single male Northern Shoveler in winter plumage.
That goofy bill always amazes me.
I drove on into the park and there were some Ring-billed Gulls.† It was kind of windy this morning, and this Ring-billed Gull had its feathers a little ruffled by the wind.
It was breezy and drizzly, and I had what I wanted, so I headed out.† On the way I drove by the off-leash dog park at the north end of the park.† I got some sparrow pictures there.† Here is a White-crowned Sparrow.
Here is another view of a White-crowned Sparrow.
Here is an immature White-crowned Sparrow, meaning it was hatched last year.
Here is another view of an immature White-crowned Sparrow.
Here is one more picture of an immature White-crowned Sparrow.
There were also Golden-crowned Sparrows in the little flock.
Here is another Golden-crowned Sparrow.
And one more Golden-crowned Sparrow, since I donít have many pictures today.
That was it for today.† The Ring-necked Duck brought me to 138 species for Friday, my highest day of the week.† I'll take Ring-billed Gull for my BAD bird, although I considered Golden-crowned Sparrow.
Saturday, March 11, 2017
It was just starting to rain as I headed out this morning to Juanita Bay Park to try to call up a Pacific Wren.† I played the songs and calls along the fire station road on the east side of the park, but never had a response.† I saw a Spotted Towhee, a Song Sparrow, some robins, and a little flock of American Goldfinches.† I tried for the wren at one more place on the way home, but no luck there either.
At home I watched our feeder until a Black-capped Chickadee showed up, as they always do eventually.† I needed that for Saturday and it completed the species for me this year.
The chickadee brought me to 106 species for Saturday and completing the species makes it 53 species that I have now seen on all 7 days of the week.† I'll take American Goldfinch for my BAD bird for the day.
Sunday, March 12, 2017
This morning I went down to Juanita Bay Park to look for Pacific Wren again.† Once again I wasn't able to call one up.† Last year they were reliable there, but not this year, I guess.† I walked down the fire station road and saw a few birds, including a little flock of American Goldfinches, like yesterday.† I needed that one for Sunday, though.† I also heard a Northern Flicker calling repeatedly and saw a couple of them in the distance near the tops of a couple of trees.† The goldfinches brought my Sunday total to 114, and I took Northern Flicker for my BAD bird today.† It was starting to rain by then, so I went home.
Monday, March 13, 2017
It's getting kind of tough to find a new Monday bird, but I set out this morning to try to find Brewer's Blackbirds.† I drove over to Costco, where they hang out around the food court in the summer.† In the winter the food court is all closed in, but I thought they might be hanging around anyway.† No luck, so I drove around the neighborhood, but never saw any Brewer's Blackbirds.
My next move was to go out to the Snoqualmie Valley, where they had been reported along W. Snoqualmie River Road NE recently.† There is a dairy out there, and all blackbirds seem to like dairies.† First I drove up to Crescent Lake and the Monroe Prison Farm pond because Cinnamon Teal had been reported in that area recently, and there is a dairy up there, too.† It is early for Cinnamon Teal to be back, but the first report came this last week, and I thought it would be a good chance to check out the area.† I didn't see anything interesting there, so I moved on to W. Snoqualmie River Road NE.† There were quite a few ducks in the flooded fields, but no Cinnamon Teal.† I was still a mile short of the dairy when I noticed a blackbird on a fence post.† It was a female Brewer's Blackbird, so I had my Monday bird.† It flew down onto the road and paraded across in front of me, giving me an excellent view.
Back at home, I took some pictures of birds around our feeder.† I was motivated by a Yellow-rumped Warbler that was coming to the suet feeder, but I wasn't ever able to get a decent picture of it.† Here is a female Red-winged Blackbird, though.† I like the way the rain shows up in these pictures today.
There were a couple of male Spootted Towhees hanging around, and here is a picture of one of them.
Here is a front view, in which he looks all puffed up.
Finally, here is a picture of a female House Finch waiting her turn at the feeder.
So, that was it for today.† I debated between using Yellow-rumped Warbler or Brewer's Blackbird for my BAD bird for the day, and it was a close choice.† I decided to take Yellow-rumped Warbler today, on the basis that Brewer's Blackbirds ought to be easy around Costco when the weather warms up.† The blackbird brought Monday to 112 species.
It's getting a little difficult to keep getting a new DOTW bird each day, mainly because I got off to such a fast start this year.† There just aren't enough birds left for me to go for.† Soon the spring and summer birds will be coming back, and that will help for a while.† I just need to make it through this week, and when I get back from my three week California trip, it should be easier for a few weeks at least.† I plan to leave on Saturday or Sunday this coming weekend, depending o the weather forecast.† It's tricky to be able to get a DOTW bird and a BAD bird each day while traveling, but I'm taking my time and not going very far each day.† I completed Brewer's Blackbird today, which makes 54 species that I have completed now this year.
Tuesday, March 14, 2017
It wasn't raining this morning, but I didn't go out birding after breakfast.† I had a plan.† I was going to lunch with my friend, Chris, and I planned to go over to Phantom Lake afterwards and try to call up a Pacific Wren where we have seen them before.† As it turned out, I had some extra time, so I went to Phantom Lake before lunch and played the songs of Pacific Wren.
I soon had a response, and I played a game of hide and seek with the wren for fifteen or twenty minutes while I tried to get pictures.† It didnít stay still for long, and it was mostly in the bushes.† Here was the first decent shot I got of the Pacific Wren.
Note that the bird looks pretty wet.† It had been raining earlier, but it was barely drizzling when I took these pictures.† My next shot is a peek-a-boo shot of the Pacific Wren in the bushes.
The bird kept flitting around and I kept just missing pictures.† Eventually I stopped playing the songs and the bird flew in and sang to me from a perch in the open.† Here is a picture of it from the front.† Pacific Wren.
Here it is, sitting out in the open, singing to me.
Here is another shot of it singing.
It appears to be putting its heart into its song there.† Here is a picture that shows its short stubby tail sticking up.
It kind of turned away from me and I got this shot of the Pacific Wren from the back quarter.
I notice the colors are a little different in that last shot.† I'm still learning to use this new Canon photo processing software, and color balance is a big part of the process.
Here are two more pictures of the Pacific Wren singing.
I think that last shot is the sharpest of the lot.† There was very little light at the edge of the woods on a cloudy day, and I'm pleased that the pictures are as sharp as they are.
After lunch we went back to the park and saw some other birds, but nothing new for my Tuesday list.† I tried for a picture of a Ruby-crowned Kinglet that was showing off its red crest, but it never stayed still long enough.
The Pacific Wren brought my Tuesday total to 116 species, and I'll gladly take Pacific Wren for my BAD bird for the day.† I have 227 species for the year, and I don't expect to add any more until my upcoming California trip.
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
It was raining again this morning.† This has been an extremely rainy winter; we're way ahead of average rainfall, and we had snow a few times as well.
Today I drove through the rain to the Edmonds waterfront.† I went straight to Ocean Avenue, north of the ferry terminal, to look for Black Scoter.† From the car I saw a small group of birds out on the water, so I parked and took a look through the passenger side window.† Here is a male Surf Scoter, not one I needed for Wednesday.† It was a candidate for BAD bird, though.
Here is a Horned Grebe, another one I didn't need for Wednesday and another BAD bird candidate.
I like the way you can see the raindrops hitting the water.
Here is a male Common Goldeneye.† I needed Barrow's Goldeneye for Wednesday, but not Common.
The fourth species was the one I was looking for, a male Black Scoter.
That was one I needed for Wednesday, and it brought me to 119 species for Wednesday.† After some research, I decided to take Horned Grebe for my BAD bird today.† They will be heading north soon, along with most of the Surf Scoters.† A few Surf Scoters do spend the summer here, though, so I "saved" that one for another day.† All four of the species I showed pictures of will be heading north in the next month or so.† Winter birding is winding down, and the spring arrivals are coming soon.
Thursday, March 16, 2017
Last night I felt the characteristic sore throat that indicates that I'm coming down with a cold.† Bummer.† I'm chewing vitamin C tablets and sucking on zinc lozenges, and it seems to be stalled for now.† I think it's too late to ward it off, though, and I don't feel real flash.† I'm planning on leaving for a three week California trip on Sunday morning.† I hate being sick on the road.
This morning was sunny, anyway, and I headed back up to Edmonds.† My first stop was Sunset Avenue, and it was sunny but pretty windy.† Wind means waves, and that makes seeing birds more difficult.† The wind also buffets my scope around, so distant viewing is tough.† I did manage to see a couple of Pacific Loons, though, a great one for my Thursday list.† I didn't see anything else interesting there, so I moved on up to Ocean Avenue, where I had seen a Black Scoter yesterday in the rain.
Today in the sun I again saw a male Black Scoter, and with the much better light, I got some much better pictures than I had yesterday.† Here is probably the best picture I've ever gotten of a male Black Scoter.
There were some Buffleheads around, too, and I got this picture of a male Bufflehead.
Here is a female Bufflehead.
Here are two female Buffleheads.
Here is a picture of a pair of Buffleheads and a male Black Scoter.† I like pictures of different species together for a size comparison.
Buffleheads are quite small ducks.
A second male Black Scoter showed up.† Here are two male Black Scoters.
The two males were interacting.† One of them kept rising out of the water in front of the other one.
I heard an interesting bird-like sound, and it turned out to be one of the male Black Scoters calling.† I didn't know they made sounds, but I guess most birds do.† Here is a male Black Scoter calling, fairly loudly.
There was a male Common Goldeneye in the area, and I got this picture of him.
I eventually moved on and went to the Edmonds fishing pier, in the hopes of seeing the Surfbird and maybe the Black Turnstone that have been hanging out there for weeks.† I had tried for them at least 6 or 8 times this year, and only seen them once, but hope springs eternal.† I was birding, and that's what birders do - we look and we hope.
Here is a picture of the Edmonds fishing pier, with the sunlit Olympic Mountains in the distant background.
This time I was lucky, and I spotted both the Surfbird and the Black Turnstone on the breakwater beyond the pier.† The light was terrible and I have been having trouble with my new camera (I press the shutter button, but often it won't take the picture for some reason), but I managed to get this one mediocre shot that is barely presentable, just to prove that I saw the two birds today.
I needed both of those for my Thursday list, of course.† I also added another bird to my Thursday list, Pelagic Cormorant.† Here is a picture.
With the sun behind me today, you could see the iridescence on some of the species.† Normally a Pelagic Cormorant just looks black.
Despite the wind and temperatures in the 40's, it was a beautiful day on the water.† I couldnít resist this shot of a ferry with the Olympics in the background.
