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Baltimore by the Sea

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Weekend Quest

After numerous post-ponements due to snow, this past weekend, Don and I searched, yet again, for the magical, mystery bird of our dreams - the Pinyon Jay.

Needless to say, the Pinyon Jays of Markleeville once again skunked us, by remaining hidden, leading us to ponder whether the things exist in the first place - we have our doubts.

We did however see some other cooperative, lovely, much sweeter birds than any nasty old Pinyon Jays.

Cooperative, Ever Friendly & Approachable Band-tailed Pigeons
Funny, Sweet and Loud Clark's Nutcracker
After futile searching around the Markleeville area, we headed back for Fair Oaks, as the storm clouds rolled in. On our way, Don gave the birder's secret code for stopping the car: "STOP THE EFFING CAR!"

I pulled over to the road shoulder, seeing only a polkadot on a snowy bank by a small creek.

Note: See dark spot on snowy bank - close-up below

I eventually noticed, the little speck was feasting on a fish - a beautiful Bald Eagle!

Proud, Stoic National Symbol that Allows Sighting by All,
Regardless of Birding Life List Status: The American Bald Eagle

The chocolate brown and white eagle stood on it's sushi dinner, a freshly caught fish, eagerly eviserating its supper. We watched it for quite a while until snagging up it's prey by the talon, the eagle sailed off into the nearby forest. Wow. Am always thrilled to see a Bald Eagle in my home state. Viewing an Eagle on a white snowy slope was a wonderful treat. Who needs to see stinky Pinyon Jays when there are noble eagles to gawk at?
After we got back to my house, we were still in birding mode so at sunset we drove along Meiss Road, not far from my house. On the primative dirt road we spotted loads of bright wildflowers and a PoorWill that flitted up in front of the car. The following pair of photos are not mine - I couldn't photograph the Poorwill or Owl in the dark.

Poorwill [Photo nicked off internet]

Later we saw a cute little Burrowing Owl that flitted about, hunting moths and other night time insects. I wish I had photos of them, but these will have to do.

The only time I have ever seen a Burrowing Owl after dark
[Photo nicked off internet]

At one point Don called out for me to stop the car, and I didn't exactly stop on a dime - he got out and told me I ran over something. I actually thought he was joking. I got out for look-see and there was a eensy. partially flattened, baby gopher. I felt bad running over the poor thing - even though squished, it was still kind of cute.

On Sunday morning the weather had changed from 'iffy' to ' impending rain'. We headed to the Keiffer landfill area where Rough-legged hawks and Tri-colored blackbirds did not show up on demand, apparently being in cahoots with Pinyon Jays. Undaunted, we drove to the Vic Fazio Wildlife Area which was flush with numerous waterfowl and shorebirds.

White-faced Ibis

Yellow-headed Blackbirds

The greatest treat was a massive flight of Yellow-headed Blackbirds in a flock that also contained Red-winged and Tri-color Winged Blackbirds.

So all in all, it was a good weekend's birding, even though we didn't catch even a glimpse of those Pinyon Jays, which we don't really care about seeing anyway. I'm going to my room now, to pout.

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