Migratory Grasshopper

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

Migratory Grasshopper
Migratory Grasshopper, Melanoplus sanguinipes
McCormick Place, Chicago, Illinois, 2007-07-27

#398 Greater Roadrunner on the Great Backyard Birdcount

Monday, February 18th, 2008

This year my “backyard” is William R. Mason Regional Park in Irvine, so I figured I’d see quite a few different birds than in past, cooler years in Brooklyn. I was certainly right about that. Over five miles and four hours, I tallied 41 species, over 20 of them the first records for Irvine in this year’s GBBC. (I was surprised at how few other reports there were from here. There are so many great parks and wildlife refuges in the area and not a few birders.) I found some great birds including Red-shouldered Hawk, Osprey, Hutton’s Vireo, Spotted Towhee, Cackling Goose, and four warbler species! However, the biggest surprise for me had to be this Greater Roadrunner:

Greater Roadrunner

Prickly Pear

Monday, February 18th, 2008

Prickly Pear cacti
Prickly Pear cactus, Opuntia fragilis? (not sure about the species)
William R. Mason Regional Park, Irvine, California, 2008-02-17

Lesser Scaup

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

Lesser Scaup
Lesser Scaup, Aythya affinis
North Lake, Irvine, California, 2008-02-10

This is one of the toughest waterfowl IDs because the Greater Scaup is almost identical, but in good light note the purplish head and the more cornered, peaked appearance at the back of the head.

American Wigeon

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

American Wigeon male
American Wigeon, Anas americana
North Lake, Irvine, California, 2008-02-10

#396 Ross’s Goose at North Lake

Sunday, February 10th, 2008

Beth isn’t comfortable driving by herself here in Irvine yet so this morning I took her to church; and while she attended services, I walked around the North Lake in Woodbridge. This is just an artificial lake in the middle of a suburb with almost no brush or other habitat around it. In fact, there are nicely mowed lawns right down to the water’s edge, which from a wildlife perspective might as well be a desert. (Actually a real desert would probably have a little more diversity) I wasn’t expecting too much, but the lake does attract some waterfowl, so I thought there might be something interesting.

At first I just saw the usual commoners: Mallard, Canada Goose, American Crow, one Muscovy Duck that had almost completely reverted to wild plumage. The first really interesting species was a couple of American Wigeons. Then I saw what I thought was a sleeping Ring-necked Duck, but a little further on I encountered a small flock of Lesser Scaup, so I expect that’s what my sleeper was too. (I’m about 90% sure they were Lessers. Telling Lesser from Greater is tricky.) There were also 4 or so Eared Grebes scattered at various locations around the lake.

I saw one Hummingbird in a garden that wasn’t obviously either a Rufous or an Anna’s. In fact, the one look I got at its gorge (throat) appeared ?golden?! That doesn’t match anything I know or could find in the field guide, and was probably just a trick of the light.

A little further up, just past the bridge some people were feeding the birds thus attracting a mixed flock of Mallards, gulls, Brewers Blackbirds, American Coots, Canada Geese, and one Snow Goose? I wasn’t expecting Snow Goose down here and it looked small for a Snow Goose so I checked my Sibley’s. ow and behold it wasn’t a Snow Goose at all. It was indeed a Ross’s Goose! I don’t know how common they are here, but I’ve never seen one, in California or New York.

Ross’s Goose swimming