Sunday, March 11, 2012

Get Rad Arcata Marsh


Peregrine Falcons are the expected falcon at the marsh, so it was nice to find this Merlin next to the road, glaring at joggers that went by. She was probably thinking about extirpating the local Dunlin flock. All photos from today are from Arcata Marsh, CA.

Any visiting birder to Humboldt County eventually ends up at the Arcata Marsh. It's the obvious place to go. The marsh is good birding much of the year, is easy to get to, gets rare birds, and handles the town of Arcata's wastewater all at once. It's convenient location right in town makes it accessible to even the laziest, most transportation-deprived birder. The marsh has hosted everything from White-winged Tern to Sulfur-bellied Flycatcher (I've come across Ruff, Tufted Duck, American Tree Sparrow there, among other melters of faces), and is a great spot to see massive concentrations of shorebirds during migration. Basically, it has everything. Sure sketchy dudes sleep in the bushes and some weird shit happens...not dangerous, just weird...this is Arcata, after all...but don't let that deter you. Do not fear the weird, my friends, for this is a quality spot. Don't forget to check the Oxidation Ponds too, which are right next door.

If you are one of those people with some free time and an itch to travel, Godwit Days will be going down next month in Arcata. Godwit Days is a multi-day birding festival with multitudes of field trips and events, and has been running ever since 1996, so those folks know what they're doing. Check it out!



Do you have a local Merlin? Have you made your weekly sacrifice of fresh shorebird blood? Well you better do it soon, because Merlins will soon be pulling stakes and getting northbound.


This Fox Sparrow is ending another creature's life. Can you imagine death by Fox Sparrow? If you ever find yourself hiding in the leaf litter, it won't be long before one of these birds finds you.


A younger Golden-crowned Sparrow. Look at that back pattern...I think I will get that tattooed across my shoulders. Tribal tattoos are OUT, Golden-crowned Sparrows are IN.


At first I thought this was a pure Eurasian ("Common") Green-winged Teal, as I could see no sign of the vertical white breast stripe of American birds. Upon looking at my photos closely, it looks like there is almost a hint of one, but its so bloody faint its hard to say for sure.






Nevermind. There's that horrid stripe. I was wrong! It's a hybrid! Oh well.



What is the deal with this Northern Shoveler? Not only is it in a weird molt, it flies around with it's feet sticking up at a ridiculous angle.



See? Here's a closer look...compare the weird bird's foot position with that of the background shoveler. What are you trying to prove, bizarro shoveler?



Feeding frenzy...many invertebrates are being demolished here. Northern Shovelers, Cinnamon Teal, Green-winged Teal and Buffleheads.


I admit it. It has taken me years to get a good Yellow-rumped Warbler picture, of the "Myrtle" variety (like this one) or otherwise. That's a huge weight off my shoulders. I don't know what I could possibly say about these birds that you wouldn't already know, except they are going to start getting really sexy looking soon and transform into facemelting birds.



Buffleheads are one of those birds that are hard to get tired of, no matter how bloody common they may be. I love the bubblegum pink feet.


Another bird I've seen many thousands of but have no good pictures of are Marsh Wrens. While I wouldn't go so far as to say this is a good picture, I think it kind of shows a Marsh Wren doing what Marsh Wrens do best.

20 comments:

  1. Thanks for info and pictures. Love the northern/central CA. region! I got a new camera and heading s. to SF next month. Would appreciate any suggestions for photo opps (birds,wildlife,ppl,etc) in the city

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    1. Youre in Sequim? I was just there...

      Well, Lake Merritt in Oakland (see post from last week) is a must, although there will be less birds. Otherwise, the lakes/ponds in Golden Gate Park (Stowe and Lloyd Lakes), Sutro Baths, Lake Merced and Heron Head Park can be good for photography/birds.

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  2. Super shots Seagull. I think it would also serve you well to get a yellow crown tattooed with the black pattern on the back, but that's just my opinion.

    I know what you mean about the Yellow-Rumpes. I've had a curiously hard time getting good shots of them too, given how common they are (and they must be much, much more common up your way).

    That Marsh Wren in her deconstructed wicker basket photo is awesome. gold medal!

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    1. Deconstructed wicker basket...do you have a degree in blog commenting Laurence? They can be too good sometimes.

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  3. The Yellow-rumped photo is quite stunning! Well done. Great Merlin photos as well. I saw one a few months ago at MINWR, really nice looking birds! I spend my share of time hanging out around the wastewater as well.

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    1. Mmmmm.....there's no smell like poopy waters that gets the bird juices flowing.

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  4. Hola Esteban. Just wanted to let you know that the best place to photograph Marsh Wrens in the Whole Wide World may, in fact, be the Sierra Valley, in Plumas County. If you haven't been, you should check it out. You should also photograph Marsh Wrens there.

    Also, I believe Myiodynastes luteiventris is occasionally referred to as "Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher", not "Sulfur-bellied Flycatcher". This is not, I repeat NOT, a "gotcha" moment.

    MB

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. I've never been. I do not frequent the Plumas...but perhaps if you drive me there I can change that.

      IT WAS AN ACCIDENT! IM NOT CHANGING IT!

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  5. Yeah, if I avoided every place that had sketchy dudes sleeping in the bushes, well, I just wouldn't have anywhere left to bird. I like that ballerina style shoveler. He's fancy, leave him alone.

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    1. Maybe I should just start dressing like a tweaker whenever I go birding...that would solve everything, and also make other birders think that meth enhances your birding skills.

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  6. Dee-yoood excellent post. I enjoyed this one very much.
    That goofy N. Shoveler made my lunch break special.

    Also I am rearranging my life due to my new perspective after imagining being ended by a Fox Sparrow.

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    1. Thanks hargle. Yes death by Fox Sparrow would be unpleasant and strange indeed. Stay out of the duff!

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  7. yo that shoveler's legs are doing that because it is molting its tail

    McCreedy

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    1. I thought about that, but are the outer retrices the only thing from keeping ducks' feet from springing up in the air like that? Seeems strage.

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  8. I saw an Emperor Goose in the Arcata Bottoms 10 years ago. It was my first "rare bird". I got hooked chasing birds right then and there. It has been a rough life of county/year/life/yard lists and social ostracism ever since.
    Nick
    San Diego

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  9. Come to Utah for great shots of Marsh Wrens! They're a constant presence in the spring and summer.

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