Friday, August 16, 2019
Tuesday, August 6, 2019
Wednesday, July 31, 2019
It's just a little bit unusual to see them on the valley floor at the height of summer. The tanagers tend to be a mountain species, and are more common in the forests of the Sierra Nevada at this time of year. They'll become more numerous next month as they start migrating south to Mexico for the winter. They are one of my favorite birds because, frankly, I'm attracted to bright coloration!
Friday, July 26, 2019
The Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge is one of our favorite birding spots. It has spectacular seasons in fall and winter when the migrant ducks, geese, and cranes arrive from the Arctic. The birds gather in flocks 10,000 strong, and few sights are as memorable as seeing all of the Snow or Ross's Geese taking off at once. Summer is much quieter, but is a good time to view the year-round species and the raptors. I noted 26 different species on our late June visit.
Wednesday, July 24, 2019
I've been thinking a lot about home since I was away so long. I've been watching a group of Hooded Orioles along the bluffs above the Tuolumne River since last spring. They had a nest somewhere in a group of palm trees, and I've seen at least three individuals at one time or another. This morning it was an immature male that I assume was one of the babies. Those palms were home for these birds, and so far for this male, it has been the only home it has ever had. But that will change in a matter of weeks. Hooded Orioles are tropical migrants, and they will soon be flying south for winter in their other home somewhere in Mexico or Belize.
I'll miss their bright colors when they leave!
Sunday, June 23, 2019
It didn't take us long to see a bird that is only occasionally seen in our region, but is relatively common in the Pacific Northwest: the Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). It was flying above the prairies of the Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve, a fascinating place with an interesting geologic story, soon to appear over at Geotripper.
More bird reports are expected to follow!
Wednesday, June 19, 2019
The Grosbeaks are my story this week. I expected to see them arriving along the Tuolumne Parkway Trail more than a month ago, but aside from one quick glance of one through the trees at the river, and one surprising moment on our backyard birdfeeder, I haven't seen any in the area. That changed this morning.
I took a walk earlier this week at the Ceres River Bluffs Regional Park and got some fine shots of a pair of Blue Grosbeaks (post coming soon). Then today, I heard a familiar, yet unfamiliar song that made me think of Robins or Grosbeaks in the tree next to the stairway at the west end of the Tuolumne Parkway Trail where I do most of my walks. I started searching in the branches and finally spied a Black-headed Grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus). I got a couple of shots (see below), and then it flew towards me and on to the oak tree at the southeast corner of the parking lot. And then another grosbeak flew by, and then a third. The third one looked different somehow, and luckily it landed where I could get a few pictures. It turned out to be a Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus)!
I'm including the Black-headed Grosbeak picture I got. There's not much similarity in their color pattern, but the short, thick beak is always distinctive.
What a thrilling and interesting day it turned out to be!