Santa Ana Cemetery/Fairhaven Memorial Park
- Dropped by the cemetery complex, after lunch, mainly just to get outside for a few minutes. Out of habit, of course, had to take a look for the Black-throated Green Warbler. Couldn't find it after chasing around a Townsend's Warbler type chip note for several minutes. Eventually, though, after deciding it was time to move, the warbler drops down out of an oak I'd been standing under, and lands on the grass 15' directly in front of me, just long enough to catch what looked like a moth and fly back up into the tree.
Saw an Ash-throated Flycatcher and heard a Black-chinned Hummingbird, but otherwise did not get the feel for numbers of migrants being present (though only there a short time, and was fairly windy). Still a "goodly" number of Chipping Sparrows.
A belated message here, but yesterday (7 Oct.), while birding at the Santa Ana Cemetery/Fairhaven Memorial Park (SAC/FMP) complex in northeast Santa Ana, I had a glimpse of what was quite possibly an adult male Black-throated Green Warbler, which was in the oak grove in the northeastern corner of SAC. (SAC is the eastern half of the SAC/FMP complex.) This is the exact same oak grove where a first-winter Black-throated Green wintered last year, so if my poor and very brief view was accurate, it would of course likely be last year's bird back for another winter. After the very brief encounter, I spent another hour looking for it with no success. It was one of the only birds seen in these trees. Shortly after losing the bird, I heard a Townsend's type chip nearby, but never saw anything that could be responsible for either the observation or calls (e.g., no Townsends, Hermit, or Hermit-Townsend's hybrid). Elsewhere in the SAC, the sparrow/finch/Pin-tailed Whydah flock had grown to include about 15 Chipping Sparrows, a few White-crowns and at least 20 Pin-tailed Whydahs. These whydahs are challenging, as one can see just about any plumage (assuming they are all Pin-taileds) other than males in alternate plumage. There are what appear to be many immature whydahs again (like a flock that was present last fall), with several adult males and females (though guessing a bit on the ID of basic plumaged adult males and females). A Lark Sparrow associating with this widely roaming flock (including finches, Yellow-rumps etc.) was surprisingly the first I remember ever having at the cemetery complex (dating back to fairly regular coverage to the early 1980s).
Dropped by the n.e. corner of SAC again today (8 Oct.), hoping to get confirmation on "the warbler", though today there were groundskeepers working in the immediate area, and this time lots of Yellow-rumps (and a few migrant warblers) to look through. But no Black-throated Green.
Today (17 December) I dropped by the Santa Ana Cemetery/Fairhaven Memorial Park (SAC/FMP) “complex” for an hour or so in the afternoon. For the first half hour there seemed to be almost no bird activity (except for a Band-tailed Pigeon perched prominently on one of the snags in the center of the cemetery). A week ago or so there was a flock of nearly 20 Band-tails here; have otherwise been seeing much fewer of these in recent years in this part of the county, where a good sized population had become established over a decade ago or so. Roughly five years ago these pigeons had been fairly easy to find at Santiago Park, in north Santa Ana, and the residential areas to the south of the park, primarily areas with many mature sycamores and live oak plantings. My maximum count had been a flock (in Santiago Park) of 55 Band-tails. This population is fairly unique for the “coastal plain” area of OC. As far as “urban Band-tails” go, there had also been a substantial population in the Fullerton hills for many years; haven’t poked around that area as often in recent years, so not sure how that population is doing these days, though still see them on occasion (e.g., at the Fullerton Arboretum, etc.).
Back to today’s visit to SAC/FMP: in the northeastern corner of SAC (in the grove of live oaks), the wintering Cassin’s Vireo was again present, as well a Brown Creeper (presumably the same individual found in the cemetery in early November by Valerie Wheeler). Neither seemed to hang around long; the Creeper was first heard giving its high-pitched single “tsee” call notes.
Although over the last month or so I’d been seeing almost no Chipping Sparrows, Pin-tailed Whydahs, or others “ground-feeding” birds on the lawns, I finally ran into a mixed flock that contained 20-25 Chipping Sparrows, 8 or 9 whydahs (including some that appear to be in mostly juvenal plumage!?), and about 10 Dark-eyed Juncos. Nothing really of note, but had begun to think that most of these birds had possibly moved on. I did notice that the flock today seemed rather jumpy, flushing up into the nearest trees about every couple minutes, and then coming down again to feed some more. This “skittishness” undoubtedly had something to do with the adult Cooper’s Hawk that came streaking through the spot where the birds were feeding, after about 10 minutes of looking through this flock.
Made another visit to the Santa Ana Cemetery/Fairhaven Memorial Park (SAC/FMP) today (2 February), in part just to see if the very large flock of Band-tailed Pigeons that suddenly appeared at the cemetery complex on 26 January might have hung around. Actually I also made one other repeat visit here, on 29 January, to check on the pigeons, but I ended up not seeing any Band-tails. And sure enough, none seemed to be present on 2 February as well; so apparently the flock that was estimated at between 200 and 250 birds did not linger very long. Although there was a fair amount of bird activity on 2 February, especially on the SAC (i.e., the eastern) side, the only thing of note was finally refinding the Varied Thrush flock that I thought had departed. I had assumed the flock of about 8 to 10 birds that were regularly being seen in late November and early December had perhaps moved on; despite almost once a week visits to this cemetery complex, the last I’d seen any Varied Thrushes here was on 4 December (4 birds) and 18 Dec. (one lone bird). On 2 February, however, I saw a minimum of eight birds, all in a loose flock on the SAC side. As typical, they were fairly skittish, feeding on the lawns for a while, and then flying back up into the trees at the slightest disturbance. From the car, however, I did manage to get some photos of several of these fancy birds: https://www.flickr.com/photos/56018183@N08/16246336200/in/photostream/
So despite not seeing any Varied Thrushes from mid-December till early February here, apparently the flock that was present during late fall/early winter did actually end up spending much of the winter. Looking for relatively shy birds like these during mid-day (when this cemetery can be quite busy with visitors) probably isn’t the best time to find Varied Thrush actively feeding on the ground.
On the 29 January visit to this cemetery complex, it was interesting to see a loose flock of eighteen Northern Flickers, all perched up in three adjacent (and relatively barren) Chinese Elms. Scanned through all 18 (some not seen as well as others), and all but one were the expected “Red-shafted” type. The one exception appeared to be a Red-shafted X Yellow-shafted intergrade. This was a female which showed pure yellow on the inner webs on the tail feathers (as seen from underneath the bird), though only a hint of the red crescent could be seen on the nape (which is typically shown by Yellow-shafted birds). The colors on the face and crown appeared to be somewhat of an intermediate mix of Yellow-shafted and Red-shafted colors. Although not common by any means, intergrade flickers are seen with some regularity in So Cal, including Orange County. Birds that appear to be show fairly pure Yellow-shafted Flicker features are notably rarer in So Cal than are intergrade birds (showing a mix of both Red-shafted X Yellow-shafted features).
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