Sunday, November 04, 2012

Some Inland Birds In San Diego County

Great White Egret or Common Egret
You may see me often posting coastal birds here, such as the pelicans, cormorants, marbled goodwit, least terns, sand pipers, sea gulls, etc, that is because probably it is a lot easier to spot birds along the coast than inland. Along the coast, these birds are more exposed and always go by huge flocks, whereas inland, they are hidden in the bushes or in the trees, and they are seldom seen in huge flocks unless during their migration early in the morning or after sunset. Some of the birds here are not exclusive to inland only, because some, like the egrets can also be seen right along the coast, fishing in the beach.
Can You See the Poor Little Fish in Egret's Beak?
Along the coast, egrets can be seen mostly in the tidepool area or the beaches. However, they can be found in huge flocks inland such as in lakes or lagoons. I often see them in Los Penasquitos Lagoon, San Elijo Lagoon, and huge flocks of them migrating Lake Hodges after sunset, or in other inland lakes. They are actually almost everywhere, as long as there is water I guess. 
Cattle Egrets with Eggs
Unlike the common egret above, I still have to see the cattle egrets getting near the coast or near the water. Cattle egrets are not as water loving as the white egrets. They have been called cattle egrets because they mostly follow cattle in farms to feed on the critters that had been disturbed by cattle as they walk. The cattle egrets are also smaller than the water loving common egrets. 
Baby Snowy Egret
Mom Snowy Egret Feeding Babies

If common egrets are seen from the coast to the inland valleys to the mountains to the desert, the snowy egrets are oftentimes seen in farms going to the mountains and desert. However, they can also be richly found in Wild Animal Park, which they have adopted as their breeding and nesting home. 
Egrets and cattle egrets belong to the heron family, so I will introduce you next to another bird often seen in inland lakes, the heron.
Actually, like the common white egret, herons can also be found along the coast especially in tidepool area and like the white egret, they are also found inland. The heron is a large species of bird that inhabits wetlands and areas that are close to lakes, ponds and rivers. Herons can be most likely found in La Jolla tidepool, or in lagoons close to the ocean such as Los Penasquitos and San Elijo. However, they can be seen as far as Lake Cuyamaca in the San Diego mountains.
Black Crowned Night Heron
Another specie of heron that are found much inland in San Diego County are the black crowned night heron.
Black Crowned Night Heron
The black crowned night herons are mostly seen in inland lakes such as Lake Murray, however, it seems they are most abundant at Wild Animal Park. 
Next to the herons, another huge bird sometimes seen in inland lakes are the white pelicans.
White Pelicans in Flight
White pelicans are mostly seen in inland lakes. I sometimes see them in Lake Poway, Lake Dixon, and in San Elijo Lagoon.
White Pelicans
Unlike the California brown pelicans which are very much coastal and dive for fish, the white pelicans are much seen inland and fish from the surface. The white pelicans are large aquatic birds and rivals the trumpeters swan as the longest bird native to North America. Its wingspan could be up to 12 ft, the second longest average wingspan of any North American bird, next to California Condor, a critically endangered bird. It is still my wish to see California condor in the wild, which at some point was at the brink of extinction. The condor is the largest North American bird. At one point in 1987, there were only 22 condors left in the world, so a conservation plan was put in place which captured the 22 remaining condors in the wild and were bred here at San Diego's Safari Park and LA Zoo, thus, most of my condor pictures are from the Safari Park. The breeding had been successful and condors had been re-introduced in the wild, and they can now be seen flying high in Utah, Arizona, Mexico and California. The California Condor is one of the world's rarest bird species: as of May 2012, population counts put the number of known condors at 405, including 226 living in the wild and 179 in captivity.- source: Wikipedia
Since this post is about inland birds that I had seen in the wild, though I am excited to share some pictures of one of the world's rarest birds, the CA condor, however, I will probably have to do that in one of my later posts. Meantime, let me share with you a more common vulture seen in the San Diego's wild instead, the turkey vulture.
Turkey Vulture
Turkey Vulture atop an oak tree
Turkey vultures are commonly seen in flight in inland valleys and mountains of San Diego County. Oftentimes, when I share pictures of turkey vulture from my hikes, I would get a comment of, " I would be too scared to be close to them!" Or, "are you not scared of vultures hovering above you?" I do understand these comments, maybe because people perceived the vultures as scary because most find them ugly. But truth is, vultures are probably very beautiful inside, because of their kindness. Despite being so strong and powerful, they won't harm any live animals. Vultures such as turkey vultures and condors may not be classically beautiful, but their existence do serve us a great purpose of cleaning the world of decayed matter. If you see them, they can't harm you. The black crowned night heron above may look so handsome, but you may be disgusted seeing it eat a baby live bird. Vultures to me are beautiful in such a way that despite being so strong and powerful that none preys on them, yet, they do not prey on anyone. They reserve their strength and powers in cleaning the world and speaks of beauty in humility!
However, I do understand the prey-predator relationship that despite the ugliness of seeing a predator terrorize its prey, such as a hawk killing and eating a squirrel, though I cringe on seeing it, but I accept that there is a beautiful purpose and reason for everything. Thus, whenever I see a hawk, despite I have seen also how it mercilessly killed its prey, I still find it a beautiful bird of strength and power.
Hawk In Flight
Hawks are commonly seen in inland San Diego, and they prefer mostly open spaces since it is easier for them to see their prey. A hawks diet include a variety of smaller animals such as rabbit, squirrels, snakes, lizards, mice, etc. Occasionally, they are also seen along the coast, by Torrey Pines area. The picture below of the hawk chasing the paragliders was taken by my hubby.
Hawk Chasing Paragliders :)
Another common bird seen in San Diego are the hummingbirds, they are simply everywhere. 
I get so used to hearing hummingbirds that when I hear flapping of wings so fast that it creates almost like a music, I stay still so that I can take it a picture. :)
It is easiest for me to find hummingbirds around red and orange flowers, though I saw them also enjoying just any color of flowers. 
Though there are still more birds that I saw inland of San Diego, however, I still have to find them in my photo archive, so, let me end this post with one of the most entertaining birds to watch, the woodpecker.
Woodpecker with an acorn in its mouth :)
It is hard to miss a woodpecker since they create so much noise in creating a hole in the tree so they can hide or bury their acorns. :) whenever you are in the woods area and hear someone so busy knocking on the wood, look up, chances are, you will see a busy woodpecker. Woodpeckers are mostly seen in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park in the San Diego Mountains area. 
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  1. What fascinating detail - on the fish; now you see it now you don't! They have to eat too.

