Birding In The Arena

Watching as much tv and movies as I do, I frequently find myself in places that are practically celebrities from being used so much as sets so much. My recent project was last minute and I didn't realize where all we would be working and one morning as I was being driven to my daily office, I gasped when I saw something familiar: gorn

Any Star Trek (original series) worth their salt knows exactly what this is and perhaps even hears music.  For those who do not, here's why it's iconic:

Screen Shot 2013-03-31 at 12.06.44 PM

It's the set of Arena or as many know it as: the famous Kirk vs Gorn battle! Lots of other movies have used Vasquez Rocks, check out what's on its Wikipedia Page. But the birds were off the hook on this spot. Also, note the little cave directly above Captain Kirk's head? Check out what's really in there:

raven nest

It's a raven nest! I know for sure because I saw ravens in there several times, but every time I aimed my scope at them, they took off.  Clever birds.


But Vasquez Rocks has some classy looking birds. Up until last year, this was a bit of a nemesis bird for me, but now that I've seen it, it has since been very obliging every time I visit its habitat. As if this silky flycatcher didn't have a cool enough name, you can add some colorful metaphors right in the middle of its name making it cooler. It think that's my new favorite profanity now. I did manage to digiscope it with my iPhone and one of my colleagues asked, "So is that an iPhainopepla?" So much fun wordplay with such a great bird.

california towhee 2

But I loves me some brown birds and Vasquez has those in abundance.  This California towhee was a treat, lovely dull brown with a few splashes of pumpkin coloring to add a bit of snazziness. These birds were tucked all over around the rocks and they lacked color wise compared to some of the other snazzier towhees, allows them to blend in well with the terrain.

lawrence's goldfinch


There were some splashes of color like this male Lawrence's goldfinch. I got a female at a bird feeder in Las Vegas a few years ago, but to get great views of a male was a real treat. Another fun thing about visiting different parts of the country is that you get to see different versions of common birds.  I'm used to the American goldfinch and though that is an uber colorful bird in breeding plumage, there's something classy about the minimalist use of yellow on this particular goldfinch.

Anna's Hummingbird


We found a homestead at Vasquez rocks and that allowed me to get views of a lot of backyard birds like the goldfinch abut also Anna's hummingbird.

western bluebird

And here's a western you think this bird likes to perch on this roof a lot?  Who knew such a small bird could accumulate so much poop?

All in all a great time full of western species and fun to get to bird around a former Star Trek set.