I see hawks flying over the harbor on a daily basis. On occasion since I refilled our bird feeders, I've also seen them swoop overhead, although I've never seen one actually snatch a bird - or a squirrel. I don't often get a photo of them but just before Christmas I noticed one sitting in the neighbors' recently-pruned pine tree. Even though I expected he'd be gone before I could affix a telephoto lens to my camera, I grabbed it anyway. To my surprise, he sat there virtually immobile for more than an hour.
|Based on the photos I took, it appears he didn't alter his position at all but he did swivel his head around a bit|
|His gaze seemed focused on activity around the bird feeders in my garden in this shot. I think this was a red-tailed hawk.|
The small birds beat a hasty retreat into the surrounding trees and shrubs when a hawk swings into view; however, they've remained active almost constantly at the feeders and in the fountain.
I recently shared a photo of a bird I identified by default as a immature house finch even though its color wasn't quite right. It was subsequently identified by a commentator as a nutmeg mannikin aka spice finch or scaly-breasted munia (Lonchura punctulata).
|The nutmeg mannikin is native to tropical areas of Asia; however, the Audubon Society has included it on the list of birds present in California. Experts don't believe it migrated to California but rather that caged pets escaped into the wild. It's reportedly been sighted in Los Angeles and Orange Counties since 1997. |
Yesterday, I saw two other birds at the fountain I couldn't place either. I spent a ridiculous amount of time down the bird-ID rabbit hole. The closest I could come to a match was the Indian silverbill (Eurodice malabarica). Like the nutmeg mannikin, the Indian silverbill has been spotted in the wild in California, where it has apparently established itself as a population of escapees.
The last wildlife sighting I have to share isn't my own. On Christmas Eve, a friend made a trip to the Ellwood Monarch Butterfly Grove in Goleta, California near our undergraduate alma mater. She gave me permission to share the following photos of the monarchs in this preserve.
|She indicated that the butterflies were just warming up to greet the day when she took this shot|
|This is a closer shot showing many with open wings|
Meanwhile, another unusual visitor showed up here yesterday: rain. It started around 2pm and remained light into the evening hours. Hopefully, it'll deliver more overnight.
All material © 2012-2022 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party
Wonderful wildlife photos. I bet the hawk has a harder time keeping itself hidden now that the pine tree is so bare. It's probably best you didn't see it snatch a bird, or a squirrel... that may be unpleasant.ReplyDelete
The neighbors' pine trees were the hawks' favorite perch prior to pruning and they steered clear of the trimmed versions for awhile. They're much more visible now, which is good for the photographer and the small birds at the feeders ;)Delete
The Hawk is magnificent. Interesting about the non-native birds in the area. We had what I think was a red-shouldered hawk hanging out on top of the fence and then the bird feeder this week. He flew away when I pointed the camera.ReplyDelete
Hawks are amazingly aware of lenses pointed at them. Because the pine trees are a distance away, they seem relatively comfortable there but then I can only get decent photos with a telephoto lens. I've discovered it's also hard to sneak up on the smaller birds with a camera, even when I try to catch photos from inside the house.Delete
I wish someone in the know would come ID the birds that I see here. The subtle color and pattern changes have me confused about whether I am seeing different ages and sexes of just a few species or if there are many different types visiting the garden. Fingers crossed for your rain! We've received over 3" in just the last two days. Thankfully today has started out dry.ReplyDelete
I agree that the male-female and mature-immature distinctions between birds can be maddening. Then there are unusual anomalies that complicate things further, as is the case with a "dark form" red-tailed hawk. I was spoiled by my mother-in-law who could identify birds with even the poorest photos. She could often pick them out with only their vocalizations too. I miss her for a lot of reasons but I always think of her when trying to track down a bird's ID.Delete
We got just over half an inch of rain from this first storm. It looks like we'll be dry until late Friday night into Saturday and then again Sunday into late Monday night.
Cool photos! The butterflies are very special--it must have been awe-inspiring to see.ReplyDelete
It confounds me that I lived in that area of Santa Barbara County for 4 years as an undergrad without ever visiting that butterfly preserve. Maybe next year I can see if I can convince my husband to take a trip up that way to visit the preserve and Lotusland or Taft Garden as a Christmas present :)Delete
Don't you love it when wildlife poses and allows you to take their photo? Fantastic photos of the hawk and the butterflies. It would be an incredible experience to see that many in one spot.ReplyDelete
I have to arrange my own trip to the Goleta butterfly preserve next year when the butterflies have settled in for their winter stay. I think the trails were closed during the height of the pandemic so I can only hope that access won't be limited next year.Delete
That's a wonderfully serene hawk photo, Kris. I bet that freshly pruned new perch will get a lot of use. ID-ing birds is so difficult! I don't know that I could identify even the most common birds. I give lots of cred to those who do. An entirely new rabbit hole indeed! I used to visit the Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus, OH, when they had their butterfly exhibits. Such marvelous, delicate creatures! It would be wonderful to be able to experience an actual preserve, but for now that remains on the bucket list. I do hope you got more rain. We got a lot on Tuesday, but yesterday was dry. Not sure where that wet front was headed - hopefully south.ReplyDelete
I can only guess that the hawk was serene because he'd already eaten well, Anna ;) We got half an inch of rain from the storm that passed through here on Tuesday. The next storm, originally slated to drop late Friday, now looks like it's been pushed out into late Saturday with a third, currently less robust system, expected late Monday.Delete
Spectacular photos of the hawk Kris! We had a male Spice Finch and a couple females at our birdbath 2-3 weeks ago. I'd never seen one before and he wasn't in my "Birds of San Diego County" book, but I found him online with the description. I hope to see more of him, but so far only the one time. Had .58" rain here Wednesday, hoping for more here in La Mesa.Delete
I guess we should only be surprised we haven't seen more exotic avian escapees, Brenda!Delete
It’s wonderful to have birds visiting one’s garden and something that gives us a great deal of pleasure here. Seeing monarch butterflies in such great numbers would be a special experience too. I’m reminded of Barbara Kingsolver’s book ‘Flight Behaviour’.ReplyDelete
I was unfamiliar with that book, Jane. I'll have to check it out.Delete
Like Florida, SoCal's climate allows these tropical bird species to gain a hand. It was nice to have an ID to that mystery bird with the speckled breast, I was pretty sure it wasn't a native. ElizaReplyDelete
Coincidentally, there was an article in today's Los Angeles Times on the discovery of a Snowy Owl, commonly found in Alaska and rarely seen as far south as Oregon, in a neighborhood in Orange County! The supposition is that it either was blown off-course by the recent bomb cyclone or rode into the area on a freighter ;) Between hijackers and exotic escapees, maybe we should expect to see more avian visitors. Meanwhile, the owl is placidly enjoying the attention of the local birding community.Delete