Although Saturday was a pretty lazy day (too windy!), we got out Sunday for a few hours. Here's our tale:
I started out at a local park here in Elk Grove. It would be funny if I took this picture of a WESTERN MEADOWLARK in someones yard. It looks like a yard, don't lie. However, it was in the middle of this giant grassy area within the park. Weird grass to have a WEME singing from, right?
Apparently some GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROWS are still sticking around. They've been reliable at this park all winter but I'm guessing their days there are numbered. Either way, they're looking pretty sharp these days:
No, AMERICAN ROBINS aren't noteworthy here. I will say, though, that a tame one allowing me to walk up to it isn't THAT common:
The default hummingbird species in the park showed well, as they typically do. A male ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRD:
... but wait, what's this? Booya, looks like a RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD, a first for me at this particular park:
On my walk back to the car, I couldn't help but pointing the lens at this WESTERN KINGBIRD. Yes, that's right, there is air in this park, and thus, WEKIs:
Later in the day, we headed over to extreme eastern Sacramento County. Our target, loosely speaking, was to track down some LAWRENCE'S GOLDFINCHES. The birding gods didn't hate us today and we fairly quickly found 1-2 on our way up Michigan Bar Road. This was our FIRST EVER look at this species perched in the Golden State:
Driving over the bridge, the first bird waiting for us on the other side was yet another LAGO:
Sheepishly pleased with ourselves, we continued up the road to see what other things might be lurking up there. Maybe the Brewer's Sparrows from last weekend?? Oh, first you have to sift through the common species like LARK SPARROWS:
We took note of some blackbird flocks along the road, realizing that they were almost all TRICOLORED BLACKBIRDS. Interesting.
Ok, where I grew up and learned to bird, myiarchus flycatchers belong in woods, riparian areas, and the like. Someone want to explain to me why this ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER was at the top of the road, in open grassland? Apparently there were more Ash-throated Flies knockin' about up there? Anyway, did you know there are more than 20 species in that genus worldwide? Woaha. Anyway, back to the ATFL up in the grasslands:
I still think this thing looks like it belongs in the arid deserts of the Middle East. But no, it's just our local HORNED LARK. Pretty snazzy endemic subspecies, eh?
Coming back down Michigan Bar Road, I stopped to see if our local LEWIS'S WOODPECKER was on its favorite perch. Woah, it was:
And in case we forgot about them, the LAWRENCE'S hoard awaited us at the bridge:
In case you have a hankerin' for some of these things, here's a map of the area:
View Michigan Bar Road in a larger map
We next drove down to Meiss Road, another road through grasslands in eastern Sacramento County. Right around the 1.9 mile marker (from Ione Road), we found our target, a GRASSHOPPER SPARROW. As you can see, this bird was intent on NOT going to its nest with food. Hmm, wonder why?
At the exact same spot, we flushed a small but long-tailed sparrow. We were pretty on-the-ball this time when we saw this thing fly across the road. "BREWER'S SPARROW", yet again. We ended up finding three along that stretch of road:
Given that it was a nice day, we continued down into Amador County. Purpose? I had never started a county list for this county. Heck, I hadn't even HEARD of this county. Anyway, we drove slowly around, looking like creeps, seeing how many species we could tally in an hour. One roadside stop yielded things like BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER, WESTERN TANAGER, a BUSHTIT nest, and a bird singing the same stupid note over and over and over and over and over again. Of course, some female HUTTON'S VIREO would have been a lot more impressed than we were Here he was in all of his glory (ha, right, Hutton's Vireo? Glory? Ehhhhhhh):