Friday, December 29, 2017

2017 Top Moments


As the year comes to an end, I'm looking back at all of the wonderful birding moments we had in 2017. And, boy, are there a lot of them!

Gosh, I really shouldn't have limited myself to just 10! This year was such an incredible birding year for us that it's tough to narrow down all the wonderful experiences we had.

I probably should have formatted this list as a countdown, but our number one moment is just too darn wonderful to put down at the bottom! Here it is...

1. Hands down, our number one birding moment of 2017 was seeing a Vermilion Flycatcher. At a cemetery...in Northern California. Talk about starting the year off with a bang! (January 26th.)
Read the original Vermilion Flycatcher post here.


2. Watching a Ruddy Duck perform his awesome courtship display at the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge.  (May 18th)
Read the original Ruddy Duck post and watch the video here.



3. Spotting a Burrowing Owl on the side of the road...on the same day we got to see the Vermilion Flycatcher! (January 26.)
Read the original Burrowing Owl post here.


4. Finally seeing our very first Wood Ducks (yay!) at the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area. (February 1)
Read the original Wood Duck post here.


5. Birding at sunrise at Llano Seco. It might be teeth-chatteringly chilly at 6 a.m., but experiencing the sun come up and bathe the landscape in color is something we'll never forget!
Read about our March 9th visit here.

More pics from the magic hour on November 6th are here.


6. Seeing TWO American Bitterns, one right after the other, on the auto tour at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge. (April 10)

Read the original Bittern post here.


7. Hiking the Sheepy Ridge Wildlife Trail at the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Complex. I don't know if I've ever seen such an ah-mazing view before! (November 6th)
Read about our Adventure with a capital A here.


8. Finally seeing a Cattle Egret...and he was on a cow no less! (September 20th)
Read the original Cattle Egret post here.


9. Seeing a Great Horned Owl and then a coyote (our first!) at the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge. (March 14)
Read the original post about the owl here.

Read the original post about the camouflaged coyote here.


10. Adding 11 new birds to our Big Year list in beautiful Fort Bragg. (May 4th)
See all the birds we spotted ot the coast here.


And, because we had many more memorable birding moments, here are a few honorable mentions...

* All the times we spotted Kestrels on Road P... (and there were A LOT of them!)
Find all of my American Kestrel posts right here.


* After waiting at least a decade, we finally spotted a Yellow-headed Blackbird (at Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge).
Read the original Tule Lake NWR post here.


* Seeing our first Yellow-billed Magpies in 15 years!
Find out where we found these striking birds here.


* And finally, because they are my favorite, I have to mention all the gorgeous Great Blue Herons that graced us with their regal presence throughout the year...


I've rounded up all the times I've posted Blue Heron pics here.


All right, I'd better wrap up this list or else I'll never stop meandering down memory lane!

In total we saw 168 birds this year and brought our lifelist up to 180. I'd say that's a pretty successful birding year! I look forward to the new year and to hopefully adding a White-tailed Kite and Horned Lark to that list. Those are my wishlist birds and you never know...2018 might be the year I finally see one (or both!)

Here's wishing you a happy and healthy new year!

Happy birding,
Rachelle Vaughn





Panasonic

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Colusa Tree: Second Edition

As I mentioned at the end of last year, taking a photo of this particular tree at the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge has become sort of a tradition of mine. Now that the year is coming to a close, I'm putting all the photos together and creating a timeline of the refuge throughout the seasons...
January 2017

(There's a bit of a gap between visits here because the auto tour was closed due to flooding for a few months.)

April 12, 2017
April 26, 2017
June 2017

(The big gap in summertime is due to the 100 degree-plus temps here!)

October 2017

(And there's a gap at the end of the year because we don't usually go birding much around the holidays because of the crazy traffic.)

I love seeing how the landscape changes every time we visit the refuge! And there's something so beautiful about a lone tree in the middle of nowhere. By the way, here's the link to my 2016 Colusa Tree post in case you'd like to take a look back...

On Friday, I'm posting my Top 10 Birding Moments of 2017, so be sure to stop by check that out! Picking my favorite moments sure was tough!






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Saturday, December 23, 2017

Merry and Bright





Thursday, November 23, 2017

Gobble, Gobble!

Last month we saw a group of Wild Turkeys while we were driving through the auto tour at the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge and I just had to save the photos for today!
Colusa National Wildlife Refuge California auto tour birding hotspot
These guys moved like lightening when they saw the car coming, but I managed to get a few quick photos...
Colusa National Wildlife Refuge California auto tour birding hotspot

Happy Thanksgiving!


Monday, November 20, 2017

Codora Unit Birding

We stopped by the Codora Unit of the Sacramento River National Wildlife Refuge and spotted a few birds worth mentioning. Phoebes were in abundance, singing their cheerful song as we walked along the trail...


Gosh, these little birds are tough to get photos of! They never sit still long enough!
Bushtit

Oak Titmouse


Sunday, November 19, 2017

Kestrel Love

We were haunting, err driving down County Road P again on our way home from the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge when we spotted a kestrel on a telephone wire...
This one is a male with its slate-blue head and wings...



And here's a female on the same road...
She looks like she had a rough night!
Get it together, girl! You've got lots of hunting to do!
And, finally, here's a red-tailed hawk showing off its red tail...


Saturday, November 18, 2017

Birding: Nature's Scavenger Hunt

We have such a blast driving down country roads, looking for birds! We saw the following between Llano Seco and SacNWR.

Kingfishers and their distinct body shape make them easy to spot up on telephone wires...



 And kestrels are common on the backroads, too. There's a female above and a male below...

 This isn't the first time we've spotted two hawks on the same pole...
So much for them being territorial! I guess there are so many hawks around here that they have to share.

I'm pretty sure this is a brown-headed cowbird...
 And a beautiful scrub-jay...