#425-427 at Covington Park

Sunday morning (2008-05-18) around 8:00 A.M. Jill drove us over to Covington Park in Morongo Valley. It’s a local hot spot. The greenery and water pull in a lot of birds at the western most edge of their ranges, plus there are feeders.

We started with the feeders at the house across the road when I heard a woodpecker. It didn’t take us too long to locate it, and it turned out to be a Ladder-backed Woodpecker, #425. This is a Western species that doesn’t usually cross the mountains to the coast. One was seen regularly at Irvine Regional Park earlier this year, but I hadn’t really chased it and never saw it. This one cooperatively posed on a telephone pole:

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

The birds I was really expecting and hoping for were Vermilion Flycatcher and Phainopepla. We saw some mourning doves, Western Bluebirds, Yellow Warblers, a Hooded oriole, and then the bird I was looking for! A Vermilion Flycatcher. Well, actually, no. This bird was all red, rather than rred with black wings. That made it a Summer Tanager. (Still a California first for me.) But almost immediately after that I spotted a real Vermilion Flycatcher male in full plumage. #426:

Then, watching some small birds in the tree I saw an unmistakable Lawrence’s Goldfinch male, along with a likely female. These birds were moving through fairly quickly and did not stop to pose for photographs, but that still counts as #427, and my fifth life bird of the weekend.

On the way out we added California Thrasher and Gambel’s Quail. We weren’t there probably even 45 minutes and we still managed 18 species including 3 lifers:

  • Gambel’s Quail
  • Mourning Dove
  • Anna’s Hummingbird
  • Ladder-backed Woodpecker
  • Black Phoebe
  • Vermilion Flycatcher
  • Ash-throated Flycatcher
  • Western Bluebird
  • California Thrasher
  • European Starling
  • Orange-crowned Warbler
  • Yellow Warbler
  • Summer Tanager
  • Hooded Oriole
  • House Finch
  • Lesser Goldfinch
  • Lawrence’s Goldfinch
  • House Sparrow

We drove down the road to the state park that abuts Covington Park, and spent some time at the Hummingbird feeders. I was hoping for Costa’s or Black-chinned, but all we got were Anna’s. Still 3 life birds before breakfast is nothing to sneeze at. They’re a lot of new birds out there in the desert. So far I’ve only seen a tiny portion of what’s possible.

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