Birder's Eye View

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Shorebirds galore

This morning my brother and I biked up to the shoreline area I've been exploring this week, only this time we rode all the way to the park proper, about 10 miles round trip (before today I had only been in the preserve area by the sloughs).

I had no idea how many birds we would find there! First of all, the rolling lawns were covered in Canada Geese -- hundreds of them. They all strutted around, bickered with one another, and terrorized small children. Following the path though, we found ourselves rounding several lakes and more shoreline/mudflat/marshy areas.

I totally geeked out when I saw this bird as we rounded a bend and came into view  of a wide slough -- my lifer American Avocet! There were actually hundreds of them, at least as many avocets as there were geese, off in the distance. This one loner was foraging close to the walkway, and looking quite picturesque.

Also in the vicinity were Willets, Snowy Egrets, tons more Barn Swallows, White Pelicans, and Mallards.

The sheer numbers of birds there were quite amazing to me. Of course it was nothing astronomical, but certainly more than I expected for a relatively crowded park on a hot, midsummer day.

Mud flats

More Avocets

Snowy Egret

Once I finished admiring all the avocets, I turned around and noticed the little building behind me was swarming with Barn Swallows. It turned out they had dozens of nests under the overhangs and would periodically all explode out and swoop around for a while before coming back in to cling to the shingles or hide in their nests.

White Pelican coming for landing

My second most exciting find was a little area full of Black-necked Stilts. This is a bird I've wanted to see for a long time in Florida, but now I've seen more of them here in than I ever thought I would. I think they're adorable, although they weren't too active this morning. 

This little bird puzzled me for a long time. It spent most of its time running around in the tall grasses by the path, darting out for bugs and little bits of seeds. I could not figure out what it was for the longest time, until I realized it must be a juvenile Brown-headed Cowbird. Correct? It's the best I can come up with, based on the bill shape, body size and build, and its behavior. Sure threw me off though!

Still having a great time with all these new Western birds and the great parks and wild places around here. Two weeks down, two more weeks to go in the Golden State.

Until next time,

Happy birding!

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