Thursday, 16 April 2015

California 18th February 2015

So managed to eventually get out into Monterey Bay on one of the whale watching trips on my last full day of the US trip. We saw a lot of Rhinoceros Auklets but most would dive as the boat approached them. Smaller numbers of Cassin's Auklets but these would fly off at even greater distances. A few Black-vented Shearwaters and two Northern Fulmars really the only other proper seabirds around. I was expecting much anyway given the time of year though. Certainly the highlight had to be a very inquisitive Humpback Whale that came right up to another whale watching boat and later came to ours. I've never experienced anything like it before. The exhalant breath was over-powering!

I headed down along the Big Sur coastline to have a look for California Condors. Plenty of Turkey Vultures and a nice pair of Golden Eagles but no condors unfortunately.

Black-vented Shearwater, Heermann's and Western Gulls

Black-vented Shearwater

Black-vented Shearwater

Black-vented Shearwater

Black-vented Shearwater
 
Pacific Fulmar

Pacific Fulmar

Great northern Diver

Great northern Diver

Pacific Diver

Pacific Diver

Pacific Diver

First-winter male Red-breasted Merganser

Surf Scoter

Cassin's Auklet

Cassin's Auklet

Cassin's Auklet

Rhinoceros Auklet

Rhinoceros Auklet

Rhinoceros Auklet

Rhinoceros Auklet

Black Phoebe

Great Blue Heron

Lincoln's Sparrow

Varied Thrush

Harbour Seal


















Humpback Whale

Humpback Whale

Humpback Whale

Humpback Whale

Humpback Whale

Humpback Whale

Pacific Grey Whales
Sea Otter

Sea Otter



 

 

Monday, 13 April 2015

California 17th February 2015 Part 2

A few passerines from the Colusa and Sacramento Refuges.

Belted Kingfisher

Black Phoebe

Cliff Swallow

Cliff Swallow

Tree Swallow
Golden-crowned Sparrow

Marsh Wren

Marsh Wren

Marsh Wren

Marsh Wren

Western Meadowlark
I moved on from these two excellent sites for a bit of twitching. First up was a species that I had missed up until now - Mountain Bluebird. A small flock had been reported near the small town of Dunnigan recently per eBird. I eventually caught up with five or six birds moving over a large area of vineyards along with a single Say's Phoebe. Gorgeous looking birds if a little on the skittish side. I also had my first Yellow-billed Magpie but didn't hang around for long.

Male Mountain Bluebird

Male Mountain Bluebird

Male Mountain Bluebird

Female Mountain Bluebird

Female and male Mountain Bluebird

Say's Phoebe
Last stop of the day was the Levee Road which runs adjacent to Putah Creek just outside Davis town. I spent several hours here as there was an excellent line-up of passerines in the area. My main target here was Lewis's Woodpecker, another striking looking bird and not an easy one to catch up with either. Again eBird proved very valuable here as several had recently been seen along here. I began slowly and methodically searching every trunk and limb of each tree as I went along, expecting typically woodpecker behaviour of hiding its body behind the other side of tree trunk. However I was amazed to see one quite quickly perched completely exposed on the very top of a large tree. While it never really allowed close approach it never purposely hid from me. I later saw another individual later which displayed similar behaviour. A very distinct looking woodpecker with fantastic colours. As it got dark I tried for Western Screech Owl which I hadn't seen yet. No sign of any although there were two Great Horned Owls hooting away and I managed to get fleeting views of one in flight.

Lewis's Woodpecker

Lewis's Woodpecker

Lewis's Woodpecker

Lewis's Woodpecker

Yellow-billed Magpie

Yellow-billed Magpie
American Robin

Audubon's Warbler

Audubon's Warbler

Female Western Bluebird

"Banded" White-crowned Sparrow
 
Eastern Grey Squirrel

Young Eastern Grey Squirrels

Eastern Grey Squirrel

Black-tailed Jackrabbit

Black-tailed Jackrabbit