I'm on a mission to take the new camera to all the places where I've seen amazing birds...but come away with terrible photos. Of course, the camera arrived just as we had several weekends in a row of unseasonably late rain - which is good considering we are in a drought - but left me chomping at the bit to go out and play. Finally, on Sunday, there was a brief break so Ryan and I headed up to the Tucker Wildlife Center in Modjeska Canyon.
I was on a mission to improve on at least two things from my past visits - hummingbirds and woodpeckers. On my last visit there, I had seen woodpeckers for the first time ever and was so frustrated that they were high up on a telephone pole where my little point and shoot 16x zoom was just totally outmatched.
First, though, we headed to the "Bird Porch" to check out who was filling up on seeds. Found a new bird - Band-Tailed Pigeons. We have Rock Pigeons everywhere, of course, but had never seen this type of pigeon before. Bright yellow beak and a patch of lime green iridescence on the back of the neck...pretty cool (even if it is a pigeon).
I was able to get my hummingbird fix, too! Didn't quite get the wing action frozen but still just can't get enough of these tiny jewels. I'm not an id expert yet, but I believe this is a female or juvenile Anna's hummingbird.
This one is the male Anna's - their heads look dark at certain angles, but when the sun catches them just right, the whole head is fluorescent pink!
Of course, the Western Scrub Jays were out in force!
There had to be at least twenty of them (last time I was there we saw ONE) all chasing each other around the birdy buffet.
And occasionally stopping to pose...
...before making off with a treat.
This is my favorite photo...that is not a mirror. I have a whole series of these two birds mimicking each other's movements. So funny!
Some of the trails were blocked off because of the rain the night before, but as we discovered that and turned around to head back...I spotted this California Quail! I had heard from an instructor at a recent wildlife photography class that these quail are had to capture on film - very skittish and move quickly.
Fortunately, because we were on a bridge and behind a tree...this one didn't know we were there so I snapped shots as fast as I could.
Did I mention this is our official State Bird? You'd think it would be the Golden Eagle (since we are the "Golden State") but no...we picked this funny little bird with the weird hairdo.
And...it just realized I was there...and off it went in a flash!
Of course...there are other animals around besides just birds. Lots of gray tree squirrels getting fat on the bird seed.
Turtles coming out to warm up now that the rain is over with.
Just before we were going to leave...another new bird for me! This is a Black-headed Grosbeak. First found him on this fence...
...and then he hopped over to a feeder for some munchies. I was so glad he delayed our departure because...
...the Acorn Woodpecker showed up right after that!
The Cornell site refers to them as "wide-eyed clowns" and that is an apt description!