Monday, May 9, 2016

California by the Numbers

Now that I am in deep with the DVOC, I am rubbing elbows with some major birders. Some of the members are in the "700" club as in - they have seen 700+ species of birds in North America. 700 is a big deal in North America since there are only about 914 species that are possible to see. I'm sure that there are a select few approaching 800 or even more. Seeing that many birds means that they have traveled north and south, east and west and chased alot of rare birds. 

Anyway, their lists got me thinking about my own species count. I looked it up in eBird. My total species is just over 1100. Of those, I have 553 recorded in North America. Of those, 20 are not "countable" meaning that the bird was not considered wild, so my real number is 533. Now, I think of myself as pretty well traveled. I've been north and south AND east and west. I've also chased rare birds. So seeing my number left me feeling a bit inadequate. 

So, this year I am paying closer attention to finding birds that I haven't seen in North America and trying to plan birding outings that will increase the number. eBird has a feature called "Target Species" so I can enter the destination and it will show me a list of birds that I do not have on my list but are being seen in that area. The California list showed Yellow-billed Magpie, Hooded Oriole, Vaux's Swift and many others but those 3 were my target for this past trip. By now you know that Little Stint unexpectedly became #534.

I planned my route precisely. My first target was Yellow-billed Magpie. Many sites were listed but the map showed that they were all along one road - Mine Road so that is where I headed. Sure enough, the birds were literally ON the road. Here is one of them with a beak full of bugs. 

Yellow-billed Magpie
Here is another one sitting on the fence. You can really see the yellow bill in this photo. Count these as #535.
Yellow-billed Magpie
That was pretty easy but I wanted to continue down Mine Road and get to the Del Valle Regional Park since I was close. Glad I stuck to the plan as I was pleasantly surprised to find not 1 but 2 Bobcats wandering up the maintenance road. I couldn't believe my eyes. 

Bobcats
A short time later, another surprise. I spotted a mother turkey and her chicks were foraging in the grass by the edge of the road. Here they are crossing the road. Good thing there were no other cars on the road - not because of the turkeys but because I was laying in the middle of the road to take this photo. 

Turkeys
Here is one of the babies in the grass. You can barely see him. 

Turkey Chick
I headed out to another park and found a few more photographable birds including this Tom Turkey struttin' his stuff to impress a lady Turkey. Who could resist this guy? 

Tom Turkey
And this Western Scrub Jay. I love these birds because they always seem to pose for me. This one even gave me directions :-)

Western Scrub Jay
The unexpected sighting here was this lizard. Nothing to look at really until you see the blue belly. 

Lizard
The lizard became even more interesting when he jumped onto another log to hang with his friend the Minion. What an ironic photo.  

Minion
And then, #536 - Hooded Oriole. The bird hung out high in the tree so I couldn't get the a good photo. 

Hooded Oriole
I'll tell you about #537 in another post. 


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