Cassin’s Finch 2-24-15

Cassin's Finch 2-24-15

Cassin’s Finch female at my feeder 2-24-15

Cassin’s Finch is a a bird usually seen in the higher mountain areas of the county, and while it is not uncommon, it can be difficult to find.  I’ve seen them at the Laguna Park HQ, and along the trail from Sunrise Highway out to the Laguna Meadow.  They were not on my radar for Jacumba.  But here they are.  Go figure. On the 20th I was birding with others, and we saw these finches which we passed off as the more common and similar Purple Finch. Nancy Chistensen posted a pic online and Terry H. suggested that it was a Cassin’s. Nancy’s bird seems to be the first Cassin’s Finch seen at Jacumba.  Maybe yes, maybe no.

Cassin's Finch 2-24-15

Cassin’s Finch 2-24-15

Bonaparte's Gull 2-23-15

Bonaparte’s Gull 2-23-15

On Monday, 2-23-15, I was at the pond and noticed a small gull.  I got some decent shots, and consulted my Sibley’s Guide.  I knew that lit was not one of our very common gulls, and found that it matched Bonaparte’s.  It also looks like the ultra-rare Little Gull, so I went back to the lake to see if I couldn’t get some better looks.  Alas, it was gone.  We often get oddball birds at the lake after a big wind.  I don’t know of any records for this bird in Jacumba.  The Bird Atlas shows no local records.

Evening Grosbeak 2-25-15

Evening Grosbeak 2-25-15

The pair of Evening Grosbeaks still tease any birder who trys to find them.  This morning I noticed them up in one of my trees.  I expected them to come down to feed, in competition with the Tricolored Blackbird mob, or go to water feature.  No, they just flew off.  I found them later in a tall pine near the north end of Campo Street.

Tricolored Blackbirds 2-24-15

Tricolored Blackbirds 2-24-15.  The bird in the center may be a common red-winged.

Treicolored Blackbirds, mostly adult males, mob the feeder.

Treicolored Blackbirds, mostly adult males, mob the feeder.

Harry J. Anslinger 1892-1975

Harry J. Anslinger 1892-1975

Anslinger was our first drug czar, a real piece of work. He was appointed by Herbert Hoover in 1930 and fired by JFK in 1961.  He was personally responsible for boatloads of problems that we are not yet over.  He looks just like my grandfather Goldstone.   Enjoy.

 

Evening Grosbeaks 2-16-15

Evening Grosbeak Adult Male 2-16-15

Evening Grosbeak Adult Male 2-16-15

Evening Grosbeak Female 2-16-15

Evening Grosbeak Female 2-16-15

A pair of large goldfinches, Evening Grosbeaks, appeared in my yard this morning.  In December 2012 I had a female which lingered until April 2013. They are highly unusual in San Diego County.

 

Yesterday the first of season Rufous Hummingbird showed up.  Last year the bird showed up on the same date.  I thought I’d been seeing a male Costa’s hummer for the last several days, and yesterday I got some pics of him, also.

Rufous Hummingbird 2-15-15

Rufous Hummingbird 2-15-15

Costa's Hummingbird 2-15-15

Costa’s Hummingbird 2-15-15

Lucrezia Borgia

Lucrezia Borgia

Lewis’ Woodpecker at Boulevard 2-9-15

Lewis' Woodpecker 2-9-15

Lewis’ Woodpecker 2-9-15

Last week, while on a bicycle ride in the morning I took the little side-road, a narrow cement by-passed section of Old US 80 at the east end of  Bankhead Springs and found a flock of about 35 Band-tailed Pigeons.  These large birds are the closest living relative to the extinct Passenger Pigeon.  I’ve seen a single bird at the swamp and at my feeders this winter.  There has been a mini-invasion of them this year in unusual places, especial along the coast.  Boulevard has decent enough habitat, lots of oaks, for these birds.  Perhaps they will stick around.  I doubt it.

Just later on the same ride, as I passed McCain Valley Road, I saw a brilliantly colored Lewis’ Woodpecker, a regular winter visitor to San Diego County, and not too far from its usual wintering grounds.  I returned the next morning with my camera and attempted to get some pics, but the bird was a bit shy and my pics were lousy.

