Thursday, December 27, 2007
Today I got a lifer - a Hammond's Flycatcher! I saw it at Harriet Wieder Regional Park in Huntington Beach, at the south end of Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve. I first saw it teed up on a chain link fence, and thought "Hey, that looks like a Hammond's!". The bird promptly dove into a nearby ravine filled with willow thickets, but eventually came out and gave great views back on the fence. Brian Daniels, who was there today, first found the bird Monday. I didn't know it was there, so I was really excited to see it! Hammond's Flycatcher is very unusual during the winter in southern California. Now I've seen all the regularly-occurring empids in the ABA area!
There were other interesting birds around Harriet Wieder Regional Park this morning - a single Pacific Golden-Plover still hanging out with the huge flock of Black-bellied Plovers, a Yellow Warbler in "Fisher's Gulch", and flocks of American Pipits and Western Meadowlarks. Brian also found a "Red" Fox Sparrow in the parking lot the other day, but I couldn't find it. Earlier in the morning my mom and I birded Bolsa Chica proper for a little while - some of the more interesting birds we saw there included a single Reddish Egret, lots of Surf Scoters, Ruddy Turnstones, and several Glaucous-winged Gulls.
Yesterday, while my mom and brother were shopping for textbooks on the UCI campus, I wandered around San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary for awhile. I birded the front three ponds. The first pond had low water levels and held Western, Least, and Spotted Sandpipers, plus Long-billed Dowitchers. The second pond was quiet except for a few stilts, avocets, ducks, and a Green Heron. The third pond held a good variety of ducks - lots of Northern Shovelers, Cinnamon Teal, and Ruddy Ducks, along with small numbers of Green-winged Teal, Blue-winged Teal, Bufflehead, and Lesser Scaup. Here's a photo of a "feeding circle" of Northern Shovelers.
I returned to the parking lot after a while and turned up a few Hermit Thrushes, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Song Sparrows, and more. Here's a picture of a Hermit Thrush - unfortunately it wouldn't come out of the shadows.
Suddenly, a new bird appeared on the scene:
Huh? What? I got quite a shock when I first saw this bird, but quickly I realized it was some sort of exotic/escapee.
I was puzzled even after flipping through the few foreign guides I own. I posted a photo and description on http://birdforum.net/, and the helpful birders there helped me identify it to a weaver, probably a Taveta Golden Weaver (Ploceus castaneiceps) or a Golden Palm Weaver (Ploceus bojeri). Both of these are native to Africa! Obviously this bird escaped from captivity. Still, it is a very cool bird and really interesting to see!
We also swung by the Irvine Civic Center on Wednesday morning to check out if the Wilson's Snipes that had been reported on and off the last month or so were still there. After scanning for awhile, I spotted a single snipe sitting on a small berm in the middle of the river - then I spotted several more, and then even more! I counted at least thirty, and there were undoubtedly more. A state/county bird for me!