Monday, December 31, 2007

Top 10 Birding Memories of 2007

Well I ended my year list at 242 species - with 228 of those in my home state of California - and 203 of those in Orange County. My last bird of 2007 was a gorgeous northern flicker, flying overhead as Drew and I took a walk around my parent's neighborhood. (according to
Geology trip to Death Valley, CA - April 2007.

I liked Amy Hooper's meme on her favorite birding moments of 2007, so here are mine:
  1. In November the Central Valley Birding Symposium is an annual delight.
  2. The PRBO birdathon in October was a great day, and yielded my life sage thrasher.
  3. The unexpected day-chase of the arctic warblers in Kern was an awesome day.
  4. Having an old birding friend -Sean Fitzgerald - visit from out of town in August provided me the opportunity to view my own patches through new eyes. 
  5. My entire July was spent on the road with my boyfriend, and the lifers and birds I saw made it quite a memorable trip.
  6. Memorial weekend I missed out on the annual trip out to the California deserts - but I saw my life bay-breasted warbler in Huntington, which was a fair exchange in my eyes.
  7. In April I participated in a Big Day in Orange County, and I hope that I will be asked back to the team again in years to come.
  8. In February, a rarity chase around Orange County with some of my favorite birders was a great day for me, with worm-eating, yellow-throated, black and white warblers on the list for our day.
  9. A long-time friend, Scott Haber, came to Los Angeles, and I got a chance to finally meet face to face and do some LA county birding with him and others.
  10. An impromptu day of birding at Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary, with my mentor and friend, Trude Hurd, was an unexpected treat.
  11. Like Amy I'm going to cheat and add one more - the entire month of January 2007 was a great month for birding - with visits from Caity R.S. from the midwest, Jim Lomax and John Luther from northern California, as well as Frances Oliver, and Oscar Johnson.

Here's to hoping that 2008 is as filled with wonderful birding experiences as 2007 was! 
Happy New Year - see you all in 2008!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

CBC: Starr Ranch/Caspers

Today was my first CBC of the season - the Starr Ranch circle, run by Justin Shew. For the second year in a row I counted at Casper's Regional Park. Unlike the misty rain that fell last year, today was clear and sunny - and even bordered on warm during parts. It was a very quiet day, and we had no remarkable species beyond a dark-morph red-tailed hawk - which I could just barely make out had an aluminum band on its right leg.
Here's my crappy shot of the dark morph RTHA.

My companions were great this year, like last year, and included ten-year old Kraylor - who I will personally track down if he doesn't attend Marsh Camp this summer! We had a great time picking out wrentits, flickers, and acorn woodpeckers by ear, and he even got a sense for using my camera.

Here's Kraylor's excellent shot of an Acorn Woodpecker.

I had to leave a bit early to get to my LSAT practice test today, but I thought it was a successful, if quiet, morning of birding.

He even caught us doing our final tally.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Christmas Bird Count Season!

It's that time a year again, Christmas Bird Count time!

Here's my post from last year about the history and running of CBCs.

And here's the post from the count I did at Casper's Regional Park.

This year I'm planning to do Casper's again on the 15th, as well as a count circle in south county that's in need of some help o the 16th. Then finally on the 30th I'll be counting at Mason Park like I did a few years back with my friend Alex.

Anyone else doing a count this year?

Saturday, December 08, 2007

County Birding: Roseate Spoonbill

I took a break from studying for my finals to chase the Roseate Spoonbill being reported from Anaheim this weekend. I was afraid I missed my chance to see it, as after the first day there was a brief period of time where it was not being found, but then I got an email last night saying it had been seen, so this morning I waited to hear if it was being reported as I worked on an essay for one of my finals, and the instant I saw Joel Weintraub post Vic Leipzig's report, I dragged my boyfriend out of bed and got on the road.
I didn't have my camera with me, so here is Trude Hurd's gorgeous shot of the ROSP!

After a quick run to Starbucks to placate Drew, we marched out along the Santa Ana River to find the bird. We kept passing birders coming back from seeing the bird. As we rounded a bend, a group of birders came into view, and we scanned for the bird. It was behind a cement wall, and a photographer flushed it up. It circled out over the water, giving both Drew and I broadside views of it, before headed upriver and away, appearing to drop down at the very limits of our sight. 
We walked out another 15 minutes to see if we could re-locate it, but it had either kept going, or hunkered down because we could not see it. I had to get back to go to an LSAT prep class, so we decided to be satisfied with our brief views of it, after all, it doesn't take long to get a look good enough to identify that bird! So hooray for another county bird, smack dab in the middle of finals =)

Thursday, December 06, 2007


Keep an eye out for the upcoming issue of Wildbird magazine, I was asked by Amy Hooper to model clothing for birders in a section titled "Beyond the Vest". It was quite fun to try on all the duds from companies like Patagonia, REI, and Land's End (a few of which I was able to take home!!). Should be a neat addition to a great magazine, and I'm thrilled to be involved with it =)

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Hawk Watching

I am excited to be getting involved in an ongoing study of hawks in Orange County. Scott Thomas and Pete Bloom have been banding hawks for 30 years, and now as a part of Pete's Ph.D thesis. They are looking at natal dispersal - or the known life history of chicks from nest sites - as well as breeding success.
This red-tailed hawk circled overhead as I got my life Harris Sparrow at El Dorado Park in LA county.

Their target species is the red-tailed hawk, but they also collect data on red-shoulders, barn owls, and less often coopers and sharp-shinned hawks, and great-horned owls.
This red-tail was perched at Bolsa Chica, I think its funny that it looks almost the same size as the men behind it.

The research will mainly involve going birding a minimum of three hours a week (oh such a chore) and while out, documenting all hawk sightings, taking care to note any and all bands, including the regular aluminum bands, as well as color bands. 
This red-shouldered hawk caught my attention as I was driving to classes at Irvine Valley College.

Other aspects of the research project include trapping and banding birds, both adults, as well as juveniles in the nest, when the season comes.
I caught this red-shoulder fluffed up for warmth in Santiago Oaks  while I was on a Big Day.
If you bird Orange County regularly, you can help out by reporting in any sightings of birds of prey, particularly red-tails, with bands on their legs to Scott Thomas - who you can reach via email:

He requests that the report include the following:

1. Your name, address, phone number and E-mail address
2. The date and specific location of the sighting
3. The species of hawk, if possible
4. Which leg the aluminum band is on
5. The letter or number and color of the band, as well
as any marks before the letter or number
6. The location and proximity to any known hawk nests
7. Any information about breeding behavior, such as courtship, nest building, territorial behavior and/or repeated vocalizations

Example: A Red-shouldered Hawk was spotted with an aluminum band on its right leg, and a red band with "J" on the left leg. The bird was soaring with another hawk near a nest site at the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary on 12/31/01. (info from the Sea and Sage Audubon Society's Website)