Monday, November 20, 2017

A Short Visit to the Lagoon

With Thanksgiving Holiday approaching, I have been busy getting ready for the big day. Needing a break from many unfinished chores, I decided to take a quick short visit to the San Elijo Lagoon. 



 
This Anna's Hummingbird is spotted by the Nature Center defending his territory.

Close-up. Anna's Hummingbird, Calypte anna measures 4 inches long with a wingspan of 5.25 inches.

Looking out from the observation deck, I spot 5 Lesser Scaup.
A adult male in full breeding plumage.
There appears to be 2 female in full breeding plumage and 1 in nonbreeding plumage accompanying the adult male. The one to the far right appears to be a male in nonbreeding plumage.

I take a quick look by the boardwalk and spot this nice little Orange-crowned Warbler.

He is getting lots of insects off the underside of the willow leaves.
 
A male Common Yellowthroat makes a quick appearance.

Coming back to the west side of the nature trail loop. I find that the Lesser Scaups have company. The two male Buffleheads swim in front.
 
I watch the Lesser Scaups dive and bring up seaweed, chomping happily as they swim with it on the surface.

Here is a good look at two adult Lesser Scaup in breeding plumage. The one on the left is the female and the the one on the right is the male. Lesser Scaup, Aythya affinis measures 16.5 inches long with a wingspan of 25 inches.
A closer look at the adult male.

Walking back to my truck, I spot a young Cooper's Hawk on the utility pole. I take the elevator to the lookout deck at the nature center and get a closer look.

As I focus on the Hawk perched on the telephone pole's cross bar, he flies north crossing Manchester Ave. heading towards the brush covered bank across the road.
He flies head-on into the lemonade tree.

He completely disappears inside the lemonade bush. Wondering if he is after prey and if he would appear with something in his talons, I keep my camera focused on the lemonade bush.
 
Within minutes, He shoots out of the bush so quickly that it takes me by surprise. His talons are empty.

I keep my camera on the hawk.
 
Wow, He is a beauty.

As I snap away, I am hoping that the camera keeps it's focus on this youngster in flight. They are so quick, I rarely have a chance to get a shot of one in flight.

Wonderful wingspan.

He lands on the wires and gives a nice pose.

A beautiful youngster. Cooper's Hawk, Accipiter cooperii measures 16.5 inches long with a wingspan of 31 inches.

His plumage is of a 1st year juvenile. Looks strong and healthy.

Off he goes!

Look at those deadly talons! Grateful for the flight shots of this beauty, I head down the elevator and walk towards my truck again.

On my way to the parking lot, I hear a familiar call. It's the California Gnatcatcher's "mewing" call. I finally spot him hunting for bugs on a nearby bush.


 



 
The proof of this birds ID is seen on the underside of the tail.


One last shot before he flies off.
Well look who flew into a near-by bush... A Yellow-rumped Warbler.

Yellow-rumped Warbler, Setophaga coronata  measures 5.5 inches long with a wingspan of 9.25 inches.

One last look at our Yellow-rumped Warbler and now it's time for me to get home.
Have a super week everyone!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Seeing Double at San Elijo Lagoon

Many of my walks are quiet and not as eventful as the day that I saw the two Ospreys in battle. But I do at times get a bird subject or two that catches my interest as I stalk them fluttering from one bush to another trying to get some interesting shots. Here are some images that I captured of two Western Meadowlarks at San Elijo Lagoon as my title reveals, "Seeing Double"!






Another overcast morning and I am out walking enjoying the nice crisp air looking for bird subjects. A Meadowlark is startled out of the thick ground grass that encroaches the walking trail. I follow the subject with my camera and as it lands in a dead scrub bush. I notice that he is not alone. I am looking at two Western Meadowlarks through my camera lens. 

Seeing double... Western Meadowlark, Sturnella neglecta measures 9.5 inches long with a wingspan of 14.5 inches.

One flies to the lookout area facing southeast.

He hears the clicking of my camera and flies off.

Disappointed that I couldn't get a flight shot, I turn my attention to the tide channel. A Yellowlegs flies in. I believe this to be a Lesser Yellowlegs but it is really hard to tell for sure.

His legs really are noticeably yellow even on a overcast day as today. 
He pokes around in the shallow water and grabs himself a tiny fish. 
  
Classic walk of the Yellowlegs.

He jabs the water and comes up with a clump of seaweed. You can see there is a fish tangled in the weeds.

The Yellowlegs walks out of the water to insure that he will not lose the fish.
 
The fish is visible.

He has a good grip on the fish's tail.

In a flash, he flings the seaweed off the fish and has the fish positioned in his beak ready to swallow.

My attention drifts to the Pole Road trail at Rios just southwest of my lookout area. The truck is "greening" the filled in trail.

Looking back at the tide channel, I notice that a Whimbrel has flown in and is now taking a nap keeping one eye open.

A nervous Killdeer makes an appearance. He is upset and ready to flee. 

Looking up, I see the reason for his nervousness. A large Red-tailed Hawk flies by but shows no interest in any of the shorebirds. She looks quite full and probably is going to a safe spot for a little nap. 
 
I look behind me and notice one of the Meadowlarks is also watching the hawk fly by.

He flies a short distance north about 50 ft away. I walk cautiously to see if I can get a close-up.

Walking up as close as I feel he will allow, I observe the lark starting to cough up something. 

He has cast a pellet. 
The second Meadowlark comes flying by passing the one on the lookout railing.

He lands on a lemonade berry tree. 

Love the beautiful yellow on the chin and belly.

His friend lands on the lemonade berry tree too. LOL, now I am again seeing double.

There is something so adorable about the Meadowlark and the way it perches. They both look in the same direction. 

Sweet pose.

The plumage appears to show that this is a non-breeding adult. An adult in breeding plumage will have a solid black bib on his chest.

They are quite fidgety and appear ready to fly any second. 
 
There goes one of the larks. A good look at the tail markings.
A look at the back view of the Western Meadowlark in flight.

The one on the tree looks to see where his friend is going. 
 
He does not want to be alone and gets ready to join his friend.

He looks to see where his friend has landed. 

Checks to see that I am not coming too close to him. 
 
Nice pose.

He lifts his wings to take flight. We get a nice look at the yellow on his leading edge. 

One flap of his wings and he lifts off.

A good look at his underside. 

He lands on some pickleweed. I walk up as close as possible.

Oops, he doesn't like me getting too close and leaves the area giving us a good look at his underwings. It's time for me to leave the area too. It was great seeing two Western Meadowlarks today. And to be able to get them in one frame was a treat. Hope to see them in this area again. 

Have a super week everyone!