Southern Beardless Tyrannulet, Double-toothed Kite

June 28, 2012
Rain in the gauge this morning was 1.1 inches.
Birded from 2:00 to 5:20 San Lorenzo Road and Diablo Beach
Temp at 2:00 was 79.5 Wind from the S at 8 knots
90% Cloud Cover Glaring Grey

I got out between sprinkles today and had a very enjoyable walk. I heard a lot more than I saw today, but I didn't even hear all that much; it's been kind of dead for the last week around here. I did see a Double-toothed Kite which was a treat--this is only the third time I've seen one. The first time it was with a troup of Capuchins and I thought it was weird that it went where they went. I later read that they follow the monkeys to catch the small prey the monkeys disturb with their movements (small lizards and large insects). I didn't notice anything disturbing the forest the second time I saw the Kite, but this time, I saw it fly from the ground to the top of a dead tree. There was a guy weed-wacking the shoulder of the road near the San Lorenzo Park entrance and I guess the Kite was feasting on what was fleeing the weedwacker.
I got a new butterfly: Scarce Bamboo. It was so lime green and vibrant! It looks a bit like a Malachite, only much greener. It was in a flowering tree over Diablo Creek that had many butterflies swirling around it. There were also a few Urania moths. I've been seeing a lot of them this week. I saw a small Morpho of some kind but it was too quick for me to get a good look or photo.
Scarce Bamboo
While I was on the bridge, the thunder began to roll, but it was so nice out that I decided to take a chance and walk to path to Diablo Beach. I saw a Hummer that appeared to have a deep blue on the nape (mantle?) too fast for ID. I also heard the 'chucking' sound I heard along San Lorenzo Road. A prevelant sound today. Song Wren?? It was definitely a ground bird of some kind. I heard a White-tailed Trogon and lots of sharp 'peeeps' I think they were frogs. Speaking of frogs, I heard a very loud 'whooop' sound that I was sure was a frog and when I ran into one of the forest custodians, he told me it was a large frog and was coral colored. I looked it up: Smoky Jungle Frog.

It started to rain and I had to break out my poncho. A few feet later, I saw a Southern Beardless Tyrannulet leaping about in the rusted chainlink fencing around one of the old American builings that still stand, stripped and falling apart in Fort Sherman. It was so close that I took pictures and a short video. The pictures are a bit blurry due to the rain, but I'll post them. I see this bird quite often, but it is always a joy to see. The first time I saw it, I was very confused. I couldn't make up my mind whether it was a warbler or a flycatcher. It does behave like a warbler at times, cocking it's tail and even stretching it's neck warbler-like to glean insects off leaves (or in the case of the photos below, off fencing). It's also warbler sized at 3.3/4 inches.
The white-tipped, cocked tail helps with ID.
Doing the Warbler stretch.
Oops, the electricity just went out, gotta go soon.
I made it back with literally seconds to spare before a downpour. As I turned onto the Marina road, I couldn't help but notice the wind was now out of the NE and was freshening by the second. Lightening flashed and thunder rolled very loudly as I climbed down the hatch.

Today's bird list in order of sight:
Gray-breasted Martins
Great-tailed Grackles
Black Vultures
Tropical Mockingbird
Orange-chinned Parakeets
Tropical Kingbirds mobbing Yellow-headed Caracara
Smooth-billed Anis
American Kestrel
Blue-gray Tanagers
Crimson-backed Tanager
Social Flycatcher
Panama Flycatcher
Unidentified Hummer
Double-toothed Kite
Palm Tanager
Southern Beardless Tyrannulet
Great Kiskadee
White-tipped Dove
Brown Pelican

The electricity was out for about 3 hours yesterday, I hope it it's not long this time. If it stays off for long, we will have to open the hatch and put up a screen. I've gotten very spoiled having our jury-rigged air-conditioner. Being on the grid has it's advantages, but there are worse things.   Even if we aren't plugged into power, we can still run our 8 watt bulbs off our battery and I can read.

A Walk in the San Mateo Canyon Wilderness Area

May 24, 2012
Gene and I flew home to California on May 14 for a one month visit. We spent most of our time at our daughter's and son-in-law's house in Murrieta.  Her house is very close to the beautiful Santa Rosa Plateau and the San Mateo Canyon Wilderness Area in the Cleveland National Forest. Both are in the Santa Ana Mountains (Ortegas).
Monkey Flowers, Asters and Splendid Mariposa Lily
click on the photo to enlarge
On May 24th, we drove up to the wilderness area and walked the Fisherman's Camp Trail. I used to camp in this area in the early 1970's. You could drive in then and camp at Fisherman's.  Now the area is closed to vehicles. It was beautiful and special when I camped there 40 years ago and it still is.
It was an easy 1.7 mile walk down to the old camp.  It seemed longer than that on the way down and I kind of worried about climbing back up, but it was not strenuous.  The day was perfect; sunny but not hot.  It must have been about 76 degrees.  The scenery was fantastic and wildflowers were plentiful.  In the sunny areas the scent of the sages hung in the air and butterflies and dragonflies flittered and flickered.  The lizards were out sunning and birds called from their hiding spots inside the scrub.  I didn't see very many bird species, but the place was so beautiful it didn't matter. 
Echo Blue
Gabb's Checkerspot?
Above and Below
Behr's Metalmark?
California Sister
Coastal Western Whiptail Lizard
Southern Sagebrush Lizard
San Diego Horned Lizard
Phrynosoma coronatum blainvillii
Chinese Houses
Rather than heating up as the morning turned to afternoon, it began to get chilly because the cool coastal air from the west side of the range began to pour over the ridges.
Bird List for the Trail:
Scrub Jay
Mourning Dove
Red-tailed Hawk
California Towhee
California Quail
Ash-throated Flycatcher
Raven
Bush Tits
California Gnatcatcher?? Didn't get a good enough look.
House Finch
Anna's Hummingbird
Turkey Vulture