Borrego Springs, CA

Monday, September 20, 2010

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

That’s a famous old saying, but today I felt like I had a (so to say) bird in the hand and two in the bush!  :)  When I checked my email first thing this morning, I was given the address of the nearest fix it shop to repair my leveling jacks.  (that’s my so called bird in hand)  It is back in Boise, Idaho, but that is only a one day drive from here.  That will change my original plans of traveling down the Western side of California, but I can deal with that.  I’m sure there will be other things of interest along the way as I leave Boise and head towards Houston.  I’ll be working on the changed route over the next few days.

As usual, I packed my camera and took it with me as I headed in for a day of work in the VC.  I really wasn’t expecting anything new or exciting since I’ve taken it with me every work day for the last month.  However, I was in for a couple of surprises.  I’m not exactly swamped with visitors (23 today total), so in between guests, I sit out on the VC deck with my camera hoping for some action. 
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As I was reading one of the interpretive signs for the hundredth time, a Townsend’s Solitaire (a type of thrush) flew up and nearly landed on my telephoto lens!  He was as shocked as I was, and immediately flew off into the bush, hence my first bird in the bush.  :)  This was a bird that I had never seen before, but I knew immediately what it was since I was hoping to see one!  He’s rather drab in appearance being mostly gray, but has a big white eye ring and white outer tail feathers.  Of course, I chased after him for these two shots.  Too bad about the shadows, but I’m thrilled never the less.
_MG_5470A young Northern flicker (red shafted) flew into the same tree, and off went the Townsend’s Solitaire.  :(  Don’t you just like those polka dots?  Reminds me of a dress my mother wore when I was a child. (Women always wore dresses in those days)
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The shrubs and trees were just bubbling with little migrants this morning.  That’s a yellow warbler on the left, and a female common yellowthroat on the right.  The yellowthroat was shaking all it’s feathers like a dog shakes while it held onto a little worm in it’s beak.

I kept running in and out of the Visitor’s Center as folks arrived.  I didn’t give them the bum’s rush, but I was anxious to return outside after each visitation.  :)
_MG_5507At one point, I just sat outside on the steps leading up to the deck, and as I looked over at one of the cages surrounding a planting to protect it from the deer, I saw my second new life bird of the day!  Here was a Black-throated Gray Warbler.  Oh my goodness!  That was certainly not a bird I ever expected to see here…my second bird in the bush.  :)

I didn’t think the day could get much better than this, but it did.
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_MG_5499Soon there was a great racket coming from the skies, and the Sandhill Cranes began to fly overhead.  They never seem to be silent, and I just love listening to their trilling chatter back and forth.  These cranes are one of the major reasons that folks come here in the fall.  What a nice display they put on.  It’s just a shame that no visitors were on the deck at the time to enjoy this with me.  Five minutes later, folks stopped in and asked me where they could see some cranes.  :(

As expected, bird activity slowed down in the late morning and early afternoon, but…
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I was able to catch a glimpse of this Lincoln’s Sparrow that was taking a little afternoon rest in one of the trees.  It isn’t always easy to identify sparrows, but you can tell this is a Lincoln’s by the gray face and buffy wash on it’s upper breast.  It has a nice little eye ring, too.
_MG_5532I have seen many Black-billed Magpies in my time, but they have always alluded me when I have my camera ready.  Finally, today I got a photo of one.  I suppose now they will appear any time I take my camera out.  :)  That’s the way it always seems to go.  You look and look to see something, whether it be a bird or some other animal, and then once you finally see one, they appear before you every time you turn around! 

So, today turned out rather well…much more interesting to me than I thought it was going to be.  What can tomorrow bring?

Thanks for stopping by….talk to you later,  Judy


  1. Interesting day indeed! That polka dotted Northern flicker was wonderful. You described it perfectly by saying it looked like a dress. Glad your days was a bird-watching dream!

  2. If you'd been out gallivanting in the bush you would have missed all those beautiful birds. Glad you were at the VC, as boring as it must be for a lot of the time. You got some terrific pictures too.

  3. Nice pictures, it that time of year that many birds are headed south, soon even the snowbirds will begin their annual trek.

  4. The Northern Flicker has a distinctive call & we hear lots of them here but I didn't actually see one this summer. I can identify with the Magpie alright. My blog sometimes ends up on the blabbering mad Magpie side. Don't think I have seen any of the other birds but how would I know. When I belonged to the Stratford Field Naturalist Club years ago & always marvelled at the bird watcher folks on our hikes. They could spot a bird in a tree where I couldn't even see a tree. Bird photos are so much easier when you have a focal point for them to come to. Nice pics:))

  5. That Townsend’s Solitaire is by no means drab! He's a dapper little fellow. ;)

    What a great birding day you had! Congrats on the two lifers!

  6. LOL, I always wore a dress as a "child" and teen.
    The Yellowthroat looks like she is haveing a bad hair day! Great pic's!

  7. The 'Bird Lady of Blogland' strikes again - great photos!

  8. What an interesting day! I'm glad you've had a chance to photograph some first's before you leave that area.
    Thanks for the comment on the "white-chinned catbird." Very funny! :)

  9. Yes, those cranes are SO noisy! They have been gathering in the field across from us and getting ready to head south. They sure make a ruckus, whether they are in the sky or on the ground.

    Karen and Steve
    (Our Blog) RVing: Small House... BIG Backyard

  10. What a wonderful collection of sightings. Right place, right time, good and patient eye!

  11. Love all the bird pictures today, but the cranes are my favorite. I love all the noise they make. It is like they are carrying on conversations in the sky. Good day for a birder...

  12. How do you remember all of those darn birds??? I have to sit with my bird book to identify a Robin!!! You would love Falcon Lake TX birding center....

  13. Lovely pictures of the darling birds, as usual, Judy. Thanks.

    As to your comment on Bruce and Margie's blog about Emma lifting her girly leg to pee:
    "Yep, she's asserting her dominance over the other dogs that have been there. I have a female redbone coonhound that does the same thing. My friend has a little rat terrier that does it too. (kinda funny to watch her try to mark way up a tree a bigger dog has gone on.)"

    Does that help? Happy Trails, Penny, TX

  14. Wow, you sure did well bird-watching today! Let us know when you decided on your route. I'm going down 395 and this is the perfect time of year to do it. You'd have to get over to Reno, though, and that's a little out of the way.