Monday, March 9, 2009

California Birds

I'm glad my brother lives in California because it's a birder's paradise! With only 1 day available for birding, we spent most of our birding time in Sutter, Yolo, and Colusa counties which is the area closest to where my brother lives. This area is part of the agricultural region of the Central Valley, so a lot of it is quite rural and there are also plenty of wetlands.

The highlight of our afternoon was a visit to Colusa National Wildlife Refuge. Lots of ponds, both deep and shallow, so the area was attractive to shorebirds and waterfowl alike. Here are a few photos I took Friday afternoon. It was a perfect day for birding!

Snow Geese, Northern Pintails, Mallards, and Greater White-Fronted Geese

A closer look at the Greater White-Fronted Geese
At Colusa NWR, we also saw the White-Tailed Kite, a Bald Eagle, a Black Phoebe, lots of White-Faced Ibis, Marsh Wrens, and several sparrows and hawks that I didn't have the expertise to identify.

On our way to San Francisco on Saturday, my brother took us over to Travis AFB to see if we could get a look at the Burrowing Owls he's seen there on previous occasions. Fortunately, the owls were cooperative that day. Here's a cute pair just minding their own business and sunbathing outside their burrow.

I couldn't resist pulling out my birdJam and playing a little burrowing owl call out the car window. Mrs. Owl wasn't impressed, but Mr. Owl didn't like hearing that other owl one bit, Nosirree!! Here's a picture of his "I'm gonna kick some owl butt!" reaction. We could even hear him calling back.
We didn't stay there very long, my brother was worried the MPs would come by and move us along, so we left after about 5 minutes, but it was fun to see these little owls.

Loggerhead Shrike

Black Crowned Night Heron
This handsome guy was perched right outside the restaurant where we had lunch on Saturday in San Francisco. I really dig his pretty dark red eyes and those long jazzy plumes hanging down from the back of his head.

Snowy Egret
This bird was standing at the edge of the water right outside our restaurant in San Francisco. Every so often one of us would spot him catching a little fish. Isn't his plumage beautiful? And don't you just love those crazy yellow feet? What a cool bird!

Here's a juvenile Double-Crested Cormorant atop a utility pole along one of the canals running next to Robbins where my brother lives. He said the cormorants like to congregate in this area every morning.

I have no complaints about my trip to California except for one thing--it was TOO SHORT!! There are so many neat places and things to see here! We didn't even get to do any coastal or mountain birding, so those opportunities will have to wait till another time. This was a perfect time of year to go--the daytime temps were in the 60's each and there was almost no wind. Lots of blooming flowers and blossoming trees, plus green grass and palm trees everywhere--just the thing to perk up winter-weary Minnesotans!

I will have more pictures and stories from California in my next post, so stay tuned!


Chicken Mama said...

Oh, Ruthie!

After seeing all that green grass and returning to Minnesota in MARCH, you're gonna have PVD! (Post-Vacation Depression!)


Lynne said...

Such neat pix!!! I especially love the Black-crowned Night Heron. I want to see Burrowing Owls SOOOOO badly. Good for you for seeing them!

Can't wait to hear more.

Gaelyn said...

You saw a lot for only one day of birding. I absolutely love the burrowing owls. Looks like you got their attention.
Great captures. Look forward to more.

Mama Pea said...

Wow, what a whole lot of (different) birds that you saw! Your eyes must have been poppin' trying to take it all in. Thanks for all the pics so we could enjoy your vacation, too. (California sure does look different than Minnie-soda.)

RuthieJ said...

Hi Chicken Mama,
Do you know it's been almost a whole week since I last wore long johns? The PVD will set in tomorrow when I have to get them back out of the drawer again as winter rears its ugly head once more!

Hi Lynne,
That Black-Crowned Night Heron was right in downtown San Francisco! I couldn't believe it. They're so reclusive around here.

Hi Gaelyn,
I was really amazed at the numbers of birds too for one day. I need to study up on my western birds a little more if I get out there again, because there were so many that I couldn't ID.

Hi Mama Pea,
There were birds everywhere a person looked. And it was nice enough that I could crack the bedroom window and just sit there and listen to them singing at sunrise. That was a treat too!

