Monday, April 14, 2014

Long Beach to Malibu Beach

A last walk along Long Beach's - LA River before leaving brought a pleasant surprise: a skate scooting through the water above the mussels.

We drove around the high cliffs of Palos Verdes Peninsula with it's beautiful old trees and lighthouses.

At Fermin Park was this 140 year old fig tree.

We followed the Pacific Coast Highway to our home for the next two weeks at Malibu Beach RV Park.  We were welcomed by this Rufous Hummingbird in the many blossoming plants along the hillsides.  We are perched about 500 feet above the beach and on clear days we can see for miles.

We walked to Solstice Canyon National Recreation Area several days and found some interesting birds and animals.  This Wood Rat was 30 feet up in a hollowed tree.
Nanday (Black-Hooded) Parakeets

Audubon's Warbler


The best part about being here is the opportunity to spend time with our oldest son Travis and his wife Tina.  He rented a car for us to drive in and out of the amazing L.A. traffic.  We went to different parks to bird; spent time at Santa Monica checking out the farmer's market; spent a day at the L.A. Zoo with lots of interesting birds and animals; and precious time just visiting.
Santa Monica Pier and Beach

Townsend's Warbler

Koala at L.A. Zoo

The nearby Malibu Lagoon was full of gulls, terns and shorebirds - the best find - Surfbirds.
Calliope Hummingbird

We put out a hummingbird feeder at our RV site and had many interesting visitors check it out.
Allen's Hummingbird

Black-chinned Hummingbird

Nanday Parakeet

One of the fun projects we took on was trying to find as many species of parrots and parakeets that are thriving in Southern California.  We found Yellow-headed Parrots and Blue-crowned Parakeets near Imperial Beach; Red-crowned and Lilac-crowned Parrots near San Diego; Red-lored Parrots by Oceanside; Yellow-chevroned and Mitred Parakeets in Los Angeles; and Black-hooded (Nanday) Parakeets near Malibu Beach coming into our RV Park.

One species left to find - the beautiful Rose-ringed Parakeet.  We contacted a local bird expert who told us where to find them.  Early Sunday morning we drove the PCH south to Vista del Rey and practically parked under the roost tree where we could hear them waking up.  One by one they flew out calling then coming down to these beautiful red flowers picking petals and eating the ends off.

Time to leave the LA basin and beaches and head north through the Santa Monica Mountains hoping for a glimpse of California Condors soaring above.

Love & Prayers until next blog.
Ty & Ida

Monday, March 31, 2014

La Jolla to Long Beach - S. California

We arrived at the sandstone cliffs in La Jolla at dawn; hundreds of Brandt's & Double-crested Cormorants, Brown Pelicans and Gulls were courting and building nests on the steep cliffs.
Brandt's Cormorant - Nuptial bowing

California Sea Lions rested on the rocks awaiting the high tide before sliding off into the waves.

We followed the Pacific coastline to the Torrey Pines State Preserve; located just north of the famous golf course.  This is a beautiful high ridge with sand cliffs and the only place in the world where this rare pine tree is found.
Hermit Thrush

Black-necked Stilt

We spent a week at Oceanside, the park was a short walk along a tidal stream to the beach that stretched for miles in each direction.
Whimbrel feeds in the surf

Brown Pelican rides the waves

Oceanside Pier

Walks to a nearby cemetery gave us a new life bird - the Red-lored Parrot.
California Gull sounding off

We drove along the Newport Bay Ecological Reserve and walked the Big Canyon Trail seeing the rare Spotted Dove and this Allen's Hummingbird.

Next stop was the Bolsa Chica Ecological Preserve - an important reclamation area for nesting terns: Least, Royal, Caspian, Elegant and the pictured Forester's.

We arrived at Golden Shores RV Park in Long Beach for our week's stay.  Our site overlooked the Golden Shores Ecological Preserve and the Los Angeles River.  We walked paved trails along the river and harbors.  We found a new bird for the year - the Black Oystercatcher feeding on Blue Mussels at low tide.

Across the river, the Queen Mary is docked; this is the troop ship that Ty's dad sailed to Europe on to fight in WWII.
Western Gull waiting for fishermen's handouts

Fighting crabs

While watching March Madness Basketball on March 28th the RV started rocking and rolling at 9:09 to a 5.1 earthquake centered about 20 miles northeast of us.  This was a new experience for Ty, when we were here years ago I felt one while Ty slept through it.  

