Birding Doran Regional Park

The day after we visited Spring Lake we drove to Bodega Bay and stopped at Doran Regional Park, a very busy beach though we got there early enough to beat the crowds.  

As we walked towards the beach we were greeted by this little guy and his friends.  I could immediately tell they were plovers, but I wasn’t sure what kind.  Judging purely from the size I speculated they were Semi-palmated Plovers, but when none of them had the strong, dark stripe around there neck and I looked at them on the computer I knew they weren’t.  

I was shocked when I finally realized they were Snowy Plovers

an endangered species that nests on the open beach.  

This one

even looked like it could be looking for a nesting site.  No wonder they are endangered if they can’t find a beach with a lot fewer people than Doran Park.  

It’s clear that the birds have had no choice but to learn to coexist with large numbers of people on this part of the coast.  The second species we saw was this beautiful Marbled Godwit.

When I see flocks of these in Westport they stay on the outside of the Marina and will fly away whenever anyone approaches.  This one continued to feed the whole time I watched it

until it caught this impressive (?) worm (?).  

Do You See What I See?

Although the Acorn Woodpeckers took front-stage on our trip around Lake Ralphine and Spring Lake, there were lots of supporting acts. 

Considering how many people walk those trails, I’m amazed at the number of birds I find there this time of year.  Here’s a small sample of what I saw on my walk.

Three male Bufflehead, 

one Swainson’s Thrush, 

one Great-tailed Grackle, 

several Yellow-Rumped Warblers,

and one very camera-shy Night Heron.

Loren loves Acorn Woodpeckers

We had so many things planned on our recent trip to Santa Rosa that, unfortunately, I only managed to get one walk around Lake Ralphine and Spring Lake.  

Luckily it was a great walk which began immediately when we were greeted near the parking lot by several Acorn Woodpeckers. 

The woodpeckers seemed unusually busy gathering nuts.  I think that is because park workers had cut down the tree where they had previously stored their acorns.  But, for whatever reason, they weren’t shy on this visit, ignoring me as they searched for acorns,  

gathered them, 

and stored them away in a nearby tree.

I suspect they were ignoring me because they were hurrying to gather as many nuts as possible before the crowds started appearing. There wasn’t a single woodpecker to be seen when we returned from our walk.

You See What You See

Whenever I recommend a birding site to someone, I try to describe what they MIGHT see, depending on when they visit.  I also warn that they will probably see different birds (or no birds) at different times of the day or the year.

Truthfully, even two birders riding together in a car looking out different windows are likely to see different birds or animals than the person they’re riding next to.  For instance, on our visit to Colusa I got this shot of a White-Faced Ibis that Leslie didn’t see.

Right around the corner she got a shot of a Double-Crested Cormorant in breeding colors that I never spotted.

I got a shot of a Great Egret fluffing its feathers, 

and she got a shot of two Wild Turkeys.

I couldn’t miss seeing the large Night Heron Rookery, but only Leslie could actually take pictures of it since it’s nearly impossible to hand-hold a 400 mm lens while pointing it out the opposite car window.

But that was okay because Leslie didn’t get to see the little Pied-Billed Grebe that popped up on my side of the car.

You never really know what you’re going to see while birding, but I do know that you never see the birds we saw at Colusa NWR while sitting at home on the couch.