For anyone who doesn’t know, a “lifer” is a bird never seen before in our lives in North Amer – very exciting for birders who’s been at it for around 40 years!
Jan. 11: Drove back out to Joshua Tree but drove a different loop. High up in these hills, it was about 5 C, but usually hovering just above 2 – also quite windy. Bill wore 3 shirts, fleece vest & windbreaker (plus gloves). He braved the weather to take photos because at least it was sunny! Still an intriguing place, though not many birds in this wind!
We ended our day by stopping at Big Morongo Canyon Preserve, where there are lots of trees, some marshland, & desert hills. Walked one of the boardwalks & when we returned to the parking lot, found a CALIFORNIA TOWHEE!! A lifer at last – yay! No photos, but also observed a flock of Western Bluebirds, Lesser Goldfinch, House Finches, Mtn Chickadees & White-crowned Sparrows – also a couple of Ladder-backed Woodpeckers. Our SK birding pals have a local birder who lives near here & will accompany them on some of their trips in the area – lucky guys!
Jan. 13: There was ice along our sidewalk when we drove away from the RV, so we were in lots of clothes, but it was sunny & did warm up a bit eventually. The high was only about 7 (yesterday in Toronto we heard it was nearly 15!)! Took another walk at Big Morongo where we saw the towhee twice more.
Jan. 14: Stayed in yesterday – horribly windy & cold AGAIN! But did another circuit of the Salton Sea today where we saw a few new birds including a Tundra Swan (immature). Bill also took more photos of the lovely Black Phoebe – is this one any better? He is incorrectly identified here!
They “flit” around endlessly, hardly ever sitting still for long, hence the difficulty! It was not a warm day, but sunny – we wore our warm coats, took them off once for awhile, then back on. Went out for pizza when we got back & turned up the heat when we got home. Watched Australian Open tennis!
Jan. 16: Stayed in today as Bill had to do some work. When I checked the weather this morning it was only 7 degrees warmer here than Calgary – ACK! However, it warmed up quite a bit later in the day – up to 20! YAY! It is only supposed to go down to 5 or 6 the next few days – and up to 18 or so. It is about bloody time! Apparently this is the coldest
Jan. 17: Drove up to Idyllwild again today – although it was so windy when we left, we were feeling a big discouraged. The wind turbines which fill the valley were churning madly! However, it was sheltered at the Idyllwild Nature Centre – & I found $3 bills on the ground at the start of our walk, obviously a good omen. We soon found the WHITE-HEADED WOODPECKER – another LIFER for us! YAY! Also added Pygmy Nuthatch (cutie patootie). When we drove back down the mountain, it was so windy again, no White-throated Swifts were flying (no insects would have been flying about in THAT!) – so they will have to wait for their photos for another day.
Jan. 18: Did a quick walk in Big Morongo & were feeling a big discouraged (because it was windy there, though calm at the RV park). Finally saw a lovely group of Lesser Goldfinches – then another lifer: NUTTALL’S WOODPECKER – YAY! A pair (M & F) were tapping, calling & generally hanging around us for lots of great looks! It seems so odd to see the trees starting to bud, like they think it’s spring!
It’s ironic that my friend Lorne Kingwell (who is in Malaysia at the moment) recently sent some colorful photos from there – including birds, bees, flowers, butterflies & people. How interesting that most of the birds we’ve seen recently are black & white: White-headed Woodpecker (black with white head), our little Black Phoebe, White-throated Swift (white throat & sides; black bird), Nuttall’s Woodpecker (black & white with a bit of red on the head of male only), American White Pelicans (white with black wing tips – though bills are flesh colored) & these beautiful Black-necked Stilts (with exception of red legs!):
It is interesting to see that the white pelicans are just beginning to grow their “nose knobs”, which are used in attracting mates! Another sign of spring!