Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Panoche Valley, California

As mentioned in my previous post I went birding with other Audubon Society members on Saturday (Jan 12). We went to an area I have never been to before. The geographical layout is one of rolling hills of oak woodland and open grassland. I was impressed with the list of possible species we could see in the Panoche Valley area, some that are unique to California (only to be seen in this area). Of those listed for the trip only six of them we did not see. Many of the species I did see were lifers for me. I'll list them at the end of this post.

Below is a photo of one of the Savannah Sparrows we saw. Another cute, cooperative and curious bird.

This photo is to show the difference between a Savannah Sparrow and a House Finch. Savannah Sparrow is on the left.

One of the "treats" for the day was to visit a place called Mercey Hot Springs, a camping facility located about 10 miles west of I-5 on the western edge of Fresno County, next to San Benito County. This facility has been "hosting" a family of long-eared owls. Entrance into the facility was $5, and well worth it to see these beautiful birds. Here are two of my best shots.

Another bird we had expected to see was a Lewis' Woodpecker. The group stopped early in the day where the bird has been sighted before, but we didn't see it at that time. On our way back to San Jose, my birding buddy and I went back to the location to see if we could spot the woodpecker. There were a couple of other birders stopped on the side of the road, so we thought that was a good sign. When we inquired, we were told that the bird had been there but then flew off. We decided to hang around for about 5 minutes to see if the woodpecker would return. And he did. Since the bird was quite a distance away, this was the best shot I could get.
Here is a list of birds I saw for the day. Those with an asterisk are my lifers.
Yellow-billed magpie*
White-tailed kite
Lewis' Woodpecker*
Long-eared owl*
American Robin
Oak Titmouse
Western Scrub Jay
Western Grebe
Say's Phoebe
Rufous-crowned Sparrow*
White-throated Sparrow*
Raven (and a raven's nest)
Great Egret
Western Bluebird
Greater Roadrunner
Mourning Dove
Rock Pigeons
House Finch
White Pelican
Bald Eagle
Brewer's Blackbird
Red-wing Blackbird
Red-tailed Hawk
White-crowned Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow*
Horned Lark*
Ferruginous Hawk*


Ruth said...

That is an impressive list. I love the owl photos. I am still waiting to find one in the wild in the daylight hours.

Cathy said...

Mary - It was so nice of you to drop by my slumbering blog and wish me well.

Having just perused your blog recordings of your adventures and the wonderful pictures - I'm reminded that there is life and birdsong beyond the bleak scene in my Ohio backyard.

The pictures at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge were particularly lovely.

Happy Birding!

RuthieJ said...

Wow Mary--those were great shots of the Long-Eared Owl! Good for you. And lots of other great birds as well. Way to go!

Mary said...

Long that long-eared owl photo, Mary. What a list of birds!

That roadrunner video is cute.

Birdfreak said...

Sounds like a great time, love those Long-eared Owl photos and the Savanna Sparrow picture is great!

Q said...

Hi Mary,
Your birding outings are fun!
Long-eared Owl is wonderful.
You are seeing many lifers.
Backyard birds are keeping me in a joyfilled spot.

scienceguy288 said...

That shot of the long-eared owl is fantastic. Nice job. Owls are hard to find at day time.

Mary C said...

Thanks, Ruth for stopping by and commenting. It was well worth the five dollars just to see this bird. There was a family of long-eared owls in a couple of trees there. I think there were 4 or 5 of them, but I was only able to get a decent photo of the pictured bird. The others were well camouflaged within the tree, and a photo would have been too dark to distinguish the birds.

Cathy - thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. I'm so glad you have enjoyed my posts. As you can tell I have also been absent from blogging regularly. Lack of time is the biggest excuse.

Ruthie - it's always good to hear from you. Glad you enjoyed the photos. Can you imagine how many life birds we each would have if we visited each other?

Mary - I'm so glad you enjoyed my roadrunner video. I felt that was the best way to share with everyone this unique bird's behavior. I would think that many people who have never seen one probably think of Wiley Coyote and the Roadrunner cartoons - but these birds aren't really anything like the cartoon.

Birdfreak - thanks for stopping by. Yes, I really had a very enjoyable day. I'm so glad I went; I'm really glad my birding buddy had told me about it.

Sherry - I, too, enjoy my backyard birds more than anything. I guess it's familiarity that makes us feel comfortable with what we easily recognize. But it's fun to get out and see other birds we would not normally see in our yards.

Scienceguy - thanks so much for stopping by. Yes, it is unusual to see owls in the day time, but they are around. One just needs to know where to look. I'm glad I'm not the expert who knew where to look, but I'm also glad to know the expert! ;o) I stopped by your blog a few days ago. That's a very good blog you got there! Very informative. Keep up the good work.


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