Dawn Grafe, Paul Sullivan and Carol Karlen were our leaders for the afternoon outing. Warm sunshine and mild temperatures made conditions near-perfect for our walk. Several swallow boxes enticed both TREE and VIOLET GREEN swallows, and our three leaders set up scopes and expertly pointed out the differences.
|DAIRY FIELDS WITH GEESE|
Moving the scopes to overlook the valley, We spent some time looking down at the flocks of WHITE CHEEKED GEESE, while Dawn explained that the refuge was home to several sub-species of both the CACKLING and the CANADA species.
I'll never be an expert, but seeing both ALEUTIAN CACKLING and DUSKY CANADA geese side-by-side in the scope revealed the obvious differences that are so hard to distinguish when you see them alone.
While we watched, large groups of the geese lifted into flight, and our leaders told us to scan the sky for a predator. An adult BALD EAGLE came into view, soaring overhead. We later saw two juvenile bald eagles in flight.
|RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD (f)|
|RUBY CROWNED KINGLET|
The highlight of the day was when someone heard the call of a RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET. While our group watched in awe, the little male, displaying his red crown, made his way through the branches to a tiny stream trickling along the paths edge. From only a few breathless feet away, we watched him splash in the water.
As he hopped up to a branch, another kinglet made her way to the stream and bathed. Dawn went back to alert the group behind us to be silent and watchful as they approached, and we headed on down the trail.
|DAWN SETTING UP SCOPE|
Down at the bottom, we spotted several RED BREASTED MERGANSERS, BUFFLEHEAD and distant gulls. The other group joined us briefly as we spotted a small group of ducks -- once we had the scopes set up, Paul informed us that, in addition to the easily identified MALLARDS, we were looking at one GREEN WINGED TEAL and two female HOODED MERGANSERS. Not rare, but an exciting find!
Heading back up the trail, we enjoyed a couple of shy SONG SPARROWS and loud, but even more shy PACIFIC WRENS (heard only). Our final treat was a HUTTON'S VIREO - I mistakenly said "Kinglet", but Dawn corrected me and the group went through the book while she pointed out the distinguishing features.
After parting with the group, we ended the day with dinner at the Pelican Pub, followed by the sponsored concert featuring Ty Curtis. It was our first experience with guided field trips. We enjoyed the leadership, the company and the birds, blooms and blues. Mark your calendar so you don't miss next year's event!