Thursday, April 12, 2012

That's Not An Albatross Around My Neck...

No one takes pictures of female Ring-necked Ducks unless they absolutely have to....that all changes today. Santee Lakes, Santee, CA.

I forgot how working really gets in the way of one's birding...and I get paid to look at birds. Of course, most of my time now is spent staring at the ground, in an attempt to find the highly-camouflaged nest of a Snowy Plover.

So, spring on the west coast. What can I say? A lot of migrant passerines seem (predictably) a bit early, but so far its business as usual for many other northbound birds. The year birds are still coming strong (Ash-throated Flycatcher was the most recent), and I look forward to going migrant-hunting this spring...although I may be out of luck in the short term.

Why? It's because of my 1999 Honda Accord, whom I harbor a withering hatred for. This car has been cursed from the very beginning (indeed, unbeknownst to me, it had a recall out for it when I bought it) and has been sucking on my financial reserves like a giant metal lamprey ever since. It seems to be the archetypal piece of machinery for "planned obsolescence", if anyone is savvy with product jargon. It would be better off used as target practice than to drive. Perhaps it is well-suited to be dropped into the ocean, for use by marine life as some kind of artificial reef. Anyways...depending on how things go, I may find my time off in the next month spent car-shopping instead of birding, which is a giant bummer. Just thinking about it fills my heart with hate...but it will be nice to not have a Honda hanging around my neck for any longer.

Right. Well I hope you all are getting out there, binoculars in hand, popping pupils at salient spring migrants. It is, after all, what is best.

Reddish Egret is one of my favorite birds. They have style and swagger. I've also never had the opportunity to get any great pictures of them, so this will have to do for now. J Street Mudflats, Chula Vista, CA.

Red-breasted Merganser. I think it wins the award for Most Haphazard Crest. J Street Mudflats.

Orange-crowned Warbler. They are the most basic western warbler. Primitive even, in their lack of adornments, changeless plumages, and unimaginative songs. That said, I still like them. Mission Trails Regional Park, CA.

Hooded Orioles are one of the earliest spring bids to arrive here every year, and can be found holding down palm trees throughout the summer. Santee Lakes, CA.

This is the rarely seen hover-mode of the Western Bluebird. No wings required. This is their preferred mode of transport while collecting nesting material. Santee Lakes, CA.

A more traditional pose.

You know its a dark day when a Violet-green Swallow manages to have all of its color washed away. This picture makes me think of storm-petrels, for some reason. Santee Lakes.

Mysterious Parakeets of Gloom. Famosa Slough, San Diego, CA.

American Wigeon pair. Another month and they will probably be all gone. I think the female actually looks better than the male in this shot...nice edgings! Santee Lakes, CA.

A Wood Duck lets loose a half-hearted bellow. Wood Ducks are plentiful and friendly at Santee Lakes, the result of a successful reintroduction program. Unlike the wigeon, the ring-neck, and the merganser, they will be staying around to bellow all summer long.

A Cooper's Hawk catches a thermal. Mission Trails Regional Park, CA.


  1. Very nice! Hovering Bluebirds, perched Oriole, and Bed-Headed MerganserS? It looks like the Honda is not too much of a hinderance for you.

    Nice work on getting an in-flight Swallow shot; that's deserving of chest-bumps and hand-slaps and fist pounds and so forth.

    1. Thanks Laurence. The Honda will soon be helping me find my way to a burrito in the near future.

      My collection of swallow photographs is pretty unimpressive...hopefully that will change this year.

  2. All so very delicious!! Good luck with your car.

    1. My, car, spared me today, and I have less animosity towards's still crazy though.