Sunday, April 4, 2010
Back by Popular Demand...PHOTOS
I've received so many half-serious complaints about my recent photo-free posts that I'm relenting and posting a few bird photos. The one above shows an Eared Grebe (at an awkward stage between basic and alternate plumage) at Mason Regional Park.
This is the main reason I biked to Mason Regional Park last week. Yeah, I know I just wrote a post awhile back bashing twitching, but the opportunity to add Eastern Phoebe to my Bigby list was just too alluring. At least I got to spend an hour with this delightful bird (it's been far too long since I've seen one!) and see some other neat birds at the park.
Ruddy Ducks definitely qualify as neat birds. I never tire of seeing the spunky males with their chestnut bodies and sky-blue bills. I don't mean to put the females down, either--I smile whenever I see one of those badger-faced female Ruddies.
Ruddy Duck--going down.
Hiking--I adore it, yet don't do it nearly often enough. On Wednesday, I set off up into the hills above Santiago Oaks Regional Park with my binoculars, camera, and walking stick. I ended up hiking eight miles that morning. One bird that usually requires a decent hike to see is the Rufous-crowned Sparrow. I heard at least a dozen of them, though only one cooperated for photography.
Another seldom-seen sparrow is the secretive Grasshopper Sparrow. In addition to being very shy, these beautiful sparrows are very local in Orange County. They require extensive grasslands--and extensive grasslands are very local in Orange County! I saw this individual in the fields above Irvine Regional Park. It was a treat to get such good looks (and even photograph it!) Usually, I just hear them off in the distance--and their song, a weak little buzz, is not impressive at all. Up close, however, it is a truly beautiful bird.
If you've spent any amount of time birding, you should recognize this snappy-looking bird--it's a Common Yellowthroat. Yes, they're abundant just about everywhere, but they rank among some of my very favorite birds. I love that bright yellow throat, that black mask, that perky song, that skulky yet curious attitude...