Saturday, October 26, 2013

Boobies, Mannikins and Bishops

While the title of today's post might make one think it is some titillating story about the Catholic church, it is just the first installment about my recent birding trip to California and Arizona with Dan, Doreene and Laura.  We all arrived late on Thursday the 17th, and stayed near LAX which put us close to our first bird site--Playa del Rey.  We were out near the breakwater by 7:30 AM on Friday in search of the juvenile blue-footed boobies that have been hanging out there for several weeks.  This year has seen the greatest invasion of blue-footed boobies ever into the ABA area.  Over the past few weeks they have been sighted all along the California coast, and as far north as British Columbia.  Last week during a thorough sweep around the Salton Sea, over 100 were seen.

As we walked out the levee we found several least sandpipers before locating a total of 4 juvenile boobies on the outer breakwater (2 of them at center of photo below taken by Laura Keene--click on any photo to enlarge).  The boobies were ABA area life birds for both Laura and Doreene.

We also saw some western grebes, a willet and a nearby wimbrel.

Our next stop took us to Frank Bonelli regional park in San Dimas.  An arctic loon had been at the lake there for the summer, but it had not been seen for over a week.  We still hoped maybe it was around, but after about an hour of scoping the water, and sorting thru 100's of waterfowl, we were unable to find it.

We then drove about an hour to bird Huntington Beach Central Park.  Our goal was to find nutmeg mannikins (photo above of a male), and possibly a yellow-green vireo that had been reported from the area.  While looking for the flock of mannikins that are resident in the park, we saw 3 photographers, so we decided to see what had there attention.  It turned out they were stalking an orange bishop.  Both the mannikin and the orange bishop are cage birds that have escaped and established wild populations.  The mannikins have been so successful in their breeding that this year the ABA added it to the accepted species list.  Maybe some day the same thing will happen with the orange bishop.  The mannikin was an ABA area life bird for all of us.

We did not find the yellow-green vireo, and since both Doreene and Laura need it for their life lists, we next drove down to San Diego to check out the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery where one also had been reported recently.  We spent about 90 minutes late in the afternoon searching for it, but came up short.  We decided to spend the night in San Diego so that we could try for it again in the morning.  Stay tuned!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Chris: I have followed your blog for some time, and have really enjoyed it.
    I was down in S. Cal. a couple of weeks ago and found the area along the San Gabriel River, or what is sometimes a river, above the flood control unit by the Pico Rivera Municipal Golf Course, a terrific area for both Nutmeg Mannikin, and Orange Bishop. When I was there there were lots of mannikins flying around the weedy area, and probably 20 or more Orange Bishops.
    Keep up the good work. Thor

    Thor Manson
    Gallagher Lake/Oliver, British Columbia