Wednesday, 25 February 2015

California 1st February 2015

We were finally in California and would remain in the State for the next six days. Our morning spot was in the Santa Rosa/San Jacinto Mountains. The line up of birds here was distinctly different from what we had seen of so far. This would also be one of the few high elevation spots that we visited in California. The quality and quantity was really good. It was particularly good for woodpeckers with six species seen which included Acorn Woodpecker, Williamson's & Red-breasted Sapsuckers, Nuttall's & Hairy Woodpecker and Northern Flicker. We failed on our attempt of White-headed Woodpecker here though. We also clocked up some nice passerines here like California Scrub-Jay (Western Scrub-Jay split into California and Woodhouse's by IOC), Mountain Chickadee, Oak Titmouse, Pygmy Nuthatch, Brown Creeper and Golden-crowned Sparrow (only ones of the tour surprisingly). There seemed to be birds on show all of the time.

American Bushtit

American Robin

Acorn Woodpecker

Acorn Woodpecker

Brown Creeper

California Scrub Jay

"Oregon" Junco

Fox Sparrow

Golden-crowned Sparrow

Hairy Woodpecker

Lesser Goldfinch

Mountain Chickadee

Nuttall's Woodpecker

Pygmy Nuthatch

Red-breasted Sapsucker

Red-breasted Sapsucker

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk
White-breasted Nuthatch

William's Sapsucker

William's Sapsucker

Our next stop was along the way to San Diego. We were travelling along the Ramona Expressway when we passed a large farmyard pond which had good numbers of gulls. This proved to be a very productive site for a larophile like myself. There were about six first-winter Thayer's Gull in amongst the mainly Cailifornia and Ring-bills. There were smaller numbers of American Herring and Glaucous-winged Gulls also present. On reviewing the shots I spotted a likely adult Thayer's candidate which wasn't noticed at the time at all. This pond also attracted a fly-over Merlin and a pair of White-faced Ibis.

White-faced Ibis

First-winter American Herring Gull

Adult California Gull

First-winter California Gull

Mostly California Gull with a few Ring-bills and American Herrrings.

First-winter Thayer's standing in the water with a possible adult on the left.

First-winter Glaucous-winged Gull

First-winter Thayer's Gull

First-winter Thayer's Gull

First-winter Thayer's Gull

Three first-winter Thayer's Gulls

Three first-winter Thayer's Gulls

Two first-winter Thayer's Gull with Ring-billed, California, Glaucous-winged and American Herring Gulls

Our very last stop of the day was at San Jacinto Wildlife Area where the aim was Tricoloured Blackbird. We eventually picked up at least one monotone female which was distinctive against numerous brighter coloured female Red-winged Blackbirds. To finish off the day we had very close views of a Sora Rail right by the track although it typically kept very close to the dense vegetation while the rapidly disappearing light meant that all of my shots were rather blurry.
We made our way south into San Ysidro in the darkness which is only a kilometre away from the Mexican border. The drive was certainly one of the toughest bit of driving I've ever done. Trying to keep up with James's van in rapidly increasing and decreasing speeds in up to six lanes of traffic at times was challenging to the say the least! I was glad when we finally reached our destination.

American Coot

"Harlans" Red-tailed Hawk

"Harlans" Red-tailed Hawk

Sora Rail

Tricoloured Blackbird

Tricoloured Blackbird with Red-winged Blackbird

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