Archive for the ‘Birding-by-Ear’ Category

Cuckoo, Chalice Well Garden, Glastonbury

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Nightingale, Augustinian Abbey, Lacock in Wiltshire

Nightingale

Nightingale Songs

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Birding Bonelli – five new IDs!

Birding in Bonelli by the Puddingstone Reservoir was amazing today! I made five new IDs:  Common Tern, Ring-Necked Duck, Least Sandpiper, Wilson’s Warbler, and on the walk out, the Greater Roadrunner!! I was deeply delighted.

I also saw a number of smaller song-birds:  purple finches, western blue birds, yellow-rumped warblers, black phoebes, mockingbirds, redwing blackbirds, California towhees, a mourning dove as well as several swallows and sparrows. The song sparrow was lovely!

voice of the song sparrow 

As ever, there were Canadian Geese, Mallard Ducks, and Muscovy Ducks galore, and there were greater white-fronted geese with a snow goose for company and plenty of American coots (of course!), but there were fewer herons than usual. I saw two Great White Herons in flight, but I only spotted one snowy egret. The green herons were already in hiding at mid-morning. I saw one cormorant and one common merganser (female). No raptors.

I heard, then saw, a Nuttall’s Woodpecker. Several male and female Great-Tailed Grackles were in pine trees and along the water’s edge. Killdeer were very vocal.

Birding Bonelli in February

It was a beautiful day to get up and go birding in Bonelli Regional Park. I was there by about 7:30 AM with my beloved miniature dachshund, Joyful. Walking in from the airport, I could see white-crowned sparrows and distinctly hear the red-winged blackbirds:  the females are nesting (so unseen), the males are guarding (and so very visible!), and together, they’re singing their highly identifiable song. I noticed the “point man” redwing on a fence. I love the communal nature of redwing blackbirds.

A sweet black phoebe greeted me as I came to the wooded area at the end of the road. Once at Puddingstone reservoir, it was very rewarding to see a flotilla of white pelicans, who were sailing, big-bodied, past slender great white egrets. A black-crowned night heron winged his way over the water and took up residence in a tree branch.

 

WhitePelicans

There were the usual suspects, of course: American coots, Canadian geese, Mallard ducks … later, the Muscovies and Greater-White Fronted Geese. But I saw no Great Blue Herons or Kingfishers. No doves or finches. I was not a little distressed to see someone had plowed under a large patch of a section of reeds where finches and several other birds have their homes.

Nevertheless, it turned out to be a fabulous day for birding:  I saw the sweetest female blue bird in a pine tree … yellow-rumped warblers … a lincoln’s sparrow. A great-tailed grackle went striding through the grass at one point! Brown-headed cowbirds and redwings kept company. Along the shore were killdeer and sanderlings in their breeding plumage. Tree swallows were darting over the water, radiating happiness.

 

On the water were greater and lesser scaups as well as cinnamon teal ducks! At one point, a male cinnamon teal did me the favor of rearing up in the water and flapping his wings so I could see the white under-feathers, confirming his identity. I also saw red-headed ducks. The females were lovely! Scaups, cinnamon teals, and red-headed ducks were all new IDs for me, so very exciting.

 

When I retraced my steps, heading back, I was delighted to see the pelicans and many more great white egrets than I had two or so hours before. An osprey was perched high in a tree, and a raft of common mergansers were swimming and diving together in synchronous harmony. The night heron I saw earlier had been joined by his mate. The green heron had also come out and perched on a branch in the water. Beautiful!

 

Wild Parrot of Los Angeles

Near the end of September, I began hearing wild bird calls near my home that sounded nothing like any bird I had ever heard in California. They would circle about the sky in flocks, but I would see only their silhouettes, which did not afford me opportunity to identify them by their distinct markings. They seemed to prefer to alight high in the highest trees — and they were very loud.

Finally, I googled “loud birds in La Verne,” and I immediately found that someone else had recorded their cries and identified them:  they’re parrots!

This led me to do a little research on the wild parrot populations of Los Angeles. As it turns out, there are several species living wild here:

  1. Rose-ringed Parakeets (Conures) from tropical Africa and India
  2. Lilac Crowned Parrots (Amazons) from the Pacific Coast of Mexico (vulnerable)
  3. Red Crowned Parrots from NE Mexico (endangered)
  4. Yellow Headed Parrots from southern Mexico down to Honduras (endangered)
  5. Red Lored Parrots from the Caribbean Coast in southern Mexico down to Nicaragua
  6. Red Masked Parakeets from Ecuador and Peru
  7. Mitred Parakeets from Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina
  8. Blue Crowned Parakeets from eastern Colombia all the way south to Argentina
  9. Yellow Chevroned Parakeets from countries south of the Amazon River Basin
  10. Nanday Parakeets from central South America
  11. Blue (Turquoise) Fronted Parrots from central South America

