Posts Tagged ‘Western Grebe’

Birding on a Windy Day

This weekend I headed over to Lompoc to visit my brother, sister-in-law and beloved nephew, Elijah, who is almost two years old. We decided to head out to Ocean Park to go birding at the estuary. Estuaries, where fresh water meets the sea, are good places to see birds of many different kinds within several yards of each other.

On the drive over, we saw a turkey vulture soaring beside the roadway (of course), and as we entered the park, we saw Northern Shovelers fishing in fresh water. When we decided to park and get out of the car, our adventure took a bit of a twist, however, because it was extremely windy!

Some of the birds were literally being blown side-ways through the air before our eyes. It was a real trip to watch them try to stay on top of the wind currents and go where they wanted to go. Some seemed to be enjoying the wild wind (while others looked a bit harried). It was even difficult for me to hold my binoculars still at times and focus. It appeared to be high tide, and the ocean waves were lifting up their heads and crashing down all white with foam.

Despite the wind, we did see a large number of gulls, including a California Gull camped out on a log; a pair of Western Grebes, diving down for fish; a female Buffalo-Head duck, with an unusually large white patch on her cheek, in company with a few others; a Golden-Crowned Sparrow, who at one point looked like he had a mohawk because of the wind blowing up his crown feathers; and a Black Phoebe, who was blown on the wind into a patch of shrubbery when she took to the air.

 

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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.