Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Rufous Hummingbird

I got a couple of pictures of the Rufous today. They aren't real good as I took them though the front bedroom window. Such a pretty bird. Click pictures to enlarge. I was reading on a web site (click title to get to web site) that some of the Rufous's backs are green like the Allen's. They would be very hard to tell apart then!!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Yard birds and bathing

Paul and I spent this past weekend working in the backyard. I had brought home a new fountain from the Mesa Costco and we got that up and running. Well, Paul got that up and running all I did was say where I thought it should go! He had to till up the whole area first as I want to get my native plants in there and wanted it tilled before he put the fountain in. I didn't want to have to work around it. His poor arms are still hurting from it. Thanks Paul!! This will take the place of the pond at least for a couple of years I think. It just seemed like more work than we wanted to do right now. At least we have another running water source in the backyard so that should draw more birds in. As of this morning I have not noticed any birds on it yet but I'm sure they will find it soon. The fountain is straight, I just noticed that my picture is slanted. I meant to crop it but forgot. Oh well, just know that Paul was very careful in getting it level!
We had a several year firsts this weekend also. We got our first American Robin and our first Hooded Orioles. The Robin was eating the ivy berries (more of those later) right over where the fountain was going in. I didn't get a picture of her though. I didn't have the camera out so.....
I haven't got a picture of the Orioles yet either. I just finished sitting in the middle bedroom waiting for one to come back down to the feeder outside the window but he wouldn't come while I was waiting. He had been their twice before I got the camera and I could see him sitting up at the top of Pat's tree in front but he didn't come back down. I will never be a good nature photographer. I have no patience to sit and wait!!! I have only seen the males so far as they come in a couple of weeks earlier than the females do. They stake out their territories first.

Another bird we had in GREAT number this weekend was the European Starling. We have a great crop of the Ivy berries this year and they love those. I know most people dislike these birds as they do go in large flocks and eat everyone out of house and home but it is hard to dislike something that looks so neat and can't sing any better than I do!! Okay, they do sing some better than me but they don't have a beautiful song like some of the song birds do.
They were in flocks of 30 - 40 and they would land in the ivy between Patty's and our house and just have a grand time with the berries. (The Mockingbirds like the berries also.) Then they would all take off together and fly around for awhile and then end up back in the ivy.


The best thing for the weekend was a new yard bird as well as a new life bird!! We now have Rufous Hummingbirds in the yard. This is the first year that I have ever seen them here. They look a lot like Allen's but their backs are all the rufous or orange/rust color. I am sooooo excited!! There are at least two in the yard as I saw two on one feeder this morning. When Jim was over this afternoon he saw one on the feeder by the kitchen window. I am going to have to update my yard list to see how many different birds I have had over the years.

It is crazy the number of hummers we have this early in the season. We have at least thirty in the yard now. We have lots of Anna's, lots of Allen's (the most we have ever had) the Rufous and this weekend I saw our first Black-chinned of the year.

It seemed like this weekend was bath day for everyone. Everytime I looked at the fountain in the front there was someone taking a bath!! This black-chinned really got into the fountain more than most of the birds do. Most of them use the top to bath but he really flew right into the bottom to get wet.

Then the Goldfinches got into it for awhile. JayJay was taking one in the small birdbath in the front in the morning. It is funny some birds like one bird bath and others like another. The jays like the one in the front and the crows like one of the ones in the back. Some like the small fountain by my bedroom door but most everyone likes the large fountain in front.
This little Allen's just sat on the edge of the fountain and waited for the water to shower over him. He wasn't getting a lot of water but he was making the most of what he did get.

I have never seen any bird get as much pleasure from a bath as this little hummer did. She was sitting there taking a bath for a least 3 - 4 minutes! Now that might not seem like much for a preteen or teenager but it is a long time for a bird! As you can see from the set of pictures she really sat right down into the fountain. She would splash around for awhile then she would lay her head right down on the fountain and rub it around. I have never seen anyone doing that before. It was great fun watching her!

Well, all in all a great weekend!!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Salton Sea Birding Trip 2/3-4/06

(Don't forget to click on the picture to enlarge them.)

On February 3& 4th Paul & I met Steve down at Salton Sea for a day and half of birding. The first day Steve had arranged a guide to show us around. We met Bob Miller at his house in Brawley at 6:15am. The one problem with birding is the early starts that you need to get!! Something about getting up before dawn to start a vacation day ... well, you know what I mean! What a help having a guide was!! Bob took us places that I would never had gone. Some of the "roads" he took us on I would have thought were just a path through a field that would be private property. Hopefully when we go back there again we can find all the places that we went.

Here are the three guys, Steve, Bob Miller & Paul checking all the birds.

We started out in Cattle Call Park. This was Paul's favorite place on the whole trip. It is where they have the rodeo every year. Paul & I got a life bird right off! A male Vermillion Flycatcher.