That was it for Edmonds today.† On the way home I stopped at the boat launch area where the Sammamish Slough runs into Lake Washington, in Kenmore.† I got some pictures of Mallards, partly because of the camera trouble I had been having.† I wanted to try some things.† Here is a female Mallard in the water.
I thought the colors were nice.† Here is a male Mallard in the water.† Unfortunately, a cloud had covered the sun by then.
I get a kick out of the little curlicue feather roll on male Mallards' tails.
Here is the female Mallard on land.
Here is the male Mallard on land.
That was it for today.† I added five species to my Thursday list to bring it to 125 species.† I completed Pelagic Cormorant, to make it 55 species that I have now seen on all seven days of the week.† For my BAD bird, I'll take Black Turnstone.
As a refresher, since I know that most readers can't keep track of this DOTW birding and BAD birding stuff, BAD birding is a game I play that calls for me to choose some species that I see (or hear) each day and designate it as my Bird-A-Day (BAD) bird.† There are only two conditions - I have to see (or hear) it that day, and I can't have used that species before as my BAD bird for any day this year so far.† As the year goes on, it gets harder and harder because I use up one species each day, and eventually I will run out of species to designate as my BAD bird.† Then the game ends.† The idea is to see how long I can go, adding a new (different) BAD bird each day.† I played this game once before, in 2014, and I went until late August before I finally ran out of species and it ended.† I hope to beat that this year, but it will be a challenge.† One thing it does is it forces me to go out birding every day, and that is one of the main reasons I do it, to motivate me to do that.† There is a lot of strategy involved, and when I travel I need to be sure I can get a BAD bird each day, despite the time I spend traveling.† When I travel by car, I make my days short so I can find a new BAD bird.† When I travel by air, it is trickier, since so much of the daylight time is used up on the plane.† Anyway, that is BAD (Bird-A-Day) birding.
In three days I leave for California and a lot of new species to get for the year, GWATCDR.
Friday, March 17, 2017
This was Day 2 of my cold.† I felt somewhat better, actually, although maybe it was just that the symptoms were a little different.† My throat didn't hurt as much, for example, although I think I felt better overall, too.† Maybe the vitamin C and zinc are doing their job.† I don't think I have ever kicked a cold after it got this established, so I expect I'm in for the regular full ten day course of a cold.† (They say with medications, a cold only lasts a week and a half, rather than the usual ten days.† In other words, meds might make you feel better, but the cold runs its course all the same.)† Maybe it can be a less severe one, though.† We shall see.
It was not raining this morning, and I actually saw a little sun on my way to Marymoor Park.† I had a couple of birds in mind - one Friday bird (Fox Sparrow) and one BAD bird (Golden-crowned Sparrow).† On the way I stopped at the Willows Run golf course to look at the ducks on their ponds, but I didn't see a Green-winged Teal, which would have been an even better BAD bird than Golden-crowned Sparrow.
At Marymoor, I paid my one dollar for parking and parked in the west dog-park parking lot.† Almost at once I saw a little group of Golden-crowned Sparrows, right where I expected them† Here are a couple of pictures of Golden-crowned Sparrows.
They will be heading north to breed in a few weeks.† They spend their summers anywhere from British Columbia to north Alaska.
I was experimenting with my new camera.† I mentioned yesterday that I had some problems with the shutter button working, and I had looked in the user's guide and had some settings I wanted to try.† I tried three different things, and I not only learned some things, I think I might have stumbled onto the solution to the problem I was having.† It will take more time to know for sure, but it is encouraging.† I got this picture of an American Coot while I was experimenting.
I've read about the red "shield" on the forehead of some subspecies of American Coot, but I don't recall seeing it before.† I am guessing it is the little reddish button at the top of the bill.
To my pleased surprise, there were a couple of pairs of Green-winged Teal on the slough.† I hadn't expected to see them there, but that was my superior BAD bird for the day.† They will be heading north sooner than the Golden-crowned Sparrows, on average, so that makes them a better BAD bird for today.† Here is a picture of a pair of Green-winged Teal.
I think you can guess which one is the male and which is the female.
So, I had an good BAD bird - now all I needed to do was to get a Friday bird for my DOTW (Day Of The Week) birding game.† I was looking for Fox Sparrow because the ones that winter here will be heading off to the north to breed in a few weeks.† Another subspecies lives in California and breeds there.† The point, though, is that Fox Sparrows won't be around here in the summer, so now is the time to get them, before they leave.
I walked along the row of blackberry bushes where I have seen Fox Sparrows before, playing their songs and calls.† Nothing showed up.† After I had stopped playback, though, I was still walking along and I spotted a Fox Sparrow at the base of the blackberry vines.† Here it is, at the edge of the grass and vines.
Fox Sparrows feed on the ground, scratching around in the leaf litter.
I played the call of the subspecies that lives around here in the winter, and the bird flew up and perched, seemingly looking around for the other Fox Sparrow.† Here are a couple of pictures of the Fox Sparrow perched up on a vine.
I think it is interesting how a bird can look skinny or plump, depending on how it sits.
I had my DOTW bird and my BAD bird, but I was still experimenting with my camera, so I took more pictures.† Here is an American Robin.
A Song Sparrow showed up and I got these two pictures of it.
Black-colored birds are always a challenge to get good pictures of.† I like to be able to see some feather definition, and having the eye easily visible is a challenge, too.† This next picture of an American Crow was even more challenging because of the light- colored parking lot it was in.† Here is an American Crow getting a drink of water.
That picture is far from perfect, but it does show the bird somewhat.† Here is a picture of an American Crow in grass.
That's the same bird, and you can see how much different it looks with a different background.†† Here is one more picture of the same American Crow.
So, that was it for my birding today.† I wanted to mention one thing.† While I was at Marymoor, there were swallows flying over the slough.† They were either Tree Swallows or Violet-green Swallows, or most likely, both species.† I haven't seen either of those species this year, and I would prefer to "save" them for later, for my DOTW list.† I might need a Friday bird later in the year, and it would be nice to have those two "in my pocket", so to speak.† I made the decision not to look at the swallows today closely.† The two species are very similar, and without a close look, I didnít know which species any particular bird was.† As I result, I have not yet counted either species for Friday.† Is that cheating?† Is it a violation of the spirit of the game?† I think it's okay, but I mention it because it shows the kind of strategic thinking that goes into playing these silly DOTW and BAD birding games.
My Fox Sparrow brings me to 139 species for Friday, my highest total day of the week.† I'll take Green-winged Teal for my BAD bird today.
Tomorrow is likely to be rainy, or at least showery, so I need to find some rainy day birds to look for.† Meanwhile, I still plan to leave for California on Sunday morning.
Saturday, March 18, 2017
As expected, it was raining this morning.† I decided to head over to the Snoqualmie River Valley near Carnation to look for Cackling Geese, for a Saturday bird.† I was thinking I might find a Golden-crowned Sparrow for my BAD bird, too.† On the way I decided to detour to the Evans Creek Natural Area, just east of Redmond.† I saw Cackling Geese there a couple of weeks ago, and there had been a report of them there in the last 2 or 3 days.† I made a quick stop at the Redmond Retention Ponds, but the only birds there were some Buffleheads.† I haven't used that one for a BAD bird yet, and they will heading north in the next six weeks or so, so it wouldn't be a terrible BAD bird.
As I approached the Evans Creek Natural Area, I saw a group of geese in a field.† I looked carefully at them (through the heavy rain), but I decided they were most likely Canada Geese, rather than the smaller Cackling Geese.† There were Mallards, Common Goldeneyes, and American Wigeons in one of the fields.† I was about ready to turn around when I saw three swans in a partially flooded field.† I took a look and at least one of them was a Tundra Swan, rather than the expected Trumpeter Swan.† I didn't need it for any lists, but it was interesting to see them at that location.
Then I noticed that there was a pair of ducks next to the swans, and they turned out to be Ring-necked Ducks, which I needed for Saturday.† Ring-necked Ducks are diving ducks, and I expect to see them on lakes, not in flooded fields.† Anyway, I had my Saturday bird, so I abandoned the idea of going out to the Carnation area today.† Instead, I decided to stop by Marymoor Park and try for Golden-crowned Sparrow for my BAD bird.
It was still raining steadily, but I parked at the dog park and went out walking in the rain with my umbrella, looking for Golden-crowned Sparrows where I had seen them yesterday.† I don't recall birding with an umbrella before.† It was somewhat awkward to use my binoculars and the umbrella at the same time.† I hadn't even bothered to bring my camera from the car.† I heard a Song Sparrow singing a couple of times, but never saw a Golden-crowned Sparrow.† I studiously ignored the swallows over the slough, like yesterday.† I'll start adding swallows to my lists soon, no doubt, but not today.† I have to add any bird that I can identify, of course, but it would have taken a close look to tell which swallow species this was, and so I didn't look closely.
So, I added one species to my Saturday list, to bring it to 107 species.† For my BAD bird I'm going to take American Wigeon.† They will be heading north in about six weeks, too, like the Buffleheads, but it looks like Buffleheads stick around just a little longer, on average.
Tomorrow I head out for California.† The weather is supposed to be good, and I hope to take a new route, through Klamath Falls, on the second day.† I plan to take three days to get to Sacramento, so I'll have plenty of time to find birds for my lists each day.† Normally it is an easy two day trip, so I should have lots of time for birding.† The pass from I-5 to Klamath Falls is about 5000 feet elevation, but it appears the weather should be good and the road is clear at this point.† Tomorrow night - Springfield, Oregon, GWACDR.
Sunday, March 19, 2017
This was Day 4 of my cold.† Six more days to go.† So far it is fairly mild (knock on wood), but weíll see how it progresses.† It is still annoying and uncomfortable, and I would rather be at home when I feel unwell.† I understand that at least six, maybe more, of the 14 people at the party last Saturday night at our house have had something similar this past week.† It must have been a pretty contagious virus.
I was up, packed, loaded, breakfasted, with my lunch made, and out of the driveway by 9:30 this morning.† Thatís about as good as it gets for me on a getaway day.† I made good time on the Sunday morning freeways and pulled off in Woodland just before noon.† I intended to drive around what is called the Woodland Bottoms, to see what I could get in the way of a Sunday bird and a BAD bird.
I headed over Dike Access Road to Dike Road and went north first.† I had read of an owl nest along there, and it was easy to spot, as it turned out.† Here is a picture of my first GREAT HORNED OWL of the year, sitting in its nest.
I pulled forward another fifty feet or so and got this picture.
Iím a little disappointed at the lack of sharpness of those pictures, but the nest was quite a distance away.† I had a year-bird, anyway.
I drove south on Dike Road, looking for Cackling Geese or Sandhill Cranes, both of which have been reported there in just about every eBird report this month, in large numbers.† There wasnít much bird action, but I did see a California Scrub-Jay at one point.† It moved on before I could get a picture, but it was a good one for my Sunday list.