Lewis' Woodpecker 2-9-15

Lewis’ Woodpecker 2-9-15

I did notice on my first photographic visit, that there were at least two birds, and they were aggressive in defending their territory, a small oak woodland, from the resident acorn woodpeckers.  As soon as an acorn woodpecker would get close, one of the Lewis’ would chase it off. The Lewis’ were usually out of sight otherwise.

Lewis’ woodpecker was named for Meriwether Lewis, a leader of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.  Clark got an aggressive corvid named after him, Clark’s Nutcracker, which I reported on about a year ago.  Legendary Clark’s Nutcracker at Laguna Recreation Area 2-16-2014. You could look it up.

Lewis' Woodpecker 2-9-15

Lewis’ Woodpecker 2-9-15

Lewis' Woodpecker 2-9-15

Lewis’ Woodpecker 2-9-15

A Nuttall’s woodpecker has been doing some excavation in my Cottonwood tree, preparing a new nest cavity.  Two years ago two of these pairs nested in the tree.  Last year a starling took over the nest hole.

Nuttall's Woodpecker 2-8-15

Nuttall’s Woodpecker 2-8-15

Nuttall's Woodpecker 2-8-15

Nuttall’s Woodpecker 2-8-15

American Avocet

American Avocet




 

 

 

 

 

Salton Sea Digiscoping – Roseate Spoonbill

Roseate Spoonbill Digiscoped Pic 1-11-15

Roseate Spoonbill Digiscoped Pic 1-11-15

The Roseate Spoonbil,l Ajaia ajar, is a large wading bird related to ibises. They are common in the Gulf of Mexico and less common around the northern Sea of Cortez. The are very rare in Southern California, but are occasionally are seen at the Salton Sea, in Imperial County.  This morning the air was cool and there was no heat shimmer, which often makes long distance photos impossible.  The lighting was flat/diffuse with no shadows due to a moderate overcast. These photos were taken with my old iPhone 4s mounted on to a Kowa 88mm spotting scope with a cool adaptor at maximum magnification (60x).  The distance was about 0.9 miles, more-or-less. The iPhone has a digital image enlarger which helps a lot.

iPhone 4s 1/300th second, f2.4 ISO 50, 233mm (35mm) focal length.  Scope at 60 power.

Roseate Spoonbill 1-11-15 Salton Sea

Roseate Spoonbill 1-11-15 Salton Sea

Roseate Spoonbill 1-11-15 Salton Sea

Roseate Spoonbill 1-11-15 Salton Sea

Also seen was a nicely pink flamingo.  In think that its a Lesser Flamingo, Phoeniconaias minor.  An escapee from Las Vegas, perhaps.

Flamingo 1-11-15 Salton Sea

Flamingo 1-11-15 Salton Sea

Flamingom1-11-15 Salton Sea

Flamingo 1-11-15 Salton Sea

Jacumba Valley Ranch 1-1-15

Jacumba Valley Ranch is the large (1250 acre) abandoned agricultural area just to the east of residential Jacumba.   The lake and swamp have been less than productive for the last month or so, and I only visit two three times a week.

The Ranch, however, has become more interesting.  I’ve been doing a loop along the west end extending up to the giant power lines that bisect it.   The most productive area is the border between the old ag fields and the railroad tracks.   On New Years Day I found Sage Thrasher, Mountain Bluebird, Vesper Sparrow, Bell’s Sparrow (thank you Paul L), Chipping Sparrow, Cactus Wren, Rock Wren, Horned Lark and Merlin in this area.

A lot of The Ranch if engulfed in tumbleweed, but there are significant areas of bare earth which I will try to survey in the next few weeks.  I think that Mountain Plovers are possible.  I dunno.

It snowed quite a built, for Jacumba, the morning of 12-31-14, and there still was a lot of snow left on the ground on 1-1-15.  I’ve included a few pics of the snow.

Also of interest, the snow brought an invasion of  the common Dark-eyed Juncos.  Seems to be about ten times as many.  Sapsuckers seem to have left town.  Tricolored Blackbird numbers are low.

Bell's Sparrow

Bell’s Sparrow

Cactus Wren

Cactus Wren

Vesper Sparrow

Vesper Sparrow

Merlin

Merlin

Sage Thrasher

Sage Thrasher

My backyard on 12-31-14

My backyard on 12-31-14

Jacumba Valley Ranch 12-31-14

Jacumba Valley Ranch 12-31-14

wabbit

wabbit

Sage Thrasher et al 11-28-14

This morning Trent Stanley & I birded Jacumba.  The best birds were around the east end of town, in the crappy bare-earth habitat just east of the Highland Center, along the south side of Old US 80.

Mountain Bluebird

Mountain Bluebird

Mountain Bluebird

Mountain Bluebird

We found 50-100 Mountain Bluebirds along with a decent number of American Pipits and Horned Larks. When we started, about 7:00 a.m., there ere only two bluebirds present, but by 7:45 the full regiment had arrived. I will spend some time this evening, or tomorrow perhaps, going through the Pipits & friends with my scope.

On the way back to the truck we noticed a distinctive bird directly overhead, it lit on a wire and Trent was able to get some distance shots.  A rather early Sage Thrasher.

 

Sage Thrasher 11-28-14 Trent Stanley photo.

Sage Thrasher 11-28-14 Trent Stanley photo.

Here’s some additional photos from the last several day’s birding.

Lark Sparrow

Lark Sparrow

Common Raven with the remains of a Kangaroo Rat - Stephens' ?

Common Raven with the remains of a Kangaroo Rat – Stephens’ ?  Thanksgiving Dinner!

sd 1935 stamp

Mountain Bluebirds 11-25-14

Mountian Bluebird 11-25-14.

Mountain Bluebird 11-25-14.

Last year I didn’t find these guys until December 20.  This one needs a better wig. I found about 6 of these birds in the bare-earth ag fields on the south side of Old US 80 between the Highland Center and the two rustic homes with the wonderful tumbleweed displays.  The birds were widely distributed as they foraged.

Mountain Bluebird 11-25-14

Mountain Bluebird 11-25-14

Vesper Sparrow  11-25-14

Vesper Sparrow 11-25-14

I’m surprised that I have not seen a Vesper Sparrow earlier.  It’s a close relative to the very common Savannah sparrow.  I found 2 while looking for the Mountain Bluebirds.

Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwings usually show up in gangs to raid my pyracanthas.

Fox Sparrow

Fox Sparrow

I see this Fox Sparrow in my yard every couple of days.  He scratches at the leaf litter, like a towhee, with his gigantic feet.

Myrtle Warbler, left, and Red-breasted Nuthatch 11-8-14

Myrtle Warbler, left, and Red-breasted Nuthatch 11-8-14

The Myrtle Warbler, left, is the eastern variety of the common-as-dirt Yellow-rumped Warbler.  The western version is called “Audubon’s Warbler.”

Myrtle Warbler 11-18-14

Myrtle Warbler 11-18-14

Audubon's Warbler 11-7-14

Audubon’s Warbler 11-7-14

This isn't Kansas, either.

This isn’t Kansas, either.

 

Yardbirds ~ November 10, 2014

Townsend's Solitaire 11-10-14

Townsend’s Solitaire 11-10-14

White-breasted Nuthatch 11-10-14

White-breasted Nuthatch 11-10-14

Red-breasted Nuthatch 11-10-14

Red-breasted Nuthatch 11-10-14

Western Bluebirds, male left, and female.  11-10-14

Western Bluebirds, male left, and female or immature. 11-10-14

American Robin raiding pyracantha with  hidden western bluebird

American Robin raiding pyracantha with hidden western bluebird

Scot's Oriole 11-10-14

Scott’s Oriole 11-10-14

The best bird of the day was a female-type Baltimore Oriole – a yardbird!

perhaps a Baltimore Oriole...?

Baltimore Oriole – female type.  Another awesome Jacumba bird!

 

Today was a pretty good day for birding my yard  in Jacumba.

Besides the birds pictured, I found red-naped sapsucker, red-breasted sapsucker, cedar waxwing(8) hermit thrush (2), budgerigar, sharp-shinned hawk and pine siskin(7).