After that we took off though fields and over to the Sea where we saw lots and lots of gulls and other birds.
At lunch we went up to the town of Niland to pick up some sandwiches for lunch. Bob told us all about Slab City where lots of snowbirds come down and spend the winter. It was Patton's training ground during World War II and when they left they took everything but the concrete slabs that the buildings were on. I guess it is getting run down and more people are living there year round so it isn't the draw for the Snowbirds that it once was. Another place he told us about but we didn't get back to was Salvation Mountain. Check out the web site for information on that. Looks like something everyone should see once in their life!!
After lunch we headed back to the Sea and lots and lots more birds. By the time the day was over we were compleletly worn out but very, very pleased with the day!!

Here's Steve the Birder with his scope.

One of the areas we hit with Bob had hundreds of great-tail grackles sitting in the bushes. He put the number between 2,000 to 3,000 birds. He said it was the largest amount of grackles he had ever seen in one place before. He couldn't figure out why they would have been there then and not before. It was a pretty amazing sight.

A Peregrin Falcon sitting on a telephone wire looking for breakfast. This is the first one that Paul and I have seen in the wild. We saw a tame one in New Mexico that his trainer brought in. Steve took this picture out the car window.

The next morning we started at dawn again and the three of us headed out to Finney Lake to see what we could find on our own. I didn't know how we would do but we ended up doing very well thank you. There is something about a lake in the early morning with the light hitting the water and reeds just right to put a smile on my face.

As you can see from the picture there was a haze/smog over everything in the distance. LA was real bad that Thursday when we drove through and you could see it just sitting over in the distance all weekend. Not a pretty sight. :(
The birding was a pretty sight though. There were several things that I really liked. One is the Great Blue Herons on their nests. The pictures really don't show it very well but there were a lot of them sitting around on snags in trees in the middle of the lake sitting on these great big nests.

Then there were the Great Egrets sitting around in the tops of the trees. Some of the trees had several of them just sitting up at the top.

One of the common birds you see at the Salton Sea are Burrowing Owls. If I remember correctly Bob said to look for pototoes with legs sitting on the side of the road. There was one stretch of road that he showed us that had about 14 owls along a 1/4 mile of road. They are so cute!!! They move their heads round to the back and it is weird!!

Another Life Bird for Paul & I was thanks to a great spot from Steve. Great Horned Owl. We would never had seen it sitting in the middle of the trees. Steve was able to get this picture of it before it headed off. That was exciting!!

Another nice bird; the American White Pelican

Another Lifer: White-faced Ibis. Look at the bill on that bird!!

One of the birds that I wanted to see was a Yellow-headed Black bird. I had seen them before but I really like that bird so I asked Bob on Friday if there were any around. He told us about the cattle feed lot where there would be some so we headed over there just before we stopped on Saturday. I thought there might be a dozen or so and about double that of Red-winged Black Birds. Boy, was I wrong!! We got there and there must have been several thousand birds all together. Most of them were the Red-wings but there were a lot of the Yellow-headed. What a sight. Thousands of birds flying around the cattle, eating the cattle's food and the bugs that went along with the cattle. The noise from them singing and fighting was loud!!

I don't think the pictures really shows how many there were there. I had one of the Yellow-headed but Blogger doesn't seem to want to post it tonight. I will try and edit this some other time and see if it will go through.

That is some of the story of the Salton Sea Birding Trip of February 2006. I am hoping there will be another story to tell of the 2007 trip if not sooner. I wouldn't mind going down to see the Wood Storks in the summer but the sound of 115degrees and messes of flies might keep Paul away!!
This is the list of the birds we saw on both days.
Peid-billed Grebe
Eared Grebe
Western Grebe
Clark's Grebe
American White Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Cattle Egret*
Green Heron
Black-crowned Night Heron
White-faced Ibis*
Snow Goose
Ross' Goose
Green-winged Teal
Northern Pintail
Cinnamon Teal
Northern Shoveler
American Wigeon
Ruddy Duck
White-tailed Kite
Northern Harrier
Cooper's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Peregrine Falcon*
Prairie Falcon
Ring-neck Pheasant
Gambel's Quail
Common Moorhen
American Coot
Sandhill Crane
Black-bellied Plover
Mountain Plover*
Black-necked Stilt
American Avocet
Greather Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Spottoted Sandpiper
Long-billed Curlew
Marbled Godwi
Ruddy Turnstone
Black Turnstone
Western Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
Stilt Sandpiper*
Long-billed Dowitcher
Herring Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Yellow-footed Gull*
Caspian Tern
Rock Dove
Mourning Dove
Common Grownd-Dove*
Greater Roadrunner
Great Horned Owl*
Burrowing Owl
Black-cinned Hummingbird
Anna's Hummingbird
Gila Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Gray Flycatcher
Black Phoebe
Say's Phoebe
Vermillion Flycatcher*
Horned Lark
Tree Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Barn Swallow
Common Raven
American Crow
Cactus Wren
Bewick's Wren
Marsh Wren*
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
American Robin
Northern Mockingbird
American Pipit
Loggerhead Shrike
European Starling
Orange-crowned Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Abert's Towhee
Sage Sparrow*
Savannah Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Red-wing Blackbird
Yellow-headed Blackbird
Wester Meadowlark
Brewer's Blackbird
Great-tail Grackle
House Finch
House Sparrow
At my count 104 with 11 life birds. Not bad for a day and half!! Steve, feel free to correct me on any of this!
Thanks Steve and Paul I had a great time!!