Thursday, August 1, 2019

What are the best camera settings for pelagic bird photography?

On my Canon EOS 7D with Canon EF 100-400mm 4.5-5.6 IS lens, these are the camera settings I start with at the beginning of the pelagic birding trip: Manual mode, shutter speed of 1/1250, an aperture of f/7.1, exposure compensation of plus one full stop, Continuous focus mode called AI servo, Auto ISO, Evaluative metering, and autofocus mode to 1 point AF. Of course, all my bird and wildlife photography uses RAW format and Automatic White Balance.

Over the years I've struggled to find the best camera settings for pelagic bird photography. I've finally settled on what works best for me for photographing birds from a boat at sea. Those are listed above. Now I'll tell you why I like them. I also found some recommendations from others that I'll share when they are different from my settings. Then I'll give you a great tip I received that helps me instantly dial in all the correct settings.

Note: This post assumes intermediate or advanced knowledge cameras and photography in general, and rather intimate knowledge of the settings and menus on your personal DLSR camera with telephoto lens. Your camera's user manual is your friend.

The reasons for my settings

Every camera/lens combination is unique. I have the older Canon 100-400 lens. It is a bit soft in focus when it is wide open. It takes sharper photos when the aperture is 7.1 or higher. The image stabilization will let me take hand-held photos down to 1/400 of a second or slower. Sometimes. But I find that 1/640 is as slow as I should go with a stationary bird, hand-held, on land. On a boat? Better get it up to 1/800 or higher. 1/1250 seems ideal for most of my photography. For fast-flapping birds, 1/2400 will freeze most wings. But I want to keep ISO to 1000 or under. The closer to ISO 100 the clearer and sharper will be my photos.

Friday, July 19, 2019

A family of White-tailed Kites at San Elijo Lagoon

While visiting Stonebridge Trail upstream from San Elijo Lagoon, I came across a tree with 5 juvenile kites! I photographed two that were out in the open a bit more.

It was an overcast morning so I increased the exposure compensation 1 full step, even though I was using spot metering.

Juvenile White-tailed Kite
Juvenile White-tailed Kite
Juvenile White-tailed Kite
Juvenile White-tailed Kite. San Elijo Lagoon, California. June 14, 2019. Greg Gillson.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

California Quail at San Elijo Lagoon

Here's a recent photo. Well, it's a month old now, I guess. What can I say, I've been busy.

California Quail
California Quail
California Quail. San Elijo Lagoon, California. June 14, 2009. Greg Gillson.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Stalking Birds: 25 tips: How to get close to birds without scaring them away

In my previous post I discussed whether it was really necessary to get closer to a bird. In some cases, to protect the welfare of the bird, it may be best not to approach closer. Likewise, if other people are desiring to see the bird, it would be rude to scare it off so that others couldn't enjoy it. And you don't want to harass birds, or give the impression that you are to onlookers.

You can learn to approach birds more closely without frightening them. Then again, you can remain still and have the birds come to you! Both these outcomes start with the same premise: Don't look threatening.

Approaching birds

Perhaps you have noticed in a park that some birds habituated to people remain only a few feet off the trail as bicyclists, hikers, and even dog walkers pass by. Yet you don't get as close as they did and don't even get your binoculars raised before the bird flies off! Why?

Think about it from the bird's perspective. People pass by all day, most paying them no attention. They are not a threat. Yet here come you, straight at the bird. Not only that, you are staring at the bird with these large unblinking glass eyes. Threat!

So your first fieldcraft tip is (#1) not to approach a bird directly. Make as if to pass the bird by. Meander. Curve your path gradually toward the bird. Don't stare at the bird while moving toward it. Look away. Watch it out the corner of your eye until you are closer. Then stop.

Next, (#2) as you approach carry your binoculars or camera up to your face. Birds are often spooked by arms raising suddenly or pointing. Rest your optics on your cheek as you approach, then slowly tilt your optics to your eyes.

Third, (#3) watch your step! Don't break a twig or scrape the gravel. A sudden noise and off they fly! Move slowly and steadily.

Watch the bird. (#4) Is it alert and watching you? Stop. Let it get used to you and get back to whatever it was doing before you showed up. Is it fidgeting? Twitching its wing? Standing up straighter? Nervously scratching? Raising the tail? It may already be too late. Back off. Wait. If the bird is comfortable singing, feeding, and just being a bird while you take photos, then you are the correct distance.

