As usual, the first bird that greeted as along the irrigation ditch was a Black Phoebe. It looked so perky sitting on a twig over hanging the water as it waited for an insect to come by. It would then dart off, returning to its same perch. 22 Thursday Birders started slowly along the ditch bank reveling in the cool morning air, unusual for early June.
Black-chinned Hummingbirds abounded. They looked like specks as they perched high on slender snags on the top most branches of the trees growing along the far ditch bank. When another one came into its territory, it buzzed in circles to scare it off. Lesser Goldfinches seemed to be every where.
A spot of bright blue alerted us to a Blue Grosbeak. The early morning sun shone off its large beak. “It looks like shiny gold,” Mary, famous for her poetic descriptions, commented.
House finches flew in and out from the shrubs, while Barn Swallows swooped back and forth low over the water.
“I hear an Ash-throated Flycatcher,” Maureen reported – and then we spotted it across the ditch. Above it in the trees, the red feathers of a Summer Tanager looked like a small stop light.
As we neared the end of the ditch, two European Starlings flew in an out of the trees. They seemed to disappear into the trunk. “I think they are building a nest,” Rebecca said. “They are cavity nesters.”
We watched two Barn Swallows as they made trips to a mud puddle to gather mud for their nest.
As we entered the woods, we heard the rough chatter of a Yellow-breasted Chat. Sylvia and Mary Lou tromped through the under-brush to the river’s edge to get a look at it.
A Western Wood Peewee perched on a branch adjacent to the trail. Near by a Spotted Towhee called. We kept hearing it as we walked along, as though it was following us. Finally it came into view.
Someone spotted a White-breasted Nuthatch. We watched as it flitted amongst the foliage and trotted down a branch.
A raptor was circling overhead. “White arm pits, dark flight feathers, dark band around upper chest,” Gale described. “It must be a Swainson’s.”
“That’s a good recital of the field marks,” Ken stated.Back at the trailhead, we walked along the trees on the west side of the irrigation ditch. We saw flashes of blue as three birds flew out from a nearby tree into the orchard and out of sight. After awhile, one of them flew back into the top of the tree near where we were standing. Blue Grossbeaks.
And then it was time to head to the Village Pizza.