Railroad Tracks

Santa Cruz has miles of unused railroad tracks running through the county. Katherine and I have walked from the westside of Santa Cruz to Wilder Ranch State Park along these tracks. Several miles of paved multi-use trail have been put in next to the tracks which make some of this walk even easier. It’s also another great place to spot birds.

On our walks, we’ve seen sparrows and swallows, towhees and jays, Red-tailed and Red-shouldered Hawks, Peregrine Falcons and American Kestrels, Western Bluebirds and Western Meadowlarks, Great Blue Herons and Anna’s Hummingbirds, blackbirds and finches (Lesser, American and House), Northern Harriers and White-tailed Kites, Dark-eyed Juncos and Phoebes (Black and Say’s). I could go on or I could show you some photos!

We see birds preening…

Peregrine Falcon making itself pretty.
Red-shouldered Hawk making itself prettier.

Birds with attitude…

Western Meadowlark with RBF?
Red-winged Blackbird with something to say.

Birds flying…

Red-tailed Hawk. Distinguishable from the Red-shouldered Hawk by the red tail and the “black biceps” (on its wings).

Birds pausing for a portrait…

Yellow-rumped (Audubon’s) Warbler: “This is my good side!”
Western Bluebird: “And here’s mine!”
Anna’s Hummingbird: “Did someone say portrait?”

And, sadly (depending on your perspective), birds eating…

White-tailed Kite with half-eaten prey.
Great Blue Heron with gopher (though some friends have said a Great Heron can’t eat a gopher!)

There is always a variety of birds engaged in a variety of activities along the tracks…

Taking a photo of a Red-shouldered Hawk when Katherine says…
“Look!” I turn quickly and catch a Great Egret flying overhead.

It never gets old! (Plus, we can take the dogs. The Red-shouldered Hawk pictured above had its eye on Sasha who had wandered below its tree.)

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