Damn...no more Mexico posts...I guess I could finish off posting about the Costa Rica trip, but that would be too, um, prudent. I think I'll get caught up on winter birding instead.
After Mexico, Don Francisco and I birded for a few days around the bay, racking up year birds left and right. Don Francisco found this Greater White-fronted Goose at Golden Gate Park, which is always a nice bird to see in San Francisco. If Don Francisco ever finds a bird rare enough, I'm just going to start calling him San Francisco, which will thoroughly confuse everyone.
Golden-crowned Sparrows are supremely crushable at Stow Lake, and this bird got smashed pretty badly. I think I might have hurt it.
Fox Sparrows are usually not as confiding as crowned sparrows and are more interesting to look at, so I could not help but steal the (apparently grainy) soul of this bird.
This is a Sooty Fox Sparrow, the common form in northern California. Will the large and confusing pile of subspecies that comprise Fox Sparrow ever get split? I'm going to go on record here with a "no".
I will even take junco pictures still. I am a man of all birds.
See...I will even photograph a non-countable exotic! How embarrassing! How low can you go? I'm really scraping the bottom of the birding barrel here. Anyways, this is the same Mandarin Duck that has been at Stow Lake for over a year now. She still occasionally gets identified as a Wood Duck...but hey, there are worse mistakes one can make. She is not as popular as "Manny The Mandarin" and does not have her own Facebook page, which upsets her, but the world of birding is better for it.
If a Great Egret wants to sit a few feet away for a quick crush sesh, then I will oblige it. They're still pretty impressive birds to be up close to.
After dropping off Don Francisco, I went back out to the Richmond herring run to see if I could hang out with the Slaty-backed Gull some more. As expected, there were many Mew (left) and Thayer's (right) Gulls gorging themselves on herring roe.
This first-cycle Thayer's was a good-looking bird, already acquiring a lot of pink in the bill.
I refound the young Glaucous X Glaucous-winged Gull that we had seen earlier in the week. Not a bad looking bird for a hybrid gull.
The best find of the day was this adult Glaucous-winged X Glaucous Gull...just look at all the white on the primary tips....frosty! I had never seen an adult of this hybrid before, so I had some mild stoke going with this bird. Come to think of it, I've still never seen an adult Glaucous Gull...its a sad state of affairs.
Compare the hybrid's primary pattern with the Glaucous-winged Gull's primaries conveniently poking out from the left side of the frame.
Glaucous-winged X Glaucous Gull with a typical Glaucous-winged Gull below. I assume adult GWGU X GLGU primarily winter north of California, which is definitely how GLGU arrange themselves.
It's not unusual to find banded Western Gulls in the bay area, as they have been banded on the Farallon Islands for many years.
This Western Gull, silver-winged, leucistic Western Gull was a cool bird to see, and possibly the best Western Gull I've ever laid eyes on.
It's not unusual to see thousands of Mew Gulls at herring runs. Patches of the bay can be open, uninhabited water one minute and a seething froth of Mew Gulls the next.
I did not get to do as much gulling last winter as planned, and my multiple-year streak of not seeing any Glaucous Gulls continues. I'll miss these vulgar displays of Larus, but not being confronted with numerous birds (often at once) that are better left unidentified. No point in stringing, is there?