Tuesday, February 28, 2017

High Voltage Cormorant

Birding Fact #1: You never know what you're going to see when you go birding.

We were on our way to the Sacramento NWR, cruising County Road P in Willows (a back road that runs parallel to Interstate 5), when we drove up on something unexpected...
..this cormorant perched high up on a telephone pole.
We are always scanning the telephone poles and lines for kestrels and kingfishers, but we've never seen a cormorant this high up before...

Maybe he just wanted to make sure we got a good picture of those awesome webbed feet of his!

Monday, February 27, 2017

After the Flood Part 3

On Friday, we saw our first ever Cooper's Hawk at the Sacramento NWR!

That brings the Big Year 2017 list up to 106!
We also saw a lot of ducks, geese, some tree swallows skimming the water, more phoebes than I could count, a few pheasants, and several different meadowlarks serenaded us along the auto tour.

We would have gone to the Colusa NWR as well, but unfortunately it's still flooded. The Sacramento NWR posted some pics of the auto tour underwater on their Facebook page HERE.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

After the Flood Part 2

Here are some more pics from our visit to the Sacramento NWR on Friday!
The lighting was perfect for taking photos and gave everything a nice sort of glow...
There were LOTS of hawks out and about on the refuge. On the way there we saw dozens hunting along the freeway, too.

Tomorrow I'll post some photos of our first ever Cooper's Hawk!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

After the Flood Part 1

It's been a few weeks since we've been birding (because of all the flooding in our area) and a month since we've visited the Sacramento NWR. Boy, did it feel good to go back! The weather was perfect yesterday and we actually got to add 4 birds to our Big Year list and 3 of them we'd never even seen before. All in all, it was a great day to enjoy the sunshine and spot some new birds.

Can you believe the color of these Eared Grebe's eyes? They look ready to shoot lasers out of them or something!

We saw a lot more black-tailed jackrabbits than normal because they are forced to find high ground due to all the flooding...

Tomorrow I'll post some more photos from our trip...

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Rain, Rain, Go Away

It's still raining...
Last year we experienced one of the most severe droughts California's ever seen. And now, fast forward a few months, and my birding expeditions have been put on hold due to the extreme flooding. All of our local refuges are closed (or at least the roads leading to them are), the Oroville Dam is threatening to overflow, and the I-5 freeway is flooded. Even Maxwell, the little town where we saw the Vermilion Flycatcher, is underwater :(

We've been on such a roll with our Big Year that it's hard not to be a little disappointed. Which sounds a little strange coming from me because I love the rain. Well, usually I do. Now that we don't need it anymore and it's causing so much havoc, I want it to stop so I can go out and spot some more birds!

Nature (and life in general!) sure have a way of going from one extreme to the other!

While we wait for clear skies and dry roads, I'll be curled up with a book, or in my writing cave working on my new novel...

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Gray Day at Gray Lodge Part 6

Not only did we see some new birds at Gray Lodge WA last week, but we also saw our very first Wood Ducks!
We've been looking for a wood duck forever and I still can't believe we actually saw some. We were on the walking trail and they were really far away in this orange mucky stuff, mixed in with some gadwalls and mallards.
I wish I could have gotten some clearer photos, but, like I said, they were waaaay off the beaten path, hanging out in a secluded spot that you couldn't even see from the auto tour.

Now that we've checked this particular duck off our lifelist, I guess it's time to move on to a different elusive species. I think we'll start diligently looking for a loon and some more types of owls.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Gray Day at Gray Lodge Part 5

There were plenty of raptors at the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area last week. In fact, we even got to see some red-shouldered hawks!

And let's not forget the red-tailed hawks. We see a million of them at the SacNWR, but that didn't make them any less exciting when we spotted them at Gray Lodge!

Tomorrow, in the last Gray Lodge post, I'll show you our most magnificent bird sighting yet!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Gray Day at Gray Lodge Part 4

Here are some of the waterfowl and grebes we saw during our visit to Gray Lodge Wildlife Area:

I hope we get to see an Eared Grebe in the summertime when they get their awesome plumage.
This Ruddy Duck's bill is already starting to turn blue and it's still wintertime!
Look how small he is compared to the Mallard...