Sunday, February 10, 2013

A Few More Parks in California

Cattle Egret
Well since we were unable to get into Buckley Cove Park on Monday because of our lack of cash, we headed out there only because Greater White-fronted Geese were spotted there. But once we got in there we only saw crows, sparrows, Cattle Egrets, and juncos. So that was a little disappointing mostly since it cost us 2.50!

Green Heron
So we headed north on the I-5 and turned on highway 12 and found a park (can't remember the name if it) but there we saw a White-tailed Kite, a Green Heron, and a Snowy Egret. 

Snowy Egret
Below are those pictures. Simon was so focused on taking the Green Heron photos that he actually walked right by the White-tailed Kite perched on top of a leaf-less tree. I was out on a dock watching the Green Heron and I looked up and saw the Kite. I tried to get Simon's attention and was just going to point to the Kite, but he paid no attention to me. He thought I was going to scare the heron away if I talked, but I was only going to point. I have before spoken to loudly and scared a bird or two away. But I really wanted to get a good shot of this Kite! So I started walking over to where the Kite was and also keeping an eye on Simon and finally he looked at me and I pointed to the raptor! He got some really good shots of it with his 650mm lens. I had the 500mm lens and couldn't seem to get focused in on the eye. So I'm sharing Simon's shot of the White-tailed Kite.

White-tailed Kite

After we got done there we were headed back to our car and saw the park manager looking at our car to see if we had a sticker. We didn't even see the pay station but he didn't make us pay and he even gave us some places to check out in the area. That is how we found Cosumnes River Preserve.

Northern Pintails
Once we arrived we saw the pond covered in Great White-fronted Geese, American Wigeons, Northern Shovelers and Coots. We got to snapping and we also saw a Great-tailed Grackle. We then headed over to the boardwalk and continued on to the walk around the river.

American Wigeon
We heard wrens, but couldn't seen any, except one that popped up on a tree branch while we were searching for a Common Yellowthroat to resurface. It never did. Lots of Ruby-crowned Kinglets and Spotted Towhees. Northern Pintails in a slough feeding. All males though didn't see any females. Black-necked Stilts, more Coots and Mallards. We came across this beautiful Great Blue Heron and I got a great portrait shot! Then we got a frontal shot of his beautiful beard!

We then went down a little bit more and came to the river got a shot of the railroad bridge and headed back.

On the way back we witnessed 3 Mallards. Two males and one female. First one of the males chased the female off and was chasing her then all three were flying in circles over the slough. They did this about three times. Beautiful show! I'm not sure but I"m guessing its got something to do with mating.

One last bird we saw was the Bushtit. Got some slightly blurry shots of them. We had a lot of fun this last week while out birding and sightseeing! Hope to do it again soon, but now we are headed to eastern PA and it's gonna be COLD and SNOWY....I'm not looking forward to it at all!!

Northern Shovelers
Greater White-fronted Geese

Saturday, February 9, 2013

A Few Days Off to Bird!

Domestic Goose

We got laid over at Tracy, California for a few days and decided to make the most of it with some birding around some Stockton Parks on Monday, Monterey Area on Tuesday, and Wednesday we went to a Stocken Park and Cosumnes River Preserve. The first one we went to was Oak Grove Park. The sun was starting to set but we managed to get some nice shots of some Western-scrub Jays, Domestic Goose, Ruddy Ducks, and Crested Duck. Also saw plenty of Yellow-rumped Warblers and a small group of Double-crested Cormorants. We didn't see much else there.

Ruddy Duck
Then we headed for Buckley Cove Park, but didn't have any cash on us so we couldn't get in. It was only 2.50 and the guard didn't seem to care one way or the other if we got in all he wanted was 2.50. So there is a lesson learned always bring cash! So we headed back to the truck for the night and we had planned on going to Yosemite National Park but hadn't seen much of any kind of reports on so I suggested we go over to the ocean and see if we can see any new birds or ducks, so I did an eBird report and was very pleased to see that we could see up to 13 new birds!

So we got up at 430am and headed for Monterey Bay. After a long 2 hour drive we made it. Once we got to Fisherman’s Wharf I was a little bummed out when it was cloud, but it wasn't long before we got our first lifer! Mew Gull. There was a flock of them along the sandy beach.
Heermann's Gull

We were headed out to the Wharf when we turned around to go check out what the Arctic Loon looked like…the kind of thing we should have been checking out on the drive down! This older gentleman was just getting his gear out of his car and asked us if we saw anything good and we explained we just got there and we chatting with him for a few minutes and he gave us some pointers on where to go to see the sea lions! We headed over to where he had said and could hear the sea lions barking! We were very excited!

