Wednesday, May 13, 2015

San Joaquin - Wild Bird Wednesday

As novice birders, I thought it would be helpful for Ryan and I to visit some birding hotspots.  Not only to have the best opportunity to see more birds, but also to hook into the local birding community and find out about clubs, classes, activities, etc.  So, a couple of weeks ago, we visited the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary for the first time.  I came away with a plethora of information on upcoming bird photography classes as well as summer bird camp for Ryan.  We've also been back since to participate in their monthly bird walk (more on that in a future post).

But we had a great time on this first visit and saw some wonderful birds:

This Snowy Egret took a break from fishing to glare at us.  No matter how much I moved around, I could not get a shot without that reed in the way, but at least it's not blurry.  And, if you look closely, you can see his yellow feet in the water - it always looks to me like they are wearing a special pair of neon bright scuba fins! 

This Great Blue Heron gave us quite a surprise.  We were standing right in the middle of a path when it flew in so low over our heads that I could feel the wind from its wings and then it landed right on the path in front of us only a few feet away.

Tree Swallows were everywhere!  This site has nest boxes built about every few hundred yards or so and they were all occupied as near as I could tell.

These guys are very fast and mostly in the air, so I was lucky to get a few shots of them sitting still.

This one is sitting on top of one of the nest boxes.  A couple of other birders who were slightly down the path ahead of us actually found a baby on the ground and scooped it back into its next box. 

Anna's Hummingbird perched in a tree right on the trail. 
Bushtit sitting on reeds at the water's edge.

Other than being buzzed by the heron, this was probably the most interesting thing I saw all day.  This bird...which I'm not quite expert enough to identify although my best guess is maybe Lesser Goldfinch...sat and pulled apart the fluff from this plant for a good ten minutes.  I kept thinking it would take off with some in its mouth for nesting material, but it just kept throwing bits onto its back almost like bathing behavior.

The sun was brutally bright by this point - I couldn't see my camera display at all so just had to hope I was getting any shots.  This is probably the best one.

Here you can see it leaning over to grab another beak full of fluff. 

I didn't even realize until I got home and looked at the shots on the computer that there was a second bird on a nearby branch.  Would love to know what these are if anyone can tell from these not-so-great photos.
This bird I did see watching from yet another nearby branch and thought it was perhaps the male to the one that was pulling the fluff apart.  It seems to be yellow with a black cap which is what made me think Goldfinch.  Of course, that was before I had seen the shot above with the second bird in it.
And, so we left San Joaquin having had a great first visit...and with a bit of a mystery to solve!


EG CameraGirl said...

I dream of one day seeing a Snowy Egret!

mick said...

Great photos and a nice variety of birds. I especially like the little one pulling apart the fluffy seed pods.

eileeninmd said...

Hello, I love the heron and egret. And the swallows are so cute. Nice sighting of the Goldfinches. I would love to see the Anna's Hummingbird. This sanctuary looks like a great place for your birding outings. Have happy day and week ahead!

Margaret Adamson said...

wonderful series of different bird shots

Karen said...

A lovely series of shots! The egret is wonderful.

Adam Jones said...

The Tree Swallows are so shiny on top.

Kristi Bowman said...

You've got the birding bug!! That looks like a great place to visit. A really good FB site for help in identifying birds is

TexWisGirl said...

you get to see several varieties we don't see here in texas (lesser goldfinch, anna's hummingbird, and even tree swallows!)

Les Fous du Cap said...

Great pictures ;-)
Céline & Philippe

Andy said...

Blue Heron are so hard to get close too in my area.

Marie C said...

Touched by a Heron! (You know, like Touched by an Angel! :-) ) I'd love to feel the wind from a bird's wings. That must have been pretty cool. Summer bird camp...that sounds amazing! Great sightings!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Fabulous birds! Wish you hadn't said you were a novice ... I've been birding for years and would be tickled to death to get this many good shots on one birding day! A great blue heron scared me so much one day that I almost fell off our raft. We were peacefully floating a creek and it flew right over our heads, just like you said I could feel the air! Years ago, but I'll never forget!

Stewart M said...

Great set of shots - linking up with birds with more experience is always a good way to go - but keep an eye open for instant experts as well!

Sometime plants really do grow in the most inconvenient places!!

Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne