Thursday, August 28, 2014

Stocking for Winter

The only place where I could do birding near by is Alum Rock Park area. So I headed back there again this weekend. But this time I decided to stay till evening and watch all the local birds and do a little hiking on the mountains. The weather was beautiful not cold and not too hot, it was very good weather for walk and almost day long birding.

I started at around 7 from home and by the time I reached the park it was 10. I have to walk about 2 miles from the station. And along the walk we might get some surprises like I got this day. I spotted lot of birds in the creek which flows right along the road. I saw Dark Eyed Junco first up.This bird belongs to the sparrow family. In California this bird can be seen year around.  I see these small birds in my apartment but never got a chance to photograph them till now. Cute little birds.

Anna's Hummingbird

Dark Eyed Junco
I also saw lot of American Bush Tits along the way. They could be seen in small groups making continuous noise. I had seen them in one of my earlier trips but took sometime to get their correct ID. Sometimes they could be seen along with Chickadees. Also an European Starling gave a brief glimpse before flying away. At the same place I saw lot of other birds at the same place. At first I saw Wilson's Warbler and then saw Black Headed Grosbeak. It was amazing to see lot of commotion there. Sat there for a while hoping birds would give me a better view instead most of them flew away.

American Bushtit

European Starling

Wilson's Warbler

Black Headed Grossbeak
At last I entered the park at around 10. There were lot of people walking, jogging and cycling. There is also a separate trail for horse riding too. When I entered the park I could hear something on the hill side. It turned out to be Deer's grazing. There were at least 4-5 of them. In this park we can see deer's very easily. They are not bothered with human presence here. I also saw at least 2 pairs of Wild Turkeys here. Thanks to the gentlemen who pointed me to them.

Wild Turkey
Then came the time to photograph a Spotted Towhee. I'm still trying to get close to this fellow. Need to spend more time with this fellow. Most of the times he gets spooked and walks away unlike his cousin California Towhee who always looks happy to be photographed :-)

Then saw this beautiful flycatcher(Yellow Bellied Flycatcher?) flying near the creek. He was flying around but patient enough for my camera :-) It was one of the beautiful flycatchers I have seen till date. I could see these fellows through out the day in the park. Also saw a sparrow which looked like a song sparrow. As usual its very difficult for me to get the exact ID of these sparrows.

Spotted Towhee

Hutton's vireo?

Song Sparrow?
Then as I kept walking ahead I saw a path towards the hill which I had not tried till now. It looked like a promising place to find birds. As I started walking saw couple of Titmouses making noise and collecting their morning breakfast. They have funky hair style :-)

Oak Titmouse
Then came the White Breasted Nuthatches. Last trip I had seen them for the first time but this time I was lucky to spend good time with these fellows. There were two of them trying to find their morning breakfast. A very beautiful bird with a very slender and sharp bill. They are constantly moving as with other Nuthatches.

White Breasted Nuthatch

Then came my first mixed flock foraging sighting in America. I saw Bush Tits, Brown Creeper and Chickadees foraging in a single tree.

Saw a pair of Nutall's woodpecker in an adjacent tree. Male seemed to be busy and female looked very relaxed.

Nuttal's Woodpecker(Female)

Nuttal's Woodpecker(Male)

Chestnut Backed Chickadee

I took these couple of photos to show even in america it isn't any different. The first photos is of a traffic cone, I'm not sure how this one ended up on a tree. Probably wind blew it but anyways it was strange to see this. I do hope since it is inverted it stored water for thirsty birds :-) Then saw this bottled placed on this pole. Its not just in our country that we have people who don't think twice before littering. It's just that the scale at which happens here is very less.

As I was walking on the road I almost scared someone foraging on the road, it was Northern Flicker.I had seen this bird twice till now but never this close. This has become one of my favorite birds. For some reason whenever I see this fellow I'm reminded of our Hoopoe found back in India. They both have almost same color and the stripes at the back are similar too. Beak is a little big in Hoopoe and the feeding behaviors of both are different.

Northern Flicker

I came down towards the parking section where we can see Acorn woodpeckers all the time. They are feeding and stocking in these acorn trees in the parking area. I could see the peckers taking the new acorns skinning them and hiding the fruit inside.

Acorn Woodpecker

I also saw them moving these acorns which they have hidden into a different tree. I saw 3 different woodpeckers moving their winter stocks to a nearby eucalyptus tree. Couple of times the streling jay's came close to this tree but these woodpeckers chased them away. I saw one of these peckers trying to catch this bee without any success. He kept wobbling his head to follow the bee, it was very funny to watch. I should have taken a video of the same instead of capturing this photograph.

Then decided to hike the mountain to try my luck with hawks and vultures. I have seen Red Tailed Hawks and Turkey vultures in each of my trip. Vultures can be seen in good numbers here. I have seen about 2-3 hawks till now. On the way we can see Scrub Jays, TitMouses, Acorn Woodpeckers and California Towhee.

California Towhee

Western Scrub Jay

Stellar;s Jay
Once I reached the top I could see couple of Turkey vultures resting on an antenna and another one flying around. All of them took to air after a while. It feels great to see them soar over these thermals. Then I heard the sound of an hawk. It has incredible sound much like an eagle. I saw 2 of them flying in the air and both with landing gear ready. It looked as if each one of them trying to ride each other. They kept flying in the air with their legs down and could be seen both of them trying to get on the back of each other. After a while I saw them settling on a tree at a far distance. I could not get close since it was private property. I sat under a tree waiting for these two majestic birds to take to the air again. Then all of a sudden one of this hawks scoops down trying to catch a squirrel. I could hear all the squirrels running towards their burrows and hawk had to fly away without a meal this time. But it was unbelievable to see him swooping down and hearing all these squirrels and running towards their burrows.

Turkey Vulture

Red Tailed Hawk
Then had my lunch at the parking area and was observing all these birds collecting these seeds and trying to hide them in the trees nearby. First saw a Oak Titmouse collecting something under the acorn tree and flying away. Then in a nearby tree I saw Chickadee eating a red cherry and then hiding the seed in a tree bark near by. You could see him pecking on the tree trying to find the right hiding spot. Near by acorn woodpeckers were also busy in the same activity. Thanks to Acorn trees near by, we can see these woodpeckers in good numbers around the park area. I don't know if we would see the same number of birds throughout the year. Hope I had a chance to stay over the winter to see the seasonal changes.

On my way back came across these Dark Eyed Juncos and also saw good number of Lesser Goldfinches feeding in the tall grasses.

Black Eyed Junco(Female)

Lesser Goldfinch(Female)

Mourning Dove
It was another good walk and I got saw 2 new birds(European Starling and Wilson's warbler). As a whole it was a good day and I experimented to take photographs at higher ISO to check my cameras capability :-)

And at last I cannot finish my blog on the park without a picture of this cute fellow :-)

Star of the park :-)
List of bird seen during the day

1. Anna's humming bird
2. American Bushtit
3. Dark Eyed Junco
4. European Starling
5. Wilson's warbler
6. Black headed Grossbeak
7. Spotted Towhee
8. Wild Turkey
9. Yellow Bellied Flycatcher?
10. Song Sparrow?
11. Oak Titmouse
12. White-breasted Nuthatch
13. Nutall's Woodpecker.
14. Chestnut-backed chickadee
15. Northern Flicker
16. Acorn Woodpecker
17. California Towhee
18. Turkey Vulture
19. Red Tailed Hawk
20. Western Scrub Jay
21. Stellar's Jay
22. Rock Pigeon
23. Mourning Dove.