Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Day 3 of California

Today was not too exciting, but provided some interesting sights nonetheless.

A Spotted Towhee was foraging in the open (sort of) in a garden was the first point of interest today.

Off the bat I managed to pick up a bird of prey was soaring overhead. It's red tail may have convinced a few it was a Red-tailed Hawk, but it was too fast and frail for a hawk, and as it happened it was a male American Kestrel. On the way back a harsh whistle and a genuine hawk flew over, but thanks to a badly-placed tree I never got a good enough look or even a photo of it (though I suspect it may have been a Red-shouldered, which is annoying). I managed another Mourning Dove shot which showed a bronzish iridescence on the neck (at least on the viewfinder); something I was unaware of. Nothing else of interest was seen at this time.

On the second walk a low-down yellow bird caught my attention. I soon saw it was a Lesser Goldfinch; I certainly wished it was one branch forward in the sun. I did try and get some leaves behind it to add colour but it was off before then.
On the way back home a pair of large birds with long tails were California Towhees, which pretty much combine the shape of a Spotted Towhee and the colouration of a Grey Catbird (that red undertail certainly catches your eye).

I made a final walk that day and managed to find a second Lorquin's Admiral (I saw one yesterday too) which is one of my favourite butterflies; I had no idea they were found in California so as you can imagine I was thrilled when I discovered they were here. You can also imagine how miffed I was when it landed in the open at head height (Admirals are notorious for either not landing or landing at the top of the tallest trees) for at least 10 seconds, which is more than 4 times as long as most butterflies, and to have my camera refuse to focus (it was probably the endless churning noise of the lens motors desperately trying to adjust that set it off!). Before I left I managed to glimpse a Nuttall's Woodpecker between the thousand and one leaves and branches, and the picture was only successful due to the magic of manual focus, which I am growing more and more accustomed to (though in most cases it is rather hard to see if an image is perfectly focused or not without checking afterwards).

The regular Bewick's Wrens and House Finches ended the day.

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