Yellow-Headed Parrots

Here’s a video of several varieties of parrots who are living right here in SoCal. There are at least four explanations for how they established themselves here:

  1. There are verified reports of small bird traders in the 1940s and ’50s who had accidents en route and let their wild-caught, caged parrots free without meaning to.
  2. In 1959, parrots were released from Simpson’s Garden Town Nursery on the east side of Pasadena when it caught fire. Rather than watch 65-70 birds in the pet shop burn up, an injured employee, with the help of firefighters, freed as many as he could.
  3. In the San Fernando Valley, parrots are said to have been released in 1979 by Busch Gardens – an exotic tourist attraction theme park set up by Anheuser Busch to draw the public to their Van Nuys beer manufacturing facility. When the company moved its headquarters to a different location, they attempted to place their collection of birds in zoos and private homes, setting free those they were unable to place.
  4. Most of California’s pet parrots showed up during a time when importing parrots was still legal – approximately 41,550 in the early ’80s, according to Long Beach’s Press Telegram News (08/22/13). However, as some parrot species became endangered in their home countries, their importation became illegal and smugglers are said to have released parrots to avoid being caught.

Source:  Sustainable Sue

I’m glad that many of these parrots, endangered in their home countries, are making their new homes here in safety.

 

“The Story of the Little Bird”: An Irish Folktale

Many years ago there was a very religious and holy man, one of the monks of a convent, and he was one day kneeling at his prayers in the garden of his monastery, when he heard a little bird singing in one of the rose-trees of the garden, and there never was anything that he had heard in the world so sweet as the song of that little bird.

And the holy man rose up from his knees where he was kneeling at his prayers to listen to its song; for he thought he never in all his life heard anything so heavenly.

And the little bird, after singing for some time longer on the rose-tree, flew away to a grove at some distance from the monastery, and the holy man followed it to listen to its singing, for he felt as if he would never be tired of listening to the sweet song it was singing out of its throat.

And the little bird after that went away to another distant tree, and sung there for a while, and then to another tree, and so on in the same manner, but ever farther and farther away from the monastery, and the holy man still following it farther, and farther, and farther still listening delighted to its enchanting song.

But at last he was obliged to give up, as it was growing late in the day, and he returned to the convent; and as he approached it in the evening, the sun was setting in the west with all the most heavenly colours that were ever seen in the world, and when he came into the convent, it was nightfall.

And he was quite surprised at everything he saw, for they were all strange faces about him in the monastery that he had never seen before, and the very place itself, and everything about it, seemed to be strangely altered; and, altogether, it seemed entirely different from what it was when he had left in the morning; and the garden was not like the garden where he had been kneeling at his devotion when he first heard the singing of the little bird.

And while he was wondering at all he saw, one of the monks of the convent came up to him, and the holy man questioned him, “Brother, what is the cause of all these strange changes that have taken place here since the morning?”

And the monk that he spoke to seemed to wonder greatly at his question, and asked him what he meant by the change since morning? for, sure, there was no change; that all was just as before. And then he said, Brother, why do you ask these strange questions, and what is your name? for you wear the habit of our order, though we have never seen you before.”

So upon this the holy man told his name. and said that he had been at mass in the chapel in the morning before he had wandered away from the garden listening to the song of a little bird that was singing among the rose-trees, near where he was kneeling at his prayers.

And the brother, while he was speaking, gazed at him very earnestly, and then told him that there was in the convent a tradition of a brother of his name, who had left it two hundred years before, but that what was become of him was never known.

And while he was speaking, the holy man said, “My hour of death is come; blessed be the name of the Lord for all his mercies to me, through the merits of his only-begotten Son.”

And he kneeled down that very moment, and said, “Brother, take my confession, for my soul is departing.”

And he made his confession, and received his absolution, and was anointed, and before midnight he died.

The little bird, you see, was an angel, one of the cherubim or seraphim; and that was the way the Almighty was pleased in His mercy to take to Himself the soul of that holy man.

Note:  Originally Attributed to T. Crofton Croker who says he wrote it word for word as he heard it from an old woman at a holy well. This version is edited and adapted from Traditional Tales from Long , Long Ago retold by Philip Wilson. It’s also retold by W. B Yeats in his famous book Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry (1888).

Belted Kingfisher

My sister Alice recently came to visit me, and we went hiking this past Thursday. We had the pleasure of seeing pairs of belted kingfishers flying over Puddingstone Reservoir in Bonelli Regional Park. Their call is quite distinctive!