Swainson’s Hawk 3-28-14

Swainson's Hawk over Jacumba 3-29-14

Swainson’s Hawk over Jacumba 3-29-14

Swainson's Hawk

Swainson’s Hawk

Swainson's Hawk

Swainson’s Hawk

This raptor, Swainson’s Hawk, migrates each year from its summering and breeding grounds in  northern British Columbia and central Alberta to Brazil and Argentina – a migration of up to 12,000-14,000 miles.  They accomplish this long migration twice a year by riding air currents up to a high elevation and then gliding as far as they can.  The ride up is practically free, the ride down is free.  So they roost at night and rise in the morning with the first thermals – often grouping up with turkey vultures – and taking an elevator ride up.

These birds stream through San Diego County in large numbers – up to 600 or more being seen in Borrego Springs in one day.  Borrego Springs has the highest number of Swainson’s hawk sightings in the US. The flight path that takes them to Borrego is not entirely understood, but its likely that Jacumba is in their general flight path. I suspect that this species is a regular visitor that arrives silently in small numbers in the late afternoon/early evening and has just not been noticed. I do not know if there are any older records for Jacumba, but I found none in a quick search.

Swainson’s once were considered a common breeding species in San Diego County. There are records of breeding (summer residents) from 1877 and up to the early 20th century.

Trent Stanley noticed this bird flying low over my backyard at 7:15 pm on the 28th.  The last bit of twilight was all that lit up the hawk, but the view through binoculars said Swainson’s hawk.  We searched a bit for it, but it was too dark to see much.

The next morning at 9:00 we saw the hawk join the kettle of turkey vultures and take a free elevator ride up to gliding altitude.

 

Also……

Black-chinned Hummingbird 3-24-14

Black-chinned Hummingbird 3-24-14

Black-chinned Hummingbird 3-24-14

Black-chinned Hummingbird 3-24-14

Here we have an odd-looking black-chinned hummingbird.  The white outer tail feathers and white secondaries are unusual.

 

 

 

Migrants Arrive in Force 3/23/14

Costa's Hummingbird

Costa’s Hummingbird

Black-chinned Hummingbird

Black-chinned Hummingbird

 

Anna's Hummingbird

Anna’s Hummingbird

 

Rufous Hummingbird

Rufous Hummingbird

Besides the Calliope Hummingbird that showed up on March 8, I’ve had Rufous, Allen’s Costa’s and a few Black-chinned Hummingbirds at the feeders in my backyard. This represents all of the species that we usually get in San Diego County.  Rare but possible is the Broad-billed Hummingbird from Arizona.   Long shots are the Lucifer or Magnificent Hummingbirds.  The reader may navigate to my SmugMug account and navigate to my hummingbird gallery.

Link to Hummers and SE Arizona Birds

Hooded Oriole - female

Hooded Oriole – female

 

Bullock's Oriole - adult male

Bullock’s Oriole – adult male

Bullock's Oriole - female

Bullock’s Oriole – female

Hooded Oriole - first summer male

Hooded Oriole – first summer male

Scott's Oriole - female

Scott’s Oriole – female

Scott's Oriole - adult male

Scott’s Oriole – adult male

Hooded Orioles - adult males

Hooded Orioles – adult males

This week I’ve had a constant parade of orioles – hooded and Bullock’s migrants as well as the resident Scott’s – visiting my orange and hummingbird feeders.  Almost like Madera Canyon in SE Arizona.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Calliope Hummingbird 3-8-14

Calliope Hummingbird

 

Calliope Hummingbird

Calliope Hummingbird

This bird was not on my radar. Usually seen along the coast in small numbers from mid-april through early May, I was not expecting this small hummingbird at all. Better, this is a very early date for this species.  They do not spend the winter in any place close.  Paul Lehman told me that they are seen at feeders in the Imperial Valley, so an individual at Jacumba is not amazingly unusual.

 

Calliope Hummingbird

Calliope Hummingbird

Last week I had a black-chinned hummingbird at my feeder, another very early hummer.

Some other decent birds seen in the last couple of days.

Female Scott's Oriole

Female Scott’s Oriole

Scott's Oriole - adult male

Scott’s Oriole – adult male

 

Yellow-headed Blackbird

Yellow-headed Blackbird

 

Vermilion Flycatcher

Vermilion Flycatcher

 

Vermilion Flycatcher

Vermilion Flycatcher

 

Tricolored Blackbird

Tricolored Blackbird

 

Sagebrush Lizard

Sagebrush Lizard

 

Hooded Orioles Arrive 2-24-14

Hooded Oriole  Icterus cucullatus

Hooded Oriole
Icterus cucullatus

These spring migrants, a local breeding species, usually arrive at the end of February in small numbers in the county. They usually do not arrive in numbers until mid March.  Today (2-24-14) I was surprised to have two bright and shy males at my hummingbird feeders.

