Posts Tagged ‘Puddingstone Reservoir’

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 …

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My Day was MADE

I had a weird and wonderful birding day! I stopped by one of the piers in Bonelli today, got off my bike, and focused my binoculars … because I saw a Swainson’s hawk (light morph) on the ground killing and eating a male Mallard. A male Great-Tailed Grackle was in a nearby tree, crying out! On the water below were other Mallards, including a blonde Mallard (rare!), and a White-Crested Duck, which I had never seen before and had no idea showed up in the wild in LA! Four or five Dark-Eyed Juncos, males and females, flew down to the waterside, and my day was made. Did I mention that I saw an immature Snow Goose, too? #wow!!!

 

p.s. Before those killer minutes, I saw many Snowy Egrets, Great White Egrets, Great Blue Egrets, the Black-Capped Night Heron … a lot of American Coots, Clark’s Grebes … the sweetest California Towhee!

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 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.

 

Spice Finch

 

Last time I went hiking in Bonelli Regional Park, I saw a bird that looked like a purple-headed finch — but wasn’t. I couldn’t find a comparable species at Cornell’s Online Birding Lab. That’s because the Spice Finch is not yet recognized as a California or U.S. bird. But a population established itself in Los Angeles in the 1980s after being imported from Asia (according to Garrett, Dunn and Morse, Birds of the Los Angeles Region, p. 449). It is a strikingly pretty finch, and it is known by other names, such as Nutmeg Maniken and Spotted Munia. Today, I saw it in the reeds beside Puddingstone Reservoir again, and I just loved it! My beloved little dog Joyful was with me, and she patiently waited while I watched a pair together. Then a third made a short flight, flashing a yellow tail, into a pine tree!

 

Sora

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Sora

On Saturday, I went walking in Bonelli Regional Park with my neighbor Michelle. When we were by the reeds along the edge of Puddingstone Reservoir, I spotted a lone Sora hunting in the waters — her white tail bobbing behind her! There were many other birds to see there, too, of course, including the ubiquitous red-winged blackbirds, American coots, white-crowned sparrows, purple finches, hummingbirds, Canadian geese, mallard ducks, black phoebes, and the always-beautiful Great White Egrets.

 

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!