Southern California & Yuma County, Dec 2014
by Henry Detwiler

Looking for photo targets in the southwest with the Finkelsteins

134 species seen  Click here for bird checklist

Western Scrub-JayCalifornia Thrasher


Thursday, Dec 18
Our first targets were up in the Laguna Mountains, where we found an obliging California Thrasher, Western Scrub-Jays, dozens of White-winged Doves, and a distant Phainopepla. The typically-common California Quail remained elusive. A quick stop at the Mountain Palm Groves in Anza Borrego State Park yielded a nice close Phainopepla. At the Tamarisk Grove Campground we had a cooperative Rock Wren and ate our picnic lunch in the company of Yellow-rumped Warblers and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet.






yellow-eyed junco

Down in the Imperial Valley we got photos of numerous shorebirds, waders, waterfowl, Brown Pelicans, an extremely close and cooperate female Northern Harrier that Debbie spotted, and a pair of "stacked" Burrowing Owls next to an irrigation drain. The refuge headquarters provided all the Gambel's Quail shots that Morris and I could desire.

burrowing owl














Hepatic Tanager


Friday, Dec 19
This morning we drove up to the snowy San Jacinto Mountains. Bluebirds, sparrows, and finches were common in Garner Valley, and eventually we got some nice shots of Mountain Chickadee and Pygmy Nuthatch. Next to Lake Hemet we spotted three Red-breasted Sapsuckers, a female Purple Finch, and three Golden-crowned Sparrows.








cactus wren


Painted Redstart


Acorn Woodpeckers posed at Mountain Center. Up even higher (in the snow) at the Idyllwild Nature Center we eventually latched on to a well-fed Band-tailed Pigeon. In came in swiftly and silently--and Morris found it perched on a stump just before it flew onto the seed feeder.










A soft tapping close to the parking lot alerted me to a White-headed Woodpecker, and when it finally hiked down the tree we got some pretty good photos.


Here are Debbie and Morris standing in some of the snow--and to think, they left Connecticut to escape this white stuff, and bask in the California sunshine and warmth!

After a long drive back down into the Imperial Valley we stopped at the east end of 84th Ave., and were treated to a throng of gulls, shorebirds, and waterfowl. Best among them were an adult Thayer's Gull and some Redheads. Unfortunately they were too far away for decent photographs--but fortunately we did catch up to some closer Redheads on Saturday.





Saturday, Dec 20
We birded Yuma County on our last day together. A Le Conte's Thrasher sang briefly in the distance but never showed. A Merlin whizzed by, neat to see but too fast to photograph. At the Solar and Power Ponds we found six Redheads, a continuing Horned Grebe, and a Neotropic Cormorant. At our local feedlot a few dozen Yellow-headed Blackbirds were mixed in with thousands of cowbirds and Red-wings.

Ferruginous HawkPhainopepla


A short hike in the Kofas gave us great looks at Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, more Phainopeplas, a Black-throated Sparrow, and a Costa's Hummingbird. South of Yuma in the extensive agricultural fields we watched a Prairie Falcon, dozens of Red-tailed Hawks, and a field full of Ferruginous Hawks. Among the light Ferruginous Hawks were two handsome dark-phase individuals. Our final stop for the day was at the Yuma West Wetlands, where we finally caught up with a Gila Woodpecker. Looking forward to our next adventure!


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