Here is a picture of Woodland Bottoms, with a mountain in the distance.† I think it is Mount Adams, but it might be Mount St. Helens.
Here is another view from a little farther down the road.
I was feeling a bit peckish by then, so I pulled over along the Lewis River, with a view back over the fields, and ate my humble lunch, which I had made at home this morning.† I had ham and cheese in yuppie whole grain wraps (at least five different grains in them), some potato chips, and some mini-peppers.† While I was eating I saw a woodpecker fly in nearby.† I got the binoculars on it, and it was my first HAIRY WOODPECKER of the year.† I got out of the car to try for a picture, but I had a problem with my camera and the bird flew off before I could get a picture.† I thought I had solved this particular camera problem by changing a setting, but I guess it must be something else.
I was adding birds to my Cowlitz county list, too.† The Great Horned Owl was new for the county for me, and I added Bald Eagle, Red-winged Blackbird, and the Hairy Woodpecker as well.† When I finished lunch I had two choices about which way to go, and I decided to head back north, partly because I thought I head the calls of Sandhill Cranes in that direction.
I soon saw a group of Greater White-fronted Geese, which was a Sunday bird as well as a new Cowlitz county bird.† Here is a distant picture of some Greater White-fronted Geese.
Not a very satisfactory picture, but they were a long way away.
Just up the road a little farther, there were Sandhill Cranes, a great one for my Sunday list.† They were quite distant as well, even farther away than the geese, but Iím going to show this terrible blurry picture because it was the best I got.
After that I gave it up.† I never did see any of the Cackling Geese that are reported there in the hundreds and even thousands sometimes.† They must have been hanging out in a different part of the area than I visited.† Maybe if I had made the other choice after lunch I would have seen them, but I would have missed the Greater White-fronted Geese and the Sandhill Cranes in that case, so Iím happy with my decision.† I could have backtracked, but I had enough birds for the day, so I boogied on down the freeways to Springfield, Oregon, where Iím settled in for the evening now.
I added five species to my Sunday list, to bring it to 119 species.† I got two new year-birds, to bring my year list to 229.† I added 5 species to my Cowlitz county list, too, to bring that to 56.† For my BAD bird, Iíll take Sandhill Crane.
Iím only about five driving hours from home, but it was an enjoyable day and I saw some birds.† Tomorrow I plan to move on down the highway another 4 or 5 hours worth, but Iím taking a detour across the mountains and back, to go through Klamath Falls, to see what birds I can find on the east side of the Cascades.† I plan to stop in Weed, CA tomorrow night.
Monday, March 20, 2017
I was on the road by just after 9:00 this morning.† My first stop was some ponds at Lane Community College, just south of Springfield.† I was looking for Ring-necked Ducks, which had been reported there a number of times this year.† There were a lot of ducks on the ponds, but no place to stop legally to look at them.† I stopped on the side of the road long enough to identify a couple of Ring-necked Ducks, though, and that was my Monday bird taken care of.† I expected to do well today, but an insurance bird is always welcome.
I headed up Highway 58 into the mountains, heading for Klamath Falls, which was over Willamette Pass, at 5100 feet elevation.† The drive was easy, the road was bare, and there was snow on the sides of the road on the east side of the pass.† I got to Klamath Falls a little after noon, and I gassed up the car.† I stopped at Veteranís Park, on the south side of town, but there was nothing there and the wind was kicking up waves on the lake.† As I got back on the highway, though, there was a pond on the right with ducks, so I pulled over to take a look.† Among the ducks was this male Lesser Scaup, which I needed for Monday.
My next stop was the Miller Island unit of the Klamath NWR.† I hadnít ever been there before, and the main attraction was a goose that is closely related to Snow Goose.† There were lots of ducks and geese on the reserve, and there was one especially large group of white geese.† They were a little distant for easy identification with binoculars, and I was too lazy to break out my scope.† Besides, it was extremely windy, and using the scope would have been difficult.† From what I had read, my target goose was pretty common there, so I assumed that many of the white geese I was seeing were that species.† I took a bunch of pictures, figuring that the pictures would confirm the identification of my goose.† As it turned out, though, when I looked at the pictures, virtually all the geese were Snow Geese.† I finally found one ROSSíS GOOSE in one picture, so could legitimately add it to my year list, although I didnít identify it until I saw my pictures.† Here is the Rossís Goose, in the middle of this picture, among Snow Geese.
The Rossís Goose is the one in the center, with the smaller bill.† It is also smaller than the surrounding Snow Geese.† By the time I found that in this picture, I was about ready to give up on counting the species today.† Iíll have another chance to see them tomorrow at the Sacramento NWR.
I saw a couple of BLACK-BILLED MAGPIES there as well, another new one for the year.† They never stuck around for pictures.† I saw several Canvasbacks, too, for my Monday list.† Here is a male Canvasback.
I saw one Cinnamon Teal, too, for my Monday list, but it was too distant for a picture.
I ate the first half of my lunch there, and on the way out I saw three American White Pelicans for my Monday list.
They get those protuberances on their bills during the breeding season, and no one seems to have any idea what their purpose is.
There were hundreds, if not thousands, of Greater White-fronted Geese there as well.† I didnít need that species for any lists, but here is a picture of four of them.
Next I drove east on California Highway 161, which goes along some of the lakes of the Klamath NWR.† Before I even got to the main lakes, though, I saw a couple of AMERICAN AVOCETS in a shallow pond.† They are just now arriving for the year, after spending the winter along the California coast or down in Mexico.† Here is one of the avocets, just coming into its summer coloration.† They breed in this area.
Here is a picture of a male Ring-necked Duck, the species I had seen this morning at Lane Community College across the mountains.
With the winds today, there were a lot of waves on the lakes, making birding difficult.† Iíd try for a picture and the bird would be down in a trough and all Iíd get would be the head.† As I result, I took a ton of pictures today and threw the vast majority out.
There were a number of duck species, but I was looking for a particular grebe species.† Finally I spotted a couple of EARED GREBES, a great one for my year list.† Here is an Eared Grebe that is almost changed completely to its summer (breeding) plumage.
It still has some molting to do, but it is much farther along than this one, which is almost in its winter plumage still.
Here is another view of the Eared Grebe in its almost-winter plumage.
The one thing that doesnít seem to change is its red eye color.
Here is a picture of a pair of Northern Shovelers, with their goofy bills.
Here is a picture of a male Northern Shoveler.† I liked it because it seemed so colorful.
There were a lot of Ruddy Ducks, but they would always swim off when I stopped to get a picture.† I finally got this picture of a male Ruddy Duck that is almost changed into his summer (breeding) plumage.
The rest of his body will get that red color and his bill will turn an even brighter blue color before he is through changing.† Here is a female Ruddy Duck.† They donít seem much different in the winter than in the summer.
The stiff looking tail sticking up is characteristic of the species.
Here is a picture of a male Bufflehead that I like.
The wind was ruffling the feathers on the back of his head.† Here is a more conventional view of a male Bufflehead.
I had thought I might take the auto tour through the Klamath NWR, but it was closed for some reason.† I really didnít have time anyway, as it turned out, after all my picture taking and stops.† I backtracked and headed for Weed, which meant going across the mountains again, this time over two summits, which were 5100 feet and 5200 feet of elevation.† That actually isnít as high as it sounds, since Klamath Falls is about 4000 feet and Weed is about 3400 feet.
I stopped at the rest stop at Grass Lake and there were some swans there, along with the usual ducks.† I looked around the fields and spotted a couple of Sandhill Cranes, too.† Here is a distant picture of a couple of Sandhill Cranes.
I had seen them yesterday up in southern Washington, where they were wintering.† These two today were on their breeding grounds.† Sandhill Cranes are in the midst of their annual migration right now.† I hope to see them south of Sacramento, where they also winter, but they might have left by the time I get there later this week.
So, that was my Monday of birding and traveling.† It was Day 5 of my cold, and Iím getting darn tired of it.† It could be a lot worse, though, and it is actually improving now, I think (knock on wood).† I added 10 species to my Monday list, to bring it to 122 species.† I added three to my year list, to bring that one to 232 species.† Iíll take Rossís Goose for my BAD bird today.
Tomorrow I plan to go the rest of the way into Sacramento, where I plan to visit my old friend from high school and college days, Fred, and his dog Tugboat.† I plan to stop at the Sacramento NWR on the way, to pick up a Tuesday bird or two.† The weather sounds iffy, so it could be interesting.
Tuesday, March 21, 2017
I awoke to a steady rain this morning, but by the time I left at about 9:15, it had lessened.† I had rain, sunshine, then rain again, but by the time I got to Redding the rain had ended, and I never saw any more today.† It was windy, but the temperatures were in the high 60ís, so it seemed quite springlike.
I picked up a tuna sandwich at Subway and got to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) at about noon.† I drove around the auto tour in the sunshine, to see what I could see.
There were a couple of American Avocets near the start.† I didnít need that one for Tuesday, but I took some pictures.† Here is an American Avocet I saw later on the auto tour today.
There were also a couple of Black-necked Stilts there, and I did need that one.
There was also a shorebird that I wasnít sure of, but after seeing the picture, I think it was my first LESSER YELLOWLEGS of the year.
A little later I saw a Greater Yellowlegs, which I didnít need for Tuesday, and I got this picture.† Note the relative length of the bill compared to the head on this one.
I saw my only Snow Geese about then.† I had expected to see hundreds of them, but maybe they are all headed back to northern Alaska to breed.† There were about six of them, and none appeared to be Rossís Geese.† Here is a picture of some Snow Geese.
I did need Greater White-fronted Goose, and there were lots of them still around.† There were a lot of Savannah Sparrows along the road, as well as a couple of groups of White-crowned Sparrows, so those two species went onto my Tuesday list.
I needed Pied-billed Grebe for Tuesday still, and I got this picture of one.
There was a small group of grebes, and I expected them to be Western Grebes, but they were the less common species, CLARKíS GREBE.† Here is a picture of a couple of them, one of which was squawking.
Here is a picture of three Clarkís Grebes.
Western Grebes look very much like Clarkís Grebes, except that the bill of Western Grebe is greenish yellow, rather than orange, and the black cap on the top of the head comes down to cover the eye.† The key to identifying a Clarkís Grebe (other than the bill color, which isnít always easy to tell in poor light) is that ďthe eye is in the whiteĒ.
I picked up Ruddy Duck and Ring-necked Duck for my Tuesday list, and then I got this picture of a pair of Cinnamon Teal, which I didnít need for Tuesday, having seen them down in Texas on a Tuesday.