Diving water bird tip ("Dive and Dash") (#5): Diving ducks, loons, grebes--wait for the bird to dive. Count how long the bird stays down. Next time it dives, run forward, crouch down. Wait for it to resurface. It may move closer. If it resurfaces farther out and facing away, you've been spotted. It won't return.

Singing bird tip (#6): Singing males are more easily approached during the time they are belting out their song. In between phrases is when they fly. If they are singing you may be better off walking forward at that time. Avoid over-pursuing singing birds during this sensitive breeding season time.

Blue Grosbeak
Territorial Blue Grosbeak.
Auto tour tip (#7): Some refuges and nature reserves may have auto tour routes. Even some country roads with wide shoulders along fields or wetlands may have bird viewing and photography opportunities from inside your car.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Black-footed Albatross off San Diego

After 9 hours our pelagic trip was nearly over, and we were heading back toward port. We were still about 15 miles offshore, though, when the call of "Albatross!" went up. And there it was: far behind the boat but closing on our stern.

We were still trailing some popcorn and had a flock of gulls behind the boat. The albatross must have thought we had something good to eat. Well, albatrosses like popcorn just fine, though they'd probably rather have their favorite food--squid!

Albatrosses are fairly rare off San Diego. Trips in April, May, and June frequently will record one. They are sometimes found in August, but generally not later.

Black-footed Albatross
Black-footed Albatross
Black-footed Albatross
Black-footed Albatross
Black-footed Albatross. Off San Diego. June 9, 2019.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Scripps's Murrelets off San Diego

Birds on the water!

Two dark dots, sitting on the water ahead: murrelets!

Murrelets are "always" in pairs. They swim together, dive together, fly together. A singleton is rare. Three together is also quite unusual.

Now will they stay there long enough for the boat to approach more closely? If not, then they may get away unidentified further.

We are 15 miles offshore from San Diego, following the Mexican border westward. The water has been getting gradually deeper as we progress, but then became quite shallow again as we crossed over the south end of the Nine Mile Bank. Birds increased as the underwater hill forced bottom currents to the surface, carrying nutrients toward the surface that fish feed upon. Birds followed.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Fieldcraft: Stalking Birds: Do you really need to get close?

Eyeball to eyeball with Greater Roadrunner
Back off buster!
Before I post the techniques for approaching birds closely, I must ask the question: "Do you really need to get closer to the bird?" Let's discuss two reasons not to approach the bird more closely.

Today's optics are good enough that you can happily observe a bird from a distance that does not disturb it. Therefore, I can only assume that if you want to get even closer to a bird, you probably are trying to photograph it.

If you can approach closely, take your photographs, then back away--without the bird flying--then you have been successful. If the bird flies, you've failed; you have disturbed it. Once you flush a bird it is not going to let you get that close again. There's no sense chasing after it. You had your chance, but it's over. Move on. Any further stalking becomes harassment.

Monday, June 24, 2019

A final 10 common backyard birds in San Diego

This series started with The 10 most common backyard birds of San Diego, California. It was followed by Another 10 common backyard birds of San Diego.

Here, then, are a final 10 common birds you will likely be able to find in your backyard. Of course, depending upon what trees and plants you have, what habitats border your home, and exactly where you live, many more are possible--especially during spring and fall migration. And if you include the airspace above your home, then you may spot even more as they fly over. But these final ten are likely in most backyards within the region.

Combined with the previous 20 species, these 30 total common birds will provide the beginner with a manageable starting point for learning the backyard birds of San Diego and, indeed, most of southern California.

So let's get right to it. Here are more birds to find in your backyard in the San Diego region.

21) European Starling

European Starling
Adult European Starling. Escondido, California. January 14, 2018.
European Starling
Juvenile European Starling. Forest Grove, Oregon. August 18, 2007.
Introduced to North America in the late 19th century, European Starlings are pretty much resident across North America from southern Canada to northern Mexico in rural and urban areas. Because of their aggressive behavior most birders do not want starlings in their backyards. Don't feed birds human food scraps and you likely won't have many European Starlings. Otherwise they may take over your feeders.

