Getting up early at KQ Ranch and greeting the morning sun. The clouds made for some beautiful bright yellow and orange shades breaking through the darkness of the night. We were eager to hurry with breakfast and head for Lake Cuyamaca again to see what bird subjects were there to see.
We stood at the east ridge of the campground that overlooks the valley below. The light from the sun beautifully outlined the hills below. What a beautiful sight to see.
Dawn fading and yielding to the bright sun peeking over the hills.
The drive to Lake Cuyamaca is a visual treat. The open range and nearby hills gives you a feeling of what California used to look like before it was settled by millions. People seeking to live in the land with the best climate in the world. Looking up at the sky as I stepped out of the camper van, I saw a large bird soaring. It was quite a surprise to see that it was an Osprey flying so high that it was almost impossible to identify him without a zoom lens. He soon moved on flying south.
If you walk over to the east side of the far south parking lot at Lake Cuyamaca, there is an orchard with lots of apple trees. With so many birds around the orchard, you could spend the whole time birding just at the orchard. Here a Dark-eyed Junco gets a drink from the orchard's drip watering system.
Getting a drink.
All of a sudden the chirping sounds of the birds go silent. I find the reason for the quiet and he is hidden in a nearby tree. It appears to be a Cooper's Hawk looking for breakfast.
Looking towards the lake, I spot the female Belted Kingfisher busy hunting for prey.
A movement is seen on a nearby apple tree. It is a male Red-naped Sapsucker.
He helps himself to a nice juicy ripe apple. Yes, it really is apple harvest time, not only for the people of Julian but also for the birds too.
The Sapsucker appears to be really enjoying his meal.
A close-up. Red-naped Sapsucker, Sphyrapicus nuchalis measures 8.5 inches long with a wingspan of 16 inches.
It's a joy to see this beautiful bird perched next to the red ripe apples.
The male's chin is all red. The females will have some white on their chins.
Here he shows us his bright red chin feathers. Note: Some females may have all red chins and may look very similar to the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.
A good look at the top of his head.
He spots another apple and moves up the branch to get into better position for his "apple harvest".
A good side view of this gorgeous Sapsucker.
He is getting a nice harvest. lol...Looks more like apple sauce.
Enjoying his apple breakfast.
Digging down to the bottom of the juicy apple.
A nice pose before he flies off.
A female stops by for an instant. Just long enough for me to get a quick shot. Notice the white under her chin that identifies this sapsucker as a female.
A Male is seen nearby.
We get a look at the underwing and belly. This may be a youngster just coming into his adult plumage.
A Mountain Chickadee lands in a pine tree next to the apple orchard.
Mountain Chickadee, Poecile gambeli measures 5.25 inches long with a wingspan of 8.5 inches.
Looking for seeds in the pine cones.
He flies and flutters between the pines and searches out the cones. Here we get to see his underwings.
He leaps from one branch to another. Here is a good look at his underside.
It is really hard to follow this quick moving bird.
They will forage on the ground too.
A movement in the orchard gets my attention. It is a Steller's Jay. He is also here for the apple harvest.
The Jay has a beak full of apple pulp.
A look at the white streaks on the forehead. Marks that identify this bird as an Adult Interior West Steller's Jay.
He has a long dark crest that is easy to ID from other Jays.
Steller's Jay, Cyanocitta stelleri measures 11.5 inches long with a wingspan of 19 inches. He poses long enough for a shot but soon flies off. This has been a wonderful day at the apple orchard of Lake Cuyamaca watching the birds harvest the beautiful ripe apples. The sky is looking dark and rain may be on the way. It's time to head for home.
Have a wonderful weekend everyone!