rkbirding

A journal of my bird watching, starting from the very beginning.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The last few years

Ok, time for one big post to catch up on what I've done birding wise since 2009 -- as far as new birds seen!

First of all, my last post that talked about how I saw a baby hummingbird might not have been correct. I've since discovered hummingbird Moths and took a photo of this White-lined Sphinx.

So after 4 years of not doing any birding, in August of 2013 while in La Jolla, CA I saw this Brown Pelican.

Then my girlfriend and I rented a cabin in Idyllwild, CA in December of 2013 and I saw a White-breasted Nuthatch, a Dark-eyed Junco, a Western Bluebird and a Mountain Chickadee.

And 2 years later -- April of 2015 (this month) I got heavily back into birding. Started by moving back to Temecula, CA and going to the local lake and ponds and saw this Black-Crowned Night-Heron, Ring-necked Duck, and Wood Duck.

I decided it was time to take a vacation and took a week off of work and found 30 more birds over 8 local cities! Ones that I had been wanting to see and photo for years but finally made the time for.

At Santa Rosa Plateau in Murrieta, CA I saw: Acorn WoodpeckerOrange Crowned Warbler, Oak Titmouse, Ash-throated Flycatcher.

At Blue-sky Ecological Reserve in Poway, CA I saw: Hermit Thrush, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Wilson's Warbler.

At Kit Carson park in Escondido, CA I saw: House Wren.

At Lake Elsinore, CA I saw: Northern Shoveler, American Avocet, Black-necked Stilt, Least Sandpiper, Clark's Grebe,

I rented a cottage via Airbnb in Venice Beach, CA and walked to the beach and saw: Western Gull, Royal Tern, Sanderling, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Barn Swallow, Brant, Willet.

Drove over and parked on the Santa Monica Pier and saw: Whimbrel.

I then took an Uber Car over to the Ballona Wetlands in Playa Del Ray and saw: Pied-billed Grebe, Song Sparrow, Gadwall.

I was back home today and went to Lake Skinner in Winchester, CA and saw: California Thrasher, Western Grebe, Western TanagerNuttall's Woodpecker, Yellow Warbler, Spotted Towhee.

I've also taken some better photos of birds I had already seen, on that same Google+ photos site. Having a 300mm lens has been very much better.

The coolest thing that happened today was seeing some Cliff Swallows nests, and watching them building them up even more.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Twitter

If you want more real-time updates on my birding, follow me on twitter. Note that I talk about other things on twitter, such as Software Engineering which may or may not interest you.

Ever notice how Twitter sounds like it was made for microblogging about birds, and there's something really nice about being able to tweet in real time? That said, I'll still do larger posts on this blog.

I moved to San Diego for 5 years and just moved back to Temecula. I finally got a DSLR (Nikon d3200 and a Tamron sp 70-300mm f/4-5.6 telephoto lens). I've also got a new pair of binoculars (Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10x 42mm Roof Prism Binocular). And I'm sure I will continue to upgrade as the years go on.

I've also started hosting my Life List here on Pinterest and here on a github as a "gist", to keep it version controlled. And am hosting my images here on Google Plus for now.

Thanks for reading and please follow me on twitter.com/rkulla if you want to see a little more.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Baby Hummingbird

Wow, it's been exactly two years since I last posted to this Blog. What's interesting is I stopped blogging soon after getting a new full-time job and now that I'm no longer at that job -- as of last week -- I'm back blogging. Coincidence?

I wish I could blame it on the job, but that's not a very good excuse. I guess it's because I've been "bird watching" but not "birding". When you don't actively go out and try to find birds, you tend not to find birds. Well that and there has been a lot of changes in my life such as moving, job hunting, new software projects and, best of all, my new girlfriend, whom I've been with for nine months now.

I finally saw a Woodpecker in action for the first time a couple of months ago. I still need to go back to the park and properly identify it.

Earlier tonight I was with my girlfriend at the drive-thru of a fast food place and we noticed what looked like a moth eating flowers, and then we both realized at the same time that it was a baby Hummingbird. It was the first time either one of us have ever noticed seeing a baby Hummingbird. It is quite a sight; it was almost supernatural looking, like a tiny fairy straight out of a fantasy novel.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Red-tailed hawk antics

Yesterday at work a Red-tailed Hawk flew about five feet away from me, at eye level, while in pursuit of some Lesser Goldfinches but it failed to get one. Then it landed on a telephone pole thrirty feet above my head. I tried to get its attention as much as I could by making noises and waving my hands but it completely ignored me. I used to be really still to try not to scare them off but again today the same thing happened and it just stood there no matter what I did; it refused to even look at me but it absolutely had to know I was there. It flew right by my head again in pursuit of prey too.

