Saturday, March 1, 2008

Tropical Visitor

This morning, I finally saw my first Tropical Kingbird in Orange County. I've dipped on this particular species three previous times this winter. My dad and I ran down to San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary this morning to search for it. As it turned out, we arrived too early. We wandered around, half lost, looking for the kingbird unsuccessfully for over an hour. Before leaving, however, I suggested that we walk down the dirt road that follows the San Diego Creek, since the bird had been seen along there. No kingbirds in sight. Suddenly, I heard a muffled "chi-beer!" of a Cassin's Kingbird. A good sign! Suddenly, a flock of about fifteen Cassin's Kingbirds flew in from nowhere. I heard the high-pitched twittering of the Tropical Kingbird, and seconds later spotted it squabbling with one of the Cassin's Kingbird. The light was awful (one of those gloomy, drizzly mornings), but I still tried to digiscope some photos.

Otherwise, San Joaquin was relatively quiet. There were hundreds, if not thousands, of swallows swirling around. Most were Tree Swallows, but there were some Northern Rough-winged and Barn Swallows mixed in, and I spotted my first Cliff Swallow of the year. Some of the Tree Swallows were already checking out the nest boxes!

A diminutive Sharp-shinned Hawk was perched right alongside one of the trails, hungrily eyeing the Song Sparrows that were boldly hopping about. It seemed smaller than a scrub-jay!

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