 

Hooded Oriole  Icterus cucullatus

 

EGK_0483EGK_0286EGK_0225Another first-of-season bird today was Costa’s Hummingbird.

Costa's Hummingbird ~ Calypte costae

Costa’s Hummingbird ~ Calypte costae

 

 

 

 

Legendary Clark’s Nutcracker at Laguna Recreation Area

Clark's Nutcracker - a mythical bird!

Clark’s Nutcracker – a mythical bird!

Laguna Recreation Area February 16, 2014.

The Clark’s Nutcracker is one of the most frustratingly difficult birds to find in San Diego County. It is relatively common in the nearby San Jacinto wilderness – just a tramway ride above Palm Springs – but here in San Diego County the recent sightings are very few and far between because, as the experts say, the bird prefers higher altitudes than we offer.

A relative of crows and jays, the Clark’s Nutcracker specializes in pine nuts and bugs that it pulls from under the bark of trees.  It is large and conspicuous.  They are known to raid campsites or hang around campgrounds for handouts.

Dan King located three of these mythical birds while out looking for Cassin’s Finches in the Laguna Recreation Area just off of Sunrise Highway.  Why are they here?  It is plausible that the ongoing drought has driven them from higher elevations looking for food.

A steady stream of birders and photographers have made the 20-minute hike off the road to see these fantastic creatures in the last two days.

What a treat!

The mythical Clark's Nutcracker

The mythical Clark’s Nutcracker

Clark's Nutcracker

Clark’s Nutcracker

Clark’s Nutcracker was named for William Clark of Lewis & Clark fame.  Lewis had an oddly colored woodpecker named after him – Lewis’ Woodpecker.

Lewis's Woodpecker

Lewis’ Woodpecker ~ Santee Lakes 2007

 

Lawrence’s Goldfinch & Rufous Hummer 2-15-14

Three male Lawrence's Goldfinches

Three male Lawrence’s Goldfinches

Although I’ve found solo Lawrence’s Goldfinches on several occasions this winter, today I had five at the swamp and three in my yard.  These are the most striking finches we see around Jacumba.

Rufous Hummingbird

Rufous Hummingbird

I’ve not seen one of these, or its close relative, the Allen’s Hummingbird since October 11.  This is is a Rufous Hummingbird.  Allen’s have extensive green on their backs.  Some Rufous Hummers have green backs also, making them difficult to differentiate.  If there is no green on the back, its a Rufous.

Lincoln's Sparrow

Lincoln’s Sparrow

This spiffy Lincoln’s Sparrow appeared at my water feature this morning.

Local Scenes around Jacumba

Railroad Shed

Railroad Shed

Here are some photographs of Jacumba.  They are not in any particular order.  Most taken with Iphone 4S.  Above, a random shot of a hardware shed in warm morning light.

Carrizo Gorge Railway locomotives

Carrizo Gorge Railway locomotives

The Pyramid, AKA the Heptolith at the Wizard's playgound

The Pyramid, AKA the Heptolith, at the Wizard’s playgound

Summer Storm

Summer Storm

Above taken with Nikon D7000/ 24mm lens.

 

Kirk Roberts art.

Kirk Roberts art.

The fence at rear is not electrified.  This is a cool object by artist Kirk Roberts, the owner of the Institute of Perception.

Water feature

Water feature

Tank at Mountain Spring

Tank at Mountain Spring

The spring at Mountain Springs is directed to this old (1940s?) tank.  Wildlife, especially the wild sheep use it.

The remains of the stage stop at Mountain Springs

The remains of the stage stop at Mountain Springs

Hre are rock wall remains at the old (1889) stage stop at Mountain Springs.  The stage coach trail is visible behind.

 

 

 

Early Migrants January/February 2014

Sage Thrasher 2-2-14

Sage Thrasher 2-2-14

Here we have a Sage Thrasher.  According to Phil Unitt’s Birds of San Diego County (1985) this bird is usually not seen until late February.  But I believe that recent years have seen early arrivals.  Terry Hunefeld reported them at Clark Dry Lake near Borrego Springs last week.  So its safe to say that the arrival dates for this bird have gotten earlier.  Sage Thrashers are though to be more closely related to Northern Mockingbirds than our other Thrashers.  Both Thrashers and Mockingbirds are members of a family of birds called “mimids”

Sage Thrasher at Drip

Sage Thrasher at Drip

Sage Thrasher 1-29-14

Sage Thrasher 1-29-14

 

The same morning, as I was preoccupied with the thrasher, I heard the distinctive song of Scott’s Oriole in the desert juniper scrub .  There were two males, a bright adult and a slightly greenish one.  These birds could be migrants, or they could be birds that have wintered locally.  I’ve seen Scott’s Orioles twice in town this fall and winter.

Scott's Oriole

Scott’s Oriole 1-29-14

Scott's Oriole

Scott’s Oriole 1-29-14

Hermit Thrushes have been regular at the swamp.  These birds are winter residents.

Hermit Thrush

Hermit Thrush