Sunday, February 1, 2009

A Walk at Santiago Oaks Regional Park

An Acorn Woodpecker --see the stiff tail feathers common to all woodpeckers?

I debated with myself about going on the walk. Organized walks can be of varying quality, but Sea and Sage walks are usually good. Also I had been on this walk before and the leader is very good. So I got up early and headed out to Santiago Oaks. Santiago Oaks Regional Park as you might guess has Oaks. It is also full of Acorn Woodpecker--Melanerpes formicivorus . Other woodpeckers abound in this park as well and we saw many of them on this walk.

Sapsucker. The question of the day is which kind of Sapsucker is it? Yellow-bellied or Red-naped?

We spent a lot of time at the pepper tree looking at this sapsucker. Boy, was it hard to get a look at. Fast moving and near the trunk, it was often blocked by leaves. "For more on this sapsucker see my post Sapsucker, Which Sapsucker Are You?"

Northern Flicker. Red-shafted. Has red wing linings as well as a red under tail.

We had a great day for woodpeckers. We saw Acorn Woodpecker , a Norther Flicker, Nuttall's Woodpecker, Yellow -bellied or Red-naped Sapsucker, and a possible Downy Woodpecker.


There are streams the run through Santiago Oaks.

Nice grassy area.

Lots of trees and some green areas. But most areas are wild, not lawn type of grass.

Horehound makes good cough drops.

There was a big plant near the beginning of the walk. The horehound above is used in making cough drops and home remedies. I once misspelled it for a class. A rather embarrassing error. "Wrong kind of hore, Karen." Oops.

There are beautiful places to walk in Santiago Oaks Regional Park.
The walk ran from 7:30AM to about 10:00AM. It was a great day for woodpeckers.

Nuttall's Woodpecker on a pine tree.

We saw one active Nuttall's Woodpecker. He was all over this pine tree in a matter of a few minutes.

On top of a pine cone.

Hanging from a pine cone.

Back on top.

Wood rat's nest.
Above is a big mess of stuff looks like a nest of some sort, and it is. A wood rat's nest. The wood rat's nest is also called a midden. The wood rat is also called a pack rat and gathers and saves objects it finds. It likes shiny objects. A famous wood rat in literature is Templeton from the novel and movie "Charlotte's Web." Templeton's pack rat behavior is an important element of the story. Wood rats are nocturnal.

This is a White-Tailed Kite. They hover while looking for prey.
A White-tailed Kite was hunting in a hilly area covered in a lot of grass. I was tempted to stay, but I didn't know the way back, and so had to move on.

Anna's Hummingbird on a perch as usual--surveying the area.

Pleasant walk.

Walking through Santiago Oaks was fun. Click here to see a map of the trails.

On the way back to the parking lot, we crossed another creek.

Interesting stepping stones.

We saw quite a few birds.
Going on a walk with a guide through Audubon and other organizations can have some real positives.


1) You have lots of eyes looking and sometimes you will see a bird that you alone would have missed.
2) You have a more experienced birder leading the group, and he or she will know more than most birders will. The leader is often familiar with bird sounds as well and will hear the bird before you see it.
3) The leader will be more familiar with the area and will know where certain birds might be found.
The positives of Sea and Sage Audubon's Santiago Oaks walk far outweigh the negatives. Biologist Linette Lina leads the walks. She knows birds. She knows bird sounds, habitats, familiar haunts of a particular bird, and knows how to explain it all. So although the group may send some birds flying for cover, the leadership of the walk can't be beat. It starts early at 7:30AM on the first Saturday of the month. It is over by about 10:00AM. On a relatively early walk, you are likely to see more animals as well as birds. Once when I went on the walk, we saw deer. I have heard that another time they saw a bobcat.
I left Santiago Oaks and went a short way to Irvine Regional Park to see if I could find the Red-Shouldered Hawks a couple was talking about having seen there not too long ago. (See my post Birding at Irvine Regional Park .) You can pick up a lot of information from the other people on a bird walk.
So when you are thinking of a walk, remember that going on an organized walk can be a fun way to go birding in Orange County.

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