Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Bonaparte's Gull

I've seen Bonaparte's gulls on three occasions and all three were at Salton Sea State Park on the northeast side of the Salton Sea. I saw them Monday, January 16, and they were continuously landing in the harbor, then rising up in swirling flight like a tornado of birds. It was quite extraordinary. It was a little windy and I wondered if that might have been the cause? Apparently not. Bear River Blogger has a post on birds using thermals. He notes that many birds, gulls included, use them go gain altitude with less effort, but these gulls were going up and down, up and down, without any apparent need to go anywhere.
It is one of the smallest gulls. The adult has gray upperparts and white underparts, its wingtips are black above and pale below. In breeding plumage it has a black hood and orange/red legs and feet. It has a black bill, which is short and thin. In non-breeding plumage, it has a black spot behind the eye and its legs and feet are more pink. First winter birds have a black bar across the wings. Juveniles are a patchwork of brown and gray, but still have the black spot behind the eye. 

They breed from southern Alaska to as far east as Quebec and south to within 200 miles of the U.S./Canada border. It winters along the coasts of North America and in the Great Lakes. 
Orange is breeding, blue is wintering, yellow is migration. From Wikipedia. 

Monday, January 16, 2023

Ford Park, Redlands - California

Ford Park in Redlands, California, near the I-10 and Ford Street, is 27 acres and has two ponds. Recent improvements at a Community Day of Service included improving an island in the upper pond and building a bridge to it. At the Community Day of Service I was surprised to see wild ducks in the upper pond. I'd always remembered what appeared to be mallard ducks or genetic variations of them. 

As a result, I've decided I need to go occasionally and see what kinds of varieties of ducks and other birds I might find there. The two species I've seen there, American wigeons and ring-necked ducks, were ducks I was not seeing at many other venues. So it was a real treat to see them up-close in these small ponds.

Here are my photos so far:
Ring-necked duck (female)

American wigeon (female)

American wigeon (male)

Ring-necked duck (male)

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Lake Tamarisk - California

Lake Tamarisk is part of the unincorporated town of Desert Center, about one and three-quarters miles north of I-10 in the Colorado Desert, relatively near Corn Springs. It is 22 miles east of Chiriaco Summit, the nearest gas station, 52 miles east of Coachella and 52 miles west of Blythe, the closest California cities. It appears the town has about 100 to 200 residents. 

In an area amazingly free of water there is a fairly decent sized lake, or rather one larger and another considerably smaller lake separated by a road. I'm guessing maybe 10 acres, that is listed as an eBird hotspot with 304 species of birds seen. That is more than other more well known eBird hotspots, such as Big Morongo which has 251 species spotted. Judy and I stopped for just a short visit on February 20, 2022 after a visit to Corn Springs. Judy sat in the car while I walked around the smaller of the two small lakes.

Here are photos of the birds I saw and was able to photograph:
Black-crowned night heron. There were quite a few roosting in palm trees that I took photos of when they flew. 

Common coot

Double crested cormorant


Ring-necked duck

Ruddy duck, the best photos of a ruddy duck I've gotten with breeding plumage. 

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Lake San Marcos

Lake San Marcos is an unincorporated residential area surrounded by the City of San Marcos, which itself surrounds the 55 acre Lake San Marcos reservoir. We have friends with a home next to the reservoir and a dock in their front yard. In July 2022 we visited and got a tour of the reservoir by boat. The reservoir attracts a lot of water birds and the boat is a great way to get close to the wildlife. 

Following are photos I took on an approximate one hour boat ride:
American coot

A black crowned night heron on a boat docked in the water. 

Common gallinule, also known as a common moorhen. 

An immature common gallinule.


Great blue heron

Great-tailed grackle

Green heron


Pied-billed grebe

Western grebe

One of many black swans, the only black swans I've ever seen. 

Black swans originated in Australia. 

Wikipedia notes that black swans have been introduced to several areas in Southern California. These are breeding birds, raising their young on a small island in the reservoir. 

We visited our friends a number of months earlier, during the winter, when the reservoir had many, many ducks.