Fall Birding and Photography "Trip Report"
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This is actually an accumulation of multiple trips throughout the state and actually would be better titled "late summer and fall birding report" as I really started in earnest around the first week of September. Work has been a bit hectic the second half of this year and I have not gotten out nearly as much as anticipated or as I wanted to. Looks like no vacation to the tropics until next year some time (Hopefully Panama/Costa Rica but we'll see...), so I decided to make the best of it and try to catch up on some holes in my local species both in terms of life list and more so, pictures. I spent the past few months trying to get out at least once a week into the field in San Diego county to get some pictures of birds and othe wildlife. I have visited areas such as the Tijuana Estuary, Border Fields State Park, Bird and Butterfly Gardens, Point Loma, Mission Trails Regional Park, Santee Lakes, Lindo Lake, Grossmont College, San Diego River Flood Control Channel, Palomar Mountain, Crown Point, La Jolla, etc. I also had one brief trip to Monterey where I was able to spend a few hours in and around the Elkhorn Slough and Point Lobos State Park. Here are some of the highlights from my Fall, 2006 expeditions mostly around San Diego county. Hope you enjoy...
American crows and Common Ravens are plentiful (and noisy) as usual. I did observe some interesting behavior in September at Santee Lakes however. There were a pair of young Cooper's Hawks in the area and the Crows either wanted nothing to do with them or were actually playing with them, couldn't decide which but the Crows would gather around the tree that the hawks were perching in and bait them to chase after them. What was interesting was that consistently, the Cooper's would easily "catch" a Crow but would swerve off at the last second and go back to it's perch. But that's not the most unusual thing... the unusual thing was that a pair of Belted Kingfisher's entered into the early morning activities and went after the Crows! They started chasing them and making all sorts of noise, in fact it was really something to behold, the Crows were their usually loud, cackling selves but then the Kingfishers joined in, squawking loudly as they would chase one of the Crows around the edges of the lake.
Coot's are another common sight at just about any body of water around the county. This one was swimming at Mission Trails Regional Park in the lake.
This American Kestrel perched just long enough at the top of a pine tree at Grossmont College to let me take two shots of him before he quickly disappeared into a canyon.
Another American Kestrel from a perch in the Tijuana River Valley...
I was pleasantly surprised when this Merlin decided to allow me to take an extended photo shoot. She was bathing in a small pond of water about 100 yards from me at the Dairy Mart Road Sod Farms. I watched he for quite some time but was unable to get any really decent shots due to the angle of the sun, etc. When, much to my surprise and delight she decided to fly directly to me and land on a wire that was literally right above my head. I had to get out of my truck to take the pictures as she was so close that I couldn't get a good angle from where I was parked. I am not sure who was watching who with more curiosity!
Being checked out by a Merlin...
American White Pelican from Lindo Lake in Lakeside, Ca.
There were several American Oystercatchers at the Point Loma tide pools for an extended period this fall, I was lucky enough to catch both an American and a Black Oystercatcher on the same rock on the same day.
Black Oystercatcher from same region of the tide pools at the SW end of Point Loma.
Hummingbirds seemed extremely plentiful late in the summer, they seemed to be anywhere and everywhere there were any flowering plants.
This Anna's Hummingbird perched nicely for me at Santee Lakes.
This beautiful female Rufous Hummingbird made a quick stop at the Bird and Butterfly Garden in Hollister. I caught her for a few moments and haven't seen her since despite numerous trips back.
Another picture of a female Rufous Hummingbird.
A long lost friend that I have not seen for a while, this is the female Belted Kingfisher from a breeding pair at Santee Lakes.
This Bewick's Wren was found in a brief moment of rest near Grossmont College.
House Wren, more often heard than seen, this one let me take a few mug shots before scurrying back into the underbrush and back to it's scolding...
Another Wren that I usually only catch a fleeting glimpse of is the Marsh Wren, this one is from Lindo Lake in Lakeside, Ca. Patience and persistence is the best way to describe the technique used to capture this bird.
I caught this Black Phoebe devouring a dragonfly, you can see the rear half still waiting to go down! Picture from Santee Lakes.
Black-bellied Plover from Border Fields area, near Mexican border.
Another Black-bellied Plover, this one from beneath the Ocean Beach Pier.
This Long-billed Curlew came up with a tasty crab snack after plunging it's exceedingly long bill almost full tilt into a hole in the mud. I watched it as it proceeded to wash off the crab first and then swallow it in one gulp.
Whimbrels are quite common right now, both along rocky shore as the one pictured here from Point Loma and also in the mud flats, estuaries and river channels near the ocean.
Marbled Godwits are another commonly encountered species near the coast, often in large numbers and also often mixed with other species such as Willets.
This Red-necked Phalarope was found searching for something to eat in the Tijuana estuary near Imperial Beach.
Proof that Ruddy Turnstone's not only live in rocky areas but can also be found in the surf line on sandy beaches like this one from near the Ocean Beach pier.
A small group of Sanderlings trying to outrun the waves... taken in Ocean Beach, Ca.
This Spotted Sandpiper was found at the tide pools along the SW side of Point Loma.
A Wandering Tattler from the same general area as mentioned above.
This Willet was photographed at Border Fields State Park near the US/Mexico border, showing off it's identifying wing pattern...
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