It was like meeting old friends again - the incessant calling of a Northern Mockingbird expressed in a variety of trills and warbles, crows flying overhead and harassing an occasional raptor that happened to pass by, the quick darts of a Black Phoebe as it chased a hapless insect.
Birds quite common in Southern California.
Cynthia and I were thrilled and excited to once again encounter many of the American birds that had been part of our lives until about a year ago. We recently "vacationed" to California for a few weeks primarily to visit my children and my grandkids and to take care of some personal stuff. Then, of course, came the birding part. We went to the places we used to frequent covering a wide variety of habitats so as to maximize the number of species we plan to observe.
First of these was at Legg Lake where the avian population has grown accustomed to the presence of human beings. After all this is a park where joggers jog and families go for a stroll. The variety of birds were so incredible that we saw American Robins and American White Pelicans by just standing on one spot.
Great Blue Herons and Song Sparrows were almost side by side.
Then there was the Bolsa Chica wetlands which was just across the Huntington Beach area where scantily clad heliophiles were enjoying the onset of spring weather. Unfortunately most of the wintering birds, like the wild ducks, had already flown back to their breeding grounds. On the other hand, the species still lingering behind had started to molt into their more colorful breeding plumage such as this Horned Grebe.
The following day we were at Bonelli Regional Park where the colorful Lesser Goldfinches and Western Bluebirds came to play.
A couple of days later we were enjoying the cool air of Placerita Canyon and watching the antics of the lovely Golden-crowned Sparrow.
Warblers rule! seemed to be order of the next morning at Peck Road Park as Yellow-rumped, Orange-crowned and Nashville Warblers untiringly searched for food among the leaves and branches of the sycamore tree close to where my wife and I were standing. The piece de resistance however came in the form of a very uncommon Cassin's Vireo swallowing a huge caterpillar a mere 3 meters away.
On our last birding day we planned to go to the San Gabriel mountains for some montane birding. However heavy fog forced the closure of the only road going there. We ended up birding two of our favorite places in Pasadena: Hahamongna Watershed Park and Eaton Canyon where we saw a couple of brown birds, the bold California Thrasher and the very intriguing Wrentit.
Six days of birding gave us a smorgasbord of avian variety - from the tiny, colorful hummingbirds to the huge yet graceful pelicans. Not as many species as we had hoped for but still a joyful experience.