I feel like I'm only scratching the surface when it comes to identifying bird species along the Tuolumne River in Waterford where the river emerges from the Sierra Nevada onto the floor of the Great Valley. The Tuolumne Parkway trail is a few weeks from completion, so I have been checking on construction progress, and discovering as many species as I can. Some days I'll see no more than a few Scrub Jays, and other days I'll see a dozen species. This week offered up a fine shot of a Black Phoebe (Sayornis nigricans), and a fuzzy shot of the first male Phainopepla (Phainopepla nitens) I've ever seen around here (I saw a female a week or two ago). The males are pure black, while the females are gray.
It is amazing to see the variety of life that lies just beyond our backyards when an artery of wilderness passes through town. The variety of microenvironments (river, dry slopes, ponds, swamps, and woodlands) provides for a wide diversity of species of all kinds. I'll probably be seeing new things for years.