The community I work in is called "Redhawk" and it definitely a fitting name; there's tons of Red-tailed Hawks there. I also saw a one walking around on the ground trying to get some animal in the bushes. Today I also saw more interesting behavior when a Raven and a Red-tailed Hawk were fighting with each other in the sky. I've seen a Raven doing acrobatics and attacking a Hawk in flight before but this was the first time I've seen a Hawk doing acrobatics (it did a couple rolls) and it fought back. They went at it for a few minutes then flew out of sight.

I also saw a Greater Roadrunner again yesterday. This is only the second time I've seen one and I didn't have my camera on me again! At least this one hung around for a couple of minutes so I could get a good look at it. I first spotted it running across the street with something white in its mouth, which I assume was food it was bringing back to its nest. It ran from bush to bush, knowing I was watching it, and finally made its way onto the hillside shrubs--which is the same environment the last Roadrunner I saw ran into.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Backyard Bird Feeder

As I mentioned in my last Blog post, I recently bought my first Bird Tube Feeder. The first few days after setting it up I had no visitors but about the fifth day into it, tons of birds started showing up. It started with a couple House Finches and Mourning Doves and then some White-crowned Sparrows and California Towhees started showing up. A female Red-winged Blackbird kept showing up and, at first I had no idea what it was, but omething told me took check my field guide for female common birds--since they often throw me off when they look radically different than the males of the same species--and sure enough, it was a female Red-winged Blackbird.

Today the first and only House Sparrow I've seen, since I moved from San Bernardino a few months ago, showed up at the feeder. I'm still not sure why there hasn't been any House Sparrows or European Starlings around here, but I'm definitely not going complain about that! I'll take the many White-crowned, Vesper and Savannah Sparrows that show up all the time, any day.

The birds managed to eat the entire tube-full of bird seed I put in there, all within about two days since they started showing up.

I just bought a seven pound bag of "finch blend" bird seed (designed to attract finch type birds) and it clearly works, since most of the birds that have shown up have been House Finches. It's also attracted California Towhees, which are also finches. I haven't seen any other types of finches at the feeder yet though. I plan to buy another type of bird seed soon to see what other birds I can attract. It's pretty nice having the birds come to me for once.

As a side note, I also saw an American Crow in my backyard eating a Grasshopper today.

Here are some Killdeer photos I took the other day at an elementary school. They were purposely standing under the sprinklers, taking a shower and they let me get closer than they normally tend to:



Saturday, March 24, 2007

Costa's Hummingbird

In a recent blog post I stated that I took the Costa's Hummingbird off of my life-list because I determined that I never actually saw one. Well, yesterday I added it back to my life-list because I finally did see one.

Let's rewind a bit first. About a week ago I bought a birdwatching hat and my first tube feeder:


I've had about the two worst hats for birding: a red baseball cap and a white baseball cap. Those colors are terrible for trying to get close to birds. I've never worn any hat but a baseball cap, but I figured I'd try something new, especiall something with more protection from the sun.

This is also my first bird feeder that holds bird seed. It cost about twenty dollars at Lowes. I had a Hummingbird feeder at my last house and I used to just pour bird seed onto the window pane when I lived at one apartment in LA. Anyway, I'll blog more about bird feeding later. So far I haven't had any birds come visit it. At any rate, since I've had no birds show up yet, I started throwing other types of food around the bird feeder to attract birds.

I threw some peanuts, raisins, bread and french fries in the backyard the day before yesterday, and yesterday I noticed an American Crow grabbing french fries with its beak. The interesting thing is that it wasn't eating or flying off with them; It was burying the french fries! As you can see from the image below, we have some loose bark scattered around the non-grassy areas of the backyard. This is where the Crow was burying the french fries. He would pick up one and fly to one spot and bury it, then he'd grab another fry and burry it somewhere else. Each time he buried a french fry he'd sit there for a few seconds and "caw" out and try to remember where he buried it to come back for it later, I guess. This was pretty funny and I had no idea Crows even did this dog-like behavior.


While I was watching the Crow bury french fries, with my binoculars from my bedroom, I noticed a Hummingbird. At first I assumed it was yet another Anna's Hummingbird--but then the sunlight hit it a certain way and I noticed a very brilliant purple color on its head area. I instantly thought "Costa's" but then it was gone.

