UCSC Arboretum and Swainson’s Thrush

Today was the day for birds and plants. Normally I am not very interested in plants…but flowers? I’m there!

We did some banding this morning at Butano State Park, which is along the coast just North of Santa Cruz and on the edge of the redwood forest. We set up nets and caught one Steller’s Jay…but then they eluded us. Dang little buggers can be so frustrating sometimes! We played around with a few other bird calls when we ended up with a different bird all together: a Swainson’s Thrush!

Swainson's Thrush

You can listen to their call here, which sounds a tad different then the ones we heard in the forest. Granted, they sound like that, but they have more of a…metallic sound? Almost if you could give a song a psychedelic sound, that was it. Hehe!

Swainson's Thrush

I have never seen one of these birds, or any other thrush up close in the U.S. I have seen a few different species from when I was in Peru, but that’s Peru. They were so delicate to hold and it was quite strange to be holding such a small bird after holding such a larger bird like the jay!

Swainson's ThrushYou’ve got to admit, he’s pretty cute. And I’m 100% sure it was a he…we could, uh, tell. It’s breeding season alright!?

There were a variety of other birds in the area including an accipiter, red-shouldered hawk, red-tailed hawk, american robin, dark-eyed junco, allen’s hummingbird, black-headed grosbeak, and one of the cutest warblers ever: Wilson’s Warbler!

Wilson's Warbler

He’s so cute, yellow and tiny! I used to hate warblers and sparrows when I first started birding over ten years ago, but they have grown on me as time has passed and I’ve started to get better at ID’ing them…seabirds though. They have yet to grow on me….yeesh.

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The coast close to the park is absolutely amazing. I need to spend some serious time out here scouring the coast for some birds, hiking spots and maybe some surfing spots for Whit if he’s lucky…I definitely saw a lot of surfers at various parts so maybe I’ll point them out to him next time he comes up to visit.

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We hit up a local and organic strawberry farm that was down the road and got some fresh jam from the store it houses! I tried them all, and as much as I love blackberry jam, this one was a tad too tart for me! I went for the Olalliberry Jam in the end, even though the Olalliberry/Strawberry mix was absolutely delicious! The first one just has more of a kick to it, which I like paired in my pb sandwiches out in the field!


They have lots of other things for sale like strawberries, chocolate covered strawberries, mini strawberry cheesecake or shortcake, strawberry cheesecake and a few other desserts. They also have some pretty tasty pies!


And paying for everything is completely on the honor system! There is no cashier to bring you food or what not! How great is that?! I feel like I’m back in…oh I don’t even know where?!


We soon headed down into Santa Cruz and decided to take another road back, which went through UC Santa Cruz! When I was in college I thought about going here for school, but ended up picking USD because it was smaller. I wonder where I would be today if I had decided to go to school there instead!?

Anyhow, we saw a sign for a hummingbird garden and since I was the driver and with a little bit of convincing we turned around and went to see if they were around! Oh boy were they! I never get bored of these little guys! But oh my, the flowers at this place were AMAZING! Like I said before, I’ve never been much of a botanist although have been trying (good for the work I do) this place had me totally geeking out over the plants!

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These flowers are all from South Africa…which now makes me want to visit. How could you not when the flowers look like that, right? I don’t remember the name of any of them but I will be paying a visit back there soon to take a look and take some more pictures of them!

But of course, there were the hummingbirds! This Anna’s Hummingbird in particular!

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I think I shot about 200 photos to make sure I got at least a few in focus…still learning that manual focus. Not an easy task when your focus point is constantly moving! But how cute is this little one!?

I also got a few pictures of a Daddy Quail! His little family was nearby but I couldn’t get a photo of them.

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So it was a good day of bird this Thursday…and plants. I figured I’d give you guys all a little something nature focused since I’m obviously slacking on my Birding Thursday posts. Oops.

This entry was posted in Banding, Birding Thursday, Birds, Environment, Field Work, Home, Hummingbirds, Redwoods. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to UCSC Arboretum and Swainson’s Thrush

  1. “And I’m 100% sure it was a he…we could, uh, tell. It’s breeding season alright!?”

    You crack me up. :) What a great day! I love all the birds and your descriptions. We see so many quail here in AZ and I just love their little families. That jam looks positively delicious and the flowers are so pretty!

    As a side note, every time I see a hummingbird here – which happens a lot lately as flowers are still in bloom – I think of you!

  2. Amy says:

    Oh that Warbler is so pretty! The winter season here chases away all our pretty lorikeets but I have been seeing some delicate little fairy wrens in the past couple of days :)
    Those flowers are simply gorgeous. They look very similar to native Australian wild flowers actually. I can’t wait to visit South America one day, I’ll definitely be hitting you up for some travel tips!

  3. Maggie says:

    We get the “how do you know it’s a boy/girl” question a lot at the banding stations. It’s definitely an easier question to answer during breeding season…fall migration is a bit trickier as there’s nothing to really show the students. But it’s still kind of fun to make them dissolve into giggles as I explain how we can tell males and females apart. Warblers are fun little birds, even if they can be tricky to tell apart, especially by song. I love to see them bouncing around through the tree branches…makes me miss working with them down in Texas.

    I thought of you over Memorial Day Weekend when we caught a Broad-Tailed Hummingbird in one of our nets. We don’t have a hummingbird permit, so we removed him and released him, but it was the first time I’d ever gotten to hold a hummingbird. So. Cool.

    The flower photos are gorgeous! It’s been pretty wet here the last month and a half, so the wildflowers are blooming pretty nicely. Lots of bluebells out along the highway, and some others whose names I don’t know.

  4. biz319 says:

    What an awesome day! And I am loving strawberry jam – I just bought some at our farmers market last weekend and its so good!

    Hope you are having a great weekend Mel!

  5. ohhh local strawberry farm, that sounds AWESOME!! you know i never made it to fruit and spice park in miami, what is wrong with me

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