The Cinnamon Teal are the ducks in the foreground.† The ones in the back are a pair of Northern Shovelers.† Here is a picture of the male Cinnamon Teal, in all his glory in the sun.
I stopped at the halfway point and ate half my sandwich and some potato chips.† I went up on the observation platform there and took this picture of the Sacramento NWR.
While I was up on the platform, I saw my first BLACK PHOEBE of the year.† Here is a picture from above.
There were some Northern Pintails around, and although I didnít need that one, here is a picture of a male Northern Pintail.
I heard Marsh Wrens a number of times, but I never saw one.† Since I count ďheard onlyĒ birds when I recognize their sound, it went onto my Tuesday list.† I also added White-faced Ibis to my Tuesday list, and I got this picture as one walked away from me.
I like that picture because of the feather definition on the back and wings.† Here is a more conventional view of a White-faced Ibis.
At one point there were several egrets sitting on a railing at a pumping station.† Here is a Great Egret.
Here is a Snowy Egret with its neck out.
Here is that same Snowy Egret with its neck pulled in.
I love the greenish-yellow feet of Snowy Egrets.† I completed both egrets down in Texas, but I liked the pictures today.
Near the end of the auto tour I ate the other half of my tuna sandwich.† There was a group of LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS out in the water, most of which were sleeping.† They were too far away for decent pictures, but it was a nice year-bird to get.
A hawk flew over and landed in a tree across the water, and I got this picture of a Red-tailed Hawk.
Right at the end of the auto tour I saw a flycatcher sitting on a twig, and I got this picture of a Sayís Phoebe, a good California bird for my Tuesday list.
That was it for the Sacramento NWR today, and I headed down the freeway to my friend Fredís house in Sacramento.† I unloaded my car and saw a California Scrub-Jay while doing so, another one for Tuesday.† Later, sitting in Fredís living room I noticed a WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH at the feeder in his back yard, my final new year-bird of the day.
It was a productive day.† I added 16 species to my Tuesday list, to bring it to 132.† I got 5 new year-birds, to bring my year total to 237.† For my BAD bird, I debated between Snow Goose and Clarkís Grebe.† I ended up deciding to take Clarkís Grebe for various reasons, but it was a close decision.
Tomorrow is supposed to be showery, so the birding will be interesting.† At least one of the places that Fred and I always go is closed because of high water, and maybe another one as well.† It has been a rainy year for Sacramento, which is a good thing for them, after their long drought.
Wednesday, March 22, 2017
This is Day 7 of my cold symptoms, and Iím REALLY getting tired of them.† Today the runny nose that started yesterday afternoon continued.
Fred and I headed out to see what some of our usual birding places looked like after all the rain this winter.† Our first stop was William B. Pond county park, so Fred could buy his annual county parks pass.† While he was in the office buying his pass, I saw some Yellow-rumped Warblers (which I didnít need for Wednesday) and a pair of WESTERN BLUEBIRDS, my first of the year.† We drove into the park and walked to the waterís edge.† The park is on the American River. †A couple of weeks ago they were releasing a huge amount of water from Folsom Dam, and the river was really high and swift.† It was still high, but we could see how much higher it had been a couple of weeks ago.† I picked up White-crowned Sparrow and California Scrub-Jay for my Wednesday list there, and my first CALIFORNIA TOWHEE of the year.† Unfortunately, I had left my camera in the car (when will I ever learn?), so I missed a great photo opportunity for the towhee.
Next we drove down I-5 to Cosumnes Preserve.† As we approached the preserve there was a field with hundreds of Greater White-fronted Geese, which I needed for Wednesday.† The water at Cosumnes was high, but not as high as it had been a week or two ago when Fred had seen a picture of the area.† We walked out onto the boardwalk and I added Marsh Wren (heard only) and Western Meadowlark to my Wednesday list.† I also added Black Phoebe to my Wednesday list, and got this picture.
Our next birding destination was the Yolo Bypass, known also as Vic Fazio Yolo Wildlife Area.† We knew it was closed, but we wanted to see how much water there was.† As we got off the freeway there was a flock of blackbirds by the road, and there were a lot of Yellow-headed Blackbirds in with the usual Red-winged and Brewerís Blackbirds.† That was a good one for Wednesday.† I wish we had taken the time to go back for a picture.
There was a lot of water at Fazio, but it looked like it could possibly be open when Iím back here in a couple of weeks.† Weíll see.† We drove up to Mace Blvd and went south.† We stopped at Grasslands Regional Park and saw a Wild Turkey for my Wednesday list.† On our way out of the park there were a couple of YELLOW-BILLED MAGPIES, too.† Here are two pictures of this striking species.
Yellow-billed Magpies are only found in Californiaís Central Valley and a few places over the coastal range to the southwest.
We drove west on Tremont Road to the little cemetery we have stopped at before, and got out and walked around a bit.† There were Dark-eyed Juncos and White-crowned Sparrows, along with Eurasian Collared-Doves and at least one Mourning Dove.† I needed both dove species for Wednesday.† Here is a picture of one of the Eurasian Collared-Doves.
We backtracked and drove a little farther south down Mace, looking for a species of hawk we have seen in that area before.† They are just starting to arrive back from migration this month.† We didnít see anything on our way south, but when we came back north there were two SWAINSONíS HAWKS sitting in a tree next to the road.† I was able to get out of the car and get this picture of one before they took off.
That was it for our birding.† We headed for home and stopped to check out the Watt Avenue access to the American River, but it was still closed after the high river levels of recent weeks.† Back at Fredís house, I spent some time sitting in his living room and watching his bird feeder.† A California Scrub-Jay flew in a couple of times, but I didnít bother going out to the back yard to try for pictures.
Finally my patience we rewarded and an OAK TITMOUSE flew in to the feeder.† This time I grabbed my camera and went out to the back yard.† I took a number of shots, but most of the time the bird was looking the other way.† This was the best shot I could get of the cute little Oak Titmouse.
While I was out there, I got this picture of a female Annaís Hummingbird, too.
We mostly had sun today, but there was rain a couple of times.† Considering our short day and the high water, I did pretty well for birds.† I added 15 species to Wednesday, to bring it to 134 species.† Five species were new for the year, to bring my year total to 242 species.† For my BAD bird, Iíll take California Towhee.† One other note Ė I ignored swallows at a number of places, preferring to ďsaveĒ the various swallow species for later in the year Ė maybe for one of my travel days on my way home, if I can continue to ignore them that long.† I havenít seen any of the swallows well enough to identify the species, so I havenít counted any of them yet.
Tomorrow is supposed to be partly cloudy, with rain chances at less than 10%.† Friday is 100% chance of rain, but Iíll take one day at a time.† Weíll see how my cold is tomorrow.
Thursday, March 23, 2017
Fred had other things to do this morning, so I headed off alone.† My first destination was Ancil Hoffman county park.† As I approached the park I got my first Thursday bird of the day, a Yellow-billed Magpie.† Soon after that I added California Scrub-Jay and Mourning Dove as well.† That completed Mourning Dove for me.
I parked at the Effie Yeaw Nature Center, which is located in the park, and walked out on the nature trails.† One of the first birds I saw was a pair of Wild Turkeys, working their way along one of the trails.
I had been birding for years before I noticed those crazy tufts of feathers hanging down from their breasts.† I have no idea what their function could be.
I heard a wren singing, and managed to locate a cute little House Wren.† Here is a picture of a House Wren.
The green background is interesting, I think.† I didnít do anything to produce it; it is simply the effect of the out of focus Spring greenery in the background.
I got this picture of a couple of Mourning Doves getting a drink from a puddle.
Here is a European Starling sitting on a snag.
There were a lot of ACORN WOODPECKERS around, my first ones of the year.† I never got a picture because they were always too high up in the trees.† I found a place to sit and watch for a while, and I saw two Bushtits flitting around.† That was a good one for my Thursday list.† They kept going to the side of a building and briefly perching.† Here is a picture of one of the Bushtits.
It looks like it has something in its beak, maybe some nesting material.† Here is a picture of the same bird looking right at me.
While I was sitting I saw a couple of ducks fly into a high tree.† I wondered what was going on, since I rarely see ducks in trees.† It turned out they were Wood Ducks, a species I still needed for Thursday.† Wood Ducks nests in cavities of trees (or man made nest boxes mounted on the trunks of trees), so maybe they were nesting or looking for a nest.
I saw my first Oak Titmouse of the day there, too, another good California bird for Thursday.† There was a group of Yellow-rumped Warblers feeding in the area, but I didnít need them and I never was able to get a decent picture.† A White-breasted Nuthatch, another good California bird for my Thursday list, flew in, too, and then my first LINCOLNíS SPARROW of the year.† Here is a picture of the Lincolnís Sparrow.
I was ready to move on by then, but on my way out I spotted a Red-shouldered Hawk perched at the top of a snag.† It was right into the sun, a very difficult and distant picture, but here is my best effort of the Red-shouldered Hawk.
I drove to the other side and found a hole in the trees to shoot a picture of it from the side.
Next I headed toward my next stop, Mather Lake Recreation Area.† On the way I stopped at Costco and had a hot dog and a slice of pizza so I wouldnít waste away this afternoon.† At Mather Lake I saw some House Sparrows as I got out of the car, and Thursday was the last day I needed for House Sparrow, so it is complete now.† I would have rather not seen the House Sparrows and been able to ďsaveĒ them for a later Thursday, but I have to take them when I see them, assuming I can identify them.† I continued to ignore swallows today, so all 5 or 6 swallow species are still in my pocket.
I saw two MUTE SWANS, the species I went to Mather Lake to see.† They arenít native to this country, but there are ďwildĒ populations a few places that are countable, I guess, and Mather Lake is one of the very few places.† They have been breeding there for many years.
I picked up Black Phoebe there, and I completed Annaís Hummingbird there, too.† I also added White-crowned Sparrow to my Thursday list.† Here are a couple of pictures of White-crowned Sparrows.
I didnít need it, but I got this picture of a Bewickís Wren.
There were some House Finches feeding in the grass, too, and here is a picture of a male House Finch.
After that I gave it up and went back to Fredís house.† He and I went out in the afternoon, to Ancil Hoffman county park.† He took his dog, Tugboat, down to the river for a short swim while I wandered around looking for birds and taking pictures.† I added Western Bluebird to my Thursday list and got this picture of a female Western Bluebird.
Here is a picture of the male Western Bluebird.
Here is a picture of a Yellow-billed Magpie perched up nicely.
Here is a California Scrub-Jay with an acorn.
I finally saw a species I had been looking for there, another California specialty Ė NUTTALíS WOODPECKER.† It was hard to get a decent picture, but here is a picture of a male Nuttalís Woodpecker.
Fred spotted a beautiful White-tailed Kite at the top of a tree.† Ironically, Thursday was the only day of the week that I had seen a White-tailed Kite this year, having seen one down in Texas.† So, even though I didnít need it for any lists, I like the picture I was able to get of the White-tailed Kite.
That was it for my birding and photo taking today.† I added 19 species to my Thursday list, to bring it to 144.† Four species were new for the year, to bring my year list to 246.† I completed 3 more species today, bringing my completed total to 58.† For my BAD bird, Iíll take Nuttalís Woodpecker.
Tomorrow is supposed to be windy and rainy, so I have a challenge ahead of me to find at least one Friday bird.† At home I have my rainy day places to go look for birds, but Iíll have to get creative here.† My cold was a bit better today, but I got pretty tired by the end of the afternoon.† At least the constant nose running has ended.† Weíll see what tomorrow brings.
Friday, March 24, 2017
It was Day 9 of my cold today, and colds are only supposed to last for 10 days.† I was actually a lot better today, with only a little coughing and a little nose blowing.† I still feel ďsickĒ, but only slightly.† Last night I was awake for an hour in the middle of the night, but I spent 9 Ĺ hours in bed and slept well when I did sleep.† I never sleep that long, and wonder of wonders, I only got up once to pee.† I guess I needed the sleep.
It was raining when I got up, and it rained all day long.† Fred had better things to do than go birding in the rain, so I headed out alone at about 9:45, to see what I could find in the way of Friday birds.† My first stop was Ancil Hoffman Park, and as I drove into the park there was a Black Phoebe out there chasing flying insects in the rain.† That was a good California bird for my Friday list.† Here is a picture I got a little later of a Black Phoebe in the rain.†† I must have seen a dozen of them today, in various places.
Driving through the park adjacent to the golf course, I saw Yellow-billed Magpies in the usual place, another good California bird.† Here is a very wet Yellow-billed Magpie.
I saw Yellow-rumped Warblers all day long, and I took a number of pictures of them.† Here is a blurry Yellow-rumped Warbler in a tree in the rain.
Yellow-rumped Warblers have two primary types of plumages, and each plumage has a winter and summer form.† At this time of year, you get all kinds of variations.† Here is another Yellow-rumped Warbler in a somewhat different plumage.
The one thing they all have in common is they all have a yellow rump.† Birders call them ďbutter buttsĒ sometimes.
An Acorn Woodpecker flew in and perched for me briefly, another good California bird for Friday.† Another good California Friday bird was Western Bluebird, which I saw at several places during the day.
After a while I left Ancil Hoffman and headed up to the parks along the American River near Sunrise Blvd.† I drove slowly through the greenbelt areas and saw a few birds.† Here is a picture of a male Spotted Towhee, not one I needed, but an attractive bird.
I was hoping to see his cousin, California Towhee, and I looked for one all day long.† Here is a wet Mourning Dove, all puffed up.
This was real car-birding.† Almost all the pictures today were taken from my car.† At one point I saw a different bird up ahead, and it turned out to be a Hermit Thrush.† That is a great bird, but the only other one I have seen this year was on a Friday down in Texas.† In fact, by the end of the day there were four species Ė Hermit Thrush, Red-shouldered Hawk, Lark Sparrow, and House Wren Ė that I had seen only once before this week, and I saw all four of them on the same Friday down in Texas last month.† Any of them would have been good for any other day but Friday.
I got this picture of a Northern Mockingbird.
Then it flew down and posed even closer.
About that same time I got this picture of a California Scrub-Jay.
That was obviously a very tough shot, looking right up into the bright sky.
After I drove all up and down the Sunrise greenbelt along the river, I headed off to go to Mather Lake again.† Like yesterday, I stopped at Costco and had a hot dog and a piece of pizza.† It is too many calories, but it sure is tasty and it is very cheap.† $3.78 and that includes a soft drink.
At Mather Lake I got Mute Swan again.† This time I got a very distant picture (from the car, of course) of Mute Swan.
At the lake there was a White-tailed Kite across the lake.† Here is another very distant shot, again taken from the car.
One advantage of shooting pictures from the car is that it is more stable than if Iím standing up, trying to hold the camera steady.
It was raining too much to walk around at Mather Lake, but I drove over to the edge of Mather Field (I think it is an Air Force base, or maybe used to be) to look for American Pipit, which I have seen there before.† I didnít really like my chances in the rain, but I did in fact find a single American Pipit, and I got pictures.
It looks pretty wet in that last picture.† One of the problems with shooting all these pictures from the car was that I had to have my window open, and that allowed rain to come in.† I also had to constantly maneuver the car into position for the shots.† All in all, it worked out very well, considering the conditions.
Next I made my way to the Upper Sunrise area, and I again drove the roads through the greenbelt.† I saw a single male California Quail, another great Friday bird.† I was about to try for a picture through the windshield, but it scurried off across the road and into the bush.† I got this picture of an American Robin.
Robins are very common, and we all see them all the time.† How often do we really look at them, though?† Note the streaks on its chin, the broken white eye ring, and the dark tip to the bill.† Have you ever noticed those details?
After that I went to the Nimbus Fish Hatchery and walked a little.† The rain had let up to a drizzle, and I went out without my umbrella.† I didnít see anything, but it was interesting to see how much water they are releasing from Folsom Dam.† The river flow was several times more than I have seen for many years.† There is a huge snow pack this year, so they have to keep some room in the reservoirs to handle it when it melts.† All the Northern California reservoirs are at least two or three times fuller than average at this point.† That is ďaverageĒ over many years.† For several years they have been at a fraction of average.
After my little walk at the hatchery, I went back to Ancil Hoffman, in the hopes that the rain might stop completely.† It was still raining very lightly when I got there, but I walked around the Effie Yeaw Nature Center for a while, without an umbrella.† I got this picture of an Acorn Woodpecker.
Notice the holes with acorns in them.† Acorn Woodpeckers drill those holes and put acorns into them for the winter and the next spring, until the next crop comes in.† They choose dead trees and pack them up with acorns.† You can see the streaks of rain in that shot; it wasnít raining hard, but it never stopped.
Here is a little group of Wild Turkeys.† The male was showing off by spreading his tail out and puffing himself up.
Here is a wet Wild Turkey.
I picked up Lincolnís Sparrow there, in the same place I had seen my first one of the year yesterday.† I also saw a House Wren, but that was one of the four species I mentioned earlier that I had seen on a Friday down in Texas last month.† I never actually saw a Red-shouldered Hawk today, but I heard them both times I was at Ancil Hoffman today.
I drove around a little more, but then headed for Fredís house.† On the way out of the park I saw Lark Sparrow (the other one I had seen down in Texas last month) and another Western Bluebird.† I waited patiently while the bluebird worked his way toward me, and finally I got this close picture of him.
There was a little flock of Yellow-rumped Warblers working the area, too, and I took pictures.† Then I noticed something different in the flock.† There were some Lesser Goldfinches, and I took pictures of them.† Here is a female Lesser Goldfinch (a good Friday-bird).
It was eating the seeds from that dandelion which had gone to seed, picking them off one at a time.
I headed for Fredís house again, but again was stopped on my way out of the park by some birds.† There was another bluebird, some House Finches, and more Yellow-rumped Warblers.† I was still looking for a California Towhee, as I had all day long.† At the last possible moment, as I was leaving the park, a bird flew across the road in front of me and perched on a fence.† I knew it was my bird, and I got my binoculars on it and confirmed California Towhee for my Friday list.†
A car drove into the park and spooked the bird before I could get into position for a picture.† I pulled up to where it had flown off to, and I played its calls on my phone.† No results, so I again prepared to leave.† But, just as I started to leave, it flew back across the road to my side.† I maneuvered around to get into position to take pictures out of the window and got some pictures of the towhee.† None came out very good Ė there wasnít much light and the bird never stopped moving.† Here is my best effort at California Towhee, the species I had looked for all day long.
When I started out this morning, I thought I might not have any pictures at all today, because of the rain.† I also didnít think Iíd get many for my Friday list.† I was sure wrong, and I ended up adding 13 species to my Friday list to get me to 152 for Friday.† I didnít see any new year-birds, though.† There arenít any easy ones left, after three days of good birding here, earlier this week.† Time to move on.† For my BAD bird, Iíll take Oak Titmouse.
Tomorrow I head for the San Diego area, where I plan to stay with my sister, Kathy, for six nights.† There will be a whole new set of birds to add to my lists down there, as well as some of the ones I have seen here.† The weather is supposed to be great for the next week, which will be nice.† I had enough rainy day birding today to last me a while.† I plan to take two days to get there, to give me time to get some birds on each of the next two days.† I have deliberately planned the trip so I donít have to go through the Los Angeles area on a week day.
Saturday, March 25, 2017
This was Day 10 of my cold, supposedly the last day according to conventional wisdom.† In fact, I did feel pretty good, maybe 95% of normal.† Iím still coughing up and blowing out stuff that is left over from the cold, but I feel pretty good.† It was a pain in the butt to have to deal with it while traveling, though.† Iím hoping it is over now.† Sometimes a cold settles into my chest, but I am hopeful.
I got all packed up and on the road by 9:00, and my first stop was at Ancil Hoffman Park, to get some Saturday birds.† As I drove into the park, I turned in to the employeesí parking lot, where I had seen California Towhee and Lark Sparrow yesterday.† I did indeed see a little group of Lark Sparrows this morning. †It was interesting because the five or six I saw had all frozen in place.† While I was there, none of them moved, except to move their heads to look around.† It was a good strategy for them, I barely noticed them.† Here is a picture of a couple of the unmoving Lark Sparrows.
I saw a male Western Bluebird there, too, for my Saturday list.† I drove on into the park and saw a Northern Flicker fly in to a tree.† That completed Northern flicker for me Ė I have seen that species on all seven days of the week now.† There were a lot of Acorn Woodpeckers around of course, another one for Saturday.† There were a lot more people in the park on a Saturday morning when it wasnít raining, but there were still a few Yellow-billed Magpies in the usual area.† I want to eventually get that one on all seven days of the week.†† I have Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday left still.† I wonít be in Sacramento on a Sunday on this trip, but I plan to be back in June on a Sunday, after our Yosemite trip, so maybe I can complete that species then.
I completed California Scrub-Jay today, and then I left my car and walked into the Effie Yeaw Nature Center area.† I spotted a California Towhee, but didnít get a good picture.† There was also a Hermit Thrush feeding on the same path, and that was an unexpected bonus Saturday bird.† Here is a blurry picture of the Hermit Thrush.
Today there werenít nearly as many Wild Turkeys around, maybe because of how many people were wandering around.† In fact, I only saw one, but that was enough to put it on my Saturday list.
I played the songs of House Wren where I had seen one the other day, and sure enough, one flew in to check me out.† I tried for Lincolnís Sparrow, too, but I missed on that one.† There were several Black Phoebes around, so that one went onto my Saturday list.† I never saw a Red-shouldered Hawk, but one was calling loudly a lot of the time, so it went down as a ďheard onlyĒ bird for Saturday.
I was running out of time by then, so I headed back to my car.† On my way out of the park I again stopped at the employeesí parking lot that had been so productive for me, and it didnít let me down.† I spotted an Oak Titmouse, another great California bird for Saturday.† There were a couple more California Towhees, too.† Then a White-breasted Nuthatch flew in to a puddle to take a bath.† It flew off, but I maneuvered my car into position so I could cover the puddle, and it came back for its bath.† Here is a White-breasted Nuthatch (another great California bird for Saturday) in the water, taking its bath.
Here is the White-breasted Nuthatch splashing around, getting wet.
Other birds showed up to take baths, too.† I didnít get a picture of the House Finches, but here is a picture of a Yellow-rumped Warbler (which I needed for Saturday) approaching the water.
Here is the Yellow-rumped Warbler in the water, looking pretty wet.
The Yellow-rumped Warblers mostly look pretty scruffy right now, because they are in the midst of molting from their winter plumage to their summer plumage.
Finally, a female Western Bluebird flew in for her ablutions.† Here is the wet female Western Bluebird in the water.
Male Western Bluebirds are more colorful, but I think I actually prefer the more subtle blues of the females.
So, that was it for the day.† It was only about an hour and a half of birding, but I managed to get 15 species for my Saturday list.† I had made a list of 15 species I hoped to get at Ancil Hoffman this morning, and I got 14 of those, with the Hermit Thrush as a bonus, unexpected bird.† My only miss was Lincolnís Sparrow.† I consider that excellent.† Those 15 species brought Saturday up to 122 species.† I completed two species today (Northern Flicker and California Scrub-Jay), to bring me to 60 species that I have seen on all seven days of the week.† My year total stays at 246.† For my BAD bird today, Iíll take Red-shouldered Hawk.
I left Ancil Hoffman at about 10:45, and I got to my destination for today, Frazier Park, at about 4:30.† I managed to stop at In Ďní Out Burger in Santa Nella for my lunch.† I very much like their Double Doubles and freshly cut fries, and no California trip would be complete without at least one In Ďní Out Burger lunch.† I hope for more.
Tomorrow I have a short driving day to my sisterís house in north San Diego county.† I hope to stop at a couple of birding sites that I hope will be productive for my Sunday list and also my year list.† The weather forecast for the next week looks excellent.† Very low chance of rain, and temperatures in the high 60ís and 70ís.† Perfeck!
Sunday, March 26, 2017
Today I only had about 3 Ĺ hours of driving to do, with two places to stop to bird along the way.† My first stop was Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, in Huntington Beach.† I grew up in Los Angeles and learned to drive here, but the place sure has changed since I left here 45 years ago.† The San Diego Freeway, I-405, is about 70 miles long and runs from the north end of the San Fernando Valley to the center of Orange County, south of Newport Beach.† It is five lanes each way at each end and six lanes each way in the middle.† On a Sunday morning today, it was packed with cars.† I only had a few slowdowns, but the people going north had some stop and go traffic for miles in a couple of places.† Sunday morning, for Peteís sake.† I sure wouldnít like to drive here on a weekday.† I had my cruise control set at 70 and was passed by a lot more cars than I passed.† A lot more.
Anyway, that is enough of a traffic rant.† I got to Bolsa Chica about 11:30 and luckily managed to get a place to park in the small parking area the second time I drove through.† I took my scope and went out to look for new Sunday birds.† My first new Sunday bird was Marbled Godwit, and here is a picture of one.
There were some Willets around, too, another good Sunday bird.
The only reason those werenít year-birds was that I had seen both species down in Texas last month.
There were hundreds of terns flying around, and almost all of them were ELEGANT TERNS, a species I hadn't seen down in Texas.† I saw an Eared Grebe for my Sunday list, and then a couple of Forsterís Terns.† Here is a Forsterís Tern.
That was still another bird I had seen down in Texas.† I next picked up my first year-bird of the day, WHIMBREL.† The ones I saw were too distant for pictures.† I added Long-billed Curlew to my Sunday list, still another bird I had seen down in Texas.† I also got California Gull and Ring-billed Gull to Sunday.† I see both of those species at home, but hadnít seen either one on a Sunday yet this year.
I saw a distant Osprey Ė and guess what?† I had seen them down in Texas, too, but not on a Sunday.† I got Black-bellied Plover for Sunday, and here is a picture of the only one I saw today.
My last new Sunday bird at Bolsa Chica was Savannah Sparrow, which I had seen down in Texas, but not on a Sunday.† I also saw a Black-crowned Night-Heron, but I had seen that one in Texas on a Sunday.† There seems to be a pattern here Ė many of the birds that are here in Southern California are also on the Texas Gulf Coast.† I was wrong, there was one more new Sunday bird at Bolsa Chica today, Ruddy Duck.† That is one I see at home in the winter, but not on a Sunday this year.† I didnít see as many birds as I had hoped to see at Bolsa Chica today, and the main reason was that the tide was much too high.† The shorebirds were mostly off roosting somewhere today, I guess.
I left Bolsa Chica and stopped at Subway and picked up a tuna sandwich on my way to my next destination, San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary in Orange County near Newport Beach and Irvine.† I ate my lunch in the car while looking at a pond.† Here is a picture of a Black-necked Stilt that I took while eating lunch.† That was a new one for Sunday.
There were some American Avocets there, but I had that one on Sunday already (yes, in Texas).† Here is a picture, though.
I also noticed some small ďpeepsĒ, and got this picture of a Least Sandpiper, another new Sunday bird.
There was also a Black Phoebe working the area, catching flying insects.† There were some dowitchers in the pond, too, and later I found out that the only dowitcher species that is there in March is Long-billed Dowitcher, so that one went onto my Sunday list.
After I finished my lunch I walked out onto the reserve.† It is a sewage treatment plant with a series of ponds, with plantings between t he ponds.† I added Clarkís Grebe to my Sunday list, and here is a picture.
I have been ignoring swallows, preferring to ďsaveĒ them for later in the year, but today they were all around and they kept landing right in front of me.† I ended up having to take TREE SWALLOW for a year-bird.† Here is a picture of a male Tree Swallow, shining in the sun.
Here is another view of him.
Female Tree Swallows arenít as colorful.† Here is a picture of a female Tree Swallow.
Here is a male Ruddy Duck just about changed into his summer plumage.
He was stretching and showing part of his wing.
There were some American White Pelicans flying around, but I had seen that species down in Texas last month (of course). †I got this picture of one of them soaring overhead, though.
I continued to walk around the ponds, and near the end of my walk I was surprised to see some Black Skimmers, a species of tern.† Of course, I had seen them down in Texas, but these were my first Sunday Black Skimmers.† I had thought they werenít due back here for a few weeks yet.
As you can see, there were some American White Pelicans on that beach, too.† A couple of the pelicans were taking baths, and I got some pictures.
That was it for today.† I birded for about two and a half hours total today, and I got 21 more species for Sunday, to bring me to 140 species for Sunday.† Three of them were new for the year, to bring my year total to 249.† For my BAD bird Iíll take Black Skimmer.
Now Iím in the San Diego area for the next five days (six nights).† Weíll see what I can add to my lists.
Monday, March 27, 2017
While preparing and eating breakfast at my sisterís house this morning, I picked up White-crowned Sparrow, California Towhee, and Lesser Goldfinch for my Monday list.
My old friend, Chris, who lives in Orange County, came down to San Diego today and met me at my sisterís house.† We drove down to the San Diego River across from Sea World, and another old friend, John, met us there.† On our way to meet John, I picked up Elegant Tern and Royal Tern for my Monday list, and while we waited for John I got Willet.† There were also some CASPIAN TERNS there, my first of the year.† Here are three Caspian Terns.
I didnít need Eared Grebe today because I had seen them up in Klamath Falls last Monday, but here is a picture of an Eared Grebe with a fish.
There was also a single Western Grebe on the river, another good one for Monday.† Here is the Western Grebe.
Compare that picture to this one I took last Tuesday at the Sacramento NWR of some Clarkís Grebes.† Note how the eye of the Clarkís Grebe in ďin the whiteĒ and note also that the bill color is different.
Other than those two things, the two species are pretty much the same, as far as I can see.
I also saw a pair of HOODED ORIOLES while we were waiting for John.† Here is a picture of the male Hooded Oriole.
Finally, I added Marbled Godwit to my Monday list before John showed up.† When John got there, we drove out on Point Loma to the military cemetery out there,† I drove around slowly and spotted my first CASSINíS KINGBIRD of the year.
I also got Western Bluebird and Black Phoebe at the cemetery.† We drove down to the cliffs on the ocean side of the point and I added Brown Pelican to my Monday list.
It was getting to be lunch time by then, so we went to In Ďní Out Burger and loaded up on fuel for the afternoon.† After lunch we went to Robb Field, on the San Diego River.† The tide had been high at 10 AM, and by the time we got to Robb Field it had gone down a lot and there were gulls, terns, and some shorebirds there.
I saw my first WESTERN SANDPIPERS of the year and a couple of Long-billed Curlews for Monday.† I also saw one of my target San Diego birds, Little Blue Heron.† Here is a picture of a Little Blue Heron.
Here is another picture of a Little Blue Heron, probably a different bird, showing the plumes it gets in the breeding season.
That one caught a fish and took it to the shore to get it down.† Here is a picture of the Little Blue Heron with its fish.
There was one dowitcher feeding on the other side of the channel, and I decided it was my first SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER of the year.† Here are two pictures for my future reference.† It is really difficult to tell the difference between Long-billed Dowitcher and Short-billed Dowitcher, but I think this was a Short-billed, for various reasons.
There was also a group of Forsterís Terns loafing on the sand, another good one for Monday.
Next we drove around Fiesta Island, and then to Tecolote Canyon, across the freeway from Mission Bay.† We walked up the canyon a little way and I got this picture of a Eurasian Collared-Dove, which I needed for Monday.
I also got a good look at a single Bushtit, which I needed for Monday, too.
John had an errand to run, so we dropped him at his car and Chris and I went up to San Elijo Lagoon.† We parked at the visitor center on the north side and walked a little.† I got this picture of my first COMMON YELLOWTHROAT of the year.† I think it is interesting how well it blends into the colors of the bush it was hiding in.† This is a male Common Yellowthroat.
I also took this picture of a male Ruddy Duck, which I didnít need for Monday.
Song Sparrows down here are much lighter colored than the ones at home.† Here is a Song Sparrow, San Diego style.
Back in the parking lot, this California Towhee posed for me.
A male House Finch also posed in the late afternoon sun.
That was it for Monday.† Chris and I went out to dinner and he dropped me off at my sisterís house, where he had left his car this morning.
I added 22 species to my Monday list, to bring it to 144.† I completed two species today, White-crowned Sparrow and Black Phoebe.† That makes 62 species that I have seen on all seven days of the week this year.† My six new species for the year brings that list to 255 this year.† For my BAD bird, Iíll take Hooded Oriole.
I havenít had a chance to even think about tomorrow, but Iíll go looking somewhere for birds and pictures.
Tuesday, March 28, 2017
While having breakfast at my sisterís house I started off my Tuesday birds with American Goldfinches at her feeders.† It was a sunny day, and I headed down to the San Diego River and Mission Bay.† At Crown Point I saw a small group of Western Grebes, a Willet, and a couple of Eared Grebes, all for Tuesday.† In the parking lot there I saw a Yellow-rumped Warbler, to complete that species.† Later in the day I got this picture of a Yellow-rumped Warbler that was showing off its yellow rump.
I moved on to the San Diego River, and I added Long-billed Curlew and Marbled Godwit to my Tuesday list.† The tide was high, though, so there wasnít much around.† The tides were very unfortunate for me this week, being high in the middle of the day, when I was able to be in the places where I wanted the tides to be low.† Shorebirds feed at lower tide levels and roost somewhere when the tide is high and the sand or mud is covered.
There was an Osprey across the channel, sitting on the same snag I had seen one sitting on Monday.† That was another Tuesday bird.
I drove out on Point Loma and drove through the cemetery out there.† I saw a couple of Western Bluebirds for my Tuesday list, but missed the Cassinís Kingbird I had seen on Monday there.† There were some Black Phoebes, but I completed that species already.
Out near the point I saw some Brown Pelicans in the same place I had seen them on Monday, and I got a picture of a couple of them this time.
I ate my lunch in the car there, looking out at the ocean.† As I pulled out, a California Towhee flew in and I had another good California bird for Tuesday.† Back at the cemetery, this time I did see the Cassinís Kingbird, on the same fence where it had been on Monday.
After that I went to Robb Field, near the mouth of the San Diego River.† The tide had gone down enough that there were some shorebirds, gulls, and terns there.† There were lots of little ďpeepsĒ, and I got both Western Sandpiper and Least Sandpiper for Tuesday.† There were also some SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS mixed in with them, my first of the year. I also added Whimbrel and California Gull to my Tuesday list.
The three main tern species were also there, Forsterís Tern, Elegant Tern, and Royal Tern.† Here is a picture I took a little later of a Royal Tern.
I didnít need the species, but I got this picture of a male Blue-winged Teal.
Here is a picture of a pair of Blue-winged Teals.
I took some pictures of another species that has already been completed this year, Snowy Egret.
Having seen what there was to see there, I drove across the river to the north bank of the San Diego River, a little farther upstream.† I saw a group of dowitchers feeding, and I set out to try to identify which of the two species of dowitcher they were.† I ended up deciding they were Long-billed Dowitchers, which was the species I already had for Tuesday, unfortunately.† Here is a picture of one of them, for my future reference.
The two features that caused me to call it a Long-billed are the slight downturn to the last one-third of the bill and the width of the dark stripes on the tail.† By far the best way to tell the difference between the two species of dowitcher is to hear their voice, but I couldnít get these to† make any sounds, even though I played the calls of both species.
I saw a small group of Caspian Terns, for my Tuesday list, and I took some pictures of what I thought was a Forsterís Tern in winter plumage.† That was a little odd because all the other Forsterís Terns I have seen this week have already changed to summer plumage.† When I looked at my pictures, I realized that the bill was wrong for a tern, and what I had was my first BONAPARTEíS GULL of the year, in winter plumage.† Here is the picture.
The size, the colors, the orange legs are all right for Forsterís Tern, and the head markings would be okay for a winter plumaged one.† The bill was wrong, though, which led me to the correct identification.
By then it was time to head back up the coast to my sisterís house.† My brother, Rick, and his wife were coming into town for a Brugman sibling dinner party, and I needed to beat the traffic anyway.† At my sisterís house I completed House Finch for the year.† Kathy (my sister), Rick, and Cindy (his wife) piled into Rickís car and drove up to Carlsbad, to see the condo that Kathyís daughter, Mary Beth, had bought last fall.† As we were walking through the grounds to her unit, I heard the distinctive call of Nuttalís Woodpecker, a bird I really wanted to see.† The four of us stood around craning our necks looking up into a bare tree, and finally Rick spotted it.† I got this picture of it frm far below.† Nuttalís Woodpecker.
We saw Mary Bethís beautiful condo and had a glass of wine.† On our way out, I saw a bird in a tree and it turned out to be a male Hooded Oriole, another great Tuesday bird.
It turned out to be a productive day.† I added 25 species to my Tuesday list, to bring it to 157.† I completed 2 species, to make 64 species that I have seen on all seven days of the week this year.† Two of the species today were new for the year, to bring my yearly total to 257.† For my BAD bird, Iíll take Whimbrel.
Wednesday, March 29, 2017
This morning I wrote yesterdayís report and got it out before breakfast.† I had breakfast at my sisterís house and my brother, Rick, and I went out birding.† First we went to the San Dieguito Lagoon and checked out the new viewing platform there.† I got Willet for my Tuesday list, and also Cassinís Kingbird and this Sayís Phoebe.
Next we went to the visitorsí center on the north side of the San Elijo Lagoon.† I got this picture of a male Annaís Hummingbird.
At the first viewpoint we had a number of birds.† There were several Greater Yellowlegs across the channel, which I didnít need, but I got this picture.
There was a Spotted Sandpiper, which I needed for Wednesday, and another bird I couldnít identify at first.† I later figured out that the other bird was my first PECTORAL SANDPIPER of the year.† Here is a picture of a Willet (in back), the Pectoral Sandpiper (in the middle), and the Spotted Sandpiper in front.
The Spotted Sandpiper kept fluttering its wings and running at the Pectoral Sandpiper for some reason.† Here is another picture of the Pectoral Sandpiper and the Spotted Sandpiper flapping its wings.† The Willet has tucked its head under its wing.
Here is the Spotted Sandpiper in its normal body position.
Here is a closer shot of the Pectoral Sandpiper, showing its characteristic breast markings.
There was a small group of Whimbrels down the channel.
While we were looking at all those birds, I saw a bird swimming across the channel.† It turned out to be a RIDGWAYíS RAIL.† It used to be called Clapper Rail, but they split the species into two.† The ones in Texas, which I have seen, are still called Clapper Rails, and the ones in California are now considered a separate species called Ridgwayís Rail.† Looking at my official life list spreadsheet, it appears I have already counted Ridgwayís Rail, so it wasnít a lifer today.
The rail today really put on a show for us.† After swimming across the channel, it walked through the pickleweed right in front of us.† I got some pictures, and here is one of the Ridgwayís Rail.
It went back into the water and took a bath.† I got this picture of it then.
Rails are normally quite shy and hard to see, but this one today seemed to like showing itself off.
We walked along the nature trail and I got this picture of a Bufflehead.
The coloration is odd on that Bufflehead.† I think it must be a first year male, hatched last year.
We continued around the nature trail loop and there were more birds.† A bird was singing loudly, and I knew it was familiar, but I couldnít place it.† It turned out to be my first BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK of the year.† Here is a picture of the male Black-headed Grosbeak.† The light was poor, and this was the best I could do.
A wren was singing, but it turned out to be a Bewickís Wren, rather than the House Wren I was hoping for.† Here is a picture of a Bewickís Wren.
I heard and briefly saw a Common Yellowthroat, a good Wednesday bird.† There were also some Lesser Goldfinches around, another Wednesday bird.† Here is another picture of a male Annaís Hummingbird.
I was playing the song of Wrentit, a bird I donít see often, and a little bird flew in and obviously was responding.† It turned out to be a CALIFORNIA GNATCATCHER, a great bird that has a very restricted range.†† Here are three pictures of the California Gnatcatcher that hung around posing and singing.
It was time to head back to my sisterís house for lunch, but I wanted to pick up another species for Wednesday.† I kept my eyes peeled and as we drove along the coast I saw a line of about 6 or 7 Brown Pelicans flying along over the waves.† Score!
Back at my sisterís house, I got this picture of a male Lesser Goldfinch at one of the feeders.
I worked on my pictures from the morning while I ate my lunch, and the others sat out on the patio.† Here is a picture of Kathyís back yard, with my brother Rick, his wife, Cindy, and my sisters Kathy and Betsy.
While I was standing there with my camera, a male Hooded Oriole flew in to one of the oriole feeders and put on a show for us.† Here is the male Hooded Oriole.
Here he is at the feeder, which has grape jelly in it.
After eating his fill, he posed in a nearby tree for us.
Rick and Cindy headed back to the Los Angeles area, where they live, and I headed down to Mission Bay and the San Diego River to look for more birds.† The tide was still a bit high, but I started on the north shore of the San Diego River, across the road from Sea World.† I stopped at one point to look at some birds across the channel that I thought were Marbled Godwits.† They were indeed Marbled Godwits, a good one for my Wednesday list.† While looking at them, I saw a Caspian Tern and a Black Skimmer.† The Black Skimmer was a real surprise.† Here is a picture of both the Caspian Tern and the Black Skimmer behind some grass on the right.
Later I saw at least 20 Black Skimmers loafing on the sand bar in the river downstream.† A little farther down the road I saw a Long-billed Curlew to complete that species for the year.† Here is a picture.
I saw a Pied-billed Grebe to complete that species, and then a Ring-billed Gull for Wednesday.
On my way back up the river I got a better view of the Black Skimmer.† Here is a distant, blurry picture of it.
I went over to Robb Field, to see what was out in the San Diego River with the tide going out.
I got the three remaining tern species that I needed Ė Elegant Tern, Forsterís Tern, and Royal Tern.† I also picked up three of the little peeps, Western Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, and Semipalmated Plover.† Here is a distant picture of a Semipalmated Plover.
I saw one Dunlin, too, another small shorebird, but one I had seen on a Wednesday before.† Then I noticed one that was different, and I decided it was a SNOWY PLOVER, one I hadnít expected to see there.† Here is a distant picture that shows a Semipalmated Plover on the left and a Snowy Plover on the right.
Here is a very distant picture of a Snowy Plover on its own.
Here is a picture of a Marbled Godwit.
Here is a picture of the San Diego River with the tide going out, and it shows a batch of terns in the foreground.
They were Elegant Terns, and here is a picture of some of them.
