Birder's Eye View

Sunday, July 4, 2010

First day in the Golden State

Yesterday was spent mostly in the air on the 9 hour long transit to California, but it was surprisingly quite enjoyable. After a short layover in Chicago, we began our journey west, over Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and finally the Golden State.

As would be expected, the Rocky Mountains were drop-dead gorgeous from the air. Crisp, white peaks jutted into the blue haze, accenting the green landscape.

I was surprised by the amount of snow still in the mountains, even in July. But, anyone who knows me knows I am obsessed with snow, so I had a fun time photographing the scenery during the long hours of the flight.

After settling in at our hotel, today my brother and I took a long walk on the local bike/pedestrian trail that cuts through town. It is incredibly beautiful here. Even for being a relatively urban/suburban area, the trail seems quite secluded and forested in, running along a deep creek bed.

The trail is home to a host of birds and wildlife, one of which especially caught my eye: a Black Squirrel! I have never seen one of these before, but I find them fascinating. Wikipedia says it's a melanistic (dark-colored) subgroup of the Eastern Grey Squirrel and found in a few areas of the US.

Another exciting find were a couple of hummingbirds! Unfortunately, both individuals I spotted happened to be silhouetted and only offered a few seconds' glimpse, so I wasn't able to ID them. I'm hoping to see more tomorrow and get a better picture. Regardless of what they are though, they're definitely lifers, as all of the species here are new to me.

In a particularly fast-flowing area of the creek we found a few Mallard Ducks and 3 ducklings. Needless to say, the babies were adorable. :-)

This interesting bird was also flying around by the ducks -- it's apparently a Black Phoebe (Thanks for the correction, Chris!), the same as my next photo. That's another lifer!

Another Black Phoebe! Yay!

Among the other species I've identified are Western Scrub Jays, Stellar Jays, American Robins, Chestnut-backed Chickadees (I think), Dark-eyed Juncos, and Snowy Egrets. Lots more birds than I expected to find, considering I was hardly looking!

Until next time,

Happy birding!


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