Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Too Much For Me To Bear

Anyone who has ever pointed a camera at a bird knows how adept Belted Kingfishers are at avoiding being photographed. This is probably my best shot of one so far; it cloaked about a second after this shot was taken. Point Mugu, CA.

With my brief foray into Southern California completed, I find myself faced with the awful reality of my upcoming Pacific Northwest Winter Tour. The thought of King Eider, Snowy Owls, Gyrfalcon, Bohemian Waxwings and A FUCKING ROSS' GULL is almost too much for me to bear. The Ross' Gull alone is enough to drive any birder crazy, thus the cursing. Will it still be there in two weeks??? It would be easier on my poor nerdy heart if it just left today...the possibility of driving all the way into the far reaches of the northern Okanagan Valley and missing the bird is almost too much to bear.

The only vaguely accessible places these birds are regularly found on the continent are at Point Barrow, Alaska, and Churchill, Manitoba. To get to these places you must be willing to shell out large amounts of money, or be lucky enough to be doing research there. Whenever a Ross' happens to show up in the Lower 48, pandemonium makes me sick just thinking about it....

Right. It's good to be back in San Francisco is good.

To compensate for my kingfisher shortcomings, I have become the master of Merlin photography. Oxnard Plain, CA.

Long-billed Dowitcher on the wing. Oxnard Plain.

California is cursed/blessed with a lot of Eucalyptus trees, which are a big draw for winter songbirds. You can tell who has been feeding in Eucalyptus trees because their face and bill will get smeared with thick, black, delicious goo, which you can see here on this Ruby-crowned Kinglet. This resin probably gets into their nostrils and complicates breathing though.

Loggerhead Shrikes are beloved by all. I pity the poor easterners who don't have shrikes around anymore. Point Mugu, CA.

A gray-headed orestera Orange-crowned Warbler. Ventura, CA.

Glaucous-winged Gull. Lake Merced, San Francisco, CA.

An Eared Grebe gives a Lake Merced.

Some birding spots also afford some hilarious peoplewatching. And dogwatching, if you're into that sort of thing. I highly recommend San Francisco's Golden Gate Park for this.


  1. Oh yeah and I hate to say it (type it?) but it sounds like the Ross's may have skipped town...

  2. @Jill - thank you thank you thank you

    @Jen - Yeah dude I've been following's a very humorous list...well, if it's moved on, that simplifies my life immensely. I hope you get to see lots of cloudy grebe poo soon.

  3. "Anyone who has ever pointed a camera at a bird knows how adept Belted Kingfishers are at avoiding being photographed."
    So true! They are notoriously elusive and predictable in that regard. Great shot of that Kingfisher, btw ... and other photo memories from my home turf.

  4. Thanks Ingrid! I'm looking forward to checking out your new Washingtonian turf next month.

  5. Hey dude, what's the deal with California being both blessed and cursed with Eucalyptus trees? What does that mean? Explain it to me, Scientist man.
    Glorious pics, as usual!

  6. @JB - Blessed because they attract lots of birds when they're blooming, including rare ones. Cursed because they are a highly invasive species that literally poisons the ground around them to prevent other plants from growing near them. So I guess they're good for some birds and bad for others. You are glorious.

  7. Great shot of the Kingfisher; we have alot of them around here(FL), but I've never managed a decent photo. The Grebe photo is too funny...

  8. @Tammy - Thanks, the kingfishers here are no different...maybe a giant kingfisher suit is called for?

  9. no! thank YOU! and also , kingfishers have always and will always taunt me. I don't even wanna talk about it, so stop bringing it up.