Black-crowned Night Heron
California Sea Lion
On the way over to the sea lions we spotted a Heermann’s Gull juvenile (Lifer). In my opinion this is the most beautiful of all the gulls. We snapped some shots and headed over to the California Sea Lions! They were piled everywhere!!

Then we spotted a Whale Watching tour. And thought it might be a good idea to check that out. Only 40 bucks each. So we were going to come back there at 930am the tour started at 10am.
Harbor Seal
So since we had an hour to spare we headed over to the pier where there were more sea lions and on the way we saw some Harbor Seals, adult Heermann’s Gull, Brown Pelicans, Pelagic Cormorants, Western Gull, White-crowned Sparrows, and Common Loon. We got out to the pier and saw some Brandt’s Cormorants, Black Turnstone (Lifer), and a Surfbird (Lifer).

After leaving the pier we headed back to the whale watching tour and purchased some tickets! Once on the boat I found out how hard it is to walk on a boat while it’s moving!! (It was my first time out to sea) Other than birds we saw a Blue Whale, Sea Otter, and a pod of 300 Long-beaked Common Dolphins.

While we were out on the boat we saw Common Murre, Rhinocerous Auklet, Cassin’s Auklet, Northern Fulmar, and Arctic Loon! Since we were on a boat we didn't get so great of pictures, but they were good enough for identification! Maybe we will have better luck next time!

Western Gull

After we got back from our first pelagic trip we went out to eat and then headed to another park and saw some Black Oystercatchers (Lifer)!  Then we headed farther down highway 1 to Phieffer Big Sur State Park. We walked the mile uphill to the falls and back down again, it was getting a little dark, so we didn't stay long.
That was our day at the bay! Hope you enjoyed our pictures and my writings.

Monterey Bay

Our next blog will be about Wednesday were we went to Buckley Cove Park and Cosumnes River Preserve. Stay tuned!!!

Bald Eagles and American Dippers

2nd year Bald Eagle Preening

A week ago we drove through Yellowstone National Park on the Montana side, on Highway 191. Before we got there we were on Interstate 90 and saw 4 Bald Eagles snacking on a deer carcass. We pulled the semi over and they flew off their meal and went flying in circular formations in the sky, while the other three landed the other stayed flying on the thermals. One landed on a nearby fence post closest to the carcass and the other two landed in the top of a dead tree.  We got plenty of shots of the one on the fence post and one of the Eagles in the tree.  They were 2nd year Bald Eagles that we got pictures of. Such a beautiful bird!
2nd Year Bald Eagle

After leaving the Bald Eagles to finish their meal we got on highway 191 through Yellowstone! It was quiet beautiful through there. We stopped off at Gillatin River and got some landscape shots and a shot of some graffiti under the bridge.

It’s really interesting to me what some graffiti artist will do to leave their mark on overpasses, trains, under bridges, and wherever else they decide! This one looked like the artist actually hung there from a strap to do his work. Some people don’t like it and thinks it looks trashy, but I think sometimes they are quiet good!

Artist Unknown

After we got back on the road Simon spotted a American Dipper along the river side. I don’t know how he does it, but I can’t see that good or spot a small bird going down the road, but he can! We stopped and headed back to where the bird was and found it swimming and floating like a duck! After several minutes of photos we headed back to the truck and stopped again to take some landscape shots and look for more Dippers along the river. No luck.

Gillatin River

Once we had crossed into Idaho we were still along the river and once again Simon spotted two American Dippers in the water. We stopped and made our way down to the river, but this was a little bit more difficult. Once we started for the river we were walking through 1-3 feet of snow at all times. We did not have snow gear on just a jacket and shoes, no boots, my feet were freezing and I was were wide legged jeans so the snow made its way up my legs…not a fun experience with the snow, but the birds were very interesting. There were two Dippers there and they were calling out, swimming and floating like ducks too! Very interesting to watch!! But they soon few off together and doing aerial display; not sure if this was part of their mating or not.

 Below I’ll share some of the landscape shots we got. Hope you enjoy!