The root of “autumn” refers to the harvest and the root of “fall” refers to the fall of leaves, which traditionally occur this time of year in places other than here. Even so, this has always been my favorite time of year. Foggy gray days fade under bright blue skies.
To celebrate fall, I thought I’d share seasonal images of my local park and wetland. The lagoon offers an odd mix of recreation for the two very different communities that straddle it, good habitat for birds and birding, and a chronic homeless encampment. Some people treasure it, many people ignore it, and residents have mixed feelings.
I’m fond of Laguna Grande Park for its easy access to some very fine year-round birding. During the fall season, the lagoon and surroundings welcome migrants that enliven the local scene. Here are some of my favorite residents and visitors during autumn. (Tap images for bird names.)
California Scrub Jay
Walking my neighborhood is always a treasure hunting experience — if I’m mindful and look carefully, there’s much to find. This time of year the warblers are migrating through and the trees and vines are alive with small flitting birds. Here are just a few from this week.
I watched this Townsend’s warbler for about 10 minutes as it dodged in and out and among the pine needles. It looked like a youngster playing hide-and-seek (never hiding very well). It took a while of watching to get the final shot I wanted.
This Lucy’s warbler is not normally here. It’s a small warbler and more common in drier desert regions to our east. It’s been hard to spot. We all know where it hangs out, but don’t often see it no matter how patient we are. Who knows why it’s here, but it’s a treat.
This yellow-rumped warbler is a visitor like the Townsend’s warbler, but it’s larger and appears everywhere right now. I probably have more photos of yellow-rumped warblers than any others. This one seems to be hiding, but that’s unusual. They’re usually flipping off and onto branches making a twipping-like sound. They’re easy to seek.
Happy New Year to all of the curious observers, teachers and scientists working to wow and inform us. Thanks for 2016.
Looking forward to your visual, verbal and written insights about our wondrous world next year. Wishing you well in 2017.
The cedar waxwing is my December holiday bird.
Although many birds visit our area or migrate through in December, cedar waxwings are stand outs for me. The overall look is well-heeled as if ready for a fine event. Yet it’s not quite real — a bit too well coiffed for a bird. (According to Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the name is from waxy secretions from the wing tips, possibly alluring to mates.)
When a flock drops into a berried tree (they’re true frugivores), each bird delicately picks one berry at a time as would be expected of a well-mannered guest. They’d certainly be welcome at any holiday garden party.
This time of year they’re a wonderful sight — today I was fortunate enough to find a small flock gracing a tree near my office.