Thursday, September 27, 2018


If you follow my travel blog Vaughn the Road Again, you know that we've been having a great time hiking our way through Lassen Volcanic National Park. Our latest hike to Boiling Springs Lake and Devil's Kitchen was supposed to be great for birding, according to the brochure anyway.

While we did see and hear a lot of birds along the trail, they WOULD NOT cooperate for the camera at all. In fact, I'd go as far to say that every yank-yank of the Red-breasted Nuthatch and every dee-dee-dee of the Mountain Chickadee was to mock us. I'd like to say that my photography has improved over the years, and that's bound to happen when you have a lot of practice at something, but these mountain birds have proved frustratingly elusive for my camera lens.

I had dozens of photos to post on VTRA from our hike and when I scrolled through to post the bird photos here, I came up with a big fat goose egg. We hiked over 7 miles that day through the forest and meadows and around a lake and I still couldn't find a decent photo to post for you.

Well, I take that back. There was one Cassin's Finch (or Purple Finch according to the app) who took mercy on me and turned toward the camera for a split second.
As for his fellow avian buddies, here they are in all their "no pictures please" glory...
Dark-eyed Junco "Oregon" Pink-sided

Mountain Chickadee in flight

Steller's Jay

Downy? Woodpecker
Normally, I only post my best photos here to showcase the beauty of birds out in the wild. But this time I just had to share my photography fails because there were so many of them, one right after the other. I think it's hilarious that the birds we encountered did everything they could to not appear on camera. Sometimes you just have one of those days, right?

Now I can appreciate how easy the wildlife refuges make it to photograph birds. Rarely have I ever had a Great Egret refuse to pose for the camera!

Today's birding lesson is: Even if you don't walk away with photographic proof, at least you still had a marvelous time out in nature.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Lassen Volcanic National Park Bird Sightings

These are the last of the photos from our hike to Terrace Lake and Shadow Lake in Lassen Volcanic National Park! We will definitely be walking this scenic trail again!
Terrace Lake
A little ways down the path is Shadow Lake, a completely different looking lake with its own stunning beauty.
There's this cute little path around part of the lake where we spotted our bird of the day...
A Red Crossbill! We didn't even know that's what kind of bird it was until later when we got home and went through our photos. (That seems to happen a lot!) The trees they landed in were waaay up there and it wasn't possible to identify them with the naked eye.
Here are a couple more Clark's Nutcrackers from the day...
The only downside to the forest is the trees are so tall that my camera can only zoom in so far! (Hey, Canon, how 'bout sending me one of those fancy shmancy cameras I see out in the field all the time!)
 Maybe this Nutcracker is a juvenile? It looks awfully fluffy to be an adult...

Friday, September 21, 2018

Birding at Shadow Lake

I could have sat at Shadow Lake all day and watched for birds! It didn't take long to spot a variety of them from the trail and on the beach.
This Dark-eyed Junco was foraging around on the shore and blends in so well with the rocks that you can barely see him!
And this one came right up to me!
Hubby managed to snap a couple photos of this Yellow-rumped Warbler!
Lassen Volcanic National Park
I had to add an exclamation point to that last sentence because if you've followed my blog, you know how much trouble I have getting photos of these quick little birds! (Thanks, honey!)
mountain birding

When it was time to head back down the trail and up the mountain, the birds came out in full force to convince us to stick around a little bit longer...
Mountain Chickadee
We hear these guys and their yank-yank call every time we go to Lassen, and it was nice to actually get a quick photo of one before he hurried away...
Lassen Volcanic National Park
Red-breasted Nuthatch
We're already planning our next hike and can't wait to go mountain birding again!

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Clark's Nutcrackers

Well, I'm happy to report that we're getting pretty good at this hiking thing! Last week we hiked a trail in Lassen Volcanic National Park to Terrace Lake and Shadow Lake. Boy, was it beautiful!

Terrace Lake

We saw (and heard) so many more birds on this hike than the ones to the waterfalls. (You can read more about the Kings Creek Falls Trail hike and Mill Creek Falls Trail hikes on my travel blog Vaughn the Road Again.) I guess, as a birder, I should already have figured out that you can find many more birds near a lake than a waterfall!
There was a large group of Clark's Nutcrackers flying from tree to tree above the rocks, and they sure were vocal. Some of the noises they were making sounded like a kookaburra!
These birds are always on the move and we had a heck of a time getting any to sit still to have their picture taken.

 And here's Shadow Lake, a little further down the trail, and well worth the walk...

Once again, there were quite a few Nutcracker's hanging out around the lake.

Finally, there's the shot of the day!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Lassen Birds

These photos we took during our latest visit to Lassen Volcanic National Park aren't going to win any photography awards, but hey, birds don't always cooperate with the camera!
We hiked the Mill Creek Falls trail through the fir forest and added a new bird to our lifelist! (You can read all about the scenic hike over on my travel blog Vaughn the Road Again.)
The great thing about woodpeckers is they notify you of their presence with the sound of their bills hammering into the tree trunks.
birds at Lassen Volcanic National Park California
We wouldn't have even noticed this one, but I sure am glad because we've never seen a Black-backed Woodpecker before!
 Later on the trail, we saw two White-headed Woodpeckers high up in a tree...

And here's a little Dark-eyed Junco. He was moving so quickly, foraging on the forest floor, that this was the best photo we could get.
The photos might not be frame-worthy, but at least we've got the memories that go along with them. 😊

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Birding at Kings Creek

Wow! We just went on one of the best hikes I've ever been on!
The hike to Kings Creek Falls at Lassen Volcanic National Park was absolutely breathtaking. Most of the trail ran alongside the creek and the sound of all that water rushing by is enough to make you forget about everything else...
The views along the way are equally amazing and I highly recommend this wonderful hike.
We don't seem to see as many birds when we go on hikes (as opposed to hanging out around Manzanita Lake), but we did manage to spot a juvenile Townsend's Solitaire!
Lassen Volcanic National Park California
I just love how cute and spotted juvenile birds are this time of year...
Kings Creek Lassen Volcanic National Park California
(I've posted some video of this little guy at the end of the post.)

A little chipmunk hiding out near the trail...
And again, I couldn't help but notice all of the beautiful wildflowers blooming in the park and around the trail...

There are lots of birds to see and hear at the Kings Creek picnic area, but they fly around so quickly from tree to tree that they are virtually impossible to take a photo of!

This isn't the greatest photo of a Dark-eyed Junco we've ever taken, but I had to post it for proof!
Lassen Volcanic National Park California
In the photo below, there's a Yellow-rumped Warbler. I cherish every clear photo I've ever gotten of one because I know how quick and uncooperative they can be. (This isn't one of those photos, but what's a bird blog without pictures!)
And finally, we spotted a brand new bird for our lifelist near Lake Helen! Apparently Clark's Nutcrackers are super common at Lassen, but this is the first one we've ever knowingly seen...
If you're wondering what the Kings Creek Falls look like (spectacular!), head on over to my travel blog Vaughn the Road Again where I've posted pics of the trail and the ah-mazing waterfalls. (Yes, there was more than one!)

Here's some video of the juvenile Townsend's Solitaire: