Monday, 23 February 2015

California Dreamin!

Final Day

This morning we headed up into Angeles National Forest above Los Angeles. It was cold and it even began snowing later in the day. A visit to a park found us a pair of Williamson's Sapsuckers, Red-breasted Sapsucker and Nuttall's Woodpecker. Moving up into the mountains we found White-headed Woodpecker, Mountain Chickadees and Pygmy Nuthatch, On another section of mountain we were lucky enough to get superb views of a pair of sought after Mountain Quail and everyone in the group enjoyed prolonged views.
 Mountain Quail

After this success we headed down the mountain and went to a park where we found Wrentit and I got a couple of shots of Western Scrub Jays, a bird we had seen throughout the trip.



Part 3
So today we went out on a boat to visit Santa Cruz Island, part of the Channel Islands National Park and Marine Sanctuary. The sea was pretty rough today so made viewing difficult from the boat as you need one hand to hang on. We noted a few things from the harbour such as Pacific, Common and Red-throated Loons, Horned and Western Grebes. Once we were out at sea we soon spotted both Pomarine and Parasitic Jaegers, Black-vented Shearwaters, and Common Murres.

Black-vented Shearwater
Further out we saw Rhinocerous Auklets and we did have a Steller's Sea Lion.
Once we were on the Island we soon caught up with the Island Scrub Jay, plus a Bald Eagle, Golden Eagle and several endemic sub-species such as the Orange-crowned Warbler, Bewick's Wren, and Song Sparrow. A real highlight was seeing a couple of Santa Cruz Island Foxes, a very small and endemic fox found nowhere else.

Back at sea the return journey was just as rough but trhe light was good and we ended up seeing good numbers of Common Murres, Rhinocerous Auklets, Cassin's Auklets, a Pigeon Guillemot, and the real prize for the journey was 16 Scripps's Murrelets.

We have added a few more days since my last post. travelling to the Mojave Desert we found our target Lawrence's Goldfinches, at least 12 or more, as well as superb looks at Bell's Sparrow, Cactus Wren and California Thrasher.
Bell's Sparrow

From the desert we head north through scrub where we came across Ferruginous Hawks, Tricolored Blackbirds, Mountain Bluebirds and on a small pond we had 3 Ross's Geese.
Ross's Goose

The next day saw us in Pinnacles National Park where we were greeted with over 50 fabulous Varied Thrushes as well as Oak Titmouse, Nuttall's Woodpecker, Red-breasted Sapsucker and of course one of our main targets the California Condor. We watched one through the scopes that was sat on a dead tree with its wings outstretched.

One of 50 Varied Thrushes

Moving on we had a perched Golden Eagle, Lewis's Woodpecker and on the coast a host of species including Black Turnstones, Surfbird, Black Oystercatcher, 48 Western Grebes, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Hutton's Vireos, Townsend's Warbler and some Sea Otters.
There were plenty of California Quails to be seen


So we are a couple of days into our Southern California trip for Sunrise Birding and it seems California has pretty useless wifi connections!!!!! Unbelievable !
Anyway I will update this as and when I do get decent connections.
We started off along the coast near San Diego and soon notched up a few sought after species amongst the more regular birds. On the sea we had Brown Boobies, Pacific Loons, Heermann's and Western Gulls. There was a vagrant Pacific Golden Plover amongst the Black-bellied's and nice looks at things like Long-billed Curlew, Marbled Godwits, Western Willets, Snowy Plovers and Belding's Savannah Sparrow. Close Surf Scoters allowed for nice photos and then a few strategic stops found us Harris's Sparrow, Thick-billed Kingbird, and both Anna's and Allen's Hummingbirds.

Male Surf Scoter
This was a nice male Allen's Hummingbird that posed for us
In an area of coastal scrub we then caught up with one of our target species the California Gnatcatcher
A small park with a pond found us a group of Scaly-breasted Munias, apparently you can now tick these in California. Also here were some showy Western Bluebirds.
Western Bluebird
In an area of marsh we got super views of a couple of Ridgeway's Rails , a recent split from Clapper Rail.
Plenty of other goods were found including Costa's Hummingbirds, Phainopepla, and Verdin,
 Moving on to the Saltern Sea we connected with the rare Yellow-footed Gull and other species like Gambel's Quail, Abert's Towhee, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, and Roadrunners.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Gone tracking in the Connecticut Snow!

So me and Gina went tracking in the snow today to see if we could find the Bobcat tracks she found recently. It was freezing cold but a good couple of hours we managed to find possibly 8 mammal species. Photographing them was difficult so tried to add a few contrasts and adjust the light a little to see if they stood out better.
This was one of the Bobcat tracks but really hard to see well in photo. It was very rounded and showed no claw mark. Much easier to see than photograph. Will try again to get better ones!

This was one of the Coyote tracks and there were lots! Note you can see the claw holes in front. 
More Coyote tracks but easier to see them on the compacted snow.
Lots of Coyote tracks on the other side of the stream led us to find the dead deer in the stream which it must be regularly feeding on. Tracks and scat all around.
This is one of many Gray Squirrel tracks throughout the forest.

Different set of Gray Squirrel tracks on different type of snow.
These are Eastern Cottontail tracks.
These tracks were from a Fisher that was bounding through the snow. They were probably 3 - 4 feet apart. We followed several lots of Fisher tracks.
We followed several of the Fisher tracks and eventually they led us to this Den under some logs and branches. Fresh tracks all around the entrance. You may be able to see some of the prints in top left of photo.
This was another entrance to the Fisher Den with more tracks all around the entrance
This was a set of Mouse tracks, probably White-footed Mouse? You can just see the tail marks dragging behind the feet.
This is a close up of the Mouse tracks which show the tail marks better.
This is a White-tailed Deer track showing two holes from the Dew Claw.
This last one is interesting and we think it must be a Weasel because of the size of the hole it came out of and the size of the tracks. There are two possibilities - Long-tailed Weasel and Short-tailed weasel. We will put a camera trap out in 2 weeks time after I return from California and try and get a few of the animals on film.