The Goshawk limped home from Texas carrying a broken awning and a damaged undercarriage. We took on a load of contaminated fuel (likely water) in Virginia which nearly grounded us. After a safe arrival and several sessions with insurance adjusters, I am ready to leave it at the RV center and forget about it until everything is fixed.
In the meantime, Spring is slowly creeping into northern Vermont as we await the migrating birds. Penny and I took a hike yesterday afternoon in our woods and the surrounding territory and aside from chickadees, nothing was moving or calling. It was still wonderful to be out getting some exercise. Then from up ahead, I heard the unmistakeable cry of a Northern Goshawk and soon saw a large slate and white raptor weaving through the woods. The dog and I watched him/her but could not get very close. I grabbed a few long range photos as we enjoyed this majestic bird.
It was wonderful to hear and see this raptor, who was likely one of the two that were here this time last year, right after I named the van Goshawk. I hope I’ll have more encounters with this Goshawk in the weeks ahead. A nice taste of spring birding in Central Vermont. Bring them on.
While staying at Galveston Beach State Park on the way home, we walked the beach several times seeing hundreds of shorebirds — mostly peeps — but a number of Ruddy Turnstones, Willets, and Laughing Gulls as well. Here are some of the peeps that I saw one evening.
Sanderlings are fun to watch as they run back and forth with the waves.
Who’s the guy in the mirror?
A banded Piping Plover — did not see the bands until processing the photo.
A Willet and Sanderling for comparison.
These tiny shorebirds, often in big skittish flocks, are a joy to watch, especially when you know that you won’t see them again until this summer in New England.
Rather than stress out over RV issues, we are focusing on some nice birds here in the Rockport area.
Today on the bird walk, we saw 40 species including several terns. Carrot beak – Caspian?
Sitting in our campsite mid-day, we heard the call of a Northern Parula and watched this guy for ten minutes work through the thick foliage. Sorry it’s a bit out of focus.
And the air is alive with the calls of cardinals. We have one building a nest right in front of the van. This guy was foraging under the van and apparently is camera-phobic. Wet snow in Vermont, breezes and birds here. But in less than two weeks, reality time and waiting for the Northern Parulas to visit us.
While in California, I learned that my dead MacBook battery was going to be a $750 repair so I am limping home using just the cord, which is touchy. So blogging is slow since I can’t pull off the bird photos easily. (End of whine.)
I found some loose tubing hanging down and have determined it is a break in the propane vent line which has shut down the system. No big deal at the point and we will fix it at home.
However, we were hit with a “dust devil” while parked in New Mexico with the awning out. It came out of nowhere on a hot sunny afternoon and in seconds, nearly destroyed the awning. Neighbor campers helped Sally and I removed broken supports and manually retract it so that I could tie it up for the journey home. We were too concerned to get a “before” picture but here’s the wonderful trio that worked an hour or more to sort things out.
After stops at [Seminole Canyon SP](https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/seminole-canyon) and [Falcon Lake SP](http://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/falcon), we are settled at [Goose Island State Park](http://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/goose-island) in Texas, seeing some good birds including some early warblers.
The game plan is to stop in Louisiana next week and start swinging north with an ETA of the 11th or so. Starting to get itchy for the Green Mountain State.
We stopped for a brief visit, with many many tourists, in the beach town of La Jolla to look at the Brandt’s Cormorants nesting there. They pack the rocky cliffs oblivious to the folks gawking at them.
Among the other birds we saw were two Heermann’s Gulls.
A number of Harbor Seals entertained the watchers.
About time to turn the van around and move eastward.
We have been visiting friends in San Diego who live right next to Balboa Park and have parking available — and nice birding from the backyard. One of the favorites is a pair of Red-shouldered Hawks who live nearby and call to one another throughout the day. Here are a few shots I took of these handsome birds.
South Carlsbad State Beach is a wonderful camping site — very popular and almost impossible to get into.
I made reservations months ago for a beachside site. Here is what we see out our windows:
We have watched California Grey Whales migrate north along with pods of porpoises. The birding has been nice (Pacific Loon is a new life bird) as has been the chance to see Robb, Mary, Dane and Maeve down in Del Mar. We’ll be here several days more and then hang out in the Del Mar driveway (hookup, hot shower, great hospitality.)
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park takes its name from 18th century Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza and borrego, the Spanish word for bighorn sheep. On our last day there, we took a hike up the Palm Canyon trail to check out wildflowers and do some birding.
We spotted this hummingbird hawk moth along the way.
Further along, we saw a hiker intently watching the far hillside and found she had a group Bighorn Sheep in sight. There were about nine, mainly ewes and youngsters, far across the draw.
Returning, we ran into a larger group, being gawked at by the many weekend hikers. There were a couple of big guys with this crew.
In spite of the Saturday crowds, it was a great finish to a week-long stay. Next is the Pacific Ocean and sea breezes for a new set of adventures.
Recently, I mentioned our new-found interest in nesting birds. Yesterday, we were watching Verdins bounce from limb to limb singing away when I saw one scoot into a cactus and disappear. Another nest?
Here’s the bunch of twigs we saw.
I could see some movement in the bundle of twigs and sure enough, out popped a Verdin.
Sally watched as the Verdin flew off to nearby sage bushes breaking off twigs, and warning me as the bird returned as I kept the camera on the nest.
I can’t brag about the photos but here are a couple of construction in progress.
We watched for ten minutes or so, entranced by the steady work of this little olive-capped bird. Slow birding can bring some lovely experences – it made our day.
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is the largest state park in California and after lots of recent rain, about to pop with wildflowers. Here are some of the early blooms as photographed by Sally.
The sunrises and sunsets here are spectacular.
As are some of the birds. One of the toughest birds for me to photograph is the Verdin. Not only do they bounce from limb to limb, they often seem to be buried in the brush. Here is one that paused for a moment.
This Western Bluebird gave us some great looks on a walk to the Visitor Center.
Likewise, this Say’s Phoebe posed early one morning.
Perhaps the most common bird here is the White-crowned Sparrow.
We are here for a couple of days more, then off to San Diego for family, friends, and birds.