Townsend’s Solitaire and more…. 10-14-14

I wouldn’t usually post such a crappy photograph in this blog.  But this is a special occasion! Townsend’s Solitaire is a bird of high montane forests, not Jacumba.  I can only suggest that it was driven to lower elevation by the drought, or perhaps, like last week’s band-tailed pigeon, it stopped by in transit from our mountains to the forests of Baja, which are not too far to the south.

Last Sunday, on a Western Field Ornithologists field trip the same species was noted in flight directly overhead (I didn’t see it).  So this morning I was amazed to see this bird feeding on berries in my pyracantha.  This might be the same bird as seen on Sunday.

Townsend's Solitaire  420mm Nikkor  1/1600 sec f5.6 ISO 4200

Townsend’s Solitaire ~ 1.4TC/ 300mm f4 AFS  Nikkor 1/160 sec f5.6 ISO 4200 ~ just after sunrise.

This morning I found a Chestnut-sided warbler at the eastern edge of town adjacent to the old ag fields.  This is a first-year female.  Another really good bird, an eastern warbler.

Chestnut-sided warbler 10-14-14

Chestnut-sided warbler 10-14-14

Chestnut-sided warbler 10-14-14

Chestnut-sided warbler 10-14-14

Chestnut-sided warbler 10-14-14

Chestnut-sided warbler 10-14-14

Lastly, a flycatcher photographed at the swamp on 10-13-14.  It looks to me to be a Willow Fly, but the primary extension looks to be too short, and there are no bold wing-bars.

Willow flycatcher 10-13-14

Willow flycatcher 10-13-14

Willow flycatcher 10-13-14

Willow flycatcher 10-13-14

 

A Diversion – Tijuana River Valley 10-11-14

Peregrine Falcon Tijuana River Valley 10-11-14

Peregrine Falcon at the Sod Farm, Tijuana River Valley 10-11-14

I have not birded in San Diego since July 2013 so today I met Trent Stanley and we birded in the Tijuana River Valley.  The specific places are called, Diarymart Pond, the Stickpond, the Sod Farm, the Bird & Butterfly Garden, and a riparian area in Nestor, next to some odd Stonehenge-like statuary with a homeless man who looks like Santa Claus and who’s been there for at least three years.

Townsend's warbler Nestor

Townsend’s warbler Nestor

Hermit Thrush at the Bird & Butterfly Garden

Hermit Thrush at the Bird & Butterfly Garden

EGK_6248

Band-tailed Pigeon 10-10-14

Band-tailed Pigeon 10-10-14

Band-tailed Pigeon 10-10-14

This is a bird that was off my radar.  I did not expect to see this species in Jacumba. But, here it is! I found it atop one of the large trees along the east side of the pond.    Band-tailed Pigeons are our largest pigeons.  It is related to the extinct passenger pigeon and the common rock dove, also known as the street pigeon.

The band-tailed pigeon is usually found in montane habitats like Palomar (pigeon roost in Spanish) or the higher mountains of the county.  This bird may be lost, or just in transit between populations in San Diego County and nearby Baja California.

Munia - previously known as nutmeg mannikin 10-9-14

Munia – previously known as nutmeg mannikin 10-9-14

On the 9th, a trio of spotted munias showed up in my yard.  Two female or immature males and a shy adult male.  This last year the bird authorities changed the status of this bird from escaped pet-trade bird to naturalized exotic species.  They have become well established in Southern California, and are easily found along the San Diego River in Mission Valley and the canyons around San Diego.

Fox Sparrow 10-9-14

Fox Sparrow 10-9-14

This fox sparrow showed up in my yard several days ago.  It is a large, dark sparrow, which acts like a towhee, scratching at the ground and working through leaf litter, looking for bugs.

MacGillivray’s Warbler 10-5-14

MacGillivray's Warbler 10-5-14

MacGillivray’s Warbler 10-5-14

MacGillivray's Warbler 10-5-14

MacGillivray’s Warbler 10-5-14

MacGillivray’s warblers are considered to be a “common” western migrant.  But they are hard to find as they are reclusive and usually forage out of sight near the ground and and hidden by brush.

