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Birding in California

Hi, loyal ‘blog readers!

We just spent 3 weeks in southern California, visiting friends and family, and enjoying the nice, warm weather.  About every other day, I went for a walk around the area we were staying in, usually about 4 miles.  I saw lots of birds, and even got to add 4 new birds to my life list.  The photos below don’t represent all the species I saw.  I saw a total of 50 species while in California – I know this because I reported them to e-bird.

In the empty lot next door to where we stayed, there was a pair of Red-Tailed Hawks nesting in a big tree.  The pair hung out together every day, sunning themselves together, building their nest, even playing together in the air.  The best example of this last, is one of the hawks landing gently on the back of the other in mid-air.  They weren’t fighting, or mating – just playing.



There were dozens and dozens of Bushtits in the area, eating berries off the trees.

IMG_2110a_bushtit_1.1Here’s a nice, beefy California Towhee.  They are giant Sparrows, kind of plain-looking.

IMG_2123a_California_Towhee_1.1Allen’s Hummingbird, cute and rust-colored.

IMG_2131a_Allens_hummingbird_1.1Northern Mockingbird (I think this is a young one).

IMG_2152a_Northern_Mockingbird_1.1This Great Egret was continually around the neighborhood, landing on rooftops.  I’m not sure what he was doing in this area, as there is no water, and they are usually around bodies of water.

IMG_1934aI went to the Los Angeles County Arboretum on January 19th, and had a great time, despite the fact that it rained on me pretty much the whole time I was there.  Here I am, being rained on.

20160119_150733aWhile I was there, I saw one of the four birds new to my life list:  A fancy, schmancy Mandarin Duck.

IMG_2500a_Mandarin_DuckThis here birdie is a Common Yellowthroat, although it’s hard to tell from the picture, due to the fact that this thing would NOT hold still.

IMG_2564a_Common_YellowthroatBefore this trip, I had no idea that Cedar Waxwings lived in southern California.  I thought they were much more of a cold climate bird.  I saw them almost everywhere I went on this trip.

IMG_2668a_Cedar_WaxwingsHere is the jewel of my birding experiences on this vacation (seen during a hike in the North Etiwanda Preserve).  A California Thrasher.  He was new to my lifelist, too.  Look at his awesome beak!

IMG_2807a_California_ThrasherNext up:  Acorn Woodpecker.  They are such cute birds!

IMG_1650a_Acorn_WoodpeckerLast but not least, here is a pair of American Kestrels, sitting on a power line.  I’ve never seen Kestrels hang out with other Kestrels.  This was a new one for me.

IMG_2830a_American_KestrelsThe remaining two new birds to my lifelist are the Cassin’s Kingbird, and the White-Tailed Kite, both of whom declined to be photographed.

While at the Arboretum, I took a video that I thought was funny.  There were all kinds of ‘Art Installations’ in the Arboretum, and one happened to be an installation called ‘Tribute to the Guinea Fowl’, by Kim Lingo.  There are wild Guinea Fowl all over the park there, and while I was taking pictures of nearby plants, this poor REAL Guinea Fowl walked over, and started pecking the face of one of the statue Guinea Fowl.  I felt bad for him, because he obviously thought these other birds were trying to take over his turf.

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Thanks, all, for stopping by, reading, and commenting!

P.S.  Happy 8th Blogiversary, Cactus Kate ‘blog!  That happened on January 20th.

LA County Arboretum

Yesterday, I went to the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden.  I haven’t been there since about 1999.  It was a hazy day, so none of the photos turned out really great except for close-ups.


When I arrived, the parking lot was not too full, which was great.  I walked in the entrance, and the lady at the desk said it was their free day.  That was nice, but I immediately was worried it would be like Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix on their free day.  WAY too busy!  As it ended up, there weren’t very many people there at all.

In the parking lot, there was a big sign advertising that the ‘Aloe Walk’ was in bloom.  Yay!


The next thing I noticed was that there were peacocks EVERYWHERE!  I’ve never seen so many peacocks in one place before.  There were also Canada Geese, and some Guinea fowl.





The geese were just in one place, and lots of people were checking them out.  They didn’t seem too interested in the people.


Oh, and the Guinea hens.  Who wouldn’t love this prehistoric, dinosaur-looking face?!



I guess that brings us to the Aloes.  What an amazing display!  Big ones, small ones, medium-sized ones.  All blooming.







Below is Aloe speciosa.  It’s one of my favorites, as far as Aloe blooms go.


Here is a non-Aloe shot – part of the desert garden:


Look, Mom – FIGS!  I almost harvested them, but oh, yeah…Botanical Gardens don’t usually smile on people picking their wares.


Other than the geese, peacocks, and guineas, there were bunches of other birds, but the only one I got a decent picture of is this Allen’s hummingbird.


Look, a tourist!  A nice lady with a cute little girl took my picture for me, and I took one of the two of them.


…and look what I got for walking across the grass!  That’s right, it’s GOOSE POOP!


Thanks, everyone, for stopping by and looking at and commenting on my goose poop (and YES, those are my brand new shoes)!

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