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SE Arizona – Day 4 – Santa Rita Mountains

Woke up around 9:30AM that morning…couldn’t bring myself to waking up much earlier than that since we didn’t get to bed until about 3AM the night before due to the long drive from California Gulch to Madera Canyon. I quickly packed up my gear and headed down the road to Proctor Road before it got any later…or hotter. I met up with a couple of other people who informed me there was a Black-throated Sparrow nest within one of the Cholla Cacti along the trail.

Since I didn’t see either of the parents around, I peeked in the nest and was delighted to find 3 recently hatched chicks and an egg still not hatched. I snuck some video of the nest with my iPhone careful not to disturb the surroundings…especially considering the fact I’d have a hand full of pokers if I got too close! Although you can see one of the chicks jump up with it’s mouth open toward the end of the video as it must have heard me thinking I was it’s mother returning with food.

I decided to head up the trail a bit more and check the nest on the way back. There were lots of Hepatic Tanagers, Blue Grosbeaks, Indigo and Varied Buntings all along the creek. Never found the Black-capped Gnatcatchers that have been hanging out there.

On the way out I was happy to see the female Black-throated Sparrow was on the nest and just a few feet away the male perched on a branch holding a grub for one of the chicks.

Black-throated Sparrow
Black-throated Sparrow

Black-throated Sparrow
Black-throated Sparrow

I didn’t have much more time that afternoon since I had to get back into Tucson to catch my flight back home. I made a quick stop at the Madera Kubo lodge and got some photos of the Hooded Oriole nest above the road. The juveniles were very close to fledging and as you can see from the second photo, the young Hooded Oriole almost flew out of the nest!

Hooded Oriole
Hooded Oriole

Hooded Oriole
Hooded Oriole

I’ve been to SE Arizona over 30 times so far and it never grows dull. I had a great time despite getting over 50 chigger bites and 15+ mosquito bites but it was quite worth it. I’m already planning my next visit.

Click here to see full GPS track logs of my SE Arizona trip!

 

Posted by on August 6, 2009 in Photography Adventures

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Ballona Creek, Grebes and Orioles

Ballona Creek
Ballona Creek (Black Oystercatchers in foreground)

I took a stroll up Ballona Cr. yesterday afternoon to look for any migrating Red Knots… Didn’t find any but saw a couple Semipalmated Plovers which I see very irregularly along the Creek. As I was coming to the second locked gate on the south end of the Creek I noticed a Western Grebe that was propped against a rock… I expected it to flush back into the water as I approached it but it didn’t move at all.

Western Grebe
Western Grebe

It just watched me cautiously as I drew closer and closer. I realized it must be injured or sick so I decided to take a few photos and call Roy Van de Hoek with the Ballona Institute to see if he could come take the bird to a rehab facility. He recommended I phone the IBRRC bird rescue in San Pedro. I did so and only received a recording so I left a message. I decided to continue down the creek so I didn’t waste all the time in my 2 hour parking meter.

About 30 minutes later the IBRRC called me back and said that they were not able to come take the bird so they recommended I try to get it into a box myself and deliver it to the West LA animal shelter in the morning so that they could deliver it to them in San Pedro. Since I did not have a box or blanket to throw over the bird with me I phoned a friend who was able to bring me the items necessary to capture the Grebe.

While I waited for her, a curious Heermann’s Gull came close to see what was going on…

Heermann's Gull
Heermann’s Gull

When my friend arrived with the blanket, I was able to easily toss it over the bird to pick it up gently and place it in the box. It certainly wasn’t happy about the situation but it seemed to have lots of energy, despite it looking under nourished, which was promising. Now the difficult part was figuring out how to keep it safe/warm at my house overnight!

Western Grebe
Western Grebe

Roy recommended I try to get it over to Peter Wallerstein with the Marine Animal Rescue group in Playa del Rey. I was finally able to get ahold of him that evening and delivered the bird safely to him. He said the keel bone was sticking out so it hadn’t eaten in sometime but otherwise the bird felt and acted in good health. He told me the shorebird rehab clinic would pick up the bird in the morning so hopefully the little guy pulls through!

Oh and before I forget, the male Hooded Oriole has been visiting the feeder in my backyard regularly for the past week now. When I got home from Ballona I heard him calling across the street as soon as I opened my door. It appeared the male and female were either building a nest or already had one in the fan palms in my neighbor’s yard. Note, this was the same yard a pair (same pair?) nested in last year but their nest was cut down by the gardener… Hopefully the same outcome does not result again this year. Here’s the video I took of the male Hooded Oriole visiting my feeder this afternoon.

And I leave you all with a photo of my new Owling flashlight for Arizona this weekend!

My new flashlight
My new flashlight

(Just kidding – I didn’t actually buy it, although I was tempted!)

 

Posted by on July 28, 2009 in Photography Adventures

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Hooded Oriole nest…no more

UPDATE – Aug 13, 2008 – Neither the male or female Hooded Orioles have returned to our feeders. They were usually visiting every 20-30 minutes throughout the day. It would seem they’ve begun their journey south for the winter since someone destroyed their nest.


Aug 11, 2008 – I recently discovered the pair of Hooded Orioles that have been visiting our feeders for the past two months had built a nest in our neighbor’s FRONT yard across the street. They had constructed it under a palm leaf that was draped over the shrubbery. Although it was not at all visible from the street, it was just 6′ off the ground.

It caught my attention as the Orioles were frequently in that area when not at our feeders and just last Thursday we heard the chicks calling as they were being fed – loud enough to be heard from our dining room.

I told our neighbor about the nest so that he could let his gardener know not to touch it. We both thought it was odd they had not removed the fallen palm leaf yet so we assumed they were aware there was a nest there and did not remove it.

Unfortunately, we were out of town over the weekend and came home late last night to find the palm leaf the nest was attached to just laying on the grass. I went over to investigate and found no babies in the nest so my guess is a cat or dog already got a hold of them. I also suspect it was a person that knocked the branch over as it was too heavy to be moved by an animal/bird. It’s a shame as I was looking forward to photographing the chicks as they fledged.

I did save the nest to photograph though:

Hooded Oriole Nest
Hooded Oriole Nest

Hooded Oriole Nest
Hooded Oriole Nest

 

Posted by on August 11, 2008 in Photography Adventures

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Keeping it local…

Kept it local this week by checking out Piute Ponds (on Edwards AFB) and Lancaster Sewage Ponds in the Antelope Valley on Saturday. Sunday I birded Talbert Marsh and Bolsa Chica in Orange County. Main target birds were: Semipalmated Sandpiper, Baird’s Sandpiper, Common Tern, Gull-billed Tern and any other early fall migrant surprises. I didn’t find any of them…. Here are some highlight photos I took though:


Black-crowned Night Heron
Black-crowned Night Heron

American Avocet Chick
American Avocet Chick

Snowy Egret
Snowy Egret

Belding's Savannah Sparrow
Belding’s Savannah Sparrow

Forster's Tern
Forster’s Tern

California Quail
California Quail

Here are a couple backyard shots taken earlier this week:

Allen's Hummingbird
Allen’s Hummingbird

Hooded Oriole
Hooded Oriole

Next weekend I’ll be heading to the San Jacinto Mountains, San Jacinto Wildlife Area, Mystic Lake and Big Morongo Valley Wildlife Preserve.

 

Posted by on August 4, 2008 in Photography Adventures

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