Saturn in Opposition 6-5-16

Saturn in Opposition

Saturn in Opposition

The planet Saturn is presently at its closest approach  to Earth.  In order to see the rings you’ll need a small telescope.  A bird spotting scope works well for this.  If you can find Jupiter, the brightest “star” in the sky and the  bright red planet Mars, you can find Saturn by continuing east in the line between the two obvious planets.  Or you can get “Sky Map,” an app that does all the work for you.

Jupiter and its moons.  June 5, 2016

Jupiter and its moons. June 5, 2016

Costa's Hummer 6-4-16

Costa’s Hummer 6-4-16

Costa's Hummer 6-4-16

Costa’s Hummer 6-4-16

Swainson’s Hawk 5-17-16

Swainson's Hawk 5-17-16

Swainson’s Hawk 5-17-16

Swainson's Hawk 5-17-16

Swainson’s Hawk 5-17-16

I was scanning the local turkey vultures this afternoon when this pale hawk caught my attention. I wasn’t looking for this bird.  I got a few decent, not great, shots.

How many great fly-bys like this bird have I missed because I wasn’t watching all day every day? Damn. 

This is late date for this bird to be migrating through San Diego County.  The latest spring date for this bird is May 15, per the Bird Atlas. There may be later, recent records.  This bird is common to abundant in the Borrego Valley in the late winter and early spring. It has a migration that takes it from Argentina to Alberta, maybe all the way to Saskatoon.

Hermit Warbler

Hermit Warbler

Hermit Warbler, female

Hermit Warbler, female

Willow Fly

Western-wood Pewee

I may be wrong on this bird.  The genus, empidonax, that this bird belongs is difficult.  The primary extension looks like a pewee, while, in my experience, the white under the chin looks like a willow fly

Lazuli Bunting

Lazuli Bunting

Technical Stuff 5-15-16

I recently got a new camera body, the D500,  and I’ve been working with it for several days.  Beginning with the pics of the Black-and-White warbler, all since have been using the new camera.

Yellow-breasted Chat ISO400, 420mm.

Yellow-breasted Chat ISO400, 420mm.

Fresh from the bath.  This singing Yellow-breasted Chat showed up this morning (5-15-16).  I’ve seen several chat this year, but never a singer.

Yellow-breasted Chat ISO 400 420mm 5-15-16

Yellow-breasted Chat ISO 400 420mm 5-15-16

Morning light is usually the best.  Unfortunately, it does not last long enough.    I’m moving the water feature (where the chat is perched) several  feet toward the photo vantage.  This will help obscure the background a lot.  I’ve also got Japanese Honeysuckle planted, and about this time next year the fence will be a solid wall of variegated greenery.

Anna's Hummer 500mm ISO10,000

Anna’s Hummer 500mm ISO10,000

European Starling 500mm ISO1250

European Starling 500mm ISO1250

Birders hate this introduced, invasive species.  Its related to the mynah and would be a popular cage bird if it wasn’t messy.  It is a very good mimic.

Western Tanager 500mm

Western Tanager 500mm ISO800

Scott's Oriole 500mm ISO800

Scott’s Oriole 500mm ISO1250

The lens used was a Nikkor 300mm VR with 1.4 or 1.7 Nikkor TCs.

 

Black-and-White Warbler 5-10-16

Black-and-White Warbler 5-10-16 at the Swamp

Black-and-White Warbler 5-10-16 at the Swamp

Black-and-White Warbler 5-10-16

Black-and-White Warbler 5-10-16

This is an eastern warbler, not a bird that I was expecting.  I did see one previously at the swamp in the Fall of 2014, but this is quite an unusual bird.  They are very uncommon but not exceptionally rare along the coast in fall and winter.

This species superficially resembles the common western migrant, the Black-throated Gray Warbler.

Townsend's warbler

Townsend’s warbler

This is a common western migrant.

