It has been many years since I have participated in an official birding excursion. Although my undergraduate degree is in Forestry with an emphasis in wildlife management, I entered the teaching profession and birding is now a hobby.
I have become more of a backyard and neighborhood birder, but whenever we take a road trip I have my face pressed against the window in search of perching, hovering and gliding feathered creatures. I just can’t help myself. As my spouse prefers to drive, I indulge in searching the landscape for motion.
We began this Memorial Day weekend early with a trip across the Sacramento Valley of Northern California along Highway 20, traveling from Nevada County to Mendocino County. My first notable find was a Belted Kingfisher perched on a power line near a large wetland area. We used to see one regularly in a similar spot on the North Coast, so this was a treat.
The Canada Geese I spotted were all in flight over the same wetland area. Further down the road on the east side of the valley another sight that I haven’t seen in a while was a Western Meadowlark which conveniently landed and perched on a low fence along the highway.
As we made our way into the foothills on the western side of the valley, heading toward Clear Lake, we were stopped for road work. Instead of digging out my camera, I scanned the landscape as a Western Kingbird shot low across the road and perched on a power line on the south side, swooping about and fly-catching. I was transfixed, and couldn’t take my eyes off the scene long enough to grab the camera that was under a pile of “stuff” behind my seat. This was the best show all afternoon. Too bad it is only documented in my fuzzy brain.
Here are some fabulous shots of a Western Kingbird and a Western Meadowlark from Ron Dudley’s Feathered Photography blog. All photos here are courtesy of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birds site.