Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Monday, January 15, 2018
Saturday, January 13, 2018
I realize that this is a strange opening for a blog post about birds, but I was reminded of that river rebirth the other day when we were at the Merced National Wildlife Refuge. It was the end of the day, the sun already set, and we were at the last part of the auto-tour. We hadn't seen a great many geese except at a great distance. Usually we love to see the dramatic sight of thousands of geese taking flight all at once, but it's not really good for the geese, since the flights use a lot of energy and food sources can be limited in winter.
Wednesday, January 10, 2018
To the northeast the volcanic center of Lassen Peak looms over the valley floor. The volcano erupted only a century ago. To the west, the northern Coast Ranges form the background to pictures of flying geese.
Like many other birds in the Great Valley, the Snow Geese are migrants. They breed in the far northern reaches of the Arctic in Canada and Alaska and spend their winters in warmer climates like the valley, and other refuges in the southern United States and Mexico.
The birds are monogamous for life and often travel in large family groups. Their numbers have increased greatly over the years and so they are hunted on other parts of the refuge system. There are reports that they are putting considerable environmental pressure on their breeding grounds as well. They do have a great many predators, both of the eggs and young, and also adults. No wonder they flock into the air so much...
Monday, January 8, 2018
Sunday, January 7, 2018
|Source: Cornell Lab of Ornithology|
|Mrs. Geotripper tried her hand at sharpening one of the shots|
Even if you don't see the flycatcher, don't be too disappointed. Dawson Lake is a local birding hotspot, and there are plenty of other birds to be seen. This afternoon we saw cormorants, mergansers, geese, Acorn Woodpeckers, egrets, and lots of small songbirds.
Saturday, January 6, 2018
I was walking from one end of the quad to the other, delivering a print job to the duplicating office, and I saw seven species of bird in the 300 foot stroll. The others will show up as posts one of these times, along with all the birds from my visit at the Sacramento NWR a few days ago (yes, I've gotten behind).
It's probably clear that my favorite sighting was the flock of Cedar Waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum). The birds have such beautiful (and slightly comical) plumage, and their presence seems to be limited to just a few weeks in the spring and fall. Their name comes from the bright orange wax deposits that sometime appear on their wingtips. The function is unknown, but maybe related to attracting mates.