Monday, June 1, 2015

A Little More California

I usually don't do my posts out of order, but, there is a first time for everything.  I've had some great experiences in Arizona lately and I honestly wanted to get those posted.  I do have a good closing post to complete my trip to southern California with my buddy Gordon Karre.  After our epic Albatross graced pelagic trip on Saturday, May 16th, we would head home on Sunday, May 17th.  Our goal was to get up early and spend much of the day in the Laguna Mountains.  We didn't get up too early and got more sleep, which was needed.  A Denny's breakfast was in order before the trip back towards the Laguna Mountains which was also in the same direction as home.  Once we got to Denny's, we heard a loud racket in the sky and saw parrots flying overhead.  We knew that these parrots were a strange life bird for us, so we took time to look at them.  These parrots are the Red-crowned Parrots.  They have established populations in different cities in North America, and San Diego is one of those cities.  In other words, they are countable under American Birding Association standards.  They are like the Rosy-faced Lovebirds that we have in the Phoenix area.  Gordon and I spent about twenty minutes observing these parrots.

Tick, tick, tick.  Another life bird in the bag.  I didn't care about seeing these parrots at first, but after seeing a different parakeet that we both thought was a Red-crowned Parrot at first, it made me a little more competitive towards getting the Red-crowned Parrot as a lifer.  After eating Denny's for the third time on our trip, we headed towards the Laguna Mountains.  The Lagunas have an interesting habitat array, and we were heading up the Sunrise Highway and were soon in conifer and oak forest.  It was awesome!

Our main target up in the Lagunas was a new life bird for both of us, the Purple Finch.  When Gordon and I got into appropriate habitat, we heard one singing and weren't able to get visuals for some time.  Gordon said, "I would really hate to give this a tick on my list as a heard-only".  And I agreed with Gordon, and the Purple Finches continued to sing up high and out of sight.  Eventually, we heard more singing by a trailer park and came upon a foraging flock of birds within the trailer park.  We had perfect views and study opportunities of this new lifer.

The Purple Finch was fun to see as a lifer.  We also enjoyed the coastal form of Western Scrub-Jay at this elevation as well as Pygmy Nuthatches coming to the same water feature as did the Purple Finch.  A good variety of forest birds were present besides these ones mentioned.

After exploring the higher elevations of the Laguna Mountains, we ventured down lower into the chaparral and oak woodlands within the mountain range and birded along Kitchen Creek Road.  Gordon and I hiked down a trail in search of Wrentits and more.  We heard a few California Quail.  After awhile, things got fun and we got to see a few Wrentits up close, and it was the first time Gordon got to see them well and photograph one.  Nevertheless, it's a bird I don't get to see much of at all, so it was a very neat encounter.

Seeing the Wrentits along Kitchen Creek Road in the Laguna Mountains was a nice way to end a fantastic trip.  Thanks Gordon for a great time!


  1. Nice trip! As a former Southern Californian, I used to have flocks of up to 100 red-crowned parrots fly over my house during winter. They are pretty interesting to watch.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Josh! That's cool you lived in soCal-its a great place to live and bird and a lot of other great things.