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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Columbus Day Weekend

A week or two ago, Don asked if I was up for some birding over the Columbus Day Weekend - not even a need to ask. He arrived Friday night & we wasted no time, heading out to Meiss Road, out in the sticks, looking for Common and Lesser Nighthawks. No such luck, they've apparently headed south for the winter already. We did find one Burrowing Owl - v. cute - and after dark we spotted a fence jumping doe and a fox, that was likely a Kit Fox. Ooooo!

Saturday morning we headed off to 'the Pit' in Rancho Cordova. The pit is a bit of the American River Parkway found behind the house of Jerri, that is, Dr. Langham. Jerri, aka 'lucky duck', is newly retired from a career teaching at Sac State. Jerri's my hero! He lead the 'fateful trip to Churchill, Manitoba Canada in 2004 - one of my top ever, 'All Birds, All the Time' vacation adventures. I say the trip was fateful because I busted my knee on that sojourn. Jerri, and his assistant Sean really saved my toast on that trip.

Jerri sprinkling seed in 'The Pit';
a view of the American River Parkway

Quail enjoying the breakfast bar

Autumn is here, we all gripped binoculars with icy fingers. Looking down into the pit I glimpsed a black & white crown with a splash of bright yellow - a White-throated Sparrow. The bird did not show up again- v. annoying, but I know saw it, even though I was the only one that did.

Nothing too exciting, but the company made the time worth while. We sat in lounge chairs birding the riparian vista all comfy like. A couple of weeks ago when I birded at the pit I found myself staring at a cinnamon bellied warbler with 2 white wing bars, trying to force my brain into an identification, but nothing came. Jerri shouted, 'It's a Bay-breasted Warbler!'


Bay-breasted Warbler

Bay-breasted Warblers are an eastern species and I've seen them in Minnesota and Canada, so it rather felt like now they're following me around.

A Wilson's Warbler, a quizzical little bugger

Here are a couple of other shots that I took in the woods along the American River Parkway, behind Jerri's house.

Hermit Warbler, ironically with loads of other birdie company

Black-throated Gray Cutie. I mean, Black-throated Gray Warbler

Hyper little Warbler - the Black-throated Gray

The only glitch in the weekend was I had a hair appointment in Suisun City. While I got my hair froo-froo'd, Don attempted to bird Grizzly Island Wildlife Area, but discovered it was closed for the hunting season. Oops. So much for my planning skills. Don managed to entertain himself for the duration.

A week ago I drove 3 hours round trip and did NOT see a particular cool birdie. So this weekend, birding buddy on hand, we headed back to San Luis Reservoir where we saw this rather bland-at-first-sight bird, which lead to high-fives all around and a lifer for both of us.

Fresh out of the Siberian Arctic - Mr. Yellow-billed Loon!
Photo by Mike Rogers

Hurrah! We viewed the Loon from the observation deck at the back of the Romero Visitor's Center. I gave Don my small camera and he hiked wa-a-ay downhill for a closer look at the bird, which, as Don hiked toward it, rudely swum away. Happily, his hike was judiciously reward by his spotting yet another lifer bird for himself - a Vaux's Swift. Hurrah!

Loon Look

Our next stop was the 16 mile drive in Del Pueblo Canyon in Stanislaus County - nada! Oh well. The following morning our final hurrah was at Sailor Bar, "MY" bit of the American River Parkway. There we found Don's first Phaenopepla [fay-no-pep-la] (click here to see one) for our annual lists. Just for the record, the bird's name is, in San Diego at least, pronounced 'Para-pah-nail-ee-yah' (this is one of those things you may not wish to ask about, (right Joann? *tee hee*) Last but not least, here is one of several random shots of Acorn Woodpeckers.

Totally a fun weekend all round - I hope for another one just like it real soon.

Clown faced, Acorn Woodpecker hoarding its acorns for the winter


  1. Pardon me, did you say you were having quail for breakfast? (smile)

  2. No more quail for my breakfasts - their little topknots tickle my throat! ; D