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

 

 

At the Sign of the 76

Union 76 Gasoline Rock Sign

Union 76 Gasoline Rock Sign

Bill Pape pointed this unusual piece of local art - a cultural artifact - on a hillside east of town.    If you stare at this photo for a while you will see the outline of the shield and the letters “UNION” and below, “76″.  This sign would have faced drivers going east on Highway 80 near the new intersection with Carrizo Gorge Road.  I wonder if anyone remembers when this rock sign was installed and who did it?  Is it art? – Or akin to the graffiti that we used to see scribbled on every large boulder.

Sign outlined

Sign outlined

Here’s the rock sign outlined green in Photoshop.

Here’s another version of the previous photo.

Union 76 Rock Sign

Union 76 Rock Sign

And finally, a wider angle on the signphoto 2-5The sign is dead center in this photo.  With naked eye its really not visible from town.  A decent pair of binoculars will allow a view.  These photos taken with my Iphone and spotting scope.

 

The Usual Suspects…..

This is a compendium of some of the birds we often see around Jacumba. 

 

House fincher - colorful male in front - females behind

House finch – colorful male in front – females behind

These are one of our most common birds.  They are finches, not sparrows.

California Towhee

California Towhee

The California Towhee is a large sparrow. They are pretty easy to find.

Spotted Towhee.

Spotted Towhee.

The spotted towhee can usually be found around the swamp and old bath house.

Black Phoebe

Black Phoebe

The black phoebe is a common flycatcher. It usually sits out in the open and chases small flying insects.

Lesser Goldfinch - female

Lesser Goldfinch – female

The male lesser goldfinch is bright, outrageous yellow and black.  These birds are common throughout Jacumba.  They especially like sunflower plants.

White-crowned Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow

This is our most common sparrow. Adults as above, immatures have a chestnut brown in place of the black on the crown.  Note the yellow bill and clean chest.  White-crowned sparrows arrive in mid-september spend the winter and then head north in April.

American Robin

American Robin

This is a large, husky thrush.  Some have bright red breasts.  They love pyracantha berries. “Robin Red Breast” is an American Robin.

 

California Thrasher

California Thrasher

The California Thrasher is pretty common all around town.  I’ve had them in my yard several times.  They are related to mockingbirds and have a nice voice and pleasant song.

Red-shafted x yellow-shafted flicker

Red-shafted x yellow-shafted flicker

Flickers are large noisy woodpeckers.

Tricolored Blackbird

Tricolored Blackbird

This handsome male clearly shows the bright and sharply outlined red and clean white patches. The more common red-winged blackbird (below) has orange and yellow patches that blend into each other.

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird

Yellow-headed Blackbird and Tricolored Blackbirds

Yellow-headed Blackbird and Tricolored Blackbirds and brown-headed cowbirds

Here is another, less common blackbird; the yellow-headed blackbird.  Blackbirds and cowbirds are related to orioles.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

This species is common from September to April.  Often it is the only warbler that can be easily found.  Makes an irritating “chip” call.

Greater Roadrunner

Greater Roadrunner

This is an impressive bird, it is related to the cuckoo.

Say's Phoebe

Say’s Phoebe

Say’s Phoebe is a flycatcher and related to the Black Phoebe and less common Vermilion Flycatcher

Western Scrub-Jay

Western Scrub-Jay

The Western Scrub-jay is a small corvid related to Ravens, Crows, and Stellar’s Jays which are common in San Diego County.  Other relatives not found locally include Magpies, Rooks and Blue Jays. Western Scrub-jays are noisy, bold, and quite common in Jacumba.

Scott's Oriole

Scott’s Oriole

The Scott’s is the only oriole that we commonly see in Winter.  It is related to Hooded an Bullock’s orioles, blackbirds, cowbirds, and Western Meadowlarks that we commonly see in Jacumba during the year.