Recent Highlights - Summer-Fall 2007

 

RECENT HIGHLIGHTS!

The following are highlights from a variety of field trips, excursions and opportunistic occasions during the summer and early fall months.  Pictures are arranged in alphabetical order by species.  I tried to present the best or most interesting of each and will try to post highlights at least once a season going forward.  I am in the middle of posting over 1,000 photos so I thought I'd get a few pictures up as it's unlikely I'll get done with the major update before leaving for Australia on November 16th!  Hope you enjoy!

This pair of American Avocets were foraging along the Salton Sea shoreline in October.

 

A large flock of American Coot descending on Santee Lakes Lake #1 in October.

 

Lynn captured this American Crow calling from a perch at Santee Lakes, Santee, California.

 

This is an American Goldfinch from Central Park, New York.

 

American Redstart, also from Central Park, New York.

 

And, an American Robin, also from Central Park, New York!

 

I got a change to go to Salton Sea in late October, there were hundreds if not thousands of American While Pelicans in the area including this small group that flew overhead.

 

First American Wigeons of the season for me, photographed in Imperial Beach, California.

 

This Anna's Hummingbird was patient enough with me to get a few good shots including this one.  Note the pollen on the bill, Hummingbirds are important pollinators in some ecosystems.  This photograph was taken at the Bird and Butterfly garden in the Tijuana River Valley National Wildlife Sanctuary.

 

One of the more exciting visitors to San Diego this fall was this Bar-tailed Godwit!  They are native to the far north, spending much time above the arctic circle.  This one decided to check out San Diego and was present for at least a couple of weeks at the Famosa Slough near Point Loma.

 

Belted Kingfisher from Santee Lakes, California

 

Black Phoebe's are common year-round in San Diego, they are also one of the most talkative birds, constantly calling from their perch while flycatching.  This individual was photographed at Santee Lakes, California.

 

A group of Black Skimmers.  One of the more interesting and odd looking birds that you will see along the Southern California coast line.  Their bill is unique in that it is shorter on the bottom than the top, giving it the appearance of an over-bite, which allows it to skim along the surface of the water scooping up fish as it goes.  This group was photographed early in the morning near 7th street in Imperial Beach.

 

Black-and-White Warbler from Central Park, New York.

 

Black-bellied Plover photographed at Salton Sea California.

 

Black-capped Chickadee from Central Park, New York.

 

Black-necked Stilts strolling down the beach at Salton Sea, California.

 

This Black-throated Gray Warbler seems to be protesting my photography, perhaps telling me that I need a release before publishing his photo!

 

Finally a decent picture of the common Blue Jay from Central Park in New York!  A long-time nemesis in terms of getting a clear picture!

 

Another long-time nemesis, still not a clear picture but a picture non-the-less of a Brown Creeper.  I had to go all the way to Central Park in New York to finally get a picture of one!  They live in California as well but I have never been able to get a picture until now.

 

Brown-headed Cowbirds at the old sewage ponds in Borrego Springs, California.

 

Burrowing Owl from near Salton Sea, California.

 

The ubiquitous, albeit allusive to photograph Bushtit... Photo taken at Santee Lakes, California.

 

Another highlight of the fall season was this warbler, a Cape May Warbler that made it's way to Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery where it was pursued for a couple of days before heading south.  Usually a summer resident of the east coast, it winters typically along the Caribbean coast as far south as Costa Rica.

 

Caspian Tern from Salton Sea area in California.

 

This Clapper Rail made an appearance at the Tijuana River Valley National Wildlife Refuge headquarters.

 

A female Common Yellowthroat photographed as the sun was setting over Santee Lakes in San Diego county, California.

 

This adult Cooper's Hawk was perched along the road near Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in Point Loma, California.

 

A male Downey Woodpecker from Central Park, New York.

 

Eared Grebe from Santee Lakes, California.

 

European Starling in it's more attractive winter plumage, taken in Central Park, New York.

 

I watched a flock of Forster's Terns like this one systematically eat a small school of fish, possibly Sardines or perhaps Smelt near 7th St. in Imperial Beach, here is one cruising away with the spoils of it's efforts.

 

I liked the way the water and sky just blended together in this early morning shot of a perching Forster's Tern at 7th Street in Imperial Beach, California.

 

I was fortunate to have this male and female Gambel's Quail perch for a few moments on a dead tree at the Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge headquarters.  The male was continuously calling to the small flock as it stood above them, I guess as sentry while they passed in the brush below.  The female in the background seemed to be watching the other direction.

