Today I couldn't resist hitting my local patches, Peters Canyon and Irvine Regional Parks. I birded Peters Canyon before school, arriving around seven a.m. I birded for about two hours, walking the Lakeview, Willow, and Cactus Pt. Trails. The lake was peppered with ducks and coots. It was mostly the same varieties of ducks I've been seeing the last few times, but I was happy to see two Hooded Mergansers, quite a few Canvasbacks, and several Redheads. Passerines were mostly silent and hard to detect because of the gusty winds. I did see a flock of ten Western Meadowlarks around the Cactus Pt. Trail. I got great looks at a Northern Mockingbird perched on a cactus along the trail there as well. It was really tame, allowing me to walk within six feet of it! They're dirt common birds, but really neat nonetheless.
A couple weeks ago I hung a couple thistle feeders by my back patio. The Lesser Goldfinches love it! I've also seen American Goldfinches, House Finches, and Pine Siskins on it as well.
In the afternoon I birded for several hours at Irvine Regional Park. It was windy! I managed to root out some good birds anyway. I easily found the Lewis's Woodpecker by parking lot number sixteen again. Really amazing bird. He was sitting on a dead sycamore in the middle of the dry wash, where he hangs out most of the time. Here's a shot of the general area, showing the couple dead trees that he likes to spend his time.
I wandered around the park for a couple more hours, not finding too much of interest. The Barn Owl was back in his sycamore by parking lot number thirteen. I looked briefly for the Red-breasted Sapsucker there as well, but didn't spot it. I was headed home when I briefly checked the two lakes. The lakes usually are relatively birdless, being crowded with feral ducks. I was pleasantly surprised to find a couple American Wigeon and singles of Double-crested Cormorant and Pied-billed Grebe at the upper lake. At the lower lake I was very surprised to spot a female Hooded Merganser! That makes a total of three Hooded Mergansers for the day. The light was failing, but I decided to try to photograph it. It was very skittish, but I managed to get some reasonable shots by crawling through dirt, sharp sticks, and dead leaves.
As it was starting to get dark, on my way out of the park, I stopped briefly near group area number four to check out a large flock of Yellow-rumped Warblers and juncos. I was very surprised to find three sapsuckers hanging out together in a clump of evergreens near there. Two were Red-breasted Sapsuckers and the other was a Red-naped Sapsucker. I tried to turn the Red-naped into the Yellow-bellied, but it clearly showed red on the nape as well as neater black and white patterning on the upperparts. Still, it was pretty neat to see three sapsuckers together!