Wednesday, November 12, 2008

FRANKLIN CANYON BIRDING - WOOD DUCKS!

Franklin Canyon, located in the hills between the San Fernando Valley and Hollywood, is a local treasure. This was my first visit and I am hooked! My birding pal Paula and I showed up for an LA Audubon bird walk on Sunday led by Eleanor Osgood and it proved to be an absolutely gorgeous day for it.


A brilliantly clear, cool day. A light wind and lots of fair weather cumulus clouds.


Birders looking for, well, BIRDS! This trail winds around the man-made lake. Here we found Audubon's Warbler, Hermit Thrush, Bewick's Wren, California Quail, and White-crowned Sparrow.


A corner of the lake. It was surprisingly void of waterfowl and shorebirds such as herons and egrets. The lone floaters were a pair of Ruddy Ducks, a few Mallards, a white 'barnyard' duck, and two pairs of Wood Duck. This is also where they filmed the opening credits of the old Andy Griffith Show.

Another lake view. The sun was playing hide-n-seek behind the clouds.


Male Ruddy Duck. During breeding season their bill is bright blue!


Turtle 'periscoping' in the small duck pond to the north of the lake.


Male Wood Duck. There were numerous pairs of these migratory ducks present. They will likely stay the winter here.


Female Wood Duck. Not as brilliantly plummaged as the males, but still mighty cute!


Wood Duck pair. These ducks roost and build their nests in holes in trees. When the young fledge (leave the nest), they drop from the next to the water.


Male trying to snooze.


He really wanted me to stop pointing the camera at him, but it was hard not taking so many photos when they are this close.


Male and female for comparison.

The Wood Ducks were really the highlight of the day for me. That and the delicious clean and pine-scented air. This time of year is so wonderful for hiking--when the heat isn't so intense.

We had a nice small group of birders, including a family with two kids. It is always a joy to see them resist the idea at first, but become more engaged when they get the hang of the binoculars and when different birds and animals are pointed out to them. After the walk Eleanor provided them with a bird list and sat with them to fill it out with the birds we say. She also showed them photos in the bird guide to they would remember them and also gave them some bird drawings to color.

This is definitely a place worth checking out. It is so close to home as to be nearly ridiculous. Had I known it was so beautiful I would have come here long ago. I had a misconception that it was merely more oak and chaparral (which is also here though) and plan to return here soon. If you want to participate in future LA Audubon bird walks, their schedule is here: http://www.losangelesaudubon.org/

Here is the bird list for the 3-hour walk:

Oak Titmouse
Common Raven
Audubon's Warbler
Wood Duck
Mallard
Ruddy Duck
Pied-billed Grebe
Bewick's Wren
Hermit Thrush
California Quail
White-crowned Sparrow
Scrub Jay
Plumbeous Vireo
Wrentit
California Towhee
Starling
House Finch

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