Saturday, December 22, 2007
Many birders wonder how the Ring-necked Duck got its name (honestly, wouldn't Ring-billed Duck be better??). There isn't a ring on that duck's neck! Was the name a mistake? Well, actually, it isn't. Ring-necked Ducks do indeed have a subtle brownish-orange neck ring, but it is completely invisible most the time. Today at Irvine Regional Park there were roughly fifty Ring-necked Ducks on the two small lakes there. I haven't seen them there before. They were so close and the light was so good that I could see the rings on the necks of the males! Here's a shot that shows the neck ring.
There were a few Lesser Scaup and a single female Canvasback on the lower lake as well. Really strange! I think they came from Peters Canyon, since we didn't see as many ducks there on the CBC Sunday. We also saw the Barn Owl in his hollow tree by parking lot thirteen, but didn't see the Lewis's Woodpecker in the five minutes we spent looking for it.
Earlier in the morning my dad, my dog (Chestnut), and I birded Yorba Regional Park along the Santa Ana River in Yorba Linda. Yorba Park isn't too large, but it has a few small lakes, large grassy areas, and lots of big trees. Today, there weren't too many ducks on the lakes, but quite a few herons and egrets, including this cooperative Great Blue Heron.
There was also a large flock of American White Pelicans fishing in one of the shallow lakes. They kept in a tight group, dipping their heads under to feed.
I noticed an adult Black-crowned Night-Heron tucked in amongst some rocks on the edge of one of the lakes. By slowly, stealthily zig-zagging my way towards it, I was able to get close enough for a few decent shots.
We walked all the way to the eastern end of the park, birding along the way. We didn't find anything extraordinary land birds, but a couple Mountain Chickadees were nice. We also found lots of Yellow-rumped Warblers, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, a Lark Sparrow, two White-breasted Nuthatches, and more. I was also pleased to see lots of Cedar Waxwings eating crab apples - one of my favorite birds. I like this shot with the two waxwings tucked away amongst the colorful leaves.
Yesterday I biked over to the Holy Sepulcher Cemetery, which is close to my house. The cemetery was jamming with people putting Christmas decorations on graves, which limited my birding. One has to be very careful not to annoy people while birding in cemeteries. I found two calling Brown Creepers hanging out together and flitting from tree-to-tree nonstop. There were also several Mountain Chickadees and a few Western Meadowlarks around. While I was at the back of the cemetery, I spotted a large clump of pines out in the middle of the adjacent flood control basin. There are pines in the cemetery, but this was a large, mysterious-looking clump of pines that looked like it could house anything. It appeared to be about a half-mile distant. It ended up being over a five-mile round bike trip. Just before I got to where the pines were, I hit a fence plastered with "No Trespassing" signs. Rats! I did find Greater Roadrunner, California Thrasher, and California Gnatcatcher, though.
On the way home I stopped by the small lakes (people in Michigan would call them "ponds", but in California they are considered lakes) in our neighborhood. A Gadwall has been hanging out all week there, and I tried to get some pictures of it. It was fairly tame, but the light wasn't too great. I'll have to keep trying...