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Friday, January 11, 2013

The Little Sapphire of Pescadero

My first post of the new year, and yes, it's all about the birds. A little sapphire gem of a bird showed up in Pescadero and following its own little agenda, it seems to have decided to overwinter on Pescadero Creek Road in San Mateo County. The species is normally only found in the Eastern half of North America.  My birder buddy  Don, saw the bird week ago, and I joined him this weekend for 2 days of birding. Our first stop was a cute little apple orchard where the Warbler hangs out.

Don, on the lookout for the the vagrant warbler
I must say, the man who owns the property where the warbler is, is a rara ava himself. He is so  incredibly accommodating to birders, if only there were some award we could give him for being so wonderful. When the owner saw Don and I hanging out, scanning his orchard through his front gate, he didn't go all postal on us chasing us away, he instead greeted us, telling us he would leave his side gate open, to improve our chance of spotting the bird. It's wonderful knowing there are such kind people out there to offset the uh... not so kind.
Hermit Warbler in lichen swathed apple tree

Back to the bird! We were near freezing as we watched a parade of birds in the orchard - Fox and Golden-crowned Sparrows, American Robins, California Towhees and jaunty Hermit Thrushes.

Then, across the street from the orchard, I spotted a few birds shooting into a pine tree and the game was on! Soon I was capturing glimpses of a little slaty blue bird, and the occasional perfect profile of a male Black-throated Blue Warbler. The bird then shot into the orchard, settling in a tree by the gate, where he picked away at an old apple. Who knew warblers ate apple? 

The Male Black-throated Blue Warbler
An apple a day, keeps the Sharp-shinned Hawk away
I think we stood watching the bird for maybe as long as five minutes before it continued on its morning peregrination. We actually left the site, returning a hour later and respotted the bird, though the second time I got no shots of it. That only gave me an improved appreciation of how lucky I was the bird was so cooperative, standing still for such a long time. What could I possibly appreciate more than a photogenic lifer species for me?

We decided to stop at the Arcangel's Market to buy sandwiches for lunch and stock up on the wonderful fresh baked bread they always have for sale. Yum!

Busy little Townsend's Warbler, behind the Arcangeli Market in Pescadero

Before we left Pescadero I took a shot of the not-found-in-Pescadero hummingbird on painted on the side of a gas station building. No clue of the murel's significance, but it is pretty.

Our next stop was the Pigeon Point Lighthouse, to look for Ancient Murrelets which we heard were seen there the previous day, just off shore.

Pigeon Point Lighthouse

Flotilla of Red-breasted Merganser drakes
This fellow seems particularly proud of himself

I would loved a good look at Ancient Murrelettes, but alas, the little alcids were already off to another location. There were loads of Red-breasted Mergansers, Black Turnstones & such.
From behind the lighthouse here, we spotted White-winged Scoters and other seabirds
This was the first time I ever actually took any time to look around the light house. There is a lot to look at, though I only bothered myself with birding. The lighthouse has a tourist hostel that I hope some day to stay at.

 After leaving Pigeon Point, we drove on down to Santa Cruz, in search of a little Black & White Warbler that was said to be cruzing a little narrow strip of a park near the ocean front. The bird was a no show, but oh well, at least the search gave me a chance to end the day nearly freezing my butt off, yet again. That was our last birdie hunt for the day - One lifer for me, and I call that a great day.

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