It was again time for our annual trip to the winter raptor hotspot known as Robinson Road in Solano County.
I also used this trip as a field test for my new camera. As a reformed professional photographer, I have been used to top end, professional gear. This gear is very expensive and heavy and cumbersome. Instead I opted for a “bridge” camera, that is a camera between a point-and-shoot and a professional set up. I wanted a camera that was light, took quality images, and had the capacity to zoom into my far away subjects. I settled on the Canon Powershot SX60 HS. All photos in this post were taken with this camera and my sketches were also based on some of the photos.
The day started with valley fog but afforded views of a few hundred yards. Good enough to spot perched raptors but not good enough to get raptors up off the ground and into the sky, making identification a little easier.
On the first part of the journey we had seen the usual suspects: red-tailed hawk and American Kestrel. There was no sign of ferruginous or rough-legged hawk. It wasn’t until we paused at “Owl Corner” that things became interesting. I call the intersection of Flannery and Robinson Road “Owl Corner” because it is always reliable for this gem:
Burrowing owl is always a welcome sight at this intersection and this trip, again, proved to be fruitful.
After taking a few photographs with my new field camera (the above photo is an example), we headed off to look for other raptors on our target list.
It wasn’t long before I spotted a raptor on the ground in the pasture to the right. It was one of our target birds, Buteo regalis, the ferruginous hawk.
A typical view of our largest buteo hawk from Robinson Road. Perched on the ground.The zoom on my Canon Powershot SX60 was able to bring this far off raptor, a little closer for a diagnostic view of this wintering hawk.
We drove the circuit but could not find mountain plover or any roughies. Mountain plovers looked like small clumps of dirt and could be very hard to detect. We did have a nice surprise as a Peregrine swept the landscape and alighted on a power pole. So I took a few pictures.
We left Robinson Road and headed towards Grizzly Island. Off to the left, perched on a ridge, was an unmistakable profile: golden eagle. Two, in fact.