Sunday, December 29, 2013

Bolsa Chica Wetlands: Northern Pintail and Friends.

We went to Bolsa Chica on a sunny December day. Lots of migrating ducks, with some good views of Northern Pintails.

Saturday, December 28, 2013


We went to Prado Regional Park on a sunny and warm Decemeber day. We got some good looks at a red-naped sapsucker and saw some other birds with red heads too.

No Tail Towhee

We have several spotted towhees visiting our yard. Recently, we noticed one is missing its tail feathers. Is probably narrowly escaped an attack, perhaps by a cat.
While it can fly, it doesn't go as fast or as far as the other towhees.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Blue-footed Boobies

We went back to Lake Skinner today and got much better looks at the Blue-Footed Boobies. Their feet even look blue.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

American Avocet and Friends at San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary

We went to San Jaoquin Wildlife Sanctuary in Irvine. There were about 20 American White Pelicans flying around and resting on one of the ponds, with about 100 cormorants swimming and diving. We've never seen that many cormorants swimming together before.

The best photos were the avocet and the common yellowthroat.

American Avocet by Mike's Birds
American Avocet

American White Pelican with Cormorants
American White Pelican with Cormorants

A lot of cormorants
A lot of cormorants

Common Yellow Throat (Male)
Common Yellowthroat

Friday, November 29, 2013

Spotted Towhee

Spotted Towhee

The spotted towhees have been visiting every morning for a while. We think they watch as the lights go on in the house and get ready for the morning sunflower seed feeding.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Lewis's Woodpecker

Lewis's Woodpecker

A Lewis's Woodpecker has been reported at Glen Helen Regional Park the last two weekends. When the sun came out this morning, Chris and I thought we'd give it a try. The bird had been reported in the trees near the play ground. It took us about 5 minutes, but we found it near the playground and watched for about an hour as it fed in the area. It spent most of time in a tree without leaves right at the start of hole 17 of the Frisbee golf course.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Clark's Nutcracker

Mike first heard about the Clark's Nutcracker two weeks ago and decided he needed to see it. A bit of internet searching and asking around turned up the info that they live high in mountains and feed on pine seeds. Mike enticed Chris with a visit to nearby Oak Glen for apples after birding. We set out for Onyx Summit in the San Bernardino National Forest. We stopped first near Jenks Lake and didn't find any nutcrackers, but there were some acorn woodpeckers, red-napped sapsuckers, white-breasted nuthatches, juncos, and mountain chickadees around.

We made it to the Onyx Summit but didn't see any birds at all. We turned around, headed down Rt 38 about a mile, pulled over and walked around a while. It wasn't birdy but just as we were heading back to the car, Chris spotted two large birds across the road. We decided to cross, and then Mike saw a Clark's Nutcracker on a pine cone. There were 4 to 5 in the pine trees, and we watched for about 10 minutes as they pulled the pine seeds out. They can store the pine seeds under their tongues and bury them in the fall to eat later in the winter. In one photo, the nutcracker looks a little like a chipmunk with its throat swollen- they can store up to 100 seeds.

It was a little past the peak of apple season, so Oak Glen was a bit of a disappointment, but we are glad we got to see the Clark's Nutcracker.

Mountain Chickadee
Mountain Chickadee

White-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Ring-necked Ducks and Belted Kingfisher

We spent some time at UCRs AgOps this weekend. The migrating ducks have just started arriving. It was nice to see a kingfisher too.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Mandarin Duck: Finally

We went to Anaheim's Yorba Regional Park in hopes of seeing a Mandarin duck. A few had been reported there earlier in the week. This is probably our fifth or sixth attempt at seeing this duck, having struck out when visiting other places it has been reported in the past year. There are three ponds at Yorba Regional Park. We searched the first two ponds to no avail and didn't spot it when we arrived at the third. Finally Chris saw a male sleeping by the side of the pond. We waited a while and eventually it swam off with a female close by.

