Monday, June 2, 2014

Birding Alum Rock Park

I was going through the internet to find out some interesting Bird spots around where I stay. The only one which sounded very interesting was "Alum Rock Park". It is about 2 miles walk from the train station. I read about the vulture sightings and few hawks around this park area. There is supposed to be a Golden eagle too. Anyways I decided to pay a visit this weekend.

Woke up at 6:30 and after breakfast packed up my lunch for the afternoon and packed my bag and started from my house at 7:20, the train was at 7:30. Got down at the next station called Penitencial Creek station. From the Penitencial it is about 2 miles walk to the park. Since it was cold in the morning it was perfect for a good walk. 

My first sighting of the day was this beautiful Western Scrub-Jay. I had seen this bird sometime back near my house too. Took couple of decent photos and went ahead. Stopped again to check the California ground squirrels coming out for their morning breakfast. I also saw another squirrel which I could not identify. It was kind of reddish colored. There were mourning doves around foraging in the grass.

Mourning Dove


Western Scrub-Jay
My next spotting was this raptor which was eating something in the grass. This was in the fenced area of a school. All I could manage was one very bad photo. I still could not find the Id of the bird,could be a Red Tailed Hawk. Then saw couple of Chestnut-backed Chickadee singing away in the morning. Also saw a wild turkey right across the road.


Chestnut Backed Chickadee
On the way saw lot of people cycling and running along. I reached the park entrance and saw lot of people around getting ready with their bikes, stretching, getting ready for their morning exercises. This is one thing which we get to see here where people are very conscious about their health. 

I saw this beautiful Stellar's Jay with its funky hair style. I saw this bird during the whole walk. They are very noisy birds too and not too shy of humans. The other bird I saw close to this one was American Robin. There were 2 of them foraging near by a water stream. He was very curious about me. Kept coming towards me before he was scared away by a car. Very cute little birds. We have couple of these birds building a nest near our house.

Stellar's Jay

American Robin

Western Tanager
I started walking on the trail on the mountain. I could see lot of raptors flying around. Most of them were Turkey vultures. Also there were couple of Red Tailed Hawks soaring in the sky scanning the canopy below. I also saw another raptor which I'm not sure of the ID.

There were atleast 7-8 turkey vultures soaring in the sky. It was beautiful to see them in the sky soaring effortlessly. I also saw this another bird all along the way but don't know its name. Then this northern flickr gave a brief glimpse before he flew away. Reached the peak from where the view was very beautiful. People around enjoying the view, taking sometime off after their cycling or jogging before they start getting down. There were couple of jeeps from fire department. Probably some kind of a drill from them.

Red Tailed Hawk?
Bewick's Wren
Western Scrub jay

Northern Flicker

When I decided to come down I saw a bird fly across to a tree. After scanning the tree with my camera I found the bird. It was "Acorn Woodpecker". I had seen this bird 'N' number of times in National geographic channel where they show its usual behavior of collecting Acorns and storing them in trees. It was an amazing feel to see this bird live and infact it was one of its regularly visited tree. I could see so many holes in this tree. I hope to see him again their in my future visits. I also heard a Northern Mocking bird close by. The vultures were soaring very close by.

Acorn Woodpecker

Northern Mocking Bird

Turkey Vulture

Red Tailed Hawk?
On the way down came across this beautiful Western Scrub-jay.

Western Scrub-Jay
After getting down sat for a brief while to have some snacks. And there found this California ground squirrel munching away something. Also saw Acorn woodpecker and Stellar's Jay. Anna's humming bird was flying around. There was a black tailed deer too which was seen along with its young one.

California Ground Squirrel
Then came the time to observe the California Towhee feeding behavior. I could see this fellow very closely and he was not nothered with my presence at all. I was probably sitting at around 5 feet from this bird. This fellow keeps looking for food in the leaf litter and whenever he comes across a tall grass leaf, he jumps to grab the seeds from the grass munches on it and continues. It's interesting to see him do those hops all along his walk.

California Towhee
Also saw a Black-Headed Grosbeak which was very colorful. There were few flying around the trail. Also there were few spotted towhee seen along the trail. Not many photo opportunities with this bird.

Black Headed Grosbeak

Spotted Towhee

At the end of the trail I saw these birds which I could not identify.


On the way home I came across few more birds. The first of which was an unidentified bird. Then came the Blackbird which are very vocal and have very beautiful voice. And then couple of Nuttall's Woodpecker. Also saw this Lesser Yellowfinch in very good sunlight but never gave that head turn which I was looking for :-)

Anna's Hummingbird

Oak Titmouse

European Starling

Nuttall's Woodpecker

Lesser Yellowfinch

Also saw this Northern Mocking bird which was foraging in open grassland and was showing off its wings. Below is the description for this behavior from wiki. They look very cute when they do this.

"While foraging, they frequently spread their wings in a peculiar two-step motion to display the white patches. There is disagreement among ornithologists over the purpose of this behavior, with hypotheses ranging from deceleration to intimidation of predators or prey"

Western Scrubjay Juvenile?

Northern Mockingbird

An amazing birding day came to end and one which I enjoyed thoroughly. I would have walked for about 7-8 miles but never felt tired because of the cold breeze through out the day and the bird which kept me entertained throughout the day. One of the best birding days. 

List of Birds seen during the day.

1. Mourning Dove
2. Western Scrubjay
3. Black Phoebe
4. House Finch
5. Chestnut-backed chickadee
6. Stellar's Jay
7. American Robin
8. Red Tailed Hawk
9. Wild Turkey
10. Turkey Vulture
11. Northern Flicker
12. Northern Mockingbird
13. Acorn Woodpecker
14. Black headed Grosbeak
15. California Towhee
16. Spotted Towhee
17. Anna's Hummingbird
18. European Starling
19. Nuttall's woodpecker
20. Lesser Goldfinch
21. Bewicks wren
22. Western Tanager
23. BushTit
24. Oak Titmouse