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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Nerdy Birdy: Big Morongo Canyon Preserve

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On my second day of my trip I spent the day at Big Morongo Canyon Preserve, a place recommended by a birding site I randomly stumbled onto. WHAT A GEM this place was. It has a marsh, water, cottonwoods and a few fields a perfect place for birds to take a rest during migration and a great home for some permanent residents. I was really excited to get a bunch of new birds here and to find a few nests too!

Right in early morning I found turkey vultures sunning themselves in the sun on an old tree. They spread their large wings and let the sun warm the cold desert night away. I particularly like how the light is coming through the wings.

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111.TURKEY VULTURE

The most amazing find today was the Long Eared Owl nest holding the mother and her three babies (three that I could see, there could be more). They were all ADORABLE although very hard to photo. I wanted to make sure not to disturb the nest so I could not get too close and then the nest was VERY high and in a dense part of a group of trees. After an hour of trial and error I managed to grab one good shot using my long telephoto lens WITH the 2x converter.

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292.LONG-EARED OWL

The second nest that was at the Preserve was a Red-Tailed Hawk nest also with three babies. Both the mother and father feed the chicks and I spent a few hours capturing their little family.

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127.RED-TAILED HAWK NEST

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127.RED-TAILED HAWK

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127.RED-TAILED HAWK BABY

Both parents were flying back and forth to the nest with prey about every half hour. Here is one of the parents just after she caught a mouse and seconds before she deposited it in the nest for her hungry family.

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127.RED-TAILED HAWK WITH MOUSE

I was really fortunate to grab a photo of a Coopers hawk pestering one of the red tailed hawk parents. It was really cool to see the size comparison of the two side by side.

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127.RED-TAILED HAWK BEING PESTERED BY A COOPER’S HAWK

I was excited when a Bell’s Vireo hopped right in front of my camera but again I was thwarted from getting that perfect shot with a stick across his face. Before I could reposition the camera the bird had sadly taken off.

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372.BELL’S VIREO

There were many birds busy feeding their young. I was able to take a photo of this bluebird female taking a short break before heading back out to hunt for her busy family.

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436.WESTERN BLUEBIRD

Another new bird was this beautiful Lawrence’s Goldfinch who had the most pretty song.

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595.LAWRENCE’S GOLDFINCH

A few Hooded Oriole’s presented themselves during the day, a bird I saw for the first time two weeks ago. I was able to get a closer shot this time after a bit of patience.

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578.HOODED ORIOLE

I was not as fortunate getting shots of the next two birds both are new and both were VERY skittish. They would not let me get any closer and kept flitting away.

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561.LAZULI BUNTING

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512.YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT

A bird that is regularly at this park is the Vermillion Flycatcher, a bird that I have been desperate to see ever since I saw it in my bird book. With its bold red and black coloring it is a pretty easy bird to find despite its very small size. ANOTHER new bird!

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353.VERMILION FLYCATCHER

This tiny warbler is another new bird, so little he was very hard to get in focus and so fast he sorely tried my patience.

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508.WILSON’S WARBLER

I got a better shot of the Western Tanager a bird I have not seen again in the 8 months since I saw it way up in a tree. I hardly got a decent shot so I was really happy to manage to get this one.

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516.WESTERN TANAGER

The yellow rumped warblers were out and SO BEAUTIFUL in their breeding plumage. Another birder let me know that there were actually two subspecies of the yellow rump a yellow throated warbler and the Myrtle version which has a white throat. It came up when we found a yellow rump that I thought was a juvenile. I love learning new things! Although not on my bird list (I have no idea why they are everywhere here) I thought it was interesting to post.

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YELLOW RUMPED WARBLER MYRTLE

Although I feel I am getting better at identifying these birds I still have trouble with the sparrows and the yellow birds. There seem to be so many of them. For instance I have no idea what this little guy is... any ideas?

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1 comment:

paul peggy zeus said...

Is the last one a female Yellow Warbler? about 4-5 1/2 inches? It isn't a female tanager, the beak is too thin. What do you think how big was it? can you remember what it sounded like? Great pics, as usual.

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