discovery of Bullocks Orioles on the Tuolumne River, but Mrs. Geotripper wasn't with me, and she wanted to see some birds as well, so in the late afternoon we headed south into Merced County to have a look at the Bear Creek Unit of the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge. We hoped to repeat our February sighting of a White-tailed Kite, but other than that, I wasn't sure what to expect. The Arctic migrants have bugged out already, so we mainly expected the resident species of ducks, blackbirds and shorebirds. In the back of my mind, though, there was the hope of seeing a Yellow-headed Blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus).
We don't see these beautiful birds very often. They haven't even been reported in Stanislaus County as of yet this year, and there have been only a few in Merced County, mainly at the Merced NWR, and the main unit of the San Luis NWR. We've seen them twice previously, and in the same place: along the auto-tour of the Bear Creek Unit. I had reason to hope, and I wasn't disappointed! We passed dozens and dozens of Red-winged Blackbirds but I finally saw one that seemed bigger. It was silhouetted in the sun, but I was pretty sure I saw a flash of yellow around the head. I zoomed in and confirmed it; it was a Yellow-headed Blackbird!