Thursday, May 6, 2010

Birds I'm Watching: Sugarloaf Ridge State Park (May 6, 2010)

I took a walk at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park this morning, hiking up Bald Mountain Trail. It was the first time I've been there birding and only my second visit to the place. I was hoping to see Western tanagers, lazuli buntings, and blue-gray gnatcatchers, all of which would be life birds for me (I've never really birded seriously in the appropriate habitat in the summer). No tanagers and no buntings, but I saw my first blue-gray gnatcatcher (pictured)--and my second, and my third, and fourth, and fifth, and sixth, and seventh: I saw three pairs and an individual. I also heard some that I couldn't see. They were all over. If you want to see this bird, this is the spot right now. (Thanks to Bill Doyle for the recommendation.) There were also wrentits all over the place. I heard maybe ten vocalizing and saw three, which is rather unusual, I think.

Other birds I saw were: Wild turkey, black-headed grosbeak, violet-green swallow, barn swallow, cliff swallow, Western bluebird, Nuttall's woodpecker, robin, Pacific-slope flycatcher, scrub jay, Steller's jay, ruby-crowned kinglet, Bewick's wren (which appeared to be in a nest), Anna's hummingbird, turkey vulture, orange-crowned warbler, spotted towhee, California towhee, Western kingbird, mourning dove, oak titmouse, lesser goldfinch, and black phoebe. Twenty-seven species. I heard about five more species I couldn't identify, but one was probably a pileated woodpecker. I was interested to find a big stand of Western chain fern (Woodwardia fimbriata) growing wild and some coffee fern (Pellaea andromedifolia) growing in crevices in the rocks. The latter is one I've been trying to find in a nursery for ages. One of these years....

For more information about bird watching in Sonoma County, see my Website Sonoma County Bird Watching Spots.

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