We spent a few hours at El Dorado Regional Park with a small nature center and miles of trails with good bird diversity plus Red-eared slider Turtles lined up on a log.
Western Bluebird

Our son Travis drove down from LA for a nice walk along the shore and lunch at Bubba Gump Shrimp.  We had to answer Forrest Gump Movie trivia from the waiter.  We will see Travis & Tina again later when we move to Malibu Beach RV park.

On Sunday we enjoyed the worship service at Cottonwood Church and were blessed hearing our friend (pastor in Green Bay) Joel Holm preach the message. We reconnected with Joel and Marie for supper at Famous Dave's BBQ - a touch of Wisconsin.

Tomorrow it's into the LA traffic, our least favorite experience.

Love & Prayers,  Ty & Ida

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Imperial Beach to Point Loma - S. California

As the skies cleared we traveled into Imperial Beach for a week.  Our RV site overlooked the south end of San Diego Bay, a National Wildlife Refuge Estuary area where high tides make great mud flats for shorebirds, egrets and ducks.

We walked to the ocean and the IB pier, where we found this Pelagic Cormorant, new for the year.  Note the beautiful iridescent colors on the neck and head.  We spent several days birding along the Tijuana Slough from the berm along the beach finding: Elegant Tern, Snowy Plovers, Pacific Golden Plover, Brandt Cormorants, Whimbrel, Marbled Godwits, Western & Clark's Grebes, and a distant look at a Brown Booby.

We saw on the bird list that a Thick-billed Kingbird was near-by and they put GPS coordinates to the exact tree it was seen in.  Something new to learn, but we did it - the bird was not there but very near - within 50 yards.  A fun addition to the trip list.

A day trip to the Mexican border - and Border Field State Park gave us some other new birds including this Mexican migrant; the Black-throated Magpie-Jay that we found on the way at the community gardens helping themselves to everyone's fruit and vegetables.  We found about 12 in the area along the Tijuana River.

We also found the California Gnatcatcher, Wrentit, Yellow-headed Parrots, California Thrasher and a few warblers.  We then drove over to the Dairy Mart Ponds and found this Box Turtle that crossed our path.

We moved up to Chula Vista RV Resort and one of our day trips took us northwest of San Diego to the Cabrillo National Monument on Point Loma.  We had beautiful vistas of the wave washed cliffs and tide pools.  We spotted Red-throated Loons in the surf along with California Sea Lions, and spouts from Gray Whales, and Black-vented Shearwaters.

As we were reading graphic panels on Gray Whale migration we had this three-foot, South Pacific Rattlesnake slither by within 6 inches of our feet.  I stepped back while Ty got down on his knees with the camera.

This Chula Vista park is one we visited on our first trip to California back in 1988 with our sons.  It is located on the San Diego Bay and I remember Travis saying that he would one day live out here in California.  He made it happen and has enjoyed the LA area for 22 years.

Daily walks along the bay produce many shorebirds, waterfowl, herons, grebes, coot and nesting osprey.  New for our year list were Black Brant geese and many Surf Scoters in nuptial plumage.

As much as we disdain San Diego traffic, exotic birds beckoned us to venture forth.  We walked the Fomosa Slough trails, a small urban wetland that produced, Tropical and Cassin's Kingbirds and Bullock's Orioles.  Large flocks of Lilac-crowned and Red-Crowned Parrots and Blue-crowned Parakeets announced their presence before they came into view.  We also had Costa's and Allen's Hummingbirds joining the already nesting Anna's.

Our next stop was the San Diego River across from Sea World where we scoped hundreds of American Wigeons to successfully find the one reported Eurasian Wigeon.  Also of note were the large concentration of American Avocets.

After receiving poor directions and a couple stops for clarification we found the Tecolote Canyon Natural Park and Nature Center.  The naturalist on duty led us to the locations where Nutmeg Mannikins could be observed.  Five minutes later, 7 of the mannikins came in to the shallow water to bathe and preen.

This large, fuzzy, golden bee (one of the bumble bees - but couldn't find it in the insect book) was active around the flower beds.  He was not camera shy, hovering in front of the lens.  
Heermann's Gull

We sometimes don't have to walk very far to see birds, this Great Egret was hunting for lizards around the RV.

Enjoying the winter with the "Snow Birds"
Ty & Ida Baumann