Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A Valentine's for the birds

or should I say WITH the birds :)

Yesterday on our walk to the park Josh and I were given numerous Valentine gifts from our friends, the birds.

Walking in the neighborhood up to the park we saw an American Kestrel swoop on to the top of a light post across from us and up the street a little. We studied him and got good looks at his red and blue back until he flew off to another light post a little further away. As we walked on, two Common Ravens flew overhead and we also caught sight of one of our neighborhood resident Says Phoebes. House Finches, House Sparrows, Rock Doves, Northern Mockingbirds, and Mourning Doves were numerous as always.

Upon reaching the park were the ever present and loud Great-tailed Grackles as well as more Northern Mockingbirds. We also saw the Brewer's Blackbirds that we had seen previously but have not been there as much as they had been in the last few months. The White-Crowned Sparrows were in one of their usual spots. Alas, it seems the Red-tailed Hawk that sat on the tree in the golf course next to the park is gone as we have not seen him in weeks now.

Josh headed down in the wash, as I stayed up on top watching him, trying to find a bird that we had seen fly down to a bush at the bottom. We were both able to see it finally as it came out from the bush to reveal itself as a beautiful Western Meadowlark with it's vibrant yellow breast and black v. On the other side of the wash he came upon a pair of Mourning Doves and their nest and carefuly backed away as not to disturb them. Walking along with him at a distance were some of the wash's resident Gambles Quail. We were able to get very good looks at a Rock Wren in the wash also. We saw and heard an Annas Hummingbird flying around. Coming back up to my side of the wash at top, he stopped a moment to watch the spot where we have seen our Burrowing Owl. As I started to tell him that I had been looking for awhile and hadn't spotted the owl, didn't that same owl fly right out of the very spot he is usually at not five feet from where Josh was standing! It is such an amazing thing to see him in flight and also amazing at how well camouflaged this owl is in the wash. Perfect habitat for him. We try to be as careful as we can not to disturb him but sometimes because of this we can't help but "stumble" upon him.

Before heading home we took a walk along the rest of the path around the park and were very glad we did. Josh caught sight of a verdin with material in it's mouth. As we watched, it flew straight to the VERY nest we had noticed the other day and had remarked at how we hadn't seen it before and wondered if some bird had already started it's breeding nest. Well, we have our answer now :)

Josh is getting excited as Spring gets ever nearer. Signs keep popping up proclaiming it's arrival, such as the trees budding in the park and the birds building their nests. We have noticed the verdin's call has even changed and are thinking now that it is doing it's mating call along with it's normal song.

Love it seems IS in the air.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Lots more birding going on

Burrowing Owl
picture from What Bird site

This morning Josh and I headed up to our neighborhood park to bird. We have been trying to do this a few times a week and keeping track of what is there each time. In January we were able to finally see the Burrowing Owl that we had been told by neighbors that lived in the wash sandwiched in between our park and a golf course. He was such an amazing sight. Josh and I stood there hardly daring to breathe for the first few minutes. We have since been blessed to see this bird again numerous times and this morning was no exception. Josh and I smile just thinking how lucky we are to have this species living within a few minutes of where we ourselves live. :) The park has been fairly quiet in the winter but we have enjoyed watching the different behavior of many of the birds. This is another aspect of birding that is fun for Josh besides identifying new birds he hasn't seen before.

There has been a tremendous amount of birding that has gone on in our house but we are much poorer at actually documenting it here.

In the middle of December we participated in our first Christmas bird count and had a great time! For Christmas, Josh was given a surprise birding trip to Monteray, California with his dad. Then in January, Josh and I were able to go on our local Audubon group's trip to San Diego. My goodness. Between the two trips Josh added over 50 new life birds! We had such a great time with the small group of people that we went with to San Diego. It never ceases to surprise me how generous of their time and knowledge seasoned birders are and how blessed we are as a result. Josh is now up to 266 life birds and he still hasn't closed in on his first year of birding yet!

We are gearing up for our first participation in the Great Backyard Birdcount. We had to laugh as lately when we go to the park, which is the place we will be using for the count, Josh and I have found ourselves counting the birds. Practice makes perfect they say lol.

I am going to try and make a concerted effort to post here more often. I love sharing the amazing experiences that birding has brought to us.