I wanted to take a picture of it, or at least see it more so I could be 100% sure it was a Costa's Hummingbird. I waited a few minutes but didn't see it and assumed it probably wasn't coming back. So I took the Compact Flash memory card out of my digital camera to plug it into my card-reader, so I could upload the crow pictures to my computer. While I was doing that the Hummingbird came back and perched on a tree about twenty feet away from my bedroom window. "Great," I thought, as I yanked the memory card out of the card-reader and quickly placed it back into my camera. I turned the camera on and started taking pictures, through the glass of my bedroom window, before it flew off. I figured that any pictures would be better than no pictures and, sure enough, it flew off after a few seconds.

After reviewing the pictures inside my camera on its LCD display I was able to determine that it was indeed a Costa's Hummingbird. I was so excited that I got a second chance to see the hummingbird, and take pictures, that I quickly pulled the memory card out of the camera to upload them. The problem was I forgot to turn the camera off before I took the card out. This was the first time I've ever done that and the camera started acting weird and tried to shut itself off. Unfortunately, all the images got erased! All I could do was laugh and hope the bird would somehow come back again.

I must have stared at that tree waiting for the Costa's Hummingbird to come back for at least an hour. I started realizing that this is something I'm going to have to get used to though. I know that most birders don't and can't get pictures of all the birds they see. Finally I gave up and was going to go to the store but the minute I went to leave, the Hummingbird came back and landed on the tree again! I quickly turned my camera on and started taking pictures again, glad that I had a another chance. This time I made sure to turn my camera off before ejecting my memory card. The bird also stuck around long enough to view it with my binoculars and take a really good look at it for a couple minutes.

I ran down stairs to go out to the backyard to try to get a clearer shot of the Costa's Hummingbird and I was only able to take one picture before it flew off--and this time it never returned. The pictures from the bedroom window didn't turn out that well, but they're better than nothing. I love to get pictures of every new type of bird I see. So far, there's only one bird on my list that I didn't get a picture of (yet): the Greater Roadrunner.

What appears to be black on its chin and neck area is actually the purple color, which you can kind of see in the second image in the compilation, if you look hard enough.

Since I began this blog--about 15 months ago--I have been relying soley on flickr.com to host my photos. I finally reached the limit on the free account of 200 images. I was about to pay the $25 (per year) fee to flickr to upgrade to a pro account, but I figured for that much I could get my own hosting. So now is probably a good time to ask, please donate anything you can afford if you like my blog, even a dollar helps. Donating will get your name listed on my thank you page. My PayPal address and my e-mail address are both: rkulla AT gmail DOT com. Thanks.

I recently noticed that Google is now offering a online image service called Picasaweb. They offer over one gigabyte of free storage to start out with, and that will probably increase over time, just like their gmail service. I was able to upload all of my bird photos to it, which is actually only about twelve megabytes worth of images so far. So I probably will never have to worry about image hosting again thanks to Google! You can view all of my bird photos at once (many are not included in blog entries) by going to my picasaweb page.

That's all for now. Here's a few more pictures I took of the Costa's Hummingbird, a Rainbow and a Lesser Goldfinch:

rainbow-hill

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Roadrunner

I saw my first Roadrunner today. A Greater Roadrunner. I was on my break at work and it was standing in the street for a few seconds, at which point I stumbled to get my camera, but all I could do was watch the bird run very quickly all the way across the street and into the bushes, never to be seen again the rest of the day. So, it was both an exciting experience and a slightly dissatisfying experience because it happened so quick (literally the entire sighting lasted maybe 10 seconds) and I have no photos to capture the moment or share. Fortunately, Greater Roadrunners are supposed to be year-round denizens of the area and so I'm confident I'll get more opportunities to see them.

I started thinking about how many types of birds I've now seen that I really wanted to see when I first got into birding, a little over a year ago: Hawks, Owls, Hummingbirds, Roadrunners, Blackbirds, Swallows, Quail, Vultures, and so on. There's still a few general types of birds that I haven't seen that I've really wanted to see. Such as: Woodpeckers and Eagles--and of course there are literally hundreds of species I'd be excited to see; many from other countries.

Seeing this Roadrunner really made my day and I think it has a lot to do with my intention to be a Birder. Someone else saw that Roadrunner today at the same time as me, and they were excited it about it, but only for that 10 seconds. From talking to him afterward, I can tell that it was just a very quick and passing experience and nothing to make a big fuss over. I'm sure that before I had the intention to be a birder it wouldn't have been such a big deal to me either, but I'm just really glad that I have this intention now and it makes me wonder about how else I could enhance my life by having other intentions; At any rate, that's beyond the scope of this Birding Blog so I'll leave it at that.