 

This Grace's Warbler was photographed at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in late October.  I had gone there to photograph another bird, a Townsend's Solitaire (also included in this report) and was walking back to my car when I heard this faint chip that sounded out of place coming from a small flock of Bushtit that were foraging in a pine tree.  I looked up to see this bird moving around with the Bushtits (which were about the same size).  I was able to get several photographs before it flitted away.

 

This was a "life" bird for me when I visited Central Park, a Gray-cheeked Thrush.  Photographed in Central Park, New York.

 

This Great Basin Whiptail was foraging in cracks and holes in dried mud like the one pictured here.   A young, probably second year individual, photographed at Salton Sea, California.  Many species of Whiptail Lizards are sexually dimorphic, meaning that there is only one sex (female) within the population.  They reproduce through self-fertilization of their eggs, in essence creating clones of themselves.  Individual populations within a geographically restricted area may be identical due to this odd phenomena.

 

Great Blue Heron, one of the true hams of the bird world, easily photographed just about anywhere there is water and a supply of fish for them to eat.  This one was photographed at Santee Lakes, California.

 

This Roadrunner was photographed near the Red Hill boat landing at Salton Sea, California.  I was photographing some ducks, had pulled my truck to the shoulder of the road and was standing outside in front of my truck.  I saw the Roadrunner, about 100 yards away, cruising down the middle of the road.  He kept approaching, getting closer and closer, stopping every once in a while to scan the shoulders for prey.  He literally walked right up to me, so close that I could not focus with the lens I was using, looked me up and down and then just walked by me and kept heading down the road.  It was quite amazing and amusing to see this behavior, he either had no clue what he was looking at or was just not at all concerned with my presence.

 

One of my favorites is the diminutive Green Heron, they always seem so seriously intent on what they are doing and they can get into some bizarre positions.  They have a relatively long neck compared to their body (not shown in this picture as it is completely drawn in) and are realatively scarce compared to the other Herons and Egrets of the area.  This one was photographed at Santee Lakes, California.

 

A Hammond's Flycatcher from Santee Lakes, California.

 

Hermit Thrush from Central Park in New York.  Also, very common here in Southern California, this year in particular, either due to the fires or some other reason, there were dozens of them at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in late October.

 

A group of House Finches taken in Kearney Mesa, California, just about got all of the color variations in one photograph!

 

Killdeer from Salton Sea area.

 

I ran into a small flock of Lawrence's Goldfinch while walking through Harry Griffith Community Park in La Mesa, California.  While not rare, they are somewhat uncommon, I get a few every year at my thistle feeder in the back yard as well but this was the largest concentration I have seen, there were about 10-12 of them foraging in this pine tree however they did not stay around very long, seemed to be quite skittish.

 

Least Sandpiper from Salton Sea.

 

Little Blue Heron photographed at 7th Street in Imperial Beach.

 

Loggerhead Shrike photographed at Salton Sea, California.

 

Marbled Godwit from Imperial Beach.

 

Merlin from Santee Lakes.  Interestingly enough, Merlin does not appear on the "official" bird list that Santee Lakes publishes, I am sure it's just an oversight on their part as I have consistently seen several Merlins in the fall at Santee Lakes.

 

This Northern Flicker literally flew right in front of me and perched on this branch at the "castle" in Central Park, New York.  This is the Yellow-shafted variation as you can see in the tail feathers if you look closely.  The Red-shafted variation is the one commonly seen here on the west coast.

 

Female Northern Cardinal from Central Park, New York.

And her male counterpart, Northern Cardinal from New York.

 

A birds-eye view of a Northern Harrier, flying low over cultivated fields near Salton Sea, California.

An early arriving Northern Pintail at Santee Lakes, California.

Nuttall's Woodpecker.

Olive-sided Flycatcher from Santee Lakes, California, you can see the identifying white patch on the back if you look closely.

 

Olive-sided Flycatcher, again from Santee Lakes, California. 

 

Orange-crowned Warbler from Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge headquarters, California.

 

A young Osprey was captured by Lynn as it was preparing to take flight, photographed at 7th Street in Imperial Beach, California.

 

This Ovenbird was observed foraging in the leaf litter in Central Park, New York.

 

Pacific Slope Flycatcher

 

Another Pacific Slope Flycatcher, photographed at the Bird and Butterfly Garden inside the Tijuana River Valley National Wildlife Refuge in San Diego.

 

Palm Warbler from Central Park, New York.

 

Phainopepla from near the old sewage ponds in Borrego Springs, California.

 

Pied-billed Grebe just coming up for air, photographed at Santee Lakes, California.