22) White-crowned Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow
Adult White-crowned Sparrow. Poway, California. April 8, 2018.
White-crowned Sparrow
Immature White-crowned Sparrow. Lake Hodges, California. December 14, 2014.
White-crowned Sparrows from northern areas are common from October to April in southern California. They should come to your tray feeders or feed on the ground under them. They sing a cheerful series of notes and trills in late winter and on their northward journey in spring to their breeding grounds.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Black Skimmer at the San Diego River mouth

Black Skimmer
Black Skimmer. Mission Beach, California. June 1, 2019.
A flock of about a dozen Black Skimmers were feeding in the San Diego River mouth on June 1st, where I was able to get these flight shots.

To fly low and plow the shallow, calm waters with their knife-like bills, skimmers flap from horizontal to highly vertical, not below the horizontal in this feeding flight. The flock feeding flight appears choreographed and synchronized at times (upper photo). At other times flocks appear uncoordinated and chaotic (photos below).

Black Skimmer

Black Skimmer

Black Skimmer

Monday, June 17, 2019

Feral Pigeon

While searching for the rare Hudsonian Godwit at the San Diego River mouth, I photographed this common bird.

In January 2014 eBird changed the way these pigeons are reported. All populations in North and South America and Australia derived from feral stock. Thus, in eBird these are entered on your checklist as "Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)."

These doves in their native lands--and if showing the wild phenotype will be entered into eBird as Rock Dove (Wild Type). The native range is North Africa, the Middle East, southern Europe, and parts of southern Asia. The full announcement form 2014 is here.

Rock Pigeon
Rock (Feral) Pigeon. Ocean Beach, California. June 1, 2019.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Rare bird: Hudsonian Godwit at the San Diego River mouth

Hudsonian Godwit
Hudsonian Godwit. San Diego River mouth, Ocean Beach, California. June 1, 2019.
On Memorial Day, Monday, May 27, a Hudsonian Godwit was found and reported at the San Diego River mouth by Daniel Hite of Mesa, Arizona. This is a first San Diego County record. It was located again in the afternoon and many birders saw it. One of those birders is Guy McCaskie, a long-time resident and birding mentor to many. It was Guy's 500th San Diego bird species! Quite an accomplishment, as the county total ever seen is something less than 525.

Many spring rarities are "one day wonders," as birds in spring are usually strongly driven by hormones to migrate each day (usually, night). Thus it was no surprise that the bird was no where to be found early the next morning. Disappointed birders spread out along the river mouth, and local beaches, hoping beyond reason that it was still somewhere nearby. How startling, then, that Jeff Spaulding reported the bird a mile or so north at Mission Beach on the open beach!

The bird remained the rest of the day on this very popular and crowded beach. About 2:30 the bird disappeared. Not long after, Becky & Steve Turley of Long Beach ( I assume California and not Washington State) reported that the bird was back at the river mouth. And that's the way it went throughout the rest of the week. At high tide the bird fed on the crowded beach; at low tide it returned to the mudflats in the river mouth, easily identifiable among the larger and paler Marbled Godwits.

Of course, I was a hundred road miles away in the Anza-Borrego Desert when the bird was first discovered. And I was back at work Tuesday when it was rediscovered. So I had no reason to expect that the bird would still be around on Sunday, June 1, when I finally had time to go look. And I didn't find it on the beach where it had been reported first thing in the morning. I didn't even see any birders in either direction. So I drove the short, but twisted, route to the San Diego River mouth through the heavy beach town traffic. As I walked up on the dike, Matt Sadowski was setting up his scope on the bird! It was mostly on the opposite shore. Matt had watched it on the beach (even farther north than I had been) when it flew south toward the river mouth.

After Matt left, I drove across the river and was able to view and photograph this beauty in good light at much closer range. It wasn't anything like the views of those who photographed it at point blank range on the beach, though.

The next day, June 2, the bird was on the beach early, and at the river mouth in the afternoon. The last eBird report was after 3:00 pm by John Bruin. It was not reported again.

Hudsonian Godwit

Hudsonian Godwit

Hudsonian Godwit

Hudsonian Godwit

My photos are nice, but there are 465 photos of this individual bird on eBird! Many are much closer and much better. Check them out here.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Wilson's Warbler in Borrego Springs

Here's a pretty little Wilson's Warbler recently photographed in a mesquite tree.