Red said...

Glad you got back alright... sorry it's still winter there.

Fantastic pics of Colusa! I will definitely have to head there. Looks like a gorgeous area beyond the birds too.

The owls were awesome and I was glad to see them bigger than on your camera :) How fun. I've never seen a wild owl at all.

dAwN said...

Howdee Ruthie..
Wow...great birding there! Glad you got away from the cold weather..and too bad you couldn't have stayed longer.
I love all your birdie photos..
especially the burrowing owls...I sooooooo want to see one or two or three..ok one..I will be happy with just one.
And also..I love that you caption above the photo...I do that too..I just feel its a natural progression when reading a blog to have the caption above...
I know that doesn't happen much in the REAL world...most captions are under a photo...
anywho.. I Like it.
Looking forward to seeing more photos from your trip!

Jayne said...

How neat to just see those birds lounging around outside the restaurants! Glad you had a good trip and good time with your brother Ruthie. XOXO

Anonymous said...

What fabulous pics of all the birds it truly is a birders paradise. I'm looking forward to more "CA Vacation" pics. I'm glad you had such a wonderful time.


troutbirder said...

Very nice pics. And there you are racking up one lifer after another and its been months for me. Way to go!

dguzman said...

OH SWEET! Boy, I can't wait to move to CA this summer. Thanks for the preview!

Shelly said...

Fun! What a great day. I'll have to book a trip out west soon :)

Lisa at Greenbow said...

What a fun birdy time you are having Ruthie. Burrowing Owl is one of my favorite owls. Those eyes are so intrigueing.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Red,
We're back to winter here -- I believe I heard it's supposed to be around zero when we wake up tomorrow morning. :-(
I'm glad I have some sunny California memories to keep me going!

Thanks Dawn for your kind words. I also like seeing everything in order when I'm scrolling down through the blog.
I hope you get to see some burrowing owls--are they getting rarer in Florida now too?

Hi Jayne,
I sure wish I could have spent more time in California, but it just gives me another reason to visit again someday.

Hi Mom,
It was a really nice visit, just too short.

Don't despair Troutbirder--spring migration is just around the corner and then you'll be adding some more lifers to your list too.

Hi Delia,
You're scheduled to move in July right? Are you heading to the Bay area? It's great for birdwatching (and people watching too!)

Hi Shelly,
I would highly recommend a trip to California for anyone in a northern state this time of year. Fly into Sacramento--the airport is smaller and the traffic isn't nearly as bad as the Bay Area or LA and the birding there is awesome!

Thanks Lisa, I'm sure glad I got the chance to go and experience a sunny, warm break from the Minnesota winter that keeps hanging on!

Mary C said...

Wow, Ruthie! Red and I MUST add Colusa to our "places to visit" list. It's hard to imagine or visualize what you were trying to tell us on Saturday. Now I see what you meant -- mmm -- I guess quite often it's true that a picture is as good or better than a 1,000 words. ;o) Also, your Black-crowned Night Heron turned out much better than mine. Unfortunately, I'm still learning how to use the camera and new lens as well as learning all the features of this camera. Meanwhile, I'll enjoy your photos of your trip.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Mary,
I hope you get a chance to go to Colusa some day. I thought it was pretty amazing. There were some other places around the Sutter Bypass that Phil said we can check out on my next visit. If you're interested, I'll ask him to send the links so I can share them with you.

Marsha said...

Beautiful variety of birds you saw. How fun to experience it all with your brother.

Mary said...

Wow! Congratulations on so many birds! What I miss seeing is a shorline filled with birds like that... Awesome.

Julie said...

Incredible sights! Thanks for sharing your pictures with us. I saw the night heron you saw here just a few nights ago. It was too dark to get any pictures of him, but it was a real treat to have seen him.

SO, then does Mr. Johnson have a report for us and what he and your fur babies did while you were gone?

Julie said...

Incredible sights! Thanks for sharing your pictures with us. I saw the night heron you saw here just a few nights ago. It was too dark to get any pictures of him, but it was a real treat to have seen him.

SO, then does Mr. Johnson have a report for us and what he and your fur babies did while you were gone?