 

Plumbeous Vireo from Santee Lakes, California.

 

A Prairie Falcon, photographed from a great distance using a 2x extender on my 300mm lens from Santee Lakes, California.

 

This group of Red-eared Sliders was found sunning themselves at one of several man-made lakes that dot Central Park, New York.  Probably all prodigy of released pets.

 

Speaking of pets...  I was able to chase down a small flock of about 50 Red-headed Parakeets at Harry Griffith park in La Mesa.  There are a multitude of different parrot species that have found some haven in the San Diego area.  All are descendent from escaped pets, this is the first flock of this particular species I have seen, there are also lots of Amazon-type parrots in the area and I have even had encounters with Macaws over the years.  Some of these tropical birds are now well established breeding colonies in the warmer climate states such as California.

 

This Red-naped Sapsucker was photographed near the entrance to Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in Point Loma, California.

 

A small group of Red-necked Phalarope coming in for a landing at 7th St. in Imperial Beach, California.

 

Red-shouldered Hawk from Santee Lakes, California.

 

Ring-necked Ducks made an early appearance at Santee Lakes.

 

Ring-billed Gull from Imperial Beach.

 

Ruby-crowned Kinglet making a brief stop on a branch before continuing it's almost constant foraging.

 

Ruddy Ducks were already in great supply at Santee Lakes as early as September.

 

This Rufous/Allen's Hummingbird was caught at the Bird and Butterfly Gardens in Hollister (Tijuana River Valley National Wildlife Refuge).  It was busily defending it's claim to a few Cape Honeysuckle bushes from a myriad of Anna's Hummingbirds.

 

Sage Sparrow from Borrego Valley, California.

 

Savannah Sparrow from Borrego Springs, California.

 

Say's Phoebes like this one started to appear as the summer waned into fall, becoming common in the more sparsely vegetated areas around San Diego county.

 

Semipalmated Plover seemingly admiring it's reflection in Imperial Beach, California.

 

Sharp-shinned Hawk from my front yard after having just raided my thistle feeders trying to nab and unsuspecting goldfinch, it was not successful, this time...

 

Another Sharp-shinned Hawk from Point Loma that allowed a very close approach.

 

Same hawk from a different angle, it was quite content to allow me to approach it, it appeared to be a young bird, another one was on a telephone pole across the street and was constantly calling out as I approached, I assume as some sort of warning but this one appeared oblivious to any sort of danger that I may have presented and was quite content to continue scanning the shrubs, probably looking for it's next meal.

 

A Snowy Egret coming in for landing.

 

This Spotted Sandpiper made a surprise appearance at Santee Lakes, the first and only one I have seen there although it does appear on their official bird list.

 

This Townsend's Solitaire made an appearance at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, Point Loma.  Usually a denizen of the higher montane pine forests, this one was quite content to grab a nice view of San Diego bay for over a week.

 

This Townsend's Warbler was busy grabbing mosquitoes as I slowly approached for close-up shots.

 

Turkey Vulture Moon-scape...

Warbling Vireo's like this one were relatively common in early fall.  This one was photographed several times over a couple of weeks in the same tree at Santee Lakes in Santee, California.

 

An attractive Western Bluebird from Friendship Park in Chula Vista, California.  For some reason the parks in Chula Vista seem to always have a large number of these cool birds present.

 

Western Gull from Santee Lakes, California.

 

Western Sandpiper foraging along the shore in Imperial Beach, California.

 

Several Western Wood Pewee's like this one were busy catching insects around Santee Lakes in October.

 

Another Western Wood Pewee.

 

White-crowned Sparrows started showing up in my back yard, everyone else's back yards, all the parks and even in the desert like this one, photographed at Salton Sea, California.

 

This White-tailed Kite sat still just long enough for me to catch a couple of photographs before taking off, they are not as approachable as some of the other Raptors common to the area even though they are fairly common around San Diego county.

 

This is a White-throated Sparrow, photographed near the "Castle" in New York's Central Park.

 

Willet foraging along the shoreline at Salton Sea.

 

This Wilson's Warbler sat still for several minutes, allowing close approach along the shoreline of Santee Lakes, Santee, California.

 

A male and female Wood Duck from Santee Lakes, a major nesting site for this beautiful and interesting species.  Beside the great looks of the bird, it has a very unusual soft mewing call, quite a contrast from the numerous Mallards and Coots that share the area.

 

A Yellow Warbler showing some of the classic reddish striped field markings that indicate the species.

 

A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker from New York.

 

And appropriately, a Yellow-rumped Warbler, showing why it is called such and signifying THE END...

 

 

 



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