Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Wild Bird Wednesday: San Jacinto Wildlife Sanctuary

Towards the latter part of our Spring Break week, the weather took a turn from unseasonably hot (90s+) to cool and rainy.  We took a chance on heading back down the mountain to check out a wildlife area that I had seen mentioned many times on the Facebook California Birders page - I was even lucky enough to meet up with some locals who knew the area well and helped us get on to some great birds.  The skies were gray, but the rain held off long enough for me to add two new species to my life list in addition to some regularly seen species.  This area is just far enough from where I live to make it not do-able on a regular basis which is a shame, but I'm so glad I got to at least check it out this time so I can plan some future trips with maybe an overnight stay to cut down on the driving.

After getting shut out on male Red-winged Blackbirds at Lake Fulmor, I finally got some cooperation at San Jacinto.  They were everywhere!

Most of the water/shore birds had already migrated out, but we did find a few:

One solitary Gadwall cruising around...

...a few Avocets like this one were showing their breeding plumage...

...as well as a few Killdeer.

Usually, I can't get the right angle and light for White-faced Ibis to show up as anything other than dark olive green and I assumed this icky overcast day was going to be another such occasion so I was thrilled to show how these shots came out!

Had JUST enough light through the clouds to spark up the plumage colors in these birds. 

This bird is JUST starting to show the "white face" that it is named for.

I might have to put down the camera for a bit and pick up the beads to design some pieces inspired by this color scheme.

It was about this time that the people who were showing me around received a text from another birder inviting us all to come see something special!

A Great Horned Owl's nest...with two owlets in it!  Between the wind, the rain and the scraggly nest, I was hard put to find a decent angle, but in this one you can see the two owlets peering through the greenery (one is right behind and higher up than the other) and mom is to the right of them...you can see her feather "tufts" sticking up.

Mom is more hidden in this shot behind branches, but the owlets are more visible on the left.  We stayed as long as we could until the worsening weather and a desire not to overly stress Momma Owl forced us away.  What a great addition to my life list!

That wasn't my only owl encounter for the day!  We drive to a nearby location where Burrowing Owls had been found previously and, despite massive construction with dozers and earth movers going on right on the other side of that chain link fence...we located one owl (although there were several burrows all along this dirt bank).

I was shocked to see this little guy had stuck around despite all the chaos happening within a few feet of his burrow, but we all wondered how much longer he will stay.  It was a thrill to add this bird to my life list as I had previously only seen them in zoos or rehab raptor presentations.

San Jacinto had one last gift to give us on our way out of the park.  Not a new bird - in fact, one I see almost every day.  However, probably the most beautiful setting and best set of photos I have taken to date:

As we drove out of the park, this magnificent Red-tailed Hawk was perched perfectly on this boulder in the middle of a field.

Normally, they prefer to perch on freeway signs or streetlights...so any photo has those urban markers in it and is not always so pretty.

When I have managed to find one in a tree, they've either been too high up or partially hidden by leaves/branches.

This guy was right at the level of my car window and didn't seem to mind that we stopped to admire him for so long.  The brown bands on the tail (rather than the "red" that the name indicates) leads me to believe this is a juvenile bird.

San Jacinto is truly spectacular and I hope I can manage to get back there soon...with birding like this...who cares about the long drive?!



Frank Boxell said...

Whow .. a fabulous collection of birds.

eileeninmd said...

Hello, great variety of birds. It must be an awesome spot for birding. I love all the owls.
Happy Tuesday, enjoy your week ahead!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Oh my gosh you were beyond lucky on this wonderful day. So many great birds and then your white faced picture turned out perfectly just to add the final touch to a fantastic birding day! Wonderful.

Breathtaking said...

Such beautiful light in all of your captures, and a great variety of species. Loved them all.

Anu said...

Great series of birds. The White-faced Ibis looks fantastic.

Neil said...

Well worth the drive if you can see that many birds.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Thanks for visiting my WBW post! When I visited here before, I noticed we both had burrowing owls, but you have so much more .... I need a good birding day like this one you show!! They tell me the Florida owls are a different species, but they sure look about the same as yours to me.

Stewart M said...

Great picture - I saw a burrowing owl from a taxi on the way from the airport to my hotel in Arizona a few years ago - I got very excited. I think that the taxi driver through I was a mad man!

Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne