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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Mixed Flock at British Camp

This afternoon I took a hike at British Camp to see what sort of bird activity was going on there. There was surprisingly little activity on the water - the regular gathering of double-crested cormorants hanging out on the pilings across the bay and a few unidentified gulls, and that was it. The woods, however, were much busier, and I came across a large mixed flock of birds. I knew they were there because I heard them up in the treetops, but the first one to come down and check me out was this golden-crowned kinglet:

The kinglets seemed to make up the majority of the flock, but I also saw the expected chestnut-backed chickadees and red-breasted nuthatches. I was looking for any ruby-crowned kinglets that might be mixed in when a ruby-crowned kinglet look-alike popped into view: a Hutton's vireo. These guys look very similar to the ruby-crowned kinglet, but have a much stouter beak (compare to the golden-crowned kinglet's beak above) and also lack the black behind the second wing bar.

There was one other species I thought was likely to be in this flock, and sure enough just before I moved on I saw three or four brown creepers. They can be difficult to photograph, but this one was quite obliging for a moment, allowing me to get this photograph:

I heard a few spotted towhees and a northern flicker, and saw an American goldfinch in the parking lot as I was leaving, but that little hotspot was definitely the highlight of my birding walk.

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