Wilson's Warbler
Wilson's Warbler. Borrego Springs, California. May 27, 2019.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Site Guide: Blair Valley, Agua Caliente, and Vallecito County Parks

If you find beauty in desolate landscapes, and love desert birding, California Highway S-2 is for you. Known by several names, including San Felipe Road and the Great Overland Stage Route of 1849--now there's a road name for you--this road starts in the north at Warner Springs and winds south to Ocotillo.

History of S-2 on Federal Highway Administration website.

You might say S-2 is off the beaten path, but that's not really true. For over 150 years it has been a convenient route through the desert. Even today travel on this route can be slowed by trucks and recreational vehicles avoiding the mountain route through Julian to Borrego Springs.

San Diego County map showing Agua Caliente Park
San Diego County map showing Agua Caliente Park.
There are several areas to watch birds on this route, but this guide starts at Scissors Crossing (the Hwy 78 and S-2 intersection), 12 miles south of Julian (and almost 2000 feet lower), and continues south to Agua Caliente County Park.

Take note: This is a remote desert area. Carry ample water! The nearest gas stations are at Julian, Borrego Springs, and Ocotillo, all about 20 miles distant. Many of the birding sites here have no facilities; there may be pit toilets at Blair Valley camp and Vallecito County Park. Agua Caliente Park has flush toilets and sinks. General Stores are at Stagecoach Trails RV Park, Butterfield Ranch RV Park, and outside Agua Caliente Park. Parks are closed during the hottest part of summer.

Getting there: From San Diego it is 71 miles east up Hwy 8 and then Hwy 79 through Julian and down Banner Grade on Hwy 78 to Scissors Crossing. [Coming or going from San Diego, you may wish to take the route on Hwy 8 directly to Ocotillo, then north on S-2 to Agua Caliente, 113 miles. It is 20 miles farther, but 4 minutes faster on Hwy 8 at 70 mph over the 4000 foot pass.]

Many of the sites listed here are rarely visited by birders, and then usually only in spring when migrant songbirds are passing through. If you can find water, you'll find birds here in this higher part of the desert (elevation 2000 feet, compared with Borrego Springs which is about 600 feet). Thus, I hope that publishing this guide with directions to lesser-birded sites will encourage more birders to explore and record their sightings on eBird.

Vicinity map of Agua Caliente and Vallecito Parks

Previously I wrote a mini site guide to Scissors Crossing: Summer Tanager and Brown-crested Flycatcher at Scissors Crossing.

Scissors Crossing is at milepost 17 on S-2. As you head south, the milepost numbers increase.

From Scissors Crossing, S-2 heads south 2 miles through the community of Shelter Valley, population 320 (no public facilities). South of town is the Stagecoach Trails RV Resort. There is a general store there. I've driven through the campground a couple of times. Migrant birds certainly pass through, though it doesn't get birded much (no eBird Hotspot).

Blair Valley

Soon after milepost 22 is a dirt road off to the south that leads to Little Blair Valley. There is an eBird Hotspot there, recording 57 species on 32 checklists. It looks like it gets birded an average of 3 times per year, and you are doing well if your bird list breaks double digits. I've never been down that road.

S-2 continues south and winds through a steep narrow canyon and drops into Blair Valley. The campground road is off on the left (south) just before milepost 23. It gets birded about 3 times per decade. The eBird Hotspot has 28 species on 5 checklists.

Cholla cactus in Blair Valley
Cholla cactus at Blair Valley. S-2 mile post 24.
At mile post 24 is a pull out and sandy track on the south side of the road. Keeping left on this road less than 1/4 mile leads to a one-car pull out that serves as parking for the eBird Hotspot named "Blair Valley No. 2 (Desert Avicaching)."

Why? Why stop on this desolate stretch of road to find only a handful of birds at the best of times? Sage Thrasher, Cactus Wren, Black-throated Sparrow, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Scott's Oriole. These last two are rather difficult to find in the county, but favor the Mojave Yucca (Yucca schidigera, Wikipedia page here). Sage Thrasher is a rare winter visitor and early spring migrant. That's what the Desert Avicaching site was set up for. Avicaching seems like a fun idea that should be expanded to other locations, habitats, dates, and species. Desert Avicaching website here.

Here, then, is a checklist made up of all the Blair Valley eBird Hotspots combined.

