Monday, July 30, 2018
Saturday, July 28, 2018
They've been seen elsewhere in the county, but not for years at a time.
So I delved into the records at eBird and found that some Blue Grosbeaks were seen at the Ceres park for the first time in three weeks, so I passed on my normal morning walk on the Parkway Trail and headed to Ceres on the off-chance that I would actually manage to see one. I haven't had much luck in situations like this, and the first results weren't promising, just a lot of Eurasian Collared Doves, California Scrub Jays, House Finches, and Rock Pigeons. I saw one bird across the river and snapped a picture, but figured it was just a European Starling, and I hiked on.
is being returned to a native state. There are some ponds on the site, so it provides excellent bird habitat.
I was walking along the river and reached the northwest corner of the property and saw another dark colored bird in the distance, but this time the sun was at my back and when I zoomed in I saw blue, but not the blue of a California Scrub Jay. It was a Blue Grosbeak. I started snapping pictures like the one below, thinking that it might be my only chance to get any pictures at all. But then to my surprise it flow towards me and overhead, landing in the top of a young sycamore tree only 100-150 feet away. I was able to get the pictures above before the bird moved on.
The European Starling that I mentioned earlier? When I downloaded the picture at home, I found much to my surprise that it was also a Blue Grosbeak. I'm glad I saw the second one, because it would have been rather frustrating to think of a single sloppy shot as my only record of this incredibly beautiful bird.
The birders report that there are females in the park as well so I hope they are breeding and that they'll move on upstream to my daily walk on the Parkway trail.
ADDENDUM: Got a few more pictures the next day. Here is the best one...
Friday, July 27, 2018
|A unique viewpoint of a Bald Eagle at Cape Disappointment, WA. Photo by Mrs. Geotripper|
Thursday, July 26, 2018
Tuesday, July 24, 2018
You go to blog with the picture you have---not the picture you might want or wish to have a later time (extra credit if you recognize the political allusion I just made). I'm home from another epic trip, this time to some cooler climes across the Pacific Northwest. As a bird-watching trip, results were mixed. At any one place I didn't see the twenty or so species I regularly see in my excursions on the Tuolumne River, which at home I attribute to my knowing where specific birds like to hang out. But over the two weeks I added ten birds to my life list, and some of them were quite interesting.
One of our campsites was at Cape Disappointment State Park, and we hit the road headed to Olympic National Park. Almost immediately we passed the signs pointing to the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge and we decided to see what there was to see. The small visitor center includes a unique nature trail that includes nature-related artistic sculptures. It was a nice break. I was watching for birds, noting several Song Sparrows and White-crowned Sparrows, but in the shadows of an alder I caught sight of a yellow bird that I didn't immediately recognize. It was darting through the underbrush so quickly that I only got this single shot. I checked the guidebooks and asked at the visitor center, and we figured out it was a Wilson's Warbler (Cardellina pusilla). These warblers are seen at home (other birders have even seen them on the Tuolumne River Parkway Trail), but it's a bit more difficult because we have to catch them as they pass through on their migration in spring and fall. I have yet to see any back home.
Friday, July 13, 2018
Monday, July 9, 2018
There are at least two Green Herons (Butorides virescens) who lurk along my section of the Tuolumne River where I walk most mornings. I've been observing them for three years now, but pictures are a bit rare because they tend to flush as I walk by on the trail. They're usually flying overhead.
I took an "establishing shot" and as I looked at it later, I realized how lucky I was to spot it. Can you see it in the picture below?
According to EBird, they range farther north than any other flycatcher. They are resident non-migrating birds in the desert southwest (which by coincidence is where I've seen a lot of them).
Friday, July 6, 2018
There are some birds, well, really a lot of birds that I don't get to see. At least not when I'm on the home turf along the Tuolumne River. Now, this makes a certain amount of sense, considering that the United States is home to more than 1,100 species of birds, and only 306 of them have ever been sighted in our county. But some species are more unfair than others. Take a look at the distribution map below. It's for the Green-tailed Towhee (Pipilo chlorurus). See how a long white barren strip runs down the Central Valley, but orange (breeding), and blue (non-breeding) areas completely surround our valley? I looked it up, and in 2013 one poor individual wandered down into our county and was immediately set upon by dozens of birders!
Luckily though, I've been given the opportunity to do a lot of traveling, and when we camped at Mesa Verde National Park last month, I was privileged to see a pair of the Green-tailed Towhees in our campsite. Apparently this was a rare enough sight as well since these Towhees more often hide deep in thick underbrush and aren't seen all that often.
Thursday, July 5, 2018
(Junco hyemalis caniceps) is not found in my region. The genetic code of these little sparrows must be rather malleable! One does wonder why the variants aren't considered separate species.