Here is a picture of several Elegant Terns in flight.
Here is another one, a little closer.
Here are a couple of Elegant Terns bathing.
So, that was it for my birding day.† I had gotten all but one of the birds I was looking for at the river (Little Blue Heron is the one I missed today), and I got two unexpected ones Ė Black Skimmer and Snowy Plover.† I guess I missed Western Grebe and Eared Grebe today, too, but I hadnít really expected them.
It was an outstanding day of birding.† I got 26 species for Wednesday, to bring it to 160 species.† I completed two species, to make it 66 that I have completed now.† 5 of my birds today were new for the year, and that makes 262 species for the year.† For my BAD bird, Iíll take California Gnatcatcher.
Tomorrow I plan to head down toward the border, to see what I can find down there.
Thursday, March 30, 2017
Today was a bit overcast and cooler than yesterday.† It was also pretty windy today.† I headed south to bird near Imperial Beach.† My first stop was the J Street marina in Chula Vista.† It was windy and the tide was too high, but there were some shorebirds roosting there.† I added Whimbrel to my Thursday list, and there was a group of dowitchers, too.† I decided they were Short-billed Dowitchers, so that one went on to my Thursday list.† No pictures, the light was terrible, since I was looking south.
Next I drove on to what are called the Dairy Mart ponds, just north of the border.† As I got out of the car, there was a group of 5 or 6 Common Ravens flying around and calling loudly.† That completed Common Raven for me this year.
I walked out along the trail, playing the songs and calls of Bellís Vireo, but I never got a response.† At the second overlook, a large bird flushed and landed in a tree.† It turned out to be a juvenile Black-crowned Night-Heron.† Here is a picture of it.
While I was stalking that one, a single White-faced Ibis flew over, so that one went onto Thursdayís list, too.
I gave it up after a while and moved on.† While heading toward my next stop, I saw this Red-shouldered Hawk.
I would have liked to get a better picture, but it flew off as soon as I took that one.† It did land on the next pole, and I got one more picture before it flew off again.
Red-shouldered Hawk is a great California bird, but I saw one last Thursday, so it didnít even go onto my list today.
I stopped at the Bird and Butterfly Park and walked around.† The only thing I saw of interest was a Cassinís Kingbird, a nice one for my Thursday list.
Next I drove to the Sports Park in Imperial Beach.† Yellow-crowned Night-Herons nest there, and they are quite uncommon in Southern California, so birders are always going there to see them.† I found one sitting on a nest, right where it was supposed to be.† I couldnít get a picture because the nest was deep in the branches, and there was no way to get my camera to focus on the bird.† There are usually Black-crowned Night-herons around there, too, but since I had seen the juvenile Black-crowned Night-Heron earlier, I didnít bother to look.
I went over to the Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge visitorsí center and used their bathroom.† Then I walked out onto the trails to a bridge where I have seen rails before.† I didnít see anything of interest today, though.
It was almost time for lunch, so I headed back north and ate my humble home-made lunch along the San Diego River.† The tide was too high for there to have been any decent birds.† After I ate my lunch I went over to Robb Field to look at the river to see if the tide was far enough out to see some birds.† I picked up the two tern species I needed for Thursday, Caspian Tern and Elegant Tern.
There were a lot of little ďpeepsĒ rushing around feeding.† Here is a picture of some of the larger shorebirds roosting while the little ones frantically feed.
All the little ones seemed to be Western Sandpipers.† I didnít ever see one with yellow legs, which would have indicated it was a Least Sandpiper.† I did see a couple of Sanderlings, but I didnít need that species for Thursday.† There were 6 or 8 species that I saw today that I didnít need for Thursday because I had gone out to South Padre Island in Texas last month and gotten them there.† There were also two or three Dunlins in the mix today, and I did need that one.
After a while some Semipalmated Plovers showed up, an excellent one for Thursday.† Today I didnít see any Snowy Plovers, though, like I did yesterday.† Time was moving on, and I wanted to try to beat the traffic going north out of San Diego, so I hit the road about 2:30.† It turned out that that was a little too late, though, and the freeway ground to a halt before I got to where I wanted to go next.
I worked my way through the traffic and went around some of it, and next visited the San Elijo Lagoon visitorsí center.† I walked around the nature trail, but I didnít see all the great birds I had seen yesterday morning.† I got this picture of a Whimbrel, though, which I had counted this morning at the J Street marina.
There was a single Willet working the opposite shore, too, another species I didnít need for Thursday.
I played the songs of another species that I figured ought to live in that habitat, and after a couple of minutes, I actually heard a response, which I could recognize as being the same song.† I backtracked and managed to get a great look at a cute little WRENTIT, a species I have only seen maybe 4 times before in my life.† No pictures, unfortunately.
A Black Phoebe was working the area.† I didnít need the species, having completed it earlier this week, but I got these pictures of it.† Here is a picture of a Black Phoebe looking right at me.
Here is a profile view.
Here is a head-on shot of a Black Phoebe.
When I got back to the visitorsí center, I went back down by the slough or river.† Some birds had come in, and I got this picture of a female Red-breasted Merganser.
I also saw a Spotted Sandpiper for my Thursday list.
It was a slow day, partly because of the tides and partly because of where I chose to bird.† I added 14 species to my Thursday list, to bring it to 158 species.† I completed one more species, Common Raven, to make it to 67 species that I have now completed.† I got one new year-bird, Wrentit, to bring my year list to 263.† For my BAD bird, Iíll take Wrentit.
I thought I was over my ďcoldĒ, if that is indeed what it was.† I continue to blow my nose a lot and cough more than usual, though.† I also feel tired more easily, and today I felt generally lousy for most of the day.† I hope that whatever it was isnít settling into my chest.† I hope to feel better tomorrow, but we will see.† I have one more day here in San Diego county, and then I head toward home on Saturday morning.† I donít have a detailed plan for the rest of the trip, and it is going to depend somewhat on how I feel and somewhat on the weather forecast.† I have to get a new day-bird each day, and that requires some planning.† I also donít like to drive long distances any more.
Meanwhile, all I can say is Ė What a life!
Friday, March 31, 2017
This morning was spent helping my sister with her taxes and visiting her accountant.† The tide was high in the middle of the day, like all week, and I didnít want to go down to Mission Bay and the San Diego River and have to fight my way back through Friday afternoon traffic.† So, after our appointment, I had some lunch and headed over to the San Elijo Lagoon visitorsí center area.† I knew the tide would be high, but it was interesting to see how different the area looked with it at its peak.† Here is a picture of the San Elijo Slough at high tide, from the first viewpoint on the nature walk.
I was hoping to see the Ridgwayís Rail that I had seen the other day, but no luck at first.† Then I saw one swimming across the slough, so I had my Friday bird.† I wasnít quick enough with my camera to get a picture.††† I did get this picture of a California Towhee, which I didnít actually need for Friday, having seen one in Sacramento last Friday.
The tide was too high for the roosting shorebirds I had seen earlier in the week, but I did see a Willet along the far shore of the slough.† That was a second one for Friday.† I saw a Western Grebe and some Ruddy Ducks, but I had already seen them both this year, back in Seattle.† I also saw a couple of flying shorebirds, and I was able to identify them as Whimbrels, another good Friday bird that I almost certainly wonít see on another Friday this year.
I played the calls of Wrentit as I went past where I had seen one earlier this week, but no luck today.† I did see a single Bushtit, though, another good Friday bird.† I had to look closely to see that it wasnít a Wrentit, since they are similar, but this one was a Bushtit.
Toward the end of the nature trail boardwalk I played the calls of California Gnatcatcher, since I had seen one there earlier this week.† One flew in, presumably the same one I had taken pictures of on Wednesday morning.† I got a lot of pictures, since it sat there and called back to me for a couple of minutes.† It was hard to decide which pictures to show because I liked them all so much.† It is an uncommon bird, with a very limited range, and this was a better photo op than I had ever enjoyed before for California Gnatcatcher.† So, here is a surfeit of photos of a male California Gnatcatcher.
Okay, so that is more pictures of California Gnatcatcher than you might have wanted to see, but I thought he was a really cute little guy, and it is a quite uncommon bird, so it felt great to get so many good pictures.
I had all I needed for the day, but I had some time, and my heel was doing okay today, so I walked back to the first overlook of the slough.† On my way, the Ridgwayís Rail came right out onto the path, but I wasnít ready for a picture.† I sat on a bench where the light would be good and waited to see if it would show again.† I played the calls, and got an answer from the bushes.† I waited some more and I was rewarded when the rail came walking quickly down the path again, toward me.† Here are some pictures of the Ridgwayís Rail as it approached and went past me.
Ridgwayís Rail is also a quite uncommon bird with a limited range, and they are very shy usually, so this was an outstanding opportunity and I was quite pleased.† Normally, if you catch a quick glimpse of one, you think you have been lucky.
Thje tide was starting to go out by then, and some Willets flew in across the slough.† Here is a picture of three Willets.
On my way back to the car, this Song Sparrow posed for me.
I think I mentioned it before, but the Song Sparrows around here are much lighter in coloration than our Song Sparrows at home.
Then I saw a little greenish-yellow bird, and it turned out to be a female Lesser Goldfinch.† I didnít need it for Friday, but I got some pictures.† It seemed to be collecting little straws, presumably for nesting material.† Here is a picture of the female Lesser Goldfinch.
Here she is a couple of minutes later, when she had collected more material.
She flew off, and I noticed a male Lesser Goldfinch that had been sitting right over where she had been gathering her material.† I donít know if he was guarding her or making sure she did a good job.
He looks kind of critical, so maybe it was the latter.
That took care of todayís birding, except I wanted to see a Brown Pelican for my Friday list.† I drove to a point where I could see the ocean and I watched.† Here is the view from my pelican watch point.
Eventually a single Brown Pelican flew up the coast, so it went on to my Friday list.† Usually pelicans are in a group, but this one was alone.† The only picture I took was out of focus, unfortunately.
That was the end of my birding today.† I had more tax stuff to do with my sister this afternoon, and I needed to get some stuff at the store.† I only birded for about an hour today, but I got 6 species for Friday, and two of them (California Gnatcatcher and Ridgwayís Rail) were excellent ones. †I got a lot of pictures that I like, too.† That brought Friday to 158 species.† I didnít complete any today, nor did I add any to my year list, which stands at 263 still.† For my BAD bird today, Iíll take Ridgwayís Rail, a species I wonít see again this year unless I come back to Southern California.
Tomorrow I head back toward home.† I have my first two days planned, but after that I only have some ideas, and I need to do more online research.† I need to balance distances and birding sites where I can get a new day-bird each day.† Iím not feeling very well Ė the cold is hanging on Ė and that is a factor, too.