Black-throated gray Warbler 10-5-14

Black-throated gray Warbler 10-5-14

Western Tanager 10-4-14

Western Tanager 10-4-14

Lincoln's sparrow 10-5-14

Lincoln’s sparrow 10-5-14

Vermilion flycatcher 9-30-14

Vermilion flycatcher 9-30-14

This vermilion flycatcher is a hatch-year bird.  Adult males, especially, are brilliantly red.

Prairie Falcon Buckman Springs 9-26-14

Prairie Falcon Buckman Springs 9-26-14

Prairie Falcon Buckman Springs 9-26-14

Prairie Falcon Buckman Springs 9-26-14

Green Heron 10-4-14

Green Heron 10-4-14

 

Autumn Arrivals 9-21-14

Well, close to Autumn anyway.

 

Red-breasted Sapsucker 9-18-14

Red-breasted Sapsucker 9-18-14

The first sapsucker, this red-breasted showed up for a drink on the 18th of September.  

White-crowned sparrow, dark lored

White-crowned sparrow, dark lored

The first white-crowned sparrows of the season are usually the dark lored  variety as shown above.  For comparison, the white lored variety is shown below.

White-crowned sparrow, white lored variety

White-crowned sparrow, white lored variety

A crappy pic of a green tailed towhee

A crappy pic of a green tailed towhee

Rock Wren 9-21-14

Rock Wren 9-21-14

A lingering black-headed grosbeak.

A lingering black-headed grosbeak.

This black-headed grosbeak and its partner were last seen on 9-20-14.

Wilson's warbler

Wilson’s warbler

Lots of these guys still around.

Warbling Vireo 9-17-14

Warbling Vireo 9-17-14

Budgerigar

Budgerigar 9-21-14

Lesser Goldfinch and house sparrow

Lesser Goldfinch and house sparrow

 

 

Fall Migrants and a Few Lingering Summer Birds

Female Blue Grosbeak and Juvenile.  Moms got a tasty snavk for the chillun

Female Blue Grosbeak and Juvenile. Mom’s got a tasty snack for the begging juvenile – lingering summer birds

Blue Grosbeak

Blue Grosbeak

Yellow Warbler

Yellow Warbler

Townsend's Warbler

Townsend’s Warbler

Nashville Warbler

Nashville Warbler

Western Tanager

Western Tanager

Ash-throated Flycatcher - lingering Summer bird

Ash-throated Flycatcher – lingering Summer bird

Pacific-slope Flycatcher

Pacific-slope Flycatcher

Western-wood Pewee

Western-wood Pewee

Lazuli Bunting - female or juvenile

Lazuli Bunting – female or juvenile

Lazuli Bunting - Juvenile

Lazuli Bunting – Juvenile

Phainopepla, female

Phainopepla, female

 

Magnolia Warbler 8-21-14

 

Magnolia Warbler 8-23-14

Magnolia Warbler 8-23-14 at the swamp

Magnolia Warbler 8-23-14

Magnolia Warbler 8-23-14

Magnolia Warbler at the Swamp 8-21-14

Magnolia Warbler at the Swamp 8-21-14

This morning (8-21-14) I stumbled across a rare and very early Fall migrant –  a Magnolia Warbler.  The previous earliest date for this bird in San Diego is September 5. This is an eastern warbler which is considered a vagrant in Southern California.

Blue Grosbeak female with grasshopper ready to be fed to begging juvenile

Blue Grosbeak female with grasshopper ready to be fed to begging juvenile

Western Tanager female

Western Tanager female-looking.  Could be a male.  Note a slight amount of red around the beak.

Chipping Sparrow 8-16-14

Chipping Sparrow 8-16-14

A fall migrant chipping sparrow showed up at my feeders on 8-16-14. The first migrant sparrow of the Fall.

Other recent sightings follow.

Willow Flycatcher

Willow Flycatcher

This species, and other Empidonax flycatchers are difficult to distinguish.  This might be a more-common Western-wood Pewee, but the color and primary projection look more like a Willow fly.

Blue Grosbeak - female type

Blue Grosbeak – female type

Anna's Hummingbird - adult male

Anna’s Hummingbird – adult male

Early Fall Migration 8-8-14

Willow Flycatcher 8-8-14

Willow Flycatcher 8-8-14

Fall migration is well under way, with all the expected birds showing up when expected.  Above, a willow flycatcher.

Wilson’s warbler, warbling vireo, orange-crowned warbler, lazuli bunting, Nashville warbler, western tanager and black-chinned hummingbird have all shown up. The next few weeks should herald the rest of our western warblers: Townsends, black-throated gray, MacGillvirays, yellow-rumped and hermit. Yellow warblers have been present all summer, likely raised a brood.

Black-chinned Hummingbird  8-8-14

Black-chinned Hummingbird 8-8-14

Some of our summer birds will linger for a while. Scott’s and Bullock’s orioles are getting scarce, and adult males seem to have all left.  Few, if any adult male hooded orioles remain, while female and juvenile birds are still common.  There are still male and female black-headed grosbeaks and blue grosbeaks.

Immature hooded oriole, male 8-8-124

Immature hooded oriole, male 8-8-14

Black Phoebe, 8-8-14

Black Phoebe, 8-8-14

Black Phoebe 8-8-14

Black Phoebe 8-8-14

Budgerigar 8-8-14

Budgerigar 8-8-14

The little parakeet showed up on August 2.  There is a budgie breeder in town, and this is the third apparent escapee I’ve had at my feeder.  The bird seems well integrated into the local flock of house sparrows.

Lazuli Bunting

Lazuli Bunting

Warbling Vireo

Warbling Vireo

 

Black Vulture – Second County Record

Black Vulture 8-3-14.  This is only the second record for this species in the county.

Black Vulture 8-3-14. This is only the second record for this species in the county.

Sunday afternoon, after the monsoon had blown out of town, I noticed an odd looking vulture  overhead. I grabbed my binoculars and then my camera and got some crappy photos. But they were enough for me to ID a very rare (in San Diego County) black vulture.  This species is a close relative of the common turkey vulture, the red-headed brown bird that is often seen sunning itself on utility poles in the early morning.

 

The main difference between turkey vultures (TVs) and Black vultures (BVs), are that TVs have red heads and a two-toned underwing pattern.  BVs have black heads and lack the two-toned appearance.  Also, the “fingers” at the ends of the wings on BVs are white or silver.

 

Alas, the black vulture flew off to the northwest, unlikely to be seen again.  But who knows?

Watch the sky.

Black Vulture 8-3-14

Black Vulture 8-3-14

Also seen recently……

Pacific-slope Flycatcher 8-4-14

Pacific-slope Flycatcher 8-4-14

An early migrant flycatcher at the swamp.

Lazuli Bunting 8-4-14

Lazuli Bunting 8-4-14

An adult male Lazuli Bunting seen in the “sunflower lot” on the  north side of Seely Ave.  Another early migrant.

Ash-throated Flycatcher 8-4-14

Ash-throated Flycatcher 8-4-14

The ash-throated fly is a common summer resident and breeding species.

Warbling Vireo

Warbling Vireo

A common fall migrant at the swamp, usually seen in pairs or small flocks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

First Light on new Camera 7-19-14

Female Bullock's Oriole feeding jelly to chick

Female Bullock’s Oriole feeding jelly to chick

My trusty  Nikon D7000 was getting a bit long of tooth. The truth be told, I dropped it a couple of times and the focusing mechanism was shaky.  So I picked up a newer camera body, the D7100.  Many technical improvements.

Indigo Bunting (left) and Western Tanager

Indigo Bunting (left) and Western Tanager

The last time I saw a western tanager in Jacumba was May 31, 2014 at the tail end of the Spring migtration.  This morning as I was looking for the continuing indigo bunting I spied three tanagers.  My first of the Fall migration.   Just a bit early for this species.

Juvenile Scott's Oriole

Juvenile Scott’s Oriole

Adult Male Hooded Oriole

Adult Male Hooded Oriole

 

Juvenile Scott's Oriole

Juvenile Scott’s Oriole