Since it has been some time since I have posted anything new, I thought I’d update the site with a few observations from the field. Now that winter has returned and the arroyo has re-awakened from its summer hibernation, I hope to update the site more frequently. With that in mind:
· Since I started this project in mid-2011, I have identified 79 different bird species in or immediately adjacent to the Arroyo Simi. As surprising as that is (at least to me), I know there is more here. I have caught glimpses of it on occasion, but have been unable to identify it. I have also read reports by others that tell me that there is still more here to see. So, I guess I’ll continue with what my daughter call my “nerd field trips” to see what else I can find.
· I recently read about the passing of Rich Stallcup, who I understand had some stature in the bird watching community. From what I’ve read, Stallcup was able to amass quite an impressive list of rarities by looking at every single bird no matter how ordinary or common. After considering this strategy, I employed it on one of my recent forays and was able to locate (i.e., see) a solitary female Wood Duck preening among a bunch of American Wigeon. I would have completely missed it if I hadn’t taken the time to look again at the American Wigeons that I’ve seen a million times in the arroyo. So, although I never knew (or even knew of) Rich Stallcup, I have learned from him. I suspect that, in and of itself, is a testament to the man and his knowledge.
· On Christmas Day, I went back to the arroyo with my camera looking for the Wood Duck and hoping that she would be there with a date from her species. No luck. But, I did come across something pretty exciting. I flushed a juvenile Cooper’s Hawk from the shrubs along the footpath that had just taken an American Crow. Upon my approach, the hawk took flight with the crow clutched tightly in its talons and alighted in a tree on the other side. Not something you see everyday, and the impressive thing about it was that the prey was almost as big as the predator. I was able to sit and watch through binoculars for about 10 minutes until the hawk eventually dropped below a wood fence with its meal and disappeared.And now, a sampling of some of the recent visitors to the arroyo. All of these pictures were taken along the bike path on the north side of the arroyo between Madera Road and First Street:
Female Common Merganser
Female Common Merganser
Great Blue Heron
Agitated Snowy Egrets
Egrets and Ibis (Ibises? Ibisii?)