California Trippin’

We just returned from our long-delayed trip to see Mary, Leslie’s mother, in Santa Rosa. Not sure it would really count as a “vacation” but we did manage to get in some bird watching en route. We were greeted by Mt. Shasta

Mt. Shasta

and a flock of gulls

Ring-Billed Gull

as we crossed the California border. I was surprised to find them this high so early in the year. At first I thought they might be California Gulls, but my book tells me that they’re probably Ring-Billed Gulls.

I caught what was probably the most interesting sighting of the entire trip in the parking lot of the Olive Pit while Leslie was picking up some gifts for family members. As I was debugging the windshield I heard the most amazing bird calls I had ever heard,


though it turned out to be the call of a single Mockingbird. In all the years I’ve been photographing Mockingbirds in Mary’s backyard I’ve never heard any song quite like the one that greeted me here. It reminded me of this online song though I’m sure it was actually quite different.

Since it wasn’t quite dark when we arrived at our the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, we took a quick spin through the auto tour to see what birds to expect the next morning. We were greeted by a Meadowlark


whose song was beautiful to behold but certainly didn’t rival the Mockingbird song that I had heard a few miles up the road.

The thousands of Snow Geese we’d seen the previous two years were not to be seen anywhere, apparently having started their northward migration, leaving behind a few stragglers.

Snow Geese

They had largely been replaced by these Greater White-Fronted Geese,

Greater White-Fronted Geese

though not nearly in the same number as the Snow Geese.