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All photographs ©2015 by Mary Beth Stowe

 

May 6, 2015 - Santa Ana NWR

 

My friend Phil Pryde brought a group from San Diego in yesterday for a few days of birding in the Valley, so since I was free I joined them for their morning excursions!  Today the focus was Santa Ana NWR, and it didn't take long to check off several target birds right in the parking lot, including Groove-billed Ani, Clay-colored Thrush, Couch's Kingbird, and Brown-crested Flycatcher!  I heard a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, and a Carolina Wren was singing close, but neither wanted to come out and show themselves.  A pair of Altamira Orioles was building a nest right overhead, so that caused some excitement!

 

After checking in with the visitor center we staked out the feeders for a bit, as they had just been stocked, so the crew got to see their first looks at White-tipped Doves, Kiskadees, and Chachalacas, and just before we left a Buff-bellied Hummingbird made a brief appearance.  White-winged Doves were out the yin yang as were Red-winged Blackbirds, and I pointed out a pair of Bronzed Cowbirds that Phil rather unenthusiastically added to the list (he thinks it won't be long before they expand their range into San Diego County).

 

The crew from San Diego checks out the feeder area.

 

Up on the levee a pair of Anis gave good views, along with our "black-backed" Lesser Goldfinches, and along the entrance trail a pair of Chachalacas were being very cuddly!  Once on the Chachalaca Trail, some Olive Sparrows were uncharacteristically cooperative, giving everyone good looks while hopping along a log!  A Verdin was also surprisingly out in the open (I explained that every time we led a Birder Patrol trip I would cringe every time I heard a Verdin, because people inevitably wanted to see it and it would never come out), but Carolina Wrens were stubborn, as was a Beardless Tyrannulet I heard at the Willow Trail connector, but a Black-crested Titmouse did come in and gave great looks while singing!  While trying to get the tyrannulet to come in a Green Jay answered the "pish", so everyone was delighted with him!  The lake was overgrown with reeds, but we at least heard a Common Gallinule and Pied-billed Grebe, and had both Barn and Rough-winged Swallows flying over the water.  A couple in the group were interested in butters, so I pointed out the many Phaon Crescents, the handful of Lyside Sulphurs, and the single Gray Hairstreak, and somewhere on the trail they had spotted a Giant Swallowtail on their own.

 

Cuddly Plain Chachalacas

 

Phil checks out Willow Lake

 

We wrapped up there (and just in time, too, as we ran into Ranger Raul with a HUGE group of school kids ☺), then headed over to Quinta Mazatlan.  For the first time since moving here, I saw where they had opened up the big grassy area as an overflow parking lot!   (There was also a big tour bus in there...)  Surprisingly, aside from a small group of kids (wasn't even sure if that was a school group or just a couple of families), we really didn't run into many people on the trails, but it was rather quiet bird-wise.  We had a great look at a Long-billed Thrasher early on along with a Curve-billed for comparison, and a vireo-like thing sang but wouldn't come out, but Phil had a look at something that sounded like it could have been a Philadelphia from his description, but none of us got an identifying look.  A Swainson's Thrush sang softly somewhere around the Mountain Lion sculpture, and the Peccary sculpture prompted Phil to inform us that their real male and female names were "Gregory Peccary" and "Olivia de Javalina"! :-/

 

The most productive part of the place actually was the new "addition", where it looks like they might be building some kind of pond, but in the more open area we had an Olive-sided Flycatcher showing off his white "butt-tufts" (which you don't always see), and Phil had an empid that he felt comfortable calling an Acadian.  Another Curve-billed Thrasher showed well, and Chimney Swifts made low passes over the trees.  We also had a male Archilochus hummingbird that was probably a Ruby-throated, but he never showed his color, and I never saw his outer primary to check the shape.  A raptor that turned out to be a Swainson's Hawk (and a new bird for my Quinta Mazatlan list) was in a palm tree, and while Phil and I were heading back to the main trail, we realized we had lost the rest of the crew, so we backtracked and found them enjoying three Kiskadees displaying to each other in the top of a tree! 

 

Back in the main part of the trail, we finally had some warbler action with a female American Redstart and a Magnolia Warbler that gave fleeting views, and something suspicious was working the ground just beyond the drip (I was hoping for a Mourning Warbler), but I never could get a good look.  A nice Buff-bellied Hummingbird posed at the hummer feeders just before reaching the mansion.  Once in the mansion we paid up and used the restrooms, then retreated to the vehicles to find a Subway and enjoy lunch!  Phil's crew went on to Edinburg Wetlands while I headed home, fighting sleep all the way back for some reason, then crashed for three hours - gee, these San Diego people wear you out!

 

Bird List:

 

  Black-bellied Whistling-Duck          Dendrocygna autumnalis

  Plain Chachalaca                      Ortalis vetula

  Pied-billed Grebe                     Podilymbus podiceps

  Turkey Vulture                        Cathartes aura

  Swainson's Hawk                       Buteo swainsoni

  Common Gallinule                      Gallinula galeata

  White-winged Dove                     Zenaida asiatica

  Mourning Dove                         Zenaida macroura

  Inca Dove                             Columbina inca

  Common Ground-Dove                    Columbina passerina

  White-tipped Dove                     Leptotila verreauxi

  Yellow-billed Cuckoo                  Coccyzus americanus

  Groove-billed Ani                     Crotophaga sulcirostris

  Chimney Swift                         Chaetura pelagica

  Ruby-throated Hummingbird             Archilochus colubris

  Buff-bellied Hummingbird              Amazilia yucatanensis

  Golden-fronted Woodpecker             Melanerpes aurifrons

  Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet         Camptostoma imberbe

  Olive-sided Flycatcher                Contopus cooperi

  Brown-crested Flycatcher              Myiarchus tyrannulus

  Great Kiskadee                        Pitangus sulphuratus

  Couch's Kingbird                      Tyrannus couchii

  Western Kingbird                      Tyrannus verticalis

  White-eyed Vireo                      Vireo griseus

  Green Jay                             Cyanocorax yncas

  Northern Rough-winged Swallow         Stelgidopteryx serripennis

  Barn Swallow                          Hirundo rustica

  Black-crested Titmouse                Baeolophus atricristatus

  Verdin                                Auriparus flaviceps

  Carolina Wren                         Thryothorus ludovicianus

  Bewick's Wren                         Thryomanes bewickii

  Swainson's Thrush                     Catharus ustulatus

  Clay-colored Thrush                   Turdus grayi

  Curve-billed Thrasher                 Toxostoma curvirostre

  Long-billed Thrasher                  Toxostoma longirostre

  Northern Mockingbird                  Mimus polyglottos

  European Starling                     Sturnus vulgaris

  Common Yellowthroat                   Geothlypis trichas

  American Redstart                     Setophaga ruticilla

  Magnolia Warbler                      Setophaga magnolia

  Olive Sparrow                         Arremonops rufivirgatus

  Northern Cardinal                     Cardinalis cardinalis

  Dickcissel                            Spiza americana

  Red-winged Blackbird                  Agelaius phoeniceus

  Great-tailed Grackle                  Quiscalus mexicanus

  Bronzed Cowbird                       Molothrus aeneus

  Altamira Oriole                       Icterus gularis

  Lesser Goldfinch                      Spinus psaltria

  House Sparrow                         Passer domesticus

 

49 SPECIES

 

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