To my delight, a house finch couple has spent the last few days building a nest in the cypress tree outside our kitchen window. We can’t see the nest — it’s tucked into the tree’s interior — but it’ll be fun to see the birds come and go as they breed and feed.

red-winged blackbird

Red-winged Blackbirds are apparently “one of the most abundant birds across North America” but Saturday was the first time I’ve observed any. They hang out in wet places, and we don’t have very many of them around here! The males are so handsome and showy, with their bright orange epaulettes which they puff up as they call.

Sketched from a photo by Ashok Khosla.

red-* hawks

We have both Red-shouldered and Red-tailed Hawks here. Today I realised there’s an easy way to tell the difference, even if you can’t see the colouration. In flight, the Red-shouldered alternates a few rapid flaps with glides. In contrast, the Red-tailed’s wingbeats are deep and slow, with the wingtips often curled up.

liberty creek

Today I found a lovely sit spot under a big oak beside Liberty Creek, in a less-visited part of Malibu Creek State Park. Sadly, even here there was styrofoam litter, which I duly collected. On my way back to the car I thought I saw a bunch of tennis balls nestled among the mustard, and reached in to add them to my bag ‘o trash. But they were ripe calabazillas or stinking gourds (Cucurbita foetidissima). The vine had completely died back, leaving just the fruit. Tricked me!