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San Jacincto

Riverside

Morongo

Palm Springs

Species list

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List of species seen

Pied-billed Grebe

~10 were on the deeper lagoon at the North-eastern end of San Jacinto wildlife area

Western Grebe

A single bird was directly behind the Hoover Dam, remaining in almost the same spot for up to an hour

Brown Pelican

Small numbers passed Santa Monica beach regularly

Great Blue Heron

1 seen from car on approach to Las Vegas from Los Angeles, and 1 on the lagoons at San Jacinto wildlife area

 Great White Egret

2 were together in a wet field on San Jacinto wildlife area

 Snowy Egret

1 with the Great Egrets at San Jacinto wildlife area

 White-faced Ibis

There were very good numbers at San Jacinto wildlife area, with probably at least 50 birds spread over the 2 marshy lagoons

 Mallard

~10 on the artificial pools at San Jacinto wildlife area

 Cinnamon Teal

This was the most common of the few species of duck seen. All birds seen were still in eclipse plumage, and showed a wing pattern very similar to Blue-winged Teal. At least 50 were on the San Jacinto wildlife area

 Ruddy Duck

A single pair in breeding plumage were at San Jacinto wildlife area

 Turkey Vulture

Seen sporadically, with most in the Palm Springs area. Peak was ~10 over the San Jacinto wildlife area

 Northern Harrier

A single bird flew over the natural lagoons at the San Jacinto wildlife area

 Cooper's Hawk

A single bird was seen briefly flying through the Big Morongo Canyon NP. Apparently, a pair had recently bred in the preserve

 Red-tailed Hawk

Only 5 were seen, 4 of which were on telegraph posts within a quarter mile distance from the highway 60 on the way to Riverview. The fifth bird was over the San Jacinto wildlife area

 American Kestrel

The best area for these was just to the NE of San Jacinto wildlife area. 4 were seen on the roads while trying to find the preserve, with the last one just outside of the park entrance. 2 brief birds were also seen from the car on the journey through San Bernadino, on the road from Las Vegas to Palm Springs

 Gambel's Quail

A family party of 2 adults and 5+ immatures were in the low bushes at San Jacinto wildlife area, on the Yucca Ridge trail. Another party of Quail, which is likely to have been this species on distribution, were in Palm Canyon

 American Coot

Numbered probably into 3 figures on the natural lagoons at San Jacinto wildlife area

 Black-necked Stilt

At least 40 spread throughout the wetland areas of San Jacinto wildlife area

 American Avocet

At least 80 birds spread over the wetland areas of San Jacinto wildlife area

 Killdeer

~10 birds on the dykes between the 4 artificial pools at San Jacinto wildlife area

 Long-billed Curlew

A group of 8 birds flew south over Venice Beach

 Greater Yellowlegs

2 birds together on the marshy lagoon at San Jacinto wildlife area

 Wilson's Phalarope

A group of 5 birds in mainly non-breeding plumage were swimming amongst American Avocets on the second of the artificial lagoons at San Jacinto wildlife area

 Heerman's Gull

Only seen at Santa Monica Beach, where there were quite good numbers resting on the sand

 California Gull

The least common of the 3 species seen. Apart from a few at Santa Monica Beach, one or two were also possibly seen over Los Angeles

 Western Gull

The most common of the Gulls seen. They were very common on the beaches, and also regularly seen over Los Angeles

 Band-tailed Pigeon

This species of pigeon tends to be more a bird of the higher altitudes, so it was no surprise that the 9 seen were on the San Jacinto mountain loop – 8 were on wires about 5 miles to the South of Banning, in the Upper Sonoran chaparral, with the ninth on a bird feeder opposite Buckthorn Camp

 Mourning Dove

Probably the most abundant bird in the whole area

 Common Ground-dove

Only 1 seen in the Palm Springs area

 Greater Roadrunner

In a part of the country where roadrunners are renowned to be a common bird of the desert, it was strange to see the only one of the trip feeding on the lawns of the Plaza Villas at Palm Springs, which are near the centre of the town. Apparently, it was a fairly regular visitor to this spot

 White-throated Swift

A single bird was amongst the Violet-green Swallows over Lake Fulmor

 Black-chinned Hummingbird

This was by far the most common of the Hummingbirds seen, almost all being either females or juveniles. All were seen in the Palm Springs area. Around the Palm Springs villas, they could be approached quite easily on some favoured perches: Palm Springs villas (at least 4); Lake Fulmor (2); Buckthorn Camp (3); Robidoux Nature Centre (4); Big Morongo Canyon NP (10)

 Anna's Hummingbird

1 appeared briefly at the feeders at Palm Springs villas, and 2 further birds were at the feeding station at the Big Morongo Canyon NP

 Costa's Hummingbird

The first birds seen were a couple of squabbling subadult males at the Plaza Villas in Palm Springs. All the 4 birds at Big Morongo Canyon NP were seen in the hand after being captured in the nets for ringing

 Rufous Hummingbird

The first bird seen was a female, which was picked up flying to the feeders at Big Morongo Canyon NP, but was mercifully trapped and identified in the hand. A male was then brought to the ringing table, with a second male briefly seen approaching the feeding station before flying on

 Acorn Woodpecker

All 7 seen were in the San Jacinto mountains, with 2 pairs at Lake Fulmor, and 3 at stops made on the Black Mountain track

 Nuttall's Woodpecker

A single bird which may have been this species was seen all too briefly flying away in the Upper Sonoran zone of the San Jacinto mountains. This escapee from the list was made up for during a visit to the Robidoux Nature Centre, with probably ~12 birds seen here, some with extended views and close up. A further bird was seen in Griffith Park in Los Angeles

 White-headed Woodpecker

A very characteristic Woodpecker, and probably the most memorable species of the trip. They were easy to see around the campground at the head of the Black Mountain track, with at least 5 birds present

 Northern Flicker

2 separate birds, of the red-shafted form, were seen on arrival near the road at the Robidoux Nature Centre

 Western Wood-pewee

2 birds were on the Black Mountain track, high up on exposed branches at the first stop made

 Vermilion Flycatcher

The place to see this species is Big Morongo Canyon NP, since this is at the north-western limit of its range. More specifically, the small park next to the main preserve (Covington Park) is where these birds are regularly seen, since it is likely that this is the breeding site. A mix of up to a dozen adults and juveniles were seen

 Black Phoebe

This was a very easy to see and approachable bird in both the Riverside area and Big Morongo Canyon NP. At Robidoux Nature Centre, up to 8 birds were seen, almost exclusively within about 100m of the visitor centre. 2 at the San Jacinto wildlife area were in the bushes along the walkway separating the two open marshes and lagoons. At Big Morongo Canyon NP, up to 8 birds were present – most approachable were those within Covington Park, but a few were also within the NP itself

 Ash-throated Flycatcher

When I arrived at the entrance to Robidoux Nature Centre, they were probably the most obvious and vociferous species present, although they were much less noticeable later when I left (~12 here, with a mix of adults and juveniles). The 6 or so at San Jacinto wildlife area were at either alongside the Black Phoebes at the marshes, or along the tree lined southern border of the reserve. A few birds were also present at Big Morongo Canyon NP (~6)

 Brown-crested Flycatcher

As with Vermilion Flycatcher, this is at the very North-west of the species range limit, and Big Morongo Canyon NP represents the best site in the state for it. It tended to be a very obvious bird towards the centre of the preserve, with what appeared to be up to 10 in a mix of adults and juveniles (although they were fairly mobile, and could have been counted more than once)

 Western Kingbird

I was surprised to see only one bird during the whole trip, since it is supposed to be spread throughout the western states throughout the summer. The one seen was perched prominently in Joshua Tree NP

 Violet-green Swallow

The only site where these birds were seen was over Lake Fulmor, where there were ~50 or so birds

 Swallow

Only 3 seen – at San Jacinto wildlife area

 Phainopepla

2 together and a separate single bird were in the Upper Sonoran zone, 5 miles or so to the South of Banning. Fairly typically for this species, they were perched prominently at the top of exposed bushes, but were not too confiding on approach

 Bewick's Wren

This seems to be one of the prominent wrens of the western states, since it doesn’t seem to be able to keep quiet, and likes to pop out regularly into the open, although not staying in the same place for long - Palm Canyon (1), Palm Springs (at Plaza Villas); Big Morongo Canyon NP (6)

 House Wren

Black Mountain campground (1); Robidoux Nature Centre (1); San Jacinto wildlife area (1)

 Northern Mockingbird

2 were seen on the first evening in Los Angeles, at the Buena Park Travelodge hotel in Anaheim; a pair with 2 juveniles were regularly seen around the Plaza Villas at Palm Springs; and 1 was at San Jacinto wildlife area

 California Thrasher

Despite this usually being a secretive member of the family, I was fortunate that the 2 seen were either at the top of an exposed bush in the first case (at Robidoux Nature Centre), or seen close in (in and out of cover) at Big Morongo Canyon NP

 Western Bluebird

The first birds seen were a family party on the ascent up Black Mountain track, with a lone juvenile at the campground. A pair opposite the Buckthorn Camp were nesting in a nestbox which was placed on wooden pole in the open grassy area. A further 5 or so were at Robidoux Nature Centre

 American Robin

In the eastern states, this is an incredibly common and easy to see species. In the California and Arizona sites I have been to, it seems to be a bird of the upper altitudes, and the only ones seen were about half a dozen of various ages at the Buckthorn Camp area, usually seen flying across the open grassland

 Wrentit

Only one seen fairly briefly on an exposed perch at the Upper Sonoran zone just south of Banning

 Bushtit

~5 birds at Big Morongo Canyon NP

 Mountain Chickadee

Common in the upper altitudes of the San Jacinto mountains, with ~30 around the Black Mountain campground, 6 at Lake Fulmor, and 4 opposite Buckthorn Camp

 Oak Titmouse

Only 1 seen, at Lake Fulmor

 Pygmy Nuthatch

These were very common at the Black Mountain campground, with numbers difficult to count – probably around two to three dozen birds. They seemed in the main to be feeding in parties, with some juveniles amongst the more numerous adults, with most feeding on the lower branches of the confers

