Wading in a pool of abstraction © Robert Sommers 2023

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Christmas Bird Count

I participated in the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count yesterday. 

Northern Mockingbird
It was my fourth or fifth time birding the Ramona Grasslands area. 

I was in the company of some really proficient and in some cases professional birders, Phoenix, Beths One and Two, P.J. and Miranda. 

Their expertise, as usual, eclipsed my own. I was there to mainly look pretty.

Turdus migratorius

It was an absolutely beautiful day, perfect weather, not too hot, not too cool, with a light breeze.

It was a long hike and my feet hurt. I didn't bring my great lens, which would have killed me probably it is so heavy, managed to take a few shots, although nothing very epic. 

The highlight of the day for me was seeing five burrowing owls although they were too far away from the road for a decent capture. Whomever built the habitat installed the dwelling structures just outside of 600mm range. I also snagged a pic and a look at some cedar waxwings, one of my absolute favorites and a rare capture for me. A rough, initial list is here, courtesy of Miranda.

Dec 23, 2022 7:30 AM - 12:53 PM

Protocol: Traveling

8.07 mile(s)

65 species

Snow Goose  4     On the big pond off Rangeland Rd

Canada Goose  165

Northern Shoveler  118

Gadwall  1

American Wigeon  140

Bufflehead  1

Ruddy Duck  20

California Quail  3

Pied-billed Grebe  3

Eared Grebe  3

Eurasian Collared-Dove  2

Mourning Dove  4

White-throated Swift  5

Anna's Hummingbird  5

American Coot  1

Killdeer  23

Greater Yellowlegs  1

Turkey Vulture  1

Bald Eagle  1     Seen clearly in scope.

Red-shouldered Hawk  1     One near pond at Ramona grasslands preserve: In the scope, unusual dark, grey-toned: dark head, wash down entire breast in front, white low underneath, terminal band on tail, petite shape.

Red-tailed Hawk  8

Ferruginous Hawk  3

Burrowing Owl  5     Colony in the fields across the road from Ramona Grasslands Preserve: 4 birds around nesting structures and one beside a dirt hole in the middle of a field.

Acorn Woodpecker  2

Nuttall's Woodpecker  2

Northern Flicker (Red-shafted)  2

American Kestrel  7

Black Phoebe  4

Say's Phoebe  5

Vermilion Flycatcher  1     Vibrant male near the water treatment pond off Rangeland Road.

Cassin's Kingbird  7

Hutton's Vireo  2

California Scrub-Jay  2

American Crow  16

Common Raven  14

Oak Titmouse  1

Ruby-crowned Kinglet  3

White-breasted Nuthatch  2

Rock Wren  1

Bewick's Wren  2

European Starling  49

California Thrasher  1

Northern Mockingbird  1

Western Bluebird  44

Mountain Bluebird  13

Hermit Thrush  2

American Robin  12

Cedar Waxwing  12

Phainopepla  2

American Pipit  9

House Finch  40

Lesser Goldfinch  1

Chipping Sparrow  3

Lark Sparrow  10

White-crowned Sparrow  45

Golden-crowned Sparrow  1

Savannah Sparrow  31

Song Sparrow  2

California Towhee  5

Spotted Towhee  2

Western Meadowlark  48

Red-winged Blackbird  6

Brewer's Blackbird  66

Common Yellowthroat  1

Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon's)  4


I am calling this a harlan's hawk, I will see if my compatriots agree with me. I never saw the bald eagle, not sure when she did but I wish someone had told me.

Here are some more shots of the day:

Red tailed hawk, light morph


red tailed hawks flying in tandem


yellow crowned and white crowned sparrow

Meadowlark on a rock



Cedar waxwing

Mountain bluebird
an elusive hermit thrush

Western Bluebird


Island guy said...

What a plethora of proud plumage

Anonymous said...

With the Christmas Bird Count underway, some are asking: Where have all the birds gone?


Texas bird enthusiasts are reporting fewer birds even at their backyard feeders. It mirrors a trend of bird decline across the globe

Ken Seals said...

That's a LONG walk! Thanks for all the photos.

juliah said...

So many beautiful bird pictures! Thoroughly enjoyable!

Anonymous said...

Just an observation, our crows/ravens have crushed our red tail eggs chicks. Could their problem solving skills be responsible for the declining bird numbers?