Monday March 21
This was kind of a low-key day, I caught up on some sleep, watched the rain and fine-tuned my plans for the week. I had a 9-mile run planned for the afternoon, and fortunately the weather cleared up for a bit. I went out to Avocado Lake, about 45 minutes east of Fresno, for some birding followed by my run.
While nothing particularly rare was at the lake it was quite birdy. The lake itself held many American Coots and Pied-billed Grebes, the latter giving their weird breeding calls. Ducks were few, a couple of Bufflehead, Mallards and a single Gadwall. A Common Loon in handsome breeding plumage was a nice surprise. A swift rocky stream on the other side of the lake held a pair of Common Mergansers. A few Brewer's Blackbirds foraged along the edge of the lake- common birds out west, but I never get tired of admiring the iridescence and stunning yellow eyes of the males.
The brush and oak woods around the lake were jam-packed with Yellow-rumped Warblers. Western Scrub-Jays called raucously, and Black Phoebes and Western Bluebirds foraged around the parking area. There were quite a few House Wrens, many singing. A group of White-crowned Sparrows included two Golden-crowned Sparrows, my first lifer of the trip. Northern Flickers were conspicuous, while a single Nuttall's Woodpecker was quiet. Other woodland birds included Dark-eyed Junco (pretty Oregon race), Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and White-breasted Nuthatch. This is also where I saw one of very few American Robins during the week.
The skies overhead were packed with action too, it seemed every time I looked up there was something new soaring or darting by. First were a couple of noisy Red-shouldered Hawks, then a soaring Red-tailed Hawk, a Sharp-shinned Hawk that made a dash just over the trees, a nice low-flying Bald Eagle, a high-flying Golden Eagle being mobbed by what appeared to be American Kestrels, and a few Common Ravens. After my run I made a final loop around the lake and added Osprey to the raptor list.