Sunday, April 1, 2012

On the Road Again

Story and photos by Cory Ritter

Well...March was hiatus month for me. So, while I wasn't posting, I was doing a good deal of traveling and finding lifers and year-birds. I finished up at Point Reyes on the last day of February, and I began my trip back to the Midwest on March 1st. I decided to take a little detour through Arizona and visit friends in Texas before heading north to Whitefish Point to count hawks for the spring. Now that I'm settled in here at Whitefish Point in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, I'll be recounting some of my travel stories along with the birds that I happened upon.

So, my first day was pretty simple, and consisted of driving across California towards a destination of Lake Havasu City, Arizona. My plan was to head out to Planet Ranch Road in Bill Williams National Wildlife Refuge to look for the Nutting's Flycatcher that has been seen there for most of the winter.

Although birds weren't a number one priority the first day, I did make a few stops along the way. First, I tried for Greater Roadrunner, Lewis's Woodpecker, and Phainopepla along Mine's Road just south of Livermore, California. This was a fruitless venture because I realized I was just about out of gas when I started down Mine's Road. I ended up taking a different route to find a gas station, and didn't feel like backtracking after filling up. I was able to get a decent look at a flock of Yellow-billed Magpies while searching for a gas station.
Yellow-billed Magpies, Alameda County, California
Yellow-billed Magpies, Alameda County, California
After the magpies, I drove a long stretch without stopping, but I ended up stopping in Bakersfield, CA for gas and a quick driving break. I happened to be filling up next to a McDonalds, so I checked the web real quick for any nearby birds. As luck would have it, there was a Spotted Dove reported a couple of days prior at Beale Park, just a few minutes down the road. Naturally, I stopped by to check it out. At first I didn't find much, and the only activity was a bunch of Rose-ringed Parakeets moving from tree to tree. I saw a dove-like bird in a tree across the street, but, when I made my way over there, it was gone. I began birding up and down the street and ran into a bunch of Audubon's Warblers, a few Acorn Woodpeckers, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Western Scrub-Jay, and most surprisingly a single Black-throated Gray Warbler--a good looking male. However, it didn't stay put for more than a few seconds, and I was unable to get a photo of this bird. This was a great pickup, and a bird I wasn't counting on seeing this year!

Finally, just before I was about to give up I found a pair of Spotted Doves perched in a tree just down the road from my parked car. Although not overly cooperative, I was able to get a decent shot.
Spotted Dove, Beale Park, Kern County, California
Rose-ringed Parakeet, Beale Park, Kern County, California
Rose-ringed Parakeet, Beale Park, Kern County, California
After I was done getting photos of the Spotted Dove, I went to check one other place just outside of Bakersfield. There were Sage Thrashers and Greater Roadrunners reported a few days earlier from a personal location, but when I arrived I found it to be a little too personal. There were plenty of no trespassing signs--and they looked serious. So, I settled for a few White-crowned Sparrows and a Northern Mockingbird viewed from the car, and I went on my way.

Next stop: Bill Williams NWR...


  1. Have fun at WPBO, I know it well (counted waterbirds there several years). "Hi" to Chris and Nova...

    1. Thanks! I'm already having a good time here, and I can't wait for the migration to kick into full gear. I'll tell Chris and Nova you say hello.

  2. Great pics and post! We should make a combined life-list for the birds this camera has seen...