Thursday, August 30, 2012

Oak Canyon Nature Center

Natural caves, Oak Canyon Nature Center, Anaheim, CA
Oak Canyon Nature Center is a lovely little sanctuary in the hills of Anaheim east of Disney.  Its relatively small scale makes it child-friendly and indeed a large group of campers noisily tramped through while I was there. I got there about 9 am on an overcast morning.

I was greeted by a family of acorn woodpeckers. These are common and very obtrusive birds in Southern California generally but this was my first encounter and I was astounded.
Acorn woodpecker, Oak Canyon Nature Center, Anaheim, CA
Social woodpeckers. Loudly vocalizing, flying about chasing each other, white wing spots flashing.

This was a good start.

Then I heard some loud sustained birdsong. Not particularly beautiful but very complex and coming from two spots at once. Up went the binoculars and...
California thrasher, Oak Canyon Nature Center, Anaheim, CA
a pair of California thrashers up in the oak trees, counter-singing, relentlessly.

I walked the Roadrunner Ridge trail on the dry (coastal sage scrub) hillside first.

Lots of bushtits, house finches, lesser goldfinches, California towhees, hummingbirds (I assume Anna's though I saw some tiny ones that may have been Costa's), some wrens (Bewick's and house), and the ever present "bouncing ball" song of the wrentit.

And many of what may be my favorite area bird, the black phoebe.

Just like the eastern phoebe (perching in the open, tail a-flipping)
but with higher contrast, especially while hovering over prey.

Near the end of the Roadrunner Ridge trail I explored a trail spur and was stunned to come upon a substantial reservoir (ringed by a housing development). And there in the middle of the water was an elegant western grebe.
How about that?

I walked a combination of trails through the oak woodland on my way back, getting good looks at oak titmice and the speckled breast of the Nuttall's woodpecker
Nuttall's woopecker, Oak Canyon Nature Center, Anaheim, CA
The oak woodland is maintained as a riparian environment, with a picturesque brook (fed by the reservoir, I guess) running through it.
And I was shocked, while crossing a bridge to see
a wood duck drake. He didn't even fly away.

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