Sunday, December 11, 2011

Falcated Falcated Falcated

Greater White-fronted Geese at Colusa National Falcated Duck Refuge.

I am just now coming out of a sort of paralysis after seeing the male Falcated Duck at Colusa National Wildlife Refuge. Truly a stunning bird, even if viewed from so far away that I didn't even bother digiscoping it. Spotting scopes people...they are crucial. As far as I know, it wasn't seen yesterday, so I'm glad I went when I did.

Upon checking the internets after awakening, I have come to find that various mentally stunted birders are still running their mouths and making us all look bad. One birder, upon finding out about the inacessbile Red-flanked Bluetail on San Clemente Island, publicly complained that birds that he was not able to look for should not be reported. Thankfully, he has been ridiculed and condemned by just about everyone, and has now been sent to Birding Jail, a fate even worse than just being a regular birder.

American Pipit strutting. Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge.

Another argument that has always annoyed me is debating whether or not certain rare birds, like the duck, are of "natural origin". Granted, this is a valid question sometimes, but I think the issue is raised a bit too frequently. I have heard some absolutely stupid arguments by people claiming that certain vagrants have spent time in captivity*, and of course a couple people have already begun asking questions about the duck. Aside from being unbanded, having its hind toes (many captive ducks get theirs clipped off...ouch though), looking and acting very normal, and being someplace where hundreds of thousands of waterfowl concentrate, there is also the fact that there are zero recent records of free-flying Garganeys, Falcated Ducks, Baikal Teal, Smews, Tufted Ducks, Common Pochards, etc. in California that are thought to be from captive populations. None at all...well, that I know of. Anyways, that's something to think about before you start the atavistic argument of "natural origin".

Ross' Goose is a pretty popular rarity in the east. If you have not seen one, here are many. Rest assured there are no Snow Geese in this photo. Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge.

How do you like that nerd rant? Have a good Sunday everyone.

* = The absolute best claim I've heard was about a Gray Silky-Flycatcher that was in the mountains of Orange County years ago, which I was lucky enough to see. One birder said that it did not appear to move around a lot because it was used to the confines of a small cage. Reason #738,392 that birders are not scientists.


  1. Strut like a pipit
    Strut like a pipit
    All the homies they know what I mean...

    [OMG, I hate that song.]

    Great post, and great photo of strutting pipit!

  2. Congrats on the duck, good nerd rant... Right now on the Oregon lists people are raging against a kid that flushed a Snowy Owl... I mean yeah, it was lame of him, but he was a kid and they are attacking him like he was a 40 year old photographer being a dipshit.

    Sweet mass of geese shot.

  3. @Luisa - I don't know that sounds like the jam though. Thanks!

    @Jen - Birders are physically attacking children in Oregon? Goddamn they are serious up there...

  4. There was recent banter about a Graylag Goose that was hanging around with some (wild) Canada's here in Maine. Always amusing to see what other nerds get fired up about...

    Is that a N. Shoveler peeking up amongst all those geese?! Awesome.

  5. drab, but so frakking rare...

    I'm still butthurt about a Bean Goose I missed last winter. I looked 3 days in a row. It was seen every day, but not by me.

    I think the duck head you speak of belongs to a pintail.

  6. Damn, Bird Life is way harder than Thug Life. The ups and downs - the constant unknowing...fruitlessly scoping large flocks of fowl for one rarity...

    Pintail, gotcha...even awesomer. What a classy bloke to be hanging out with all those clowns.