Mandarin Duck

Mandarin Ducks

I know it's an introduced species and hardly looks like a wild bird, but it was fun to finally find one.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

UCR's Verdin



A verdin has been coming to UCR's botanic gardens for each of the past 4 falls. This year, a friend spotted it building a nest. Chris and I just had to go see it. We think it's building a roosting nest for it to keep warm in the winter.

It's a cute bird, but it would never tolerate an east coast winter.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Pin-tailed Whydah: Andulka Park in Riverside, California

Pin-tailed Whydah

A colleague asked Mike to identify a bird she had seen. As he read the description, the pin-tailed whydah came to mind and she verified that it was the whydah. So, the next morning, Mike and Chris head out to the location, Andulka Park in Riverside, in hopes of spotting it. The Whydah is a bird from Africa that has established a small breeding colony in Southern California.

As we entered the park, we spotted a nutmeg mannikin, another introduced species from Asia. We viewed that as a good sign because we've observed them together in other locations such as Huntington Central Park.

Nutmeg Mannikin

We spotted the female first.
Pin-tailed Whydah (female)

It's a fairly cooperative bird, easy to locate and well worth the 3 minute drive from our home.

Pin-tailed Whydah

To complete the day, we also saw an acorn woodpecker and a Say's Phoebe.

Acorn Woodpecker

Say's Phoebe

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Backyards Birds: Nutmeg Mannikin & Ash-throated Flycatcher

Flycatcher (Ash-throated?)

With the fall migration starting, we have had some interesting visitors. The nutmeg mannikin is a bird we never expected to see in our yard. The Ash-throated flycatcher is pretty neat too.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Nutmeg Mannikins

We were surprised by these visitors to our birdbath!

Blue-footed Boobies in Playa del Rey

A rare bird, a blue-footed booby, had been reported off shore in Malibu on Thursday, but it's not worth a long drive for a single bird seen once. It's early Saturday morning with no plan for the day. Mike gets up and reads that boobies had been reported Friday in Dana Point, Laguna Beach, and the Santa Ana River trail in Huntington Beach. The best photo was on the river, so he talks Chris into getting up and making the journey. Unfortunately, it was foggy and there were no boobies to be found. So, we head to brunch at Haute Cakes in Newport Beach where Mike reads on his iPad that six blue-footed boobies were spotted in Playa Del Rey. Mike has always wanted to go to the Galapagos, in part to see the blue-footed boobies, so he talked Chris into going to Playa del Rey with the promise of not being dragged to the Galapagos. Chris, who likes birds but does not like rough boats and hates reptiles, especially giant swimming reptiles, readily agreed.

The birds are on a breakwater with a long rock jetty being the best viewing spot. Chris bravely walked 99.9 percent of the way to the end. There were a few other birders with scopes there, and we spotted and photographed a few of the birds.

Blue Footed Booby
Blue Footed Booby
Blue Footed Booby

Unfortunately, they are juveniles and don't have blue feet, and from the distance they don't look much different from the brown boobies we've seen in the Caribbean. Mike may have to renege on the promise based on the dull foot color.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Orange Bishop

Orange Bishop

We went to Peck Road Water Conservation Park in Arcadia this weekend. There is a breeding group of Orange Bishops there, a bird of Africa.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

American Oystercatcher

We went to NY and Connecticut for a short vacation. Chris used to stay at the beach in Madison, CT in the summer as a child, but she never noticed an oystercatcher until this visit.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Mother and Baby Cormorants

Mother and Baby Cormorants by Mike's Birds

Cormorants Nesting

Mother and Baby Cormorants

We went to La Jolla for the Fourth of July. We knew there would be cormorants on the rocks, but were surprised to find two cormorant nests .

Monday, July 1, 2013

Juvenile Spotted Towhee

Mike has been a bit obsessed with the Juvenile Spotted Towhee. We were so worried our spotted towhees wouldn't have offspring and were thrilled to see the juvenile at our "feeding" rock. The first photo was taken with the birdcam that does motion detection.

The second one was taken by Mike at 5:30am. The juvenile gets here pretty early and while getting ready to set up the birdcam, the juvenile and a parent came by.

The third photo was taken a few days later with a camera on a timer