Friday, March 25, 2011

Flyin' 'roun 'n stuff

They may, at first glance, seem to be simplistic, childish words. But, those four truncated words capture the essence of bird biology. They fly around and stuff. While I've been home on spring break, I've unintentionally photographed a lot of birds in flight. Perhaps I'll do another post later about the "stuff" part later.

A great deal of my birding over break has involved climbing ridges, which provide interesting encounters with flying birds, often at or below eye level. And sometimes, unexpected birds wing overhead--like this trio of cormorants that buzzed me while I was hunting Cactus Wrens and Rufous-crowned Sparrows. "Hold on a sec, there are four cormorants!" you may be thinking. Oh well, I never could count--and I love the word "trio."

The entire Orange County population of Red-crowned Parrots seemed intent on disrupting my Grasshopper Sparrow search in the grasslands above Irvine Regional Park--a steady stream of screeching birds flew overhead, drowning out everything else.

One of my triumphs of spring break was finally snagging Swainson's Hawk for my Orange County list. They are scarce spring migrants in the county, and the last couple springs I suffered heartbreak after heartbreak of failed vigils.

Swallows spend a lot of time flying--indeed, that's when most birders see them. This one is a female Violet-green.

Ah, hawks. I've never been a hawkwatch junkie, but I enjoy seeing them whenever I can. Raptors definitely aren't one of my strong suits--I have the general policy of identifying all accipiters as Cooper's--but this is blatantly a Sharp-shinned Hawk. Check out that tiny head, square tail, dark cap, and wings held in a bold 'S' curve.

I must admit, I have a sizeable soft spot for White-throated Swifts, those sickle-winged devils that scream through the atmosphere like fighter jets.

Birders covet this svelte, pearly beast, better known as a White-tailed Kite. A pair is nesting at Irvine Regional Park near my house; they are positively fascinating to watch as they shriek and whistle at each other, fluttering and sparring in midair above their nest.

I might as well finish with a Red-tailed Hawk flyn' 'roun 'n stuff.


Zachary DeBruine said...

Man, that would be my favorite spot for home base! I could dream all day about a trip to Orange County. Really, that Kite is cool!

Anonymous said...

I get grasshopper sparrows on the grassy slope behind the horse corral at Riley/Wagon Wheel. Short walk from the parking lot. Long bike ride. They are most active early. Nice Sharpy!

Beverly Hargrove

Anonymous said...

Nice collection of feathers. I enjoyed the pics and the comments.
Mission Viejo