Another “Lifer” in Fresno

When we weren’t seeing birds while out birding, Ruth Sullivan used to say, “All we need is one good bird.” On a good day, of course, you should see hundreds of good birds, not one.  These last shots from Fresno were actually taken on two different days.  

We actually saw yesterday’s House Finch while trying to get closer to this American Kestrel.

American Kestrel looking down

We never did get close to it, and it steadfastly refused to leave the safety of its perch.  I’m sure I’ve gotten better shots of Kestrels, but I still love this shot.

After hunting down the Kestrel, I noticed two Acorn Woodpeckers on some adjoining palms.  I think this one was actually building a nest since that hole is much too large to hold any kind of nut that an Acorn Woodpecker could carry up there.

Acorn Woodpecker in Palm Tree

We regularly see Acorn Woodpeckers in Santa Rosa, but, since we weren’t able to fit Santa Rosa in this trip, I was particularly happy to see a pair of them.

On a later walk I spotted a Red-Tailed Hawk circling overhead. Whenever I see an eagle or hawk soaring overhead I try to get a photo. Sometimes I get lightheaded and feel like I’m about to fall over.  Most of the time I end up with nothing but blue or white sky.  Occasionally, I actually capture the bird within the frame, but the breast and wings are completely obscured by shadow.  

This one, though, circled me repeatedly and low enough that I wondered at one point if it was about to land. I suspect this might be the best shot I’ve ever taken of a Red-Winged Hawk in flight.

Red-Tailed Hawk overhead

Right after we spotted the hawk, we started walking down a road that was supposed to lead to the trail.  Before long a worker came over and told us we were in a restricted area.  We had a short conversation and we told him we were just out birding.  He asked me if we had seen the Phainopeplas that were nesting nearby.  I had never heard of such a bird and had to ask him to repeat the name.  He reckoned we could walk a little further down the road where he pointed out this female Phainopepla.  

female Phainopepla

The Phainopepla was apparently used to people because she perched there for a good five minutes while I tried to get a better shot through a thicket of branches.

closeup of female Phainopepla

A quick search after we were home revealed that the male Phainopepla is jet black and much more striking, but it was still exciting to photograph the female.