San Benito County was a great place to see the TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE this morning from 0500 to sunrise. Several years ago, the county enacted an ordinance which protects the night skies from light pollution. It was easy to find a dark place to watch the eclipse. It will probably come as no surprise to those who read this blog, that I choose Santa Ana Valley Road. Below, is my image of the eclipse. All images in this blog, copyright, Debi Shearwater. Please do not use without permission. The Raptor Rodeo continues!Morning owls on Santa Ana Valley Road included two BARN OWLS. On John Smith Road, a male and female GREAT-HORNED OWL pair were dueting. It was easy to see both of them. Arriving at Paicines Reservoir well after sunrise, I was surprised to see a caramel-colored BARN OWL actively feeding. It landed just outside of my car window while I was reading the newspaper!
This Barn Owl perched on the fence along the east side of the dike at the reservoir. Other birds present included well over 300 COMMON MERGANSERS, 13 HOODED MERGANSERS and 4 AMERICAN WHITE PELICANS.
A few days ago, I shot the long distance image of an adult BALD EAGLE, feeding on a kill at the edge of the reservoir. This eagle spent a good 40 minutes consuming its' prey.
On Quien Sabe Road, near Tres Pinos, I spotted the first GOLDEN EAGLE of the day, perched high on a lookout at the top of one of the grassy ridges. What a view it must have from up there!This BURROWING OWL was one that I found in the morning. A late evening drive produced at least two Burrowing Owls on Quien Sabe Road between Highway 25 and the intersection of Santa Ana Valley Road.
Hanging a left on Santa Ana Valley Road, I spotted the first of at least 3 FERRUGINOUS HAWKS, below, and another BURROWING OWL. Later, on my evening drive, I saw 7 immature GOLDEN EAGLES harassing a 2nd year BALD EAGLE!
Let's not forget the AMERICAN KESTRELS! Below is a female who had just consumed a rodent.
I've never seen so many ground squirrel holes as I have this winter. Below, upper left, an immature GOLDEN EAGLE is about to land on the ground. There are at least 28 ground squirrel holes in this image. These eagles, along with the Ferruginous Hawks, stand on the ground, waiting for a squirrel to show its' head. Then, it's curtains for the squirrel, I'm afraid!
Below, a GOLDEN EAGLE soars over the grasslands, the fastest disappearing habitat in California.
It is easy to see why the GOLDEN EAGLE is my most favorite bird in the whole world. I photographed this adult, below, early today. Many Golden Eagles nest in San Benito County and can be found year-round, usually quite abundant— lately extremely abundant— and, perhaps the largest concentration in North America is at Santa Ana Valley, right now.The image below, sure does make one wonder about those power lines. Eagles are sometimes electrocuted by these wires. Just look at the power in that lift off!
On this evening's drive, I spotted a flock of 60 LONG-BILLED CURLEWS. But, the big surprise was a PEREGRINE FALCON at 1709 hrs near mailbox #801 sitting on a telephone pole, near the 1 mile marker on Santa Ana Valley Road. This particular Peregrine Falcon, above, was photographed at the Hollister Sewer Ponds on December 3, 2011 by me.
The evening raptor rodeo was topped off by the sighting of a male and female BALD EAGLE, sitting near their newly rebuilt nest. Although it does not look as though the pair that nested at San Felipe Lake is going to nest again this year, that is not the case with this other pair, elsewhere in San Benito County. It is only a matter of time before the eggs roll out for this pair! Stay tuned for the nesting Bald Eagle updates!
Happy Trails & Enjoy the Raptor Rodeo!
San Benito County Birding
PS. Thanks to Robert Trenton Reed