Cuyamaca: Trip 6
June 25, 2011

Hello again. No ticks today, at least I haven't found any. My initial plan for an even earlier morning trip was scrapped due to parking regulations in the park as well as sleep deprivation. Consequently, it was reverted back to just a morning trip. Along the way, I did manage to see the warm glow from the sunrise illuminate the faces of the many peaks in the area. Upon arriving, I found the sun in mid-stroll toward the treetops with its light touching just the bristles of the pines.

Today's first wildlife sighting goes to the seven wild turkeys initially blocking the road. It's definitely not uncommon to see them, yet their presence always seems to surprise me. Or maybe, I surprised them, and in turn they surprised me. The cyclical motion would continue, but they found more interest in breakfast.

During the last trip, I spent plenty of time photographing finches, but I missed one. Each of the finches had arrived in pairs, and I got a pair of each except for the house finch. The all-gray and brown female had stayed within range for a while without the company of the male. So today I started back where I left off in the last trip and immediately saw the pinkish red feathers of the male. There was an nice breeze flowing through the clearing and I stayed to watch the birds flap their wings, take a drink and hear them sing a song or two. Before long, a new song arose behind the reeds from a lone blue grosbeak. Unfortunately due to the marshland, I was unable to get a closer look at the bird.

Along the trail, waves of insects moved in the wind, mostly consisting of flies, mosquitoes, gnats, etc. Butterflies of all sizes floated about the small and delicate wildflowers. Similarly, there was much activity in the brush, attributed to business of field mice, lizards, and frogs.

In a small clearing, I spotted a family of house wrens after following their strange and repetitive call. It reminded me of a DSLR in video mode trying to continuously autofocus, except that was a bit less natural. The birds would jump from tree to tree around me as I walked down the path. I decided to sit and wait to see if they would ease their flightiness. Every 15 minutes or so, the wrens would quickly return, chirp, hide in a bush and fly out in a different direction, thereby making my stay slightly unfruitful. After almost an hour, I managed to photograph one as it peered curiously back at me. Also during this time of sitting and waiting, I noticed a yellow speck of a bird in the distance that was later identified to be a common yellowthroat. I'll need to get a better picture of it next time.

Speaking of curious, I've noticed that the most curious bird I've met thus far is the song sparrow. In almost every trip, one approaches me and stares. Then, evident from the twitching head motions, it checks to see what I'm all about. I don't think I've mentioned this before, but the song it sings is really interesting. It's more of a dance I would say, since it adds head movements to the emphasize the prolonged measure full of sixteenth notes.

That wrapped up the hike, and I was almost done for the day. There was just one more thing: a showdown between a red-winged blackbird and a red-tailed hawk. Clearly, the very aggressive blackbird won, and probably plucked out a feather or two from the hawk.

Owls? No luck there, but then again, it might have been a bit of a tall order. I scanned up and down trees, looked for owl pellets, but didn't find any. I'm sure they're hiding somewhere, or rather, staring at me from a perch perfectly camouflaged. I'll have to try again another time. There are surely more birds in the brush than I was able to photograph today. It turns out that I had underestimated the number of different species living within the vicinity of this clearing, and it may take a few more trips to fully visualize the variety. Despite the bustling activity in this area, I'll continue onwards to explore a new trail next time.

Thanks for reading!