Saturday, March 26, 2016

Easter Colors from the Garden

Took a few photos at the San Diego Botanic Garden to celebrate the Easter Holiday. I also took a few shots at the San Elijo Nature Reserve to include a few bird shots. The weather has been magical and I have found myself reluctant to go home from my walks as there is always something new and wonderful to see.

I can only show you photos of the wonderful colored flowers that you might see at the Garden. I wish I could share the fabulous fragrance that captures your senses when you walk the grounds.

 Female Allen's Hummingbird.

A Bewick's Wren makes a quick appearance.
Flight shot.  
Wanting to get more bird subjects, I decided to take a quick walk at the San Elijo Nature Reserve. There are lots of bird subjects there and if you visit at low tide you may see lots of shorebirds too. Here is the male Anna's Hummingbird that greets everyone as you walk past the visitor center.
Nice landing by a Greater Yellowlegs but that is just a guess. It may be Lesser Yellowlegs because it's not always easy to tell them apart. 

 A beautiful Double-crested Cormorant in adult breeding plumage.

This photo shows the blue color in the inside of his mouth.

Wish he was a bit closer. What an amazing color combination! Orange on the lores and blue on the inside of his mouth!

A female Common Yellowthroat stops to pose for a shot. 
My first shot of a Black-headed Grosbeak this season.
Have a Happy Easter everyone!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Finding a Wilson's at Whelan Lake

Eve made arrangements with the caretaker at the Bird Sanctuary at Whelan Lake to go look for the male Vermilion Flycatcher that our friends Patti and Patrick had found there last Saturday. I had never been birding at the lake but had heard lots of great reports from birders that it is a wonderful birding area. It takes about 20 minutes from Encinitas to get to the lake which is in northeast Oceanside.

As we drove through the entrance and the long dirt driveway to the parking area, we passed lots of signs that read "No Trespassing" and as we pulled up to the parking area, the view was of the lake to the front and open pastures all around with few clusters of tall trees and lots of shrubs. 

We walked around the west side of the lake first and noticed that there were lots of ducks in the lakes, mostly Northern Shovelers, but as soon as they saw us they would take flight. Boy I have never seen ducks so skittish birding at our lagoon! Thanks to Eve's quick spotting I managed a shot of a female Wood Duck before it flew off. 
 Lots of Downy Woodpeckers at the Sanctuary.

As well as lots of Swallows. I believe they were mostly Tree Swallows.
 Beautiful greenery around the grounds.
This is as close as I could get to the ducks. A pair of Northern Shovelers and a female Ruddy Duck swimming quickly away.
 Wish I could have gotten a close-up of this pair of Cinnamon Teals!
 I couldn't  believe how many Yellow-rumped  Warblers there were. Here is one going for a flying insect.
 Lots of fluttering and snagging bugs on the wing.
 An exciting chase for a tiny bug.
 It was nice to spot a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.
 He was also getting some bugs for breakfast.

We listened and looked at every tree and bush around the lake searching for the Vermilion Flycatcher but luck was not on our side today.  The highlight was spotting a beautiful male Wilson's Warbler singing his heart out. Here are a few shots.
 What a flashy bird.
 Love his black cap.
 Having a look at us.
Wilson's Warbler, Cardellina pusilla measures 4.75 inches long with a wingspan of 7 inches.
 Cute pose.
 Got a little closer to us.
 Nice profile.
 You can see that he is a gorgeous color yellow.
 Showing us the back of his crown.
 A wonderful pose.
 Flight shot.
 Back view.
 A top side shot.
 One more close-up before he flies off.
We were heading back to the parking area to give the east side a try for the Vermilion Flycatcher when we ran into John Haddock of Buena Vista Audubon Society who leads the bird count at this lake every first Saturday of the month. What a treat it was to walk along with him while he pointed out interesting areas to look for certain birds. He pointed out a nice male Common Yellowthroat singing away nearby.

Common Yellowthroat, Geothlypis trichas  measures 5 inches long with a wingspan of 6.75 inches.

As we were hiking through an overgrown trail, Eve heard a Hutton's Vireo calling and calling. Ha!!! There he is singing his heart out at the top of a 30 ft tree. 
 Hutton's Vireo, Vireo huttoni  measures 5 inches long with a wingspan of 8 inches.
 They are small and stocky and may look very much like the Ruby-crowned Kinglet.

What a fun time we had looking for the Hutton's Vireo. Boy, you sure can tell it's breeding season... look at him singing!
 Drab olive color on the belly.
 Round head.

Last shot of the Hutton's Vireo and we start back towards the parking area. 

John said he had to get going but before he left he showed us a Barn Owl resting in the cool shade. Thanks again John!  Your wonderful sense of humor and expert knowledge of birds made for a fantastic day trip to the lake.  Here is a shot of his Barn Owl.

Eve suggested we go on to the east side just to see if we might spot a vermilion there but still no luck. We did see turtle beach with lots of huge turtles resting on the shoreline. 

Turtles everywhere! They are all over the place, in the water, logs, and land. Here is a shot of some Northern Shovelers flying over several turtles in the middle of the lake.

The Red-tailed Hawks owned the sky at Whelan Lake. A few shots of them flying north of the lake.
 An exciting chase captured on the other side of the lake.
One beauty flew right over us. 

We decided to check the west side one more time for the Vermilion before we went home but still no luck. Heading back to the parking lot and getting ready to go home, Eve spotted a large beautifully marked Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk in a tall tree facing off with a Cooper's Hawk. 

What an exciting day it has been visiting this beautiful Bird Sanctuary. A great place for bird watching but quite a challenging place to photograph birds. Trying to get a close-up shot of a duck was impossible. I did get a far shot of a male Wood duck on our drive out of the Sanctuary when we crossed over a cement water channel. Eve spotted a pair of Wood Ducks swimming below. Knowing how spooky these ducks were, I opted to get a few shots from Eve's car. I asked for her to roll the window down and took a few quick shots. Thinking maybe I would have a chance for a close look I got out of the car and walked quietly towards the man-made creek but was immediately spotted by them.  There were only tail shots to be had by the time I got my camera on them. 

Hope you had a wonderful St. Patrick's Day yesterday and that your weekend will be a good one!