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Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Birding the Boondocks

Yesterday morning, after running an errand or two it seemed time for some birding; you know, to keep one's sanity. Brewer Road was picked, a boondock-ish area with lots of farmland, and after the recent rains, muddy enough to put the 4-wheel drive to some use.

Below is a picture taken late in the day. It's first up because it had a cute group of 8 Tundra Swans; a family group that just flew into the Central Valley here from the Tundra of Alaska or Northern Canada. The pair on the left are the Swan parents, and to the right are the grey-ish juveniles, the 'babies' of the year. These six overgrown tykes flew with their parents, making mental notes, to learn the route. Or do millennial swans jot notes down on their iPhones like our youngsters do?
A family of Tundra Swans
Here below is a close-up with the parents on the left, and 2 of the juvies on the right. You can better see here  how gray the juveniles are - they'll gradually get snowier plumage as they molt.  These kids will stay with Mom & Dad, and even follow them back up to the tundra come Spring. Then they will be in for a shock; Mom & Dad start work on a new nest and family, getting get grouchy and chasing their over-grown babies away. The poor things will then have to fend entirely for themselves, the poor widdle things. 

The little family will stay together though this winter
There were loads of other birds in massive flocks I saw today: White-faced Ibis, Greater White-fronted Geese, and umpteen Snow Geese. This humongous flock of Snow Geese below, were on Nicolaus Road, maybe a mile west from Brewer Road. The photo was taken through my windshield, and I was also surrounded by Snows to the left and Snows to the right. Noisy birds they are too!

Snowies straight ahead, to the right...
and Snowies to the left...
I was pleased to see a few Blue Phase Snow Geese. The Blueies used to be treated as a separate species but they are actually just a color phase of the Snow Geese. This is the first time I've been able to photograph a Blue Goose. A car makes a handy 'blind'.
Nice little Blue Goose
There are partially blue plumaged Snow Geese, next to the blue goose. Siblings maybe?
All the geese, the blue and the white, are stained yellow around their bills from digging in the iron rich, muddy soils. I am certain that somewhere in the massive flock there had to be a second species, a true species, the smaller 'Ross Goose'. The Rosses are smaller, with warty sort of lumps on their shorter bills. Looked all over the flocks and couldn't spot a single Ross. Still I'd bet a whole bag of birdie grain, those Ross were out there somewhere in that massive flock of Snows.

So let's see... today I saw huge flocks of Swans, Snow and Greater White-fronted Geese, hundreds of pintails and not a few Northern Shovelers (a duck species). Saw more American Coots than I've seen in a long time; at least a thousand of them spread up and down Brewer Road. The big treat for the day however, was spotted, some distance away, on a farm berm. Looking at the photo below, there is an arrow pointing to a brown and white blob.

Note the arrow pointing to the brown & white blob
Only a few seconds later, the brown and white blob took off into the air.
Bald Eagle! 
It is surprising to see a Baldie so close to home. They've been spotted along the American River and that is where I expected to see one - didn't expect one while rummaging around along Placer County's Brewer Road.

This very silly Gull chased after the eagle, trying to convince it to drop its lunch
Shortly after the gull began harassing the eagle, a massive flight of waterfowl entered the sky, coming from the opposite direction. I kept my camera shooting away. It wasn't until I got home I could further pick out the eagle amid the Northern Pintails and Greater White-fronted Geese. I don't know if the waterfowl saw the Bald Eagle had already accounted for its lunch or being in such greater numbers didn't really have anything to worry about from a fish-eating eagle.

Nothing like flying against traffic
I quickly lost track of where the eagle headed off to. Hope it managed to hold on to its lunch with all the hoopla of geese and gulls.

When I left Brewer Road and traversed Nicolaus Road with its Snowy geese, I kept going, ending up in Woodland and Davis. Didn't hit the Fazio Wildlife area because it was getting close to afternoon gridlock-time. Oh well, that'll be another day.

Here is a short clip of the Snow Geese, whose noisy calls give you the impression that the Bedlam is busy.

1 comment:

  1. WOW!
    Impressive shots!
    Good thing ya went.