Vallecito County Park

Butterfield Ranch RV Park has recorded 103 species (checklist). It is on S-2 at milepost 29. The website for the RV Park does mention trails through the desert, but perhaps these are reserved for residents? I'll have to check it out some time in the future. For now, I don't know how to bird this area, but include it for completeness.

Next, continue south on S-2 past milepost 33. You will come to Vallecito County Park (website here with pdf brochure). It is a primitive campground. It is open from Labor Day to Memorial Day, closed in the heat of summer. Day use fee: $3 per vehicle. [Day use pay stub also good for Agua Caliente County Park.]

Vallecito County Park
Campground at Vallecito County Park.
Where to bird: Although the park has 71 acres, birding is done by parking in the Day Use lot and walking the campground around the 44 camp sites. The fence on the south of the campground borders a damp meadow. Listen carefully for singing Yellow-breasted Chats and Bell's Vireos that nest. Otherwise, the typical desert birds such as Verdin, White-winged Dove, Costa's Hummingbird, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, and Phainopepla are resident, and migrants are attracted to the trees in the campground.

I can't believe that Vallecito County Park doesn't get birded more often. eBird only averages 6 checklists per year, with a total of 88 species recorded. [Checklist here.] The low birder visits is undoubtedly because most birders bypass it to get to Agua Caliente Park, next....

Agua Caliente Park

Agua Caliente is a popular park with hot spring pools, 140 campsites with full or partial hookups, and 7 cabins (website here with pdf brochure and maps).

Agua Caliente Park
The entrance to Agua Caliente Park.
Open from Labor Day to Memorial Day, only; closed during the heat of summer, the Day Use area is right at the entrance of Agua Caliente Park. If you've already paid the $3 Day Use fee at Vallecito County Park, you don't need to buy another.

Where to bird: Birds may be found anywhere in the park, but most are in the following 3 areas (see map below).

1) The hot spring overflows the pool areas and runs through the campground, directly behind the Day Use area (red P on map below). So birds are concentrated near this area.

2) There is a Nature Trail (orange line on map below) within the park, starting at campsite 105, traveling through thick mesquite, and meeting up with the Entrance Road after 1/4 mile.

3) Marsh Trail leads from the entrance ranger station a mile to a spring with a few California Fan Palms. (pdf Map here) You may wish to walk the trail entirely in the wash (solid yellow line on map below), which begins on the Entrance Road where the Nature Trail ends. Dashed yellow lines are alternate routes. All trails are well marked, sandy with large rocks, but relatively level.

Agua Caliente birding trail map

Most birds found elsewhere in the locations in this guide can be found here in Agua Caliente. Here is a bar chart of 132 species found in Agua Caliente Park on 277 eBird checklists.

One third of all visits are during the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th weeks of April. More than half of all eBird lists are from mid March to early May.

Resident desert birds that are common all year: California Quail, White-winged Dove, Mourning Dove, Greater Roadrunner, Anna's Hummingbird, Costa's Hummingbird, Say's Phoebe, Common Raven, Verdin, Rock Wren, Bewick's Wren, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, California Thrasher, Northern Mockingbird, Phainopepla, House Finch, Black-throated Sparrow.

Other resident birds found less frequently: Red-tailed Hawk, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Black Phoebe, Loggerhead Shrike, Bushtit, Cactus Wren, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Western Bluebird, Lesser Goldfinch.

Besides the resident desert birds, spring migration here can be strong. Flycatchers are frequent, especially Pacific-slope, Hammond's, and Western Kingbird. Summer residents include Ash-throated Flycatchers and Willow Flycatchers (after mid May). Lesser numbers of Gray Flycatchers (April) are regular.

Other spring migrants found frequently: Cassin's Vireo, Warbling Vireo, Swainson's Thrush (May), Sage Thrasher (February-March), Lawrence's Goldfinch, Chipping Sparrow, Brewer's Sparrow, Green-tailed Towhee, Yellow-breasted Chat, Hooded Oriole, Bullock's Oriole, Scott's Oriole, Brown-headed Cowbird, Great-tailed Grackle, Orange-crowned Warbler, Nashville Warbler, MacGillivray's Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Townsend's Warbler, Hermit Warbler, Wilson's Warbler, Western Tanager, Black-headed Grosbeak, Lazuli Bunting.

No wonder this is such a popular spring birding destination!

