Monday, August 18, 2014

Alum Rock revisited

Its been more than a month since my last birding trip. In India I would atleast take 2-3 hours time and visit it the nearest park be it our own Lalbagh or Valley school :-) Our public transport system is good and not expensive :-) In US without your own car travelling anywhere is difficult. Its good if I could have found someone interested in Birding too. I haven't been lucky in this department. How I wish I had my usual gang(Ajit, Raghu, Srini and Nagaraj) of Birders here. I miss them.

The closed birding spot(Alum Rock Park) from my house is about  3 miles and I would have to walk atleast 2.2 miles to reach the park. This walk in the sun just to reach the birding spot was keeping me from birding for last month. But from last couple of weeks just wanted to go out and try my luck with birds again. Recently read in a blog about the Screech owl seen in the parking lot of this park. So this drove me to visit the park again. I don't know what is this fascination we have with Owls and in general raptors too :-) You get over excited whenever you see a raptors :-) I don't know if is the case with all the birders but atleast with me and even Raghu might agree with me ;-)

The other problem for planning the birding walk was, we had booked tickets to WWE event in SJ. This was starting at 5PM. So I was worried if I would get tired walking in the sun and miss the event. But somehow decided to still go ahead with birding walk. Woke up at 6:00 in the morning. Had cereals for breakfast packed Chapathi and Brinjal curry for lunch and started at 7AM. Took the train and got down at the next stop(Penetencial Creek station). From here it was a long walk to the park. Thankfully all along the way we would see people either cycling or jogging. So there were always people either greeting you or alerting you if they are trying to cross you on cycle.

Last time when I went for the same walk there were lot of birds that I saw during my walk but this time around till I reached the park the activity was very very less. I don't know the reason for the same, I just hoped that I would see something after reaching the park.

Immediately after reaching the park I saw these Stellar Jays. They are everywhere in the park either chasing other birds or being chased by others. They are noisy too and their voice is not melodious :-) but they do look very good with their crowns.

Stellar Jay
Then saw this bird which was playing hide and seek with me near the stream. This was something new for me, I had not seen this bird in my last visit to this park. So I waited their for sometime to see if he would come out and for my luck he was kind of curious and got out and gave a very nice view. Looks like a sparrow but I'm not able to figure out the exact species name.

Song Sparrow
Then there were other small birds which looked like flycatchers but I did not see usual flycatcher behavior of coming back to the same perch. Looking at the bands on their feathers I think it is a Hutton's vireo. I saw few of them inside the park flying from one tree to another. But never gave me a good view to take a photograph. I think I don't have the positional sense to take bird's photograph, I would always get a very good photograph of their back:-) I have to take training from Raghu who is very good in this aspect.

Hutton's Vireo?

The only nuthatch that I have seen till now is Velvet fronted nuthatch that to only when we visited old magazine house. Here I was seeing my second nuthatch "White-Breasted Nuthatch". Very cute looking bird and as experience with the other nuthatch getting a good photograph is difficult with these birds, or probably it is just me with this problem :-) These guys keep moving around in search of food.

White-Breasted Nuthatch

Last time around I had seen another of these small birds seen around the park. I couldn't identify them but this time after watching closely and looking at pictures over internet they do look like Oak Titmouse. I saw lot of these birds in the park. I could just sit on a table under the tree in the parking area and these birds could be seen everywhere. But the problem is with these Jay's. They keep harassing these poor small birds.

Oak Titmouse

Northern Flickr
On the same tree I saw couple of Acorn woodpeckers. This fellow kept chasing the Stellar Jay. Kept flying from one tree to another. Very busy bird. This time around I saw atleast 8-10 of them. And at one point I saw 5 of them in the same place and it seemed like some sort of a territorial fight. I'm not sure. But they kept chasing each other and constantly making noise. Or probably a fight for the mate.

Acorn Woodpecker

Acorn Woodpecker with its breakafast:-)

This is the best place to see Turkey vultures flying around. There are lot of them flying over the mountains and the park. Also to be seen flying around are the red tailed hawks. I might have also missed other hawks, I was always poor with Id'ing the raptors. I always had help from Ajit or Raghu. But identifying Turkey vulture and Red Tailed Hawk is very easy. Especially the hawk in flight where the Red tail is the very visible very clearly.

Red Tailed Hawk

I came across another interesting bird. I had not seen any bird in this famliy, Treecreepers:-) We don't have any creepers in Karnataka. So it was a very exciting sighting for me in the park. Could not believe my luck here:-)

Brown Treecreeper

Bewicks Wren

I cannot stop taking photos of these California Ground Squirrels. They look so cute and very inquisitive.
California Ground Squirrel
Had a wonderful morning walk but the return walk to the station was a difficult walk.Under the heat walking about 3 miles was difficult. Made it home by around 3 and then went for WWF to see John Cena and Hulk Hogan.

List of birds seen during the walk.

1. Stellar's Jay
2. Oak Titmouse
3. Whitebreasted Nuthatch
4. Bewick's Wren
5. Northern Flicker
6. California Towhee
7. Acorn Woodpecker
8. Western Scrubjay
9. Turkey Vulture
10. Red Tailed Hawk
11. Black Phoebe
12. Nuttall's Woodpecker
13. Song Sparrow
14. Hutton's Vireo?
15. Black bird
16. Mourning Dove
17. Lesser Goldfinch
18. Anna's Hummingbird
19. Brown Treecreeper


  1. Good work srinivas . Hoping you publish a travelogue of time spent in California.

    1. Thank you Pradeep. Will have to plan about the travelogue.

  2. Seems like my previous comment failed.
    Brilliant KB.
    Do pass me your number via an email.

  3. Super Masterji..You can make a short film..