 White-breasted Nuthatch

1 at Lake Fulmor, and 5 at the Black Mountain campground

 Verdin

1 was seen at the Plaza Villas in Palm Springs; 1 at Palm Canyon, feeding in the palm tree canopy; 1 at Big Morongo Canyon NP. They are usually heard before (and constantly during) being seen

 Loggerhead Shrike

Only at San Jacinto wildlife area, where a pair were nesting in the nestbox at the centre of the first scrape in the reserve, and 2-3 were on wire fences on the southern approach to the reserve

 Steller's Jay

Very easy to see in the San Jacinto mountains, with ~20 around the Black Mountain campground, 4 at Lake Fulmor, and 6 around Buckthorn Camp. The form found here has a plain head, seeming dark brown as opposed to black in some lights (interior form has white streaks on the forehead)

 Western Scrub-jay

Buckthorn Camp (2); Robidoux Nature Centre (2); Big Morongo Canyon NP (2)

 American Crow

Very common

 Raven

Hoover Dam (2); San Jacinto wildlife area (6)

 Starling

Abundant

 House Sparrow

Abundant

 Purple Finch

Buckthorn Camp (2); Palm Canyon (2); Big Morongo Canyon NP (2)

 House Finch

Very common throughout the Palm Springs area, and seen on most days, with a maximum of ~100 at the Big Morongo Canyon NP

 Lesser Goldfinch

The place to see these was at Big Morongo Canyon NP, where they were very common around the bird feeders, with probably up to 30 individuals, and 4 on a single nut feeder at one time. A single bird was singing next to the car park at Lake Fulmor

 American Goldfinch

Definites of this species only seen on 2 occasions – 1 at the feeders opposite Buckthorn Camp, and 2 at Robidoux Nature Centre

 Orange-crowned Warbler

2 of these very yellow individuals were seen – 1 at Lake Fulmor, and 1 sharing a bush with Mountain Chickadees in the Upper Sonoran zone to the south of Banning

 Common Yellowthroat

4 individuals at Robidoux Nature Centre, and 4 at Big Morongo Canyon NP

 Western Tanager

The only birds seen were at Big Morongo Canyon NP, with 2 on trees within the preserve, and a third bird flew through the feeding area, landing briefly about 50 metres away

 Summer Tanager

8 birds were at Big Morongo Canyon NP

 Spotted Towhee

First bird of the trip was singing opposite the feeders at Buckthorn Camp. Another singing bird was above me at Robidoux Nature Centre, with 3 more near the visitors centre, and 4 separate birds were at Big Morongo Canyon NP

 California Towhee

The first sighting of this species completed the set of North American Towhees, and it came just after arriving at the Robidoux Nature Centre, feeding on dirt allotments on the opposite side of the road to the preserve. Another 3 birds were subsequently seen on the preserve, followed by a single around the picnic tables of Palm Canyon, and 3 flying across the Yucca Ridge trail at Big Morongo Canyon NP

 Black-throated Sparrow

A group of 3 birds were in the scrub of Joshua Tree NP

 Sage Sparrow

The first half dozen or so birds were in the distance, feeding noisily along the slopes at Palm Canyon near Palm Springs. On the walk back, a single bird was seen much more closely, before flying up to the slopes. They were much closer at Big Morongo Canyon NP, where 3 groups of 2 were along the slightly higher elevation of the Yucca Ridge trail

 Song Sparrow

Robidoux Nature Centre (~20); Big Morongo Canyon NP (1)

 Dark-eyed Junco

All birds seen were of the pink-brown bodied “Oregon” variety – quite a contrast to the “Slate-coloured” birds that I was more familiar with from the East coast. They were very obvious around the Black Mountain road and campground, at least 6 birds at the latter, and a further individual was near the car at Buckthorn Camp

 Black-headed Grosbeak

The largest collection was up to 20 birds in a flock at Robidoux Nature Centre. Up to 10 were around the Buckthorn Camp area, and 4 at the feeders in Big Morongo Canyon NP

 Red-winged Blackbird

Only 2 definite birds were seen (flying over the open marsh at San Jacinto wildlife area), and were of the red-winged variety that is apparently common in California. A single female on one of the artificial pools could not be separated from Tricoloured Blackbird

 Western Meadowlark

8 birds were on the fences and telegraph wires along the Davis Road, near to the entrance of San Jacinto wildlife area

 Yellow-headed Blackbird

1 was seen briefly flying over the artificial pools at San Jacinto wildlife area

 Brewer's Blackbird

Probably quite common in the Palm Springs area, with one feeding on the grassy verges bounding the outside of the Plaza Villas, and a few small groups flying over the town

 Great-tailed Grackle

Common in Las Vegas and in parts of Los Angeles

 Hooded Oriole

A female was in bush next to the road through Joshua Tree NP, and 3 were in Big Morongo Canyon NP (a mating pair within the park, and a female at the feeders)

 Scott's Oriole

A male, and possible female, were watched within the palm trees for some time at Palm Canyon, Palm Springs

Home

Paintings gallery

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Contact

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Content

Introduction

San Jacincto

Riverside

Morongo

Palm Springs

Species list

Text only