Costa's Hummingbird Vallecito County Park.
Costa's Hummingbird Vallecito County Park.
Side-blotched Lizard Vallecito County Park
Side-blotched Lizard Vallecito County Park
Verdin Vallecito County Park
Verdin Vallecito County Park
Black-tailed Gnatcatcher in creosote Vallecito County Park
Black-tailed Gnatcatcher in creosote Vallecito County Park
Black-chinned Hummingbird in ocotillo bloom Vallecito County Park.
Black-chinned Hummingbird in ocotillo bloom Vallecito County Park.
Black-throated Sparrow in cholla Anza-Borrego Desert.
Black-throated Sparrow in cholla Anza-Borrego Desert.
White-winged Dove Agua Caliente Park.
White-winged Dove Agua Caliente Park.
Bighorn Sheep Agua Caliente Park.
Bighorn Sheep Agua Caliente Park.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Costa's Hummingbirds in Borrego Springs

Here are some Costa's Hummingbirds I photographed in Borrego Springs, May 25-27, 2019. Most seem to be young birds. Where are the adults?

Costa's Hummingbird
Costa's Hummingbird
Costa's Hummingbird
Costa's Hummingbird
Costa's Hummingbird
Costa's Hummingbird. Borrego Springs, California. May 27, 2019.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Female Hooded Oriole in Borrego Springs

Female orioles aren't nearly as easy to identify as males.

One of these days I'm going to find a rare Orchard Oriole. The females and immatures look very like the common Hooded Orioles. But this is spring, not fall and winter. So an olive above, yellow below, female oriole is most-likely a Hooded Oriole. Unless it's a Scott's Oriole, which is more lemony yellow throughout.

In the mean time, I'll try grabbing a shot of any oriole I see. Even of the one I happen to photograph isn't rare, orioles are wonderfully colorful!

Female Hooded Oriole
Hooded Oriole. Borrego Springs, California. May 26, 2019.
Female Hooded Oriole

Friday, June 7, 2019

Pacific-slope Flycatchers in Borrego Springs

Pacific-slope Flycatchers are perhaps the "easiest" of the Empidonax to identify in western North America. Or, at least they were,... back when they were named Western Flycatchers. Then they got split into Pacific-slope and Cordilleran Flycatchers, which are identical in plumage, but the male's position note is supposedly different.

Let's try again...

Pacific-slope Flycatchers are perhaps the "easiest" of the Empidonax to identify in most of California and western Oregon, western Washington, and SW British Columbia. If you live from Arizona to Idaho, then forget it.

This is not how I wanted this post to go. One more time...

Western Flycatchers are perhaps the "easiest" of the Empidonax to identify in western North America. Better? No?

Oh, forget this....

Pacific-slope Flycatchers are hard to identify--as are all Empidonax flycatchers. They are small, greenish, and with generally white eye rings and wing bars. Identification in the field depends upon excellent looks at subtle field marks. Museum specimens are easier if you accurately measure wing, tail, and bill. On the breeding grounds the songs are distinctive.

The yellow throat and the large teardrop-shaped eye ring separates "Western Flycatchers" (Pacific-slope and Cordilleran) from other Empids in the West (Hammond's, Dusky, Willow, Gray, Least). In the East, you have  the similar Yellow-bellied and others to confuse you. There are about 15 species of Empids from Canada all the way to Costa Rica for your viewing pleasure (or frustration).

I came across a bunch of these in migration last month in Borrego Springs. The mountains, separating the coastal slope of San Diego County from the harsh desert to the east, had blocked a storm front coming in from the west. Migrants flying at night encountered strong headwinds and potential rain and dropped to the ground to find protection. They found the dry Anza-Borrego desert and oh, what's that? A bit of green mesquite surrounding the Borrego Springs waste treatment ponds.

It was very windy, so these tired travelers sought refuge on the lee side of the mesquite clumps and found some flying insects near the ground to feed upon for breakfast.

I spent quite a bit of time photographing these and Willow Flycatchers.

Pacific-slope Flycatcher

Pacific-slope Flycatcher

Pacific-slope Flycatcher

Pacific-slope Flycatcher
Pacific-slope Flycatcher. Borrego Springs, California. May 25, 2019.
Pacific-slope Flycatcher

Pacific-slope Flycatcher

Pacific-slope Flycatcher

Pacific-slope Flycatcher

Pacific-slope Flycatcher

Pacific-slope Flycatcher