Saturday, March 6, 2010

Birds I'm Watching: Solano County, California

I joined a group of birders from the Madrone Audubon Society today on a trip to Solano County, mostly along Putah Creek, near Lake Solano Campground. The group was hoping to find the pygmy owls that have been reported in the area recently, and I was hoping to see an American Dipper and a Lewis's Woodpecker, but no luck with any of these birds. I did get a new bird, however, a Phainopepla--a rather drab female, but a new bird nevertheless. Other highlights included good views of a green heron, good views of Hermit Thrushes, good views of Wood Ducks, a Pileated Woodpecker sighting, an immature Golden Eagle, two active Bushtit nests, Common Goldeneyes engaged in courtship behavior, and two rather oddly colored birds--one a Canada Goose that looked like it had some Greater White-fronted Goose in it and a male Bufflehead that looked like a first-year male (broad white strip at the bottom of the area that is usually white rather than a full white bonnet) but with the top of the bonnet beginning to turn white; the upper part of the head where normally white was a dappled gray.

The group saw 50 species, of which I saw 48 (add one if you count the numerous Peacocks and Peahens). At and around Lake Solano Campground: Belted Kingfisher, Buffleheads, Greater Scaup, Red-winged Blackbird, American Robin, Mallards, Canada Geese, Black Phoebe, Red-shouldered Hawk, Phainopepla, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Double-crested Cormorant, Downy Woodpecker, Violet-green Swallow, Tree Swallow, Dark-eyed Junco, Wood Duck, Scrub Jay, Great Blue Heron, Green Heron, American Crow, Raven, Nuttall's Woodpecker, Golden-crowned Sparrow, Oak Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Acorn Woodpecker, Bushtits, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Pied-billed Grebe, Cedar Waxwings, Snowy Egret, Western Bluebird, Bewick's Wren, Spotted Towhee, Common Goldeneye, American Wigeon, Song Sparrow, Pileated Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Lesser Goldfinch, Turkey Vulture, White-crowned Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, Northern Mockingbird, and House Finch--the last two seen by the group, but not by me (forty-six species at this location).

At the spot marked as Fishing Access No. 2, we saw: A large group of Common Goldeneyes engaging in courtship behavior (the males bending their necks back, touching their backs, and then thrusting their necks forward), Buffleheads, Double-crested Cormorant, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Bushtits, California Towhee, Orange-crowned Warblers, Downy Woodpecker, Wood Ducks, Scrub Jays, and Mallards. Heard Nuttall's Woodpecker and a Wrentit. The immature Golden Eagle was at Fishing Access No. 3. (The Golden Eagle, Orange-crowned Warblers, California Towhee, and Wrentit brought the group total to 50.) All in all, a good day.

The photos show the two oddly-colored birds. The "Canada Goose" (upper photo) and the Bufflehead (lower photo) are pictured.

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