Monday, September 30, 2013

LA Area: Huntington Beach, John Baca Park, Search for Yellow-green Vireo, September 25, 2013

I got a late start in the morning due to updating my blog.  Then either a glitch in Google Maps or one in my brain sent me in the wrong direction and to the wrong place.  Consequently, I arrived at John Baca Park in Huntington Beach at about 11:00 am.  I walked around for a bit until I found the willows in the pit area.  Yellow-green Vireo, a rarity in North America, breeds in Mexico and shows up in the Lower Rio Grande Valley in late June through August (as occurred this year), but not every year and in Southern California, as is occurring right now.  First, I found a Townsend's Warbler in the willows.  Then I met another birder, Joe, who was helpful in pointing out where the Yellow-green Vireo had been seen recently and showed me the way to the pepper bush where the bird had been seen several times yesterday.  Joe introduced me to several other local/CA birders who were searching but without success.  I spent most of my time there birding with Joe and learning a lot about CA birding in the area and the state, which is often important for an out of state birder.  Joe and an American couple of oriental descent helped me more easily find the Nutmeg Mannikins in the park, a new bird for the year and also a life bird.  Thanks, Joe.  See photos.

We searched until about 2:00 pm.  Then I took a break to get a late lunch and returned to look more for the Yellow-green Vireo.  I met Joe again, and we kept searching along with the man and woman who were also looking for the Yellow-green Vireo.  

We also saw Black-throated Gray Warbler, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Hutton's Vireo, Bushtit, California Towhee, Common Yellowthroat, Warbling Vireo, Black Phoebe, Pacific-slope Flycatcher and Orange-crowned Warbler but no Yellow-green Vireo.  There were also Anna's Hummingbirds and either Rufous or Allen's Hummingbirds in the park.  I left the park after a late day vigil at the pepper bush along a hillside next to a development that surrounds this small park.  There was a flurry of activity near the pepper bush, but the Yellow-green Vireo was a no show.  The previous day, the Yellow-green Vireo was photographed very well by Don Hoechlin and posted on Flickr, as reported on CA-Orange County list serve, showing all the field marks.  Such is chasing rarities and vagrant birds.  Here one day, perhaps gone the next. 

Joe showed me how to monitor LA traffic conditions on the LA freeways at  That was really helpful.  Thanks, Joe.  I left the park at about 7:00 pm, and traffic was moving at a good pace on my route back to my motel near LAX.

It was good to add Nutmeg Mannikin a John Baca Park while looking for Yellow-green Vireo, which saved me time looking for the Nutmeg Manikin separately at another location on a different day.   Nutmeg Mannikins are an attractive bird with black on white scaling on the sides of the breast and a rich chestnut face, back and wings which is almost red on the face.   Nutmeg Mannikin, also known as Scaly-breasted Munia, Ricebird and Spice Finch, was recently added to the ABA list to be countable only in Southern California from San Luis Obispo County south to the Mexican border, where populations meet the eight criteria to be included on the ABA list of established species published in the seventh edition of the ABA Checklist in 2008.  Nutmeg Mannikin is a resident of tropical southern Asia from northeastern Pakistan through the Indian subcontinent and Sri Lanka, Indochina to southwestern China, Indonesia and east to the Philippines.  Because of its striking beauty and gregarious behavior, it is a popular cage bird.  Its accidental or intentional release, depending on your point of view, accounts for its presence in the United States.  In some cultures in US cities such as Houston, it is common practice to release Nutmeg Mannikins at weddings and at significant events.  Some question the decision to include this species as established, because the population may be supported by continual accidental or intentional releases. 

There was a large flock of 30 to 50 of Nutmeg Mannikins in John Baca Park feeding on the seed heads of the ornamental grasses planted in the formal landscaping.  They are very gregarious with frequent calling of short whistled notes; therefore, they are easy to find once one knows the call notes.

Nutmeg Mannikin is a new bird for my Big Year list and new life bird for the ABA Area, raising my yearly total to 667 and my ABA Area Life List to 809.

I am at home briefly and have recovered my laptop, electronic list and capability to manage photos.  I will gradually add postings for my birding in Arizona and will add to my previous postings about Alaska, Arizona and California with photos.

1 comment:

  1. Jay, I've been reading your blog ever since seeing you at Paton's and it's great stuff!
    I think you will especially enjoy this due to the above pictured bird: