I’ve been on the road for business for a couple of days and finally have time to start unpacking the pleasure portion of my travels. Work has brought me to southern California, which places me amidst some of North America’s finest birding habitat. Suffice to say, I’ve been indulging myself.

The first leg of my journey to me from the airport in Orange County to Santa Clarita, a rapidly expanding city north of L.A. Covering over 70 miles in my rented Prius (does anyone else find that power button ignition odd?) I saw little more than pigeons and starlings. I am fairly certain that I observed some Vaux’s Swifts, similar to the familiar Chimney Swifts of the east. This new addition to my life list would be fitting, since the last time I spotted a new swift, White-throated, was from a California freeway on my way back from the immortal Mines Road in Livermore. However, consulting the distribution maps cause me to question the sighting. Frankly, any observation at 80 mph deserves further scrutiny, so I’d appreciate input from my colleagues on this one.

In Santa Clarita, I met up with my good friend, Jay, to whom I last paid a visit when I took him birding on his wedding day. We had too much on our itinerary to add a dedicated birding excursion, a true shame considering the tempting desert habitat in the region. But even from his backyard, I could enjoy western birds. The House Finches devouring the fruits of a peach tree were expected, as were Western Scrub-Jay, Northern Mockingbird, and House Sparrow. The Hooded Orioles in a pine tree, on the other hand, were entirely unexpected, which explains why I was unprepared to get pics!

Jay and I were commited to an evening of fine theater at the Repertory East Playhouse but still carved out time for 9 holes of frisbee golf at a local park. There, we were confronted with flocks of Brewer’s and Red-winged Blackbirds, as well as Lesser Goldfinch and Bushtit. Thus passed my first day in California, merely the tip, as it were, of an adventurous birding iceberg. More to come…

Bushtit mocking my disc skills

Written by Mike
Mike is a leading authority in the field of standardized test preparation, but he's also a traveler who fully expects to see every bird in the world. Besides founding 10,000 Birds in 2003, Mike has also created a number of other entertaining but now extirpated nature blog resources, particularly the Nature Blog Network and I and the Bird.