Sunday, November 27, 2011

Vagrants Become You

Tropical Kingbird. Manila (Humboldt County). Naked eye identification while going 55 mph. The bird wasn't even on the same street. That's why they call me "Number 7".

Unlike last fall, I have not decided to boycott birdwatching this year. This strategy has failed in getting any life birds (the one-day-wonder San Francisco Northern Wheater would have been one), and has succeeded in burning lots of money and gasoline. But most importantly (for me), I've actually been seeing a lot of good birds. Tufted Duck, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Red-throated Pipit, Cape May Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Red-throated Pipit, Clay-colored, Swamp and White-throated Sparrows, and Lapland Longspur are a few not pictured today. Just remembering them gives me the warm fuzzies.

"Good birds", in birder parlance, just means rare birds. Due to their obvious rarity, it's bloody hard to get pictures of rare birds, and so I find the most fitting shots of rare birds are the worst possible pictures (see Lucy's Warbler below). It's a good thing I am not a photographer, or else I would bring much Shame and Dishonor to my family.

Right. Here are a few decent birds from northern California, a veritable Shangri-la of vagrants. Bird here.

Orchard Oriole. Point Reyes. We walked up and someone pointed to this "Hooded Oriole". But the pictures tell a different story. Unfortunately for you, there is nothing in this image that would allude to either species. I just like the picture.

Tundra Swan. Pomponio State Beach. A rare bird in many parts of the state. Adults, being swans, appear very graceful, but this juvenile seems to be smiling about it's giant, pink, runny shnoz.

Yellow-throated Warbler. San Francisco. The same one as pictured a couple weeks ago. Hella rare. It's still here.

American Tree Sparrow. Point Reyes. Dan and I found this rufous-capped northern beast on the side of the road. 

The infamous Yellow-billed Loon. Sunnyvale. Many photographers got better pictures of it than me, but I never thought I would be lucky enough to get Yellow-billed Loon shots. This is the first one I've seen since the 90's...

Summer Tanager. San Francisco. The best birds to chase are the ones right down the street from your house.

Blackpoll Warbler. Arcata. Rob Fowler pished it in. Not super rare, but it was a Humboldt County bird for me.

Prairie Warbler. Point Reyes. I wonder if the disgruntled birder we ran into ever got to see it. If not, she probably went home and hurt herself. She really wanted to see it.

Ancient Murrelets. Half Moon Bay. While not insanely rare, its safe to say that this would be a life bird for many a birder out there. We were lucky enough to see over 30 birds last week, which is the most I've seen in California.

Lucy's Warbler. San Francisco. I think this is the quintessential rarity shot.

Greater White-fronted Goose. San Francisco. Not very rare, but I had to follow up the Lucy's Warbler with a better picture...


  1. it would be way cooler if you called a Couch's.

  2. I've done that...but it was in Mexico.

  3. Ran into ya over at BSC Steve. How's business?

  4. That pipit must have been mighty fine to get repeated in the same sentence like that. Yeah- asshole=me. I didn't even recognize that swan, def needs a tissue and a hug. Very awkward 6th-grader-esque. The murrelets are awesome.

  5. @Anne - Business is GOOD. Started applying for spring biologist jobs. BB&B is still the finest in all the birdosphere, although it lacks the cutting-edge dick jokes that BSC is famous for. But maybe thats what birders are in to?

    @Jen - Damn straight! You asshole! Only the second one I've ever seen. Totes awkward swan.