Thursday, January 21, 2010

Birds I'm Watching: Lake Ralphine/Spring Lake

Took a walk around Lake Ralphine and Spring Lake today in the pouring rain. What was I thinking? Actually, I was thinking I might finally get to see a rail, as people keep telling me they are easy to see when high water levels force them up on to higher ground, but today I didn't even hear a rail.

I did see some birds, though. Several moorhens were close in on the little peninsula that juts out into Spring Lake (it's nearly an island at the moment). There were robins everywhere. There are still many common mergansers on Lake Ralphine. The highlight was probably a varied thrush--not exactly a rare bird, but it's the first one I've seen in a couple of years.

Other birds I saw were: Mallard, double-crested cormorant, Canada goose, bufflehead, pied-billed grebe, ruby-crowned kinglet, hermit thrush, spotted towhee, California towhee (including a partially-leucistic bird normal in all respects except that it had a crescent of white at the nape--as if it had rolled up a towel and flung it around its neck), house finch, dark-eyed junco, Anna's hummingbird, great blue heron, great egret, snowy egret, scrub jay, Steller's Jay, yellow-rumped warblers (15 or so), California quail (19), golden-crowned sparrow, black phoebe, crow, acorn woodpecker, hairy woodpecker, downy woodpecker, Northern flicker, bushtits, and chestnut-backed chickadees. These last were in a group (5) picking buds off the willows. I noticed that many of the buds have already broken. The chickadees were imitating the rather annoying habit birds in my backyard have of eating all the buds off the fruit trees and ornamental plums. At home, however, it's mostly the house finches and juncos that do this.... Anyway, despite the rain and absence of rails, I still saw thirty-two bird species.

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