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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Nerdy Birdy: Acton Perching Birds

I arrived yesterday afternoon in Acton to visit my parents for a few days. After this trip they are taking off higher up the coast to Pismo Beach and will slowly be inching their way to Northern California, through Oregon and into Washington for the summer. That is they are going if we don’t have a nuclear meltdown on the coast.

So during the visit of course we went birding, something all three of us love. Normally we find someplace cool to bird in the general area of where they are staying. This time however the campground they are staying at is a MAD CRAZY birding area!

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A GREAT PARK TO GO BIRDING

With so many trees, a pond and a small river this whole place was teaming with some pretty cool birds. I was even able to see a few new birds that I have never seen before, HURAH! For the sake of overload I had to split up this post, today I will talk about the perched birds and then in a few days we will move to the water birds. The fact that I had to split it makes me squirm in delight; there were just so many cool photos!

This park is filled with large trees like the cottonwoods. See my itty bitty mommy next to the great big trees.

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LARGE TREES AND MY ITTY BITTY MOM

This park had quite a few woodpeckers and flickers. You could hear them all hammering away like this Red Breasted Sapsucker. I adore his brilliant red head, it certainly makes it easier to spot him.

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RED BREASTED SAPSUCKER

I also got a few photos of both the male and the female northern flicker. They are super cool when they fly, with a pretty red under wing, but getting a shot of that is near impossible. Instead I got the standard photo of one perched on the side of a tree.

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NORTHERN FLICKER MALE

Then later as we were sitting finishing dinner outside my mom spotted the female flicker on the ground. What an odd sight to see a flicker on the ground.

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NORTHERN FLICKER FEMALE

My mom and I spent some time trying to track down a woodpecker who was making a ton of noise. We thought it may be one of the bigger woodpeckers so when I finally spotted it and we noticed it was so small we were surprised. Originally I just thought this was the ladder backed or downy woodpecker, a bird that I already have photos of. Thank goodness I snapped a few photos anyways because it happened to be a new bird.

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NUTALL’S WOODPECKER MALE

And then later I was able to get photos of the female.

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NUTALL’S WOODPECKER FEMALE

There were a few other birds that we came across, most of them I already have but keep photoing for the practice and in hopes to get that one true Kodak shot. Here are some of my favourites.

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WESTERN BLUEBIRD

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OAK TITMOUSE

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AMERICAN ROBIN

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WHITE CROWNED SPARROW

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DARK EYED JUNCO

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CALIFORNIA TOWHEE

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BUSHTIT

Whenever I am out birding I always keep my eyes open for the larger hawks, eagles and owls. Hawks and eagles like to perch high up in trees or soar high up in the thermals looking for prey where owls like to stay hidden in nooks and crannies; perfect little hideouts like these.

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LITTLE HIDY HOLE

Mostly, with the larger birds of prey, I see the red tailed hawk. I see them so often that I normally don’t even take a photo. Of course on our walk today we spotted one but this time I stopped to take a few photos; he is after all a gorgeous bird.

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RED TAILED HAWK

I ended up taking photos of another soaring bird hoping that it wasn’t the red tailed hawk. I was right it ended up being a red shouldered hawk and a new bird for me.

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123. RED SHOULDERED HAWK NOTICE HIS MOUTH IS OPEN

And then later in our walk we saw the red shouldered hawk swoop down onto the ground. It had caught some prey and my father and I were able to creep slowly near for some awesome close-ups. It really doesn’t get any better than this; it’s as if he was posing for us.

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123. RED SHOULDERED HAWK COVERING HIS PREY WITH HIS WING

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123. RED SHOULDERED HAWK

He stayed and ate for a while before heading higher to a nearby tree. It is so exciting to see a new bird and so fabulous to be so close to a wild animal.

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123. RED SHOULDERED HAWK FLEW UP INTO A NEARBY TREE

And then when we were walking toward the back I heard a hoot. We all paused, looked at each other and then started frantically scanning the trees… was it an owl or just a stupid dove faking an owl call. And then I spotted it, way up in the top of one of the cottonwoods, he even opened his eyes for a moment for a quick photo. What an awesome find, an owl in broad daylight is rare indeed!

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GREAT HORNED OWL OPENED HIS EYES FOR JUST A MOMENT

The last bird mom spotted while my dad was driving. He pulled over and we both jumped out racing across a field trying to get a good shot. We were a little sad because we were hoping it was the California Quail. Mom had spotted the tell tale cream front of one of the birds and we were saddened to think that it was the very similar looking and more common Gambles quail. Imagine my total delight to get home today, examed the photo and found out that it is in fact the California Quail. Yea ANOTHER new bird!

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57. CALIFORNIA QUAIL

It is rare enough to see one new bird in a day, to see three new birds in one day AND an owl is fantastic. This park was such a great birding adventure!

1 comment:

paul peggy zeus said...

So many cool birds here. Too bad we didn't get to go see some of the other attractions in this area.

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