Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Wild Bird Wednesday - Idyllwild Birds Part 3

Okay, it's possible that I may have spent a little TOO much time taking bird photos while in Idyllwild.  I'm still only halfway through reviewing them.  Here are a few more of the highlights:
One of the new birds I came across during the trip was the Pygmy Nuthatch.  Smaller than the White-Breasted that I was familiar with, these tiny birds were frequent visitors to the feeder.

They liked both the suet and the sunflower seeds.  Apologies for the extreme cropping on the left - I was shooting between the bars of the deck railing.
Here he is on a branch with his prize sunflower seed.  He proceeded to wedge it into a crack in the bark and then repeatedly hammer at it with his beak to get it open.
Enjoying some post-meal sunshine.
Late in the afternoon got an unusual visitor - one Black-headed Grosbeak.  At this time, they were just starting to migrate in for Spring - this is the first one I have seen this year.

It was almost sunset so I was starting to lose the light, but wasn't sure I'd see this guy any more so I kept shooting anyway.

He stuck around long enough to serenade us from the top of this tree for a while.  Never saw a female or heard any responses, though.  He might be a bit early.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Wild Bird Wednesday - More Birds from Idyllwild

I'm still sorting through all the photos I took on vacation.  It's a good thing I only spend a couple of hours each day sitting on the deck photographing the birds...if I'd done any more, I'd be sorting photos 'til Christmas :-)

Dark-eyed Juncos fall near the top of my list of "common, easy-to-find, but devilish hard to get a good photo of" birds.  It's bad enough they have those dark eyes against dark head feathers, but they also are fast movers and typically like to hang out on the ground at the base of trees or bushes which means they are perpetually in deep shade.  I managed to get one quick shot of this guy up on a brand and ALMOST in the light.

Last week's post already had the Oak Titmouse in it, but darn it...they are so cute that I couldn't resist a few more photos!

Especially since he condescended to pose so nicely for me with no branches in the way or anything.

Prior to this trip, I'd seen exactly ONE White-Breasted Nuthatch...and that was over at the Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary in the Saddleback Mountains.  I don't ever see them over here closer to the coast.  They sure were out in abundance in Idyllwild, though.

And very happy to help themselves to sunflower seeds and they try to conceal them in the tree bark.

There were at least 4 of these birds all running up and down this tree trunk just of the edge of the deck.  They have high squeaky little voices like you would expect from a mouse.

Here's one showing off the classic Nuthatch posture.


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Wild Bird Wednesday - Birding in Idyllwild

Just returned from a wonderful Spring Break week in Idyllwild, CA.  For those not familiar with the area, it's a small community in the local mountains about 1.5 hours away from my home.  Quiet, peaceful, away from suburbia and full of birds.  The house we rented came complete with a bird feeder on the back deck facing the forest.  I filled it up with black oil sunflower seeds and a block of suet and spent the rest of the week watching all the birds come and go and interact with each other.  It was fascinating.

I'll be sharing more pics over the next few weeks, but here are the first few:

The Steller's Jays were the first to arrive.  They are big and noisy, but so much fun to watch.  We had some extra treats for them...peanuts in the shell.  They would swoop in, take one and fly off to a nearby branch or rock to crack the shell.

Although slightly smaller than the Jays, the Acorn Woodpeckers were clearly the dominant bird in the area.  The other birds would always move out of the way for them and while they mostly got along, there turned out to be one species that the Woodpeckers would actively attack...I'll share more about that in a future post.

Have to love that flaming red head in the sun!

Small, shy and oh-so-fast, the Oak Titmouse was a lifer for me (we don't see them much near the coast) and became one of my favorites to watch.  Unlike the other birds who would stay on the feeder for a while, this bird would zoom in, grab one seed, and zoom off again.  It was responsible for most of my deleted photos - shots of an empty railing or feeder where there WAS a bird when I pressed the shutter button.