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).

Brown Thrasher 10-30-14

Just in time for Halloween a Brown Thrasher appeared at the community park.  The thrasher was found foraging through the leaf letter near the fence line at Old US 80. This is a pretty rare bird in Southern California.  The last one I saw was at the now-defunct drip at the Cabrillo Monument in 2007.

Brown Thrasher 10-30-14 at the community park

Brown Thrasher 10-30-14 at the community park

Brown Thrasher 10-30-14 at the community park

Brown Thrasher 10-30-14 at the community park

Brown Thrasher 10-30-14 at the community park

Brown Thrasher 10-30-14 at the community park

The Brown Thrasher breeds in the southeast and winters in Texas and south.  To see one in San Diego County is quite unusual.

 

Also seen today were  three very aggressive Pine Siskins.  They were seen often in the winter of 2012-2013 but I do not recall any county reports for last winter (2013-2014).  The first-of-season siskin showed up on the 26th.

Pine Siskin 10-29-14

Pine Siskin and two lesser goldfinches 10-29-14

 

 

Jacumba Update 10-26-14

Townsend's Solitaire 10-22-14

Townsend’s Solitaire 10-22-14

The Solitaire, first seen at the swamp on October 7, is hanging around.  I’ve seen it several times foraging in my pyracanthas.  Another treat was a Western Tanager in the same pryacantha on the 24th.

Tricolored Blackbird 10-25-14

Tricolored Blackbird 10-25-14

I dunno ... probably just a mutant Red-winged Blackbird

I dunno … probably just a mutant Red-winged Blackbird

Finally .. some nice birds at O’Neil Lake at Camp Pendleton.

Neotropic Cormorant - first county record found by Paul Lehman

Neotropic Cormorant – first county record  – found by Paul Lehman. Photo 10-24-14

This is a bird that has been expanding its range.  Its been in the Imperial Valley for about 6 years, and is successfully breeding.  

American Redstart Camp Pendleton 10-24-14

American Redstart Camp Pendleton 10-24-14

EGK_7757 2

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