  2. the feather of the common egret is so white..

  3. i kept saying wooooooow as i scroll down Beth. awesome bird photography and information.
    saw some of those inland birds at the bird park here. :)

  4. I'm always amaze with all the photos and great adventures that you have and experienced Betchai. How'd I wish I have the same love for nature and traveling like you have.

  5. wow! such amazing photos. your post reminds me of the movie Big Year :)

  6. Each picture has so much story in it...Breathtaking

  7. Great shots, yes I saw the tiny poor fish in the egrets's mouth.. lol.
    These birds are truly beautiful.. amazing!!!

  8. Great shots and pretty interesting birds in San Diego! I'd love to see those birds someday!

  9. Call me a sentimentalist, but the first bird that I've learned to appreciate by heart is the egret. Gandang-ganda ako sa color nya at sa figure. LOL I must agree with the rest, Great shot betchai.

  10. great birds.. you must have taken a lot of time waiting for them and take a great shot.. i love the image with the name or word betchai in it.. woot.. thanks for the share

  11. love the different birds here, i like the most was the paraglider with a chasing hawk lol...that must be scary??/

  12. You always capture the subjects beautifully, Betchai. Now I know KTL is your hubby, hehehe! ;-)

    I love looking at the egrets and the pelicans. IF only I can hold them in my hands. You're so blessed to be living in an area where you get the chance to be so close to these creatures. Wonderful experiences! Thanks for sharing them to us.

  13. It's my dream to see a genuine pelican - blame it on Finding Nemo :)

  14. wow, I love them all winged friends Betchai! oh poor little fish on the beak :( but that is just the way life the reflection photo of the Egret....the Heron looks so regal and the birds in flight are simply awesome...I have yet to see a hummingbird in person and hear a woodpecker :D My Roel ought to see this post! happy week on your beautiful side of the world, :-)

  15. Those are nice photos of those birds. You captured it vividly Betchai. Love it!

  16. Occasionally an egret will wander through here. They sure stand out!

  17. beautiful and awesome pictures. you always captured object in their full detail, galing. and yes, as i've said many're so lucky to have these around. with all the pictures and stories you've shared, i am loving your place more and more! :) btw, my kids will love this post/pictures, will show it to them later...thanks for sharing!

  18. As always, you got fantastic shots. Those pictures always speak for themselves. Wonderful experiences with nature. Hope we could also venture and experience the same thing!

  19. Lovely pictures of birds!! I like the white egrets and the hummingbird!

  20. Very impressive bird shots, especially the hummingbirds. To me they are so hard to catch!

    I'd like to go birding with you someday.

  21. These are beautiful photos of birds Betchai. I never had the chance to get to know them better until I have finished reading your post.

    This post is very informative and I hope Bella gets to read this when she of age. Napakasiksik sa impormasyon.

    Thank you very much for sharing :)

  22. That's a lot of birds. I love how you got a photo of the egret with a fish in his mouth.

  23. Oh Betchai these are right up my alley. Love all the bird photos. The pelicans in flight are so majestic. The egrets and heron always look so elegant and just flow through the waters. Fantastic details and up close shots. Love em.

  24. Your bird photos are so wonderful to see! The white egret is so elegant!

  25. What a delightful post. Both the captures and the generous information about the winged beauties keeps me glued till the very end. I just loved those snowy baby ergets :)
    Have a nice day :)

  26. What stunning pictures! You are so lucky to get to experience such beauty and thank you for sharing with us!

  27. magnificent capture of birds betchai! i so love it! wow. i wonder what camera u used?

  28. as in ikaw talaga kumuha? great!..thanks for yan pala ang heron... :P