show a cluster of sightings in the town of Modesto.
The Red-breasted Nuthatches are pretty little birds, and I am thrilled every time I'm privileged to see one. They are found all over the United States and Canada, but they tend to prefer conifer forests of the north, and large-scale irruptions may involve many thousands of the birds invading the southern states. Ours probably are originating in the Sierra Nevada, and I suspect that when they invade our valley habitat, they are expressing a preference for the conifers that are often used for landscaping in our city environments.
In any case, this is the second time I've seen this individual in a week, high up in a pine tree next to the sheep enclosure on our west campus. Today was the first time I was able to catch a clear shot.
Tuesday, February 25, 2020
Friday, February 21, 2020
So it was that last December 4, and again on December 11 I saw a male and female in the palm trees, at a time when only three Hooded Orioles were known to be anywhere in the entire state of California. It was a shock, but then I didn't see them again all through January and most of February. At least until today. I actually searched the palms pretty carefully hoping the orioles were still around with no luck, but then mere moments later I saw the male on a tree in a backyard just down the street. It stayed still long enough for pictures, and then as it flew off I thought I saw a second one, but I couldn't be sure.
These could be super early spring migrants, but I suspect these are the same birds I saw in December, and that they stayed in the region. But if they did stay, they hid well because I watched for them every day as I walked the trail.
Friday, February 7, 2020
Preparing for a Long Journey...The Sandhill Cranes of the San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge
These last few days have been truly beautiful in the Great Valley of California. A couple of weak low pressure systems blew out the dust and pollution and we've had a series of gorgeous sunrises and sunsets. I had a few minutes after a lab today, and decided to see what was going on at the viewing platform at the north edge of the San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge. One never really knows what to expect...last week there were around 10,000 Snow and Ross's Geese gathered in a single gigantic flock near the road. It much different tonight. The Snow Geese were off in another part of the refuge, and the fields were being patrolled by hundreds and hundreds of Sandhill Cranes (Grus canadensis).
Sunday, February 2, 2020
Here are my latest owl shots to celebrate with. The first one, above, is from last Friday. It's a Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus). We were at the Merced National Wildlife Refuge and had completed most of the auto loop. There is one last group of trees that we always check out because there are often a few owls hanging out and Friday was no exception.
The second picture is a Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia) that I saw last November on the north shore of Turlock Lake, in the midst of the California prairie. They are never abundant in our county, and none have been noted yet this year.
Have a great Superb Owl Sunday, and happy hunting for your own owls. I mean, what else are you gonna do today?