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Tuesday, October 22, 2019

California once again - September 2019

Watching Black Oystercatchers at Crystal Bay Point Park
         My son Chris invited Sharon and I to Disneyland in California and he paid our admissions as our birthday presents since our birthdays are only 33 days apart. We flew from Philly to the John Wayne Airport in Orange County. We would meet up with the family there and spend three days at the park. Afterward, Sharon and I would be birding in Orange County, basically along the oceanfront but a few inland sites also.
None other than John Wayne himself greeted us at the airport

Kylo Ren and a stormtrooper searching for Sharon in Disneyland
          After leaving Disney and saying our goodbyes we headed to one of the best sites in Orange County, the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary, otherwise known as the wastewater treatment area. 

          About two weeks before we arrived, birders had found a Common Ringed Plover here. Unfortunately, by the time we arrived, it was long gone. Instead, we had to settle for Clark's Grebe, Greater Roadrunner, Allen's Hummingbirds, Black-necked Stilts, White and Brown Pelicans, Spotted Towhees and Orange-crowned Warblers.
Clark's Grebe
Western Grebes

American White Pelican

Lincoln's Sparrow

Spotted Towhee
Snowy Egret

           The next morning we found ourselves at Bolsa Chica Ecological Preserve along the coast in Huntington Beach. This is a must-see preserve with great birding from a boardwalk and flat dirt pathways.  
Ridgway's Rail

Willet (western race)

Reddish Egret

Immature Black-crowned Night-Heron

Long-billed Curlew

American White Pelican

Savannah Sparrow (Belding's Race)

Western Sandpiper

Black-crowned Night-Heron

Marbled Godwits in back row. The others are Willets and Dowithchers

Great Blue Heron sunning himself
          We moved further south and found Elegant Tern, Wrentit and California Gnatcatcher plus others at Crystal Cove State Park.

Black-bellied Plover


Black Turnstone

California Gnatcatcher

California Gnatcatcher-notice black under tail feathers

California Gnatcatcher-Endangered Species
           The next day we were back at Bolsa Chica once again. We added some new birds today like Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Vaux's Swift, and Eared Grebes.

Vaux's Swift - identified by geography and nothing else

Red-necked Phalaropes

Red-necked Phalarope

Eared Grebe - head not in the greatest position for photo

White-faced Ibis-notice red-colored eye
            Finally, we headed to Huntington County park, which is located inland about 5 miles. We walked around the library for about an hour and then headed to the airport to catch our flight back to Philly. We did find some interesting birds a the park.

Scaly-breasted Munia (male on right side of the tree trunk)
This is a better photo of Munia that I took in Hawaii
          Mixed in with the thirty or so Munias was one bird that I had no idea of its identity. I finally had to ask the eBird compiler from Orange County for help with ID.

Pin-tailed Whydah (immature male)

Pin-tailed Whydah seen here with female Scaly-breasted Munia
Introduced bird from Africa  
          Although we only had two days of birding it was fun to see some new birds and birds from the west coast that I don't see too often.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Colorado Trip - July 2019

Mountain Goat on the summit of Mt Evans - 14,420'
        Sharon and I made the trip to Colorado to watch over our grandson Max. After my son successfully piloted the Stratolaunch's first flight in California, he accepted a new job with a company called Boom in Centennial, CO. He moved there and brought Max with him, but Christine had to stay in California until the show she was directing ran it's final production on stage. So we were in charge of Max while Dad went to work. Our stay was for a two week period.
          One of the highlights of this trip for me was a trip at dusk along the Cathy Johnson Trail. Chris, Max, Sharon and I all participated carrying flashlights to help navigate the dirt path. We arrived at the trailhead around 8:35PM and started our hike. We immediately heard a Killdeer calling on the hillside. Seemed liked a strange place for the Killdeer but nevertheless it was there. 
         We kept hiking and saw some eye shine which turned at to be two coyotes. Max was a little nervous but quickly got over it. Finally, a 9PM we heard the call of my target bird, the Common Poorwill. It called for about ten minutes and then flew directly overhead. Awesome! On the way back to the car there were some larger type bats but I not certain of their identity.
           The next day we headed to Rocky Mountain Arsenal NWR in search of a Badger and a Black-footed Ferret among the Prairie Dog towns. Both would be life mammals for us. Well, we found neither, but got a few birds while driving the loop.
Western Kingbird

Western Meadowlark
          A few days later, we took Max up to the summit of Mt Evans, which is the highest paved road in the USA. At 14,420' the landscape is quite rugged and also treeless. This is American Pipit country. 

Tundra at top of Mt Evans - Pipit country

Just had to throw in another Mountain Goat picture
American Pipit on breeding grounds
          While descending the mountain we stopped for lunch and found a few more things of interest.

Broad-tailed Hummingbird at 7,500' elevation

Some species of Odonata
View from Restaurant
          The next few days I just birded by myself in the mornings visiting many different areas. One was the Platte Canyon Reservoir where I found some Hooded Mergansers (no photos taken) which were reported as being rare at this time of year.
Common Mergansers(not rare)

Belted Kingfisher

Immature Cliff Swallow

Lesser Goldfinch
          Towards the end of our stay, I visited Roxborough State Park. This is a very popular park due to great scenery and hiking trails. On the entrance road I heard than spotted a Northern Bobwhite. I was attending a scheduled bird walk and told the guide about the bobwhite. She told me it has never been reported, so I showed her the photos I had. She didn't have an answer for that.
Northern Bobwhite

Great scenery

Prairie Falcon- one of three

Lazuli  Bunting

Lesser Goldfinch

View of one of the great trails

Black-headed Grosbeak

Western Tanager

Female Lazuli Bunting

More great views

Western Tanager- You never get enough photos of this guy

I'll let the expects ID this one

This one also

Mule Deer-check the size of those ears
          Finally the last full day in Colorado, Sharon and I headed to the higher elevations once more. We climbed to over 8,000' in search of American Three-toed Woodpecker. I have only seen this bird once before in Alaska. I really wanted this bird for the lower 48. We had tried for this guy about five days ago in the same area with no luck. This was going to be our last chance. We drove around for awhile and picked a spot to pull off the side of the road. I got out of the car and listened for the call notes. Instead, we heard a woodpecker drumming on a distant tree. I walked down the road about a tenth of a mile trying to track down the drummer and hoping it was the right species. There were Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers and both Red-naped and Williamson's Sapsucker in this area. Finally, I was able to spot the culprit. Not only one, but a female and a young bird following the female around begging for food.
American Three-toed Woodpecker

Young American Three-toed Woodpecker

Note yellow patch on crown. Immature in background
             Other birds in the area were Red Crossbills, Pine Siskin, Hermit Thrush and Mountain Chickadees.

Pine Siskin
     Success! Now I could go home having fulfilled my objective.