Monday, March 12, 2007

More Bird Watching

Saturday I had to pick up my car at the shop and then drive it a bit. It had needed a new alternator and battery. Since it was a lovely morning, a bit foggy and cool, with the sun sure to break through eventually, I decided to take the scenic route around the south side of Palos Verdes and enjoy the ocean view. I stopped at the Trump Golf Course which has trails along the cliffs through areas that are being preserved. Go ahead and click on the link. You will see not only fabulous photos of the ocean view (click on Golf Course on the left and then on Slideshow on the right), but you will get an idea of the grandeur that Trump likes to portray. I notice that he has the same feeling as the Los Angeles/Anaheim Angels regarding name recognition. It's the Los Angeles Golf Club. Who the heck knows where Rancho Palos Verdes is?

Anyway, I had my binoculars with me, so I parked the car and went for a walk. The birds were very active here also and I was able to spot 16 different species all in the space of one hour! Unfortunately, I didn't have a camera with me, so I have no photos to show you.

The prize catch of the morning was a California Gnatcatcher, the little bird for whom all this land is being preserved. Thanks, Little Guy! He caught my attention by mewing like a small kitten. It was an adult male with a black cap in breeding plumage. He darted in and out of the chapparal (love that smell!) and gave me a good look at him.

There is a waterfall (man-made) that feeds into a series of ponds where ducks and coots have gathered for the winter. Most wild ducks have probably migrated north already, but a few will linger on. Some of the coots may even stay all summer and breed here. The only other duck in the water this morning was the Ruddy Duck. Most of the birds I saw were the drab brown females. The male gets a bright blue bill in the spring which is very striking. You can't miss it.

While I was watching the ducks and coots, a female Anna's Hummingbird came by and hovered over my head. I was trying to find the Killdeer that I could hear close to me, but maddeningly couldn't see. The hummingbird buzzed and swooped by my face a couple of times. She was clearly upset with me standing there. I was probably too close to her nest so I moved on.

Along the cliffs, I could see a pair of ravens and down on the rocks were several shorebirds, among them a Willet in breeding plumage which is something I don't see very often. Shorebirds usually migrate north early before they have had their spring molt. They have a very long way to go. They are the most travelled of all the birds that migrate. I also got a very brief look at a Spotted Sandpiper before he disappeared. The tail-bobbing always gives this one away. There were Double Crested Cormorants sunning on the rocks and a little flotilla of Western Grebes with their long white necks in the water. It's fun to watch the birds take a bath in the shallow sea water.

I was thoroughly enjoying myself but suddenly realized I wasn't giving the car the driving that it needed so I reluctantly headed back to the parking lot. Here is the complete list of species seen (birders are always making lists). An "H" indicates that I heard the bird, but didn't actually see it.

California Gnatcatcher
Anna's Hummingbird
Song Sparrow
American Coot
Ruddy Duck
Killdeer (H)
Red-wing Blackbird (H)
California Towhee
Common Raven
Spotted Sandpiper
Double-crested Cormorant
Western Grebe
Eared Grebe
Western Gull
House Finch

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