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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Boosting the Year List in California

Even though it's been a mild winter in Washington, it's always a nice time of year to head south and get some warm sunshine. Yesterday we arrived in sunny San Diego where they were experiencing their first "nice" Saturday of the season, at a steamy 90 F. (Seemingly everyone was outside, and we kept hearing it was because of the nice weather - I guess 75 and sunny doesn't cut it for the locals.)

Descending into San Diego
As luck would have it, we just overlapped in San Diego with a friend of mine, so we went to meet him in La Jolla for lunch and a walk on the beach. Despite all the chatting to catch up, my eyes were still ticking off the year birds! Brown pelican (93), whimbrel (94), western gull (95), Heermann's gull (96), ring-billed gull (97), osprey (98), willet (99), marbled godwit (100), long-billed curlew (101), royal tern (102). And this was without camera or bincoulars! So sorry, no pictures. I added one more for the day on the way to our hotel: red-shouldered hawk (103).

This morning we had some time to bird my all-time favorite spot, Batiquitos Lagoon. We had originally planned to check out a new spot before the day heated up, but it was so packed there we drove the extra distance to good ol' Batiquitos. It warmed up quite a bit again while we were there, but the birds didn't seem to mind, as we counted about 40 species in an hour and a half there.

Again, the year birds came fast and furious, so much so that I lost count of how many I added until making up the list at the end of the day. First were the mourning doves (104) just after stepping out of the car, followed quickly by house finch (105) - you can tell I still had quite a few of the regular/expected species to add. But then the good stuff started coming! Wrentits (106), snowy egret (107), great egret (108):

Great egret
One of the bigger surprises was two pairs of lesser goldfinches (109)!

Male (green-backed morph) lesser goldfinch
California towhee (110):

California towhee
A black-bellied plover (111) was in with some willets. A nice flock of ruddy ducks (112) were out in the lagoon that was dominated mostly by wigeon and coot. I heard a few common yellowthroat (113). We saw a pair of copulating Cooper's hawks, and what looked like a house wren (114) feeding a fledgling already. There were hummingbirds all over the place but the lighting was never right to identify them with the exception of one male Anna's, but I did see several Cassin's kingbirds (115).

A couple of bushtits (116) were foraging on the ground near a lizard - I love these cute little guys.

Several yellow-rumped warblers (117) foraged with the house finches and song sparrows in the tree tops. After reaching our turnaround point, three American white pelicans (118) flew overhead. I just got the camera up in time to catch the last one before it disappeared behind the trees:

American white pelican)
Since we had also heard marsh wrens near the trailhead, this Bewick's wren (119) made the third wren species of the day:

Bewick's wren
On the way back we added mallard, killdeer, and a singing savannah sparrow (120) to the day list, as well as this long-billed curlew:

Long-billed curlew
Finally, back at the car, I saw a northern mockinbird (121), capping off the morning with a whopping 18 new species added to the year list at Batiquitos (and 29 in my first 24 hours in California). This only serves to get me back in the mix with Dave, who at last count was at 122. It also gives me a nice lead on my dad, at 97, but only momentarily, as he's got a trip up later this month!

Next up the focus will be a bit more on marine mammals than on birds, but you know I never stop looking at the bird life either! By this time next week I expect to have some truly spectacular photos to share.

1 comment:

Vera said...

It is great to catch up on the details of your trip so far.
Looking forward to the next set of photos!