Desert Birds

March 30, 2019 at 3:06 pm (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Wildlife)

The black-throated sparrow is my favorite sparrow, and the first place I ever saw one was at Big Bend National Park, Texas. They are also common in Southern California, too.

This one’s bushy “eyebrows” look quote comical.

The males often perched on cholla spines to make themselves and their songs more obvious to potential mates. I don’t know how their little feet didn’t get poked.

Several years ago I had photographed them in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park’s Mine Wash, along with some blooming cactus. I went back in early March and the cactus had yet to perform, but the sparrows were in full force.

Phainopepla male

The phainopepla eats mistletoe berries. In Big Bend it was juniper mistletoe. In areas of California where oak trees grow, it’s the oak mistletoe. I even have a pair that visits my yard in Paso Robles now and then, and presumably they have found mistletoe nearby.

Gambel’s Quail

The male Gambel’s quail is just as handsome as its cousin the California quail, the latter of which is found in western California up through the Pacific Northwest. This bird and the rest in this post were at Joshua Tree National Park.

The Gambel’s quail prefers the arid regions of the Southwest and Southern California.

The California scrub jay isn’t exclusively a desert denizen. I also have them in my yard, but they are quite handsome.

California thrasher

Although I was in the desert for the wildflower bloom, I was surprised there wasn’t much bird activity in the places I visited. However, another winged creature was almost an invasion – the painted lady butterfly.

Many people mistook them for monarchs, which migrate in large numbers, but honestly, they don’t look a thing like monarchs. There were hundreds of thousands of them, moving fast to whatever destination their little hearts desired. Unfortunately, many of them wound up as yellow splats on windshields and fenders. I’m wondering which plants their caterpillars will be eating when they all hatch. The wildflowers should be finished blooming by then, I hope!

Male phainopepla

Photos and text copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

Feel free to reblog or share

Website:  CindyMcIntyre.com

Online gallery:  Smugmug and Fine Art America

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Contact:  cindy at cindymcintyre.com

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Salton Sea Birds

March 16, 2019 at 6:00 am (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, National Wildlife Refuges (US Fish & Wildlife), Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Wildlife) (, , )

Burrowing Owl male

One of the great joys of living in California four years ago was discovering the burrowing owls at the Sonny Bono National Wildlife Refuge on the Salton Sea in Southern California’s Imperial Valley.

On my trip to view the wildflower bloom in the desert, I stopped by specifically to look for them. I was not disappointed.

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Carrizo Plain Winter Birds

March 3, 2019 at 6:00 am (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, California Central Coast, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, San Luis Obispo County, Wildlife) (, , , )

Prairie Falcon

Last week’s visit to Carrizo Plain National Monument yielded some nice birds as well as a herd of at least 100 Tule elk about a half mile in the distance.

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Morro Coast Bird Festival – part 5

February 23, 2019 at 5:00 am (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, California Central Coast, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Wildlife) (, , )

Western bluebird male

The Morro Coast Bird Festival in January 2019 featured a variety of trips, many of them centered around the water. However, some of the best birds were songbirds.

Western Bluebird Male

I carry around a very heavy Nikon D750 with a Nikon 200-500mm lens. This is the sharpest lens I’ve ever owned, and combined with a good camera sensor allows me to crop a small portion of the image and still come up with a relatively sharp and minimally pixelated image.

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Morro Coast Bird Festival – Part 4

February 22, 2019 at 5:00 am (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, California Central Coast, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Wildlife) (, , , , )

Heermann’s Gull

My favorite gull is the Heermann’s, which I had never seen until I moved to California. In its breeding colors as shown above, it is a handsome bird, but only spends the winter with us.

Heermann’s gull

I saw quite a few of them at San Simeon during the Morro Coast Bird Festival in January 2019.

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Morro Coast Bird Festival – part 3

February 21, 2019 at 5:00 am (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, California Central Coast, Nature, Nature photography, Wildlife) (, , , )

Male bufflehead in flight

The Morro Coast Bird Festival was four days of amazing birding in my own “backyard.” Of course, most of the birds we saw were water birds.

Horned grebe

The horned grebe’s eyes are so red they show up in the water’s reflections!

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Morro Coast Bird Festival – part 2

February 20, 2019 at 5:00 am (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, California Central Coast, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Wildlife) (, , )

Brown pelican resting on a light

The Morro Coast Bird Festival held in January 2019 at Morro Bay, California had a huge selection of field trips, workshops, and classes to choose from. I chose two trips in a boat, a walking trip along Morro Bay, and some car caravan trips.

Brown pelican looking for fish

The brown pelicans are coming into their breeding colors, but I had never seen one fly with his huge head dangling down like this one.

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Morro Coast Bird Festival – part 1

February 19, 2019 at 5:00 am (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, California Central Coast, Nature, Nature photography, Wildlife) (, , , )

Peregrine Falcon on boat yardarm

I treated myself to four days of birding at the Morro Coast Bird Festival in January 2019. Although I chose some trips to areas I was already familiar with, I found it extremely beneficial to go with someone who pointed out birds I had never seen before.

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A Yellow House Finch

February 18, 2019 at 5:00 am (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, California Central Coast, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Wildlife) (, )

Yellow house finch
A yellow male house finch

House finch males are normally raspberry or orange-red in color, but occasionally a male turns up with yellow plumage. I was lucky enough to have one show up at my feeder in Paso Robles, California on Feb. 17, 2019.

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Christmas Eve Birding

December 26, 2018 at 5:15 am (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, California Central Coast, Nature, Nature photography, Wildlife) (, )

Black Oystercatcher

There was patchy fog in Paso Robles, and I figured it would be thick at the coast, but I was pleasantly surprised. I’d heard about some good birds at several of the Estero Bluffs State Park lookouts and wanted to add a few to my life list.

I was fortunate to find both harlequin ducks, although they were in different spots on the “Fig Tree” trail.

Black Turnstone

I also added the black turnstone to my life list and photo collection!

Peregrine Falcon

I couldn’t believe it was warm enough to wear a tank top. I’ve been out there on a summer afternoon when it was windy and darned cold!

Cayucos from the Estero Bluffs trail

I was happy to see some colorful-billed surf scoters riding the waves.

Then there were the usual suspects.

Yellow-rumped (Audubon’s) warbler showing its butterbutt
Turkey Vulture patrolling the shore

Juvenile double-crested cormorant

Before I made it back to the car, the fish scale clouds rolled in. I knew rain was coming, but I tucked in a short trip to the Morro Bay Marina boardwalk. It was uncharacteristically quiet, perhaps because of the incoming rain.

View of the Back Bay, from Morro Bay Marina
Morro Rock

Unknown shorebird

I gave myself a headache trying to figure which species the above bird was, but I’ll add its name when I find out. It was at Estero Bluffs, and I think it was about the size of the black turnstones. A gentle mist began by the time I was in the car, and we received another welcome dose of rain overnight.

Our coastal hills turn green in winter – thanks to the rain!

This is my favorite viewpoint on State Hwy 46 between Paso Robles and the coast. It’s starting to look like Ireland!

I hear “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” – the original version — is on TV now, so I must end this post to give my Christmas Day a proper ending.

Happy Holidays to all!

Photos and text copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

Feel free to reblog or share

Website:  CindyMcIntyre.com

Online gallery:  Smugmug and Fine Art America

Join my Facebook Page

Contact:  cindy at cindymcintyre.com

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