Early Birds

Great Blue Heron

A visit to the park by the dawn’s early light again yielded no Burrowing Owls (and no fence around the intended Burrowing Owl preserve), but a rich harvest of other avians.  In the rocks below the Open Circle artwork — the best bird viewpoint in the park — I photographed a small bird with a yellow throat that an expert birder has graciously identified for me as a Yellow-rumped Warbler. In the same spot I got a just-barely-good-enough picture of a Black Phoebe.  Both were first-time-seen-here birds for me.  Then I walked along the north side trail and marveled at the tall fennel.  This iconic plant of the park’s northern areas has moved past its golden glory showing-off days and now focuses on the business of reproduction.  Its heads teem with seeds.  Don’t go to the store to buy fennel seed.  Come to the park and collect all you want.  There’s plenty to go around for humans and birds both.  Among the feathered creatures gobbling up the fennel seeds I was able to photograph a California Towhee, another Yellow-rumped Warbler, and a House Finch.  Then, walking back to my parked car, I spotted the first Great Blue Heron of the season.  This individual is new here, as far as I know; it has a distinctive feather pattern not found in my previous photographs of this species in the park.  It stood almost immobile, apart from quick fractional rotations of its neck, on a small rocky promontory opposite the DoubleTree hotel.  Two Brown Pelicans were hunting on the North Basin, but not the same pair as yesterday.  These individuals had bright white heads and necks, and red patches on the lower beak.  Their wings were also in much better shape than the pelicans of yesterday.  I marveled at their ability to fly inches above the water, wingtips touching the surface like whiskers.  

Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black Phoebe
Fennel seeds
Fennel Seeds in the hand
House Finch in the Fennel
California Towhee feeding in the Fennel
Yellow-rumped Warbler in the Fennel.
Brown Pelican
Brown Pelican taking off

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