Not everything with wings that fascinates me is a bird.  Take this critter, for example:


I went to close the tailgate after unloading some gear at Yosemite, and this was sitting on the edge of the opening.  I wasn't going to squash it, but I also wasn't too keen to touch it.  Look at that needle at the front!  Fortunately, it turned out to be harmless - a Small Bee Fly - so we just shooed it away, and went on with our birding.

I was there for my annual trip to the Yosemite Hawks and Owls class.  This year, eight of my friends also signed up for the class, many of them fellow GGRO raptor banders.  We dipped on the Great Grey Owls (it happens) but had a great time nonetheless.

Our group at Ahwahnee Meadow, watching a Peregrine aerie.

Great-tailed Grackle - for a change, its mouth isn't open because it's making noise, but because it's panting in the heat.

When it flew in front of us, it was unmistakable but also rather unexpected.  They're not common birds in most of the state.  Turns out there are only a few dozen records for the park over the past hundred years so we documented it.  I was digiscoping through binoculars but others in the group had the big glass, fortunately.

IMG_3744When we stopped to watch one of the aeries along the Merced, a young male Western Tanager hopped into a treetop near us and chatted a bit.

It takes some work to keep those feathers looking quite so beautiful.

More of our awesome camp food - squirrel brains!  (Actually, a fresh compote my friend Nancy whipped up from the various types of fruit we'd all bought on our drive across the valley.  Mostly peaches, thus the pink-y color, but also cherry and blueberry.)

IMG_3769On the last day of the class, we had a choice of hiking into the woods to look for goshawks or visiting a banding station.  Even though we were a raptorphile group, we opted for the chance to see some songbirds up close.  Here's a junco being retrieved from a mistnet.

This Yellow-rumped Warbler tries to cover up the source of her name.

Gorgeous male MacGillivray's warbler.  He came in wearing an older band - I wonder how old he is?

Special bonus!  NN13 birding...
One of the famous San Jose peregrines stopped by to see us at the Convention Center

On Sunday, a few of us went to Shoreline Park for a post-NN bird walk.  Using my field guide, I was able to identify an adult male Senor Unoball, a tgypsy (part of the Central Valley population), a rare Ecuadorean migrant - the angelajean, and two falcons:  a Kestrel and a Peregrine (Kate).  

We got to watch this nice fledgling White-tailed Kite (please excuse crappy iPhone digiscope).  Kestrel saw some great interaction between it and a sibling a little later.  There were also terns a-go-go, Skimmers, swallows and other awesomeness.  Hoping the others have better pix to share.

Be sure to read (and rec!) this week's Green Diary Rescue by Meteor Blades.  

Originally posted to lineatus on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 06:01 AM PDT.

Also republished by Birds and Birdwatching.

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