 

 

 

May Birds through 5-7-16

Western Tanager in the Local Mulberry

Western Tanager in the Local Mulberry Tree

Western Tanager

Western Tanager

Western Tanager

Western Tanager

Wilson's Warbler

Wilson’s Warbler

Wilson's Warbler

Wilson’s Warbler

Wilson's Warbler

Wilson’s Warbler

Yellow Warbler

Yellow Warbler

Yellow-headed Blackbird and Tricolored Blackbirds

Yellow-headed Blackbird and Tricolored Blackbirds

Yellow-headed Blackbird

Yellow-headed Blackbird

Lazuli Bunting, male

Lazuli Bunting, male

Lazuli Bunting, female

Lazuli Bunting, female

MacGilivray's Warbler, male

MacGillivray’s Warbler, male

Swainson's Thrush

Swainson’s Thrush

Swainson's Thrush

Swainson’s Thrush

Western-wood Pewee

Western-wood Pewee

 

Black-throated Gray Warbler fresh from its bath

Black-throated Gray Warbler fresh from its bath

Lawrence's Goldfinch

Lawrence’s Goldfinch

Blue Grosbeak

Blue Grosbeak

MacGillivray’s Warbler 4-22-16

MacGillivray's Warbler 4-22-16

MacGillivray’s Warbler – First of Season. 4-22-16.

This warbler is the most difficult to find of the western migrant warblers.  It skulks along, often on the ground, scratching at the leaf litter like a towhee.  The MacGillivray’s shown is a probably a female.  The males, at this time of the year are brighter with more contrast and a  black margin  between the yellow breast and gray throat.

Blue Grosbeak - First of Season 4-22-16.

Blue Grosbeak – First of Season. 4-22-16.

This near-adult male Blue Grosbeak is another FOS bird.  I toyed with the idea that it was an Indigo Bunting, a way cooler bird.  But alas!   I also found a female Blue Grosbeak in the same spot at bit later.

Warbling Vireo 4-22-16

Warbling Vireo 4-22-16

Western Tanager 4-23-16

Western Tanager 4-23-16

Black-headed Grosbeak (f) 4-25-15

Black-headed Grosbeak (f) 4-25-15

The Black-headed Grosbeak is a local breeding species.  They are common in much of the county during summer and during migration in the spring and fall.

Lazuli Bunting 4-25-16

Lazuli Bunting 4-25-16

These attractive buntings breed in the Cuyamacas and can often be found during the summer in the brush around the State campground.

Ash-trhoated Flycatcher 4-27-165

Ash-throated Flycatcher 4-27-16

Black-headed Grosbeak 4-25-16

Black-headed Grosbeak 4-25-16

Red Crossbill 4-16-16

Red Crossbill and two Pine Siskins 4-16-16

Red Crossbill and two Pine Siskins 4-16-16

It was quite windy in Jacumba this morning (4-16-16) and the swamp was pretty much devoid of birds worth looking at.  Only a couple of singing Yellow Warblers, a pair of Green Herons and nesting Tricolored Blackbirds.  But my yard was a different story! A red crossbill, a first summer male, unexpectedly showed up at my bird bath.  Also, Lawrence’s Goldfinch, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Western Tanagers,  the usual oriole trifecta, Costa’s hummer and Tricolored Blackbirds.

The mulberry tree on El Centro Ave. had several Western Tanagers, Cedar Waxwings,  and Black-headed Grosbeaks.

Scott's Oriole

Scott’s Oriole, adult male

Western Tanager

Western Tanager

Bullock's Orioles and Western Tanager. They like jelly!

Bullock’s Orioles and Western Tanager. They like jelly!

 

Mid-April Birds 4-11-16

Spring migration is starting to heat up, with large numbers of orioles, and decent numbers of warblers.  The first western tanager has shown up at my feeder and is making a hog of himself. In a coupe of weeks the large fruiting mulberry tree on El Centro ave (west of Campo Street) will be covered in fruit which will attract all sorts of tanagers, grosbeaks, orioles, starlings etc.

Adult male Western Tanager 4-11-16

Adult male Western Tanager 4-11-16

Wilson's Warbler, likely a female

Wilson’s Warbler, likely a female

Four Bullock's Orioles share the jelly feeder

Four Bullock’s Orioles share the jelly feeder

Hooded Oriole, female

Hooded Oriole, female

Bullock's Oriole, probably a first-summer male

Bullock’s Oriole, a first-summer male

Hooded Oriole, adult male

Hooded Oriole, adult male

Cassin's Vireo

Cassin’s Vireo

Green Heron v. American Bullfrog.

Green Heron v. American Bullfrog.