Oakland's most popular vagrant has come a long way since his arrival at the lake last fall, when he was heavily molting. He is now crisply colored and has a big, shiny tuft. Last year he stayed well in to March, so we should have him for a little while longer. All photos today from Lake Merritt.
Well Bay Area folks, until recently I was completely unaware of the tremendous amount of effort being put in to restoring the connectivity of Lake Merritt with the Oakland Estuary/San Francisco Bay. This should provide both a healthier tidal ecosystem (including some new salt marsh) and more access points, which should result in better birding and photo opportunities. I guess I should go check out this newly restored area while the Perpetual Weekend is still rolling along...winter is almost over but I have a feeling the channel will be good for diving ducks like Barrow's Goldeneye. Much more work seems to be planned as well...the Chronicle has a good article about current and future restoration work right here. It's nice to share good news once in a while, you know?
This attractive but terrible creature has been lurking at the lake for the past several weeks. I think it's one of those mysteriously pale and faded Thayer's Gulls that some people would be tempted to call a Kumlien's.
If you haven't caught the recent storm-petrel news (inexplicably, also good), a new species was just officially described off the coast of Chile...Alvaro Jamarillo has a summary of the discovery right here. What is particularly exciting about this bird is that its just something birders and ornithologists have simply missed over the years; it is not a result of genetic work done in a lab. Also, the until-recently-thought-extinct New Zealand Storm-Petrel just had it's first breeding site discovered. Birdlife International has the details.
And since we are on a seabird kick, I think its worth mentioning my new field job for this spring and summer...monitoring breeding and foraging seabirds on Santa Cruz Island for PRBO (Point Reyes Bird Observatory). Santa Cruz is one of the Channel Islands that lie off the coast of Santa Barbara County in California...it is famous for the endemic Island Scrub-Jay and adorable Island Foxes, but it is a major seabird nesting site as well. Totally stoked for that, although my blog output will undoubtedly suffer.
Last but not least, The Great Ornithologist Felonious Jive (truly, the Caligula of ornithologists) wonders how certain individuals can put their money to work for birds over at 10,000 Birds. Check it out, and please comment if you know anything we don't.
Clark's Grebes are common at Lake Merritt; it's a great place to compare them with Western Grebes at close range.