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Greg Lavaty | profile | all galleries >> My Blog >> Winter Birding in California 12-17-2012 tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

The Colorful Visitors of Spring Migration on the Upper Texas Coast Part 1 03-12-2013 | Starting the Year in the Texas Tropics 01-16-2013 | So you want to become a birder? 01-08-2013 | What camera is for the birds? 12-26-2012 | Winter Birding in California 12-17-2012 | Fall Colors in Texas? Lost Maples State Natural Area 11-15-2012 | Machu Picchu Birding 11-01-2012 | Prehistoric Visitor? No, it’s the Magnificent Frigatebird 09-25-2012 | Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Migrating Marvel 09-15-2012 | Birding Utah and Arizona, Eared Grebes and Red-faced Warblers 09-08-2012 | Fall Migration, Like Spring but in the Opposite Direction… Sort of… 09-05-2012 | A Landscape Photography Adventure out West 08-30-2012 | The Rainbow Bird, Who Doesn’t Love a Painted Bunting? 08-14-2012 | Our Summer Wanderer the Wood Stork 08-11-2012 | Are These Guys Bathing? A Quick Peek into the Life of the Black Skimmer 08-07-2012 | Upper Texas Coast Birding Locations

Winter Birding in California 12-17-2012

Yesterday afternoon I returned from leading a trip to California; we covered a lot of ground and saw many interesting birds. Better still our group was able to get nice photographs of most of the birds we saw.

California Quail



Our trip started out in the San Francisco Bay area where we spent a good deal of time photographing waterfowl in several of the area’s beautiful parks. Some of the highlights include; Tufted Duck, Common, Hooded and Red-breasted Merganser, Common and Barrow’s Goldeneye, American and Eurasian Widgeon, Ring-necked Duck, Brant, Bufflehead, Lesser and Greater Scaup as well as Canvasback.

Canvasback



Eurasian Widgeon



Common Merganser



Hooded Merganser



Tufted Duck



Common Goldeneye




Also in the area were many birds that were quite exciting for those of us who live in the eastern part of the country. These birds include; California Towhee, Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Golden-crowned Sparrow, Sooty Fox Sparrow, Red-breasted Sapsucker, Townsend’s Warbler, Western Bluebird, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Audubon’s Yellow-rumped Warbler and Brewer’s Blackbird.

Nuttall’s Woodpecker



Fox Sparrow



Golden-crowned Sparrow



Red-breasted Sapsucker



Townsend’s Warbler




It was tough to tear the group away from the scenic bay area but we had a lot of ground to cover and a lot of birds to see. Our next stop was the lovely Monterrey Bay where we enjoyed Surf Scoter, Common, Pacific and Red-throated Loon, Black Oystercatcher, Black Turnstone, Surfbird, Eared, Horned and Western Grebe, Pelagic and Brant’s Cormorant along with a slew of gulls, including Thayer’s and Heermann’s Gull.

Surf Scoter



Black Oystercatcher



Pacific Loon



Surfbird



Western Gull with Octopus



From Monterey we took scenic Highway 1 down past Big Sur and on to Morro Bay. Along the way we were treated to eye-level views of the endangered California Condor as well as spectacular views of the Pacific Coastline. In the redwood forests along Highway 1 we photographed Pacific Wren and had glimpses of Varied Thrush and Band-tailed Pigeons. Some of the non-avian highlights included a large group of Elephant Seals and lots of playful Sea Otters. We even got a few looks at whale spouts out in the ocean.

California Condor



Highway 1



Highway 1



Pacific Wren



Elephant Seal



Sea Otter



Morro Bay treated us to photos of Peregrine Falcon, Black Brant, Spotted Towhee, Say’s and Black Phoebe, California Quail, Western Scrub Jay, Red-shafted Northern Flicker, Bushtit and several others. This is also where we got our first glimpses of Tricolored Blackbird, a bird that proved to be quite a challenge to photograph during our visit.

Peregrine Falcon



Brant



Northern Flicker



Western Scrub-Jay



We continued to the Santa Barbara area where we photographed Yellow-billed Magpie, California Thrasher, Wrentit, Oak Titmouse, Purple Finch, Spotted Owl, Anna’s and Allen’s Hummingbird, Acorn Woodpecker, Cassin’s Kingbird, Hutton’s Vireo, Red-breasted and White-breasted Nuthatch. We had a little extra time in the Santa Barbara area because rough water forced us to cancel our pelagic trip. Though missing the boat ride was a bit disappointing, it did give us opportunity to improve on photos of some of the birds that we had seen earlier in the trip.

California Thrasher



Wrentit



Oak Titmouse



Hutton’s Vireo



Purple Finch



Red-breasted Nuthatch



From Santa Barbara we made our way back to the San Francisco area by way of the Carrizo Plane. This required an early departure but I am confident that the birds and photos we got along the way were worth the reduced amount of sleep. Our bird list for this leg of the trip included Ferruginous Hawk, Prairie Falcon, Rough-legged Hawk, Barn Owl, Long-eared Owl, Mountain Plover, Mountain Bluebird, Williamson’s Sapsucker and Tricolored Blackbird. Toward the end of the day we were awed by spectacular looks and photos of a Golden Eagle that flew right over our heads. What a thrill!

Ferruginous Hawk



Tricolored Blackbird



Bell’s Sage Sparrow



Barn Owl



Prairie Falcon



Mountain Plover



Long-eared Owl



Golden Eagle



For the birders in our group who have spent most of their birding and photography time in the eastern part of the US, California offered a dizzying amount of new birds, mammals, plants and scenery to experience. I believe everyone in our group went home with a load of nice photographs and a new appreciation for “The Golden State.”

www.texastargetbirds.com


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Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Dark-eyed Junco
Dark-eyed Junco
Varied Thrush
Varied Thrush
California Condor
California Condor
California Condor
California Condor
Heermann's Gull
Heermann's Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Heermann's Gull
Heermann's Gull
Heermann's Gull
Heermann's Gull
Heermann's Gull
Heermann's Gull
Red-throated Loon
Red-throated Loon
Brandt's Cormorant
Brandt's Cormorant
Pelagic Cormorant
Pelagic Cormorant
Western Scrub-Jay
Western Scrub-Jay
Northern Flicker
Northern Flicker
Peregrine Falcon
Peregrine Falcon
Bufflehead
Bufflehead
Greater Scaup
Greater Scaup
Common Goldeneye
Common Goldeneye
Greater Scaup
Greater Scaup
Western Grebe
Western Grebe
Canvasback
Canvasback
Greater Scaup
Greater Scaup
Mallard
Mallard
Canvasback
Canvasback
Common Goldeneye
Common Goldeneye
Lesser Scaup
Lesser Scaup
Barrow's Goldeneye
Barrow's Goldeneye
Mallard
Mallard
Common Goldeneye
Common Goldeneye
Common Goldeneye
Common Goldeneye
Common Goldeneye
Common Goldeneye
Canvasback
Canvasback
Common Goldeneye
Common Goldeneye
Eared Grebe
Eared Grebe
Ruddy Duck
Ruddy Duck
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