Tuesday, February 26, 2019
We witnessed a dramatic confrontation between Bald Eagles and Great Blue Herons in Victoria, B.C. a few years ago. They can presumably be attacked by wolves or coyotes as well.
Friday, February 22, 2019
I was wandering around the northwest corner of the west campus of Modesto Junior College yesterday, near the "mini-wilderness" of the sheep pasture. There's a watering tank that birds often utilize, and yesterday was no exception. There were several dozen Cedar Waxwings flitting about in the trees, and eight or nine at a time were getting water. I snapped a few pictures from a distance and didn't notice until later that they looked as if they were yelling at each other.
What was that all about?
Thursday, February 21, 2019
Wednesday, February 20, 2019
So I record my bird sightings on eBird which has a whole bunch of neat ways to keep track of one's birding adventures. And one of those lists is the yearly tally, the birds one has seen since the first of the year (as opposed to the "life-list"). I've been dutifully keeping track of my bird sightings and the numbers mounted, with 98 birds sighted in the county since New Year's Day. And then I seemed to stall. There was the wonderful sight of the Bald Eagle two weeks ago, but there had been little movement since then. Lots of birds, but not new species. I was stalled at 98 and it bothered me in a "Monk" sort of way. I wanted to get to a nice even 100 and it just wasn't happening.
Thursday, February 14, 2019
Friday, February 8, 2019
Bald Eagle in our neck of the woods last Wednesday. And I was pretty sure it was a one-time sighting given that I've been walking the trail non-stop for three or four years, and I never saw one before two days ago. I figured it was on the way to Turlock Lake where the fishing might be better.
I was busy with errands today, but as the sun was setting and the rain was starting to fall I decided to do a quick check of the river. And it was there, just a few hundred yards farther upstream. Even better, it was just across the river from the trail. I had the chance to get a few more pictures, from a closer vantage point.
It may be gone tomorrow, but it would sure be interesting to see how things change around here if it decides to hang out for a while...
Wednesday, February 6, 2019
But sometimes things are a little more dramatic. I was out on my normal walk on the river trail checking out the hawks and an uncharacteristically large grouping of Double-crested Cormorants, meaning the day was already a success in my mind. Then I saw the hawk take off and my attention shifted for moment when a very large bird appeared close by, flying low over the river. I had the impression of a light hindquarter and overall dark color, and even thought "Bald Eagle?" but I hadn't gotten a good look at all.
Suddenly there was some shouting above me, from the top of the bluff. "Garry, did you see that?" I don't usually expect to hear my name coming from up in the sky, but I quickly remembered a friend who lives in a house on the bluff overlooking the river. I asked if it was a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) and they said yes. I headed upstream as quickly as I could in the vain hope that the eagle had landed somewhere, but it eluded my careful search.
I returned to the trailhead vacillating about whether to report the eagle on eBird. It occurred to me to check with my friend on the bluff when I finished hiking, and it turned out that they watched it land in a tree up the river. It was right next to where I had been searching, but I had missed it entirely. They mentioned that I might get a better view from the access road for the Water Treatment Plant. I drove over, and there it was! I went home and got Mrs. Geotripper and we headed back and got some pictures of the first Bald Eagle reported on the Tuolumne Parkway River Trail (the first time it's been officially reported anyway; my friends tell me they've seen an eagle fly by once in a while during winter).
Sunday, February 3, 2019
two appearances on this blog. I even got the eyes, and that hasn't happened before.
more than a thousand bird counts have been conducted here.
But there's sort of a step-child at the refuge. It's called the Bear Creek Unit. It's northwest of the main part of the refuge, but is easily accessed from Highway 165. There is a two-mile long auto-tour, but only just over a hundred birding reports have ever been conducted there. I'm not sure why, but the area just didn't get the visitation. Sometimes there is a simple lack of water in the wetlands so few birds are around. Yesterday we had the place to ourselves aside from one other car. And there were quite a few birds out and about, including several thousand Red-winged Blackbirds. And...two White-tailed Kites!
Saturday, February 2, 2019
The viewing platform is located near the west end of Beckwith Road out of Modesto, about 8 miles west of the Vintage Faire Mall. It will be open for another month or so while the geese and cranes await the thawing of the lands up north. It will be very quiet without the Sandhills!