Posts Tagged ‘Bonelli Regional Park’

Ruddy Ducks!

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This Saturday morning, I was in the right place at the right time: I biked into Bonelli and found the flock of Ruddy Ducks right away! Very satisfying to see the males with their blue-gray beaks, white cheek patches, ruddy bodies and upturned tails. I counted thirteen. The American Coots were around in abundance; a Great White Egret flew across the water to the reeds, oddly contrasting with one small coot once it landed and was stalking its prey. I counted three Black-Capped Night Herons. Two white mallards were following a green-headed male … There were two pied-bill grebes on the water then and a Clark’s Grebe; the Canadian Geese flew in while I was observing. A Black Phoebe swooped about it a circle while song birds choired up in the eucalyptus trees. I biked on … I saw four Muscovy ducks, and three picked on one until that one flew off. The hissing was vicious.

I paused for the Pims (bushtits); they are just so sweet! There was a rabbit nearby. At the top of the hill, I heard a hummingbird, and I drew near the tree where I heard it. An Anna’s Hummingbird decided to flash his bright gorget in my line of sight before darting off.

I saw a Red-Tailed Hawk wing her way above my path and land near the top of a pine tree. She looked back at me and met my eyes. The light was grayish this morning, and her tail looked almost yellow after she landed, tho’ in flight it caught the light and was red.

I went down the hill to find a table and eat second breakfast. There I saw two killdeer, a male grackle, the greater white-fronted geese / graylag geese, northern shovelers, the belted kingfisher, coots, mallards, lots of gulls, including a Ring-billed Gull … The Tricolored Blackbirds swooped down to join everyone.

By one of the piers, I saw a ruddy-headed duck with a white breast (hybrid?) cleaning its feathers … O, and the white-crested duck was still out there! I greeted two mini-dachsies and their owner, so saw my sweet California towhee …

Biking back, on the road to Bracket Airfield, I saw white-crowned sparrows, a lesser goldfinch, a cedar waxwing, and a bluebird. Nice!

p.s. Did I mention the Peregrin falcon I saw on the way in …? Short-tailed … perched on a pole and watching.

I looked for the barn owl nesting the palm tree, but didn’t find it yet …

Hutton’s Vireo


Say’s Phoebe


Say’s Phoebe

Least Bittern

I was so happy to see a female Least Bittern hunting along the edge of Puddingstone Reservoir this morning! I also saw her in flight. Later, I was able to compare, while still in the field, the Least Bittern to a larger Green Heron. Extraordinary! the pictures here are of both male and female least bitterns. They are a bit different …

Birding Bonelli

Eurasian collared dove

Mourning Doves
Purple Finch

Hummingbirds (Allen’s / rufous)
Song sparrows
Lesser Goldfinches
Green Heron (2)
Common Moorhen

Western Grebe
Mallard Ducks

Barn swallows

American Coot
Snowy Egret
Great White Egret

Black-crowned Night Heron

Great Blue Heron
Brown Pelicans
Brandt’s Cormorant

Canadian Geese

Black phoebes
Muscovy Ducks
Western Bluebird
California Towhee

Brewer’s Blackbirds
Brown-headed cowbirds
Red-winged blackbirds

Greater Roadrunner

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.



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!


Birding with Binoculars in Bonelli

In eight years of birding, I’ve only used binoculars three times — once when spotting eagles downstate in Illinois, once when spotting ospreys on Mare Island, and once when visiting Bonelli Regional Park with a friend who had a spare pair. This reflects a personal preference: I’ve wanted to see birds with my naked eyes, and I’ve wanted to get quietly closer to the birds without startling them, and I’ve wanted them to let me. It has worked out for the most part, and I have identified many birds in the wild.

But I recently purchased a pair of binoculars, and today, I went birding with them in Bonelli Regional Park. Let me just say:  I once was blind, but now I see! Today I saw birds from far away as if they were very near.

Some new IDs for me? Lark Sparrow, Pine Siskin, and Northern Shoveler. In addition, some rarer sightings: Gadwell, Bufflehead (male), and a group of Western Meadowlarks. It was delightful to watch the Lark Sparrow rustling, hopping, and scratching in some underbrush. (Earlier on my walk I had seen a California Towhee acting similarly.) Like the sparrow, the Bufflehead was looking for food, but under the water. He looked so happy diving down and coming up again! But he was alone out there. I didn’t see any other buffleheads.

The long beaks of the Northern Shovelers were easy to see. But the Gadwell stood out when viewed through the binoculars. What finely detailed and gorgeous coloring the Gadwall has! The Pine Siskin was in a pine tree — of course. The Eurasian Collared Dove was also in a pine, tho’ a different one. The Western Meadowlarks in a group were a delightful surprise. I am used to seeing only one at a time, not six or seven.

All the usual suspects also were gathered round Puddingstone Reservoir:  American Coots, Belted Kingfishers, Black Phoebes, California Towhees, Canadian geese, Double-Crested Cormorants, Greater White-Fronted Ducks, House Finches, Killdeer, Mallard Ducks, Muskovy Ducks, Great White Egrets, Ring-billed Gulls, Sanderlings, Snowy Egrets, and Western Grebes. What a phenomenal day! Blissful for me, really.

Thank you, Creator-God.