Sunday, February 15, 2015
Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve in Murrieta, California
I explained to the woman who took my entrance fee in the visitor center that I was looking for four specific birds. She introduced me to Charity, the staff naturalist who is also a birder. I told Charity that I only had that afternoon to spend birding and asked if she could direct me to the best places to look. She pulled out a map and told me my chances were good for three of the four (California Quails are often tough to find). She recommended that I make my way down into the woods along the Vista Grande Trail and walk slowly.
I wasn’t seeing very many birds, but it was the heat of the day (about 80 degrees, which is a little warm for mid-February, even in southern California). When I came upon a small pool I stood still for a couple minutes listening and watching. I heard some very chickadee-like sounds coming from a nearby tree and soon spotted an Oak Titmouse. It was about 10 feet off the ground, calling and moving about rapidly. I saw it again, or another one, in the same tree about two hours later and heard it’s titmouse-like two-syllable song.
It was brownish gray and very plain with a small crest. I tried for photos but it was moving too quickly for me to find it and focus on it. Here’s the tree where I saw it.