Friday, July 6, 2012

Rum, Bastards, and Birds.

Sage Sparrow. There are three subspecies, all of which can be found in California. This Bell's Sage Sparrow (the coastal subspecies) was off Old Highway 80 in San Diego County.

Today's photos are all a rundown of my year birds from last weekend. Nothing uber rare, but trust me its been a long time since I year birded 4 species in one day. Remember, if anyone would like me and/or The Great Ornithologist Felonious Jive to actually do a real Big Year, BB&B is accepting donations at any time. If you contribute something in the 5-figure range (the minimum amount of $$$ required to shatter the big year record), I may consider tattooing your likeness somewhere on my body.

In other appears the birding community continues to be ruled by petty nerds and people who embody the phrase "anal retentive". Although no one can deny "the internet" has revolutionized birding in many positive ways, it makes it plain to see what shallow, obsessive-compulsive people birders can be....but it also allows me to share things like this:

"I heard some loud, clear, high-pitched, dog-like whimpers (just exactly like a blue-winged teal) coming from somewhere in the grassy islands of sloughs of the San Diego River, near the Ocean Beach, just across south of the Sea World. Seriously, I knew it was a blue-winged teal. That whimpering blue winged teal was probably a male making courtship calls." - An eBirder.

The sage lays claim to it's own sparrow, thrasher and grouse. Not bad for a plant. Still, it can't compete with all the birds named after pine trees (Grosbeak, Warbler, Flycatcher, Sisken).

Yup, whenever I tell people about Blue-winged Teal identification, I make sure to tell them they sound like a bag of puppies being sat on by John Goodman. Absolutely crucial in finding them.

Anyways, I know you Florida bird bloggers have been stalking me on an hourly basis ever since I dropped my preliminary announcement on BB&B's Fall Tour to Florida....well today it brings me great pleasure to tell you that your worst nightmares are about to become a reality....I am coming to Florida for two weeks in October. Specifically, I'll be on Key West, waiting for massive fallouts and otherwise lurking in dimly lit parking lots hoping an Antillean Nighthawk will fly by. Perhaps I might even take a little side trip to....THE DRY TORTUGAS??!!!!!

This isn't even a birding trip to be honest, but do you expect me to not bird? No way...only a hangover with the force to put me in a sustained catatonic state could be capable of such a thing (which is, unfortunately, not unlikely).

You know how The Great Ornithologist wrote about birding in low places? Well, Jacumba, CA is pretty much the epitome of that. I don't know why anyone would choose to live there, but Tricolored Blackbirds like this one like it.

The one pond in the area has a pretty sizeable colony of this declining species, which border on being endemic to the state. Unfortunately, with the way things are going, it would not be surprising if this species ended up on the endangered species list in our lifetimes. LONG LIVE THE COLONY.

Harris's Hawk is highly local in California...your chances of seeing one without knowing exactly where to look are pretty close to nil. Jacumba has a family group that lives in town though. This is one of the young ones.

Here's one of the adults. This is the only North American raptor that hunts in cooperative "packs", which is pretty sick.

Vermilion Flycatcher...a poor picture of a great bird. Another mildly rare species that seems a bit more common in California than they used to be. Jacumba, CA.


  1. I want a guarantee about this whole likeness thing before donating 10k to such a glorious cause.

    1. Well to break the record I think its safe to assume that it would cost far more than 10k, but for sure it would be under 100k. I just need to find some more donors. Ideally, I would do a big year, break the record, have all my expenses covered, and then somehow generate a significant sum of money that would be directly applied to purchasing land, habitat restoration, or something like that. The only way to do this is to either become insanely persuasive or get a lot of rich and generous friends. I'm not sure how to do either.

      Someone actually has done a Big Year (albeit an only a Providence wide scale) and tattooed all the species recorded onto his back.

  2. Mr. Steve, when John Goodman sits on a sack full of puppies, it is a quick, silent, and painless death. Thus I think we can rule out not only the Blue-winged Teal, but also the fact that John Goodman was doing his thing in the San Diego bay area.

    I agree with Pip that there needs to be a guarantee about the likeness tattoo. If I'm going to donate $10,000 to someone else to go birding, it's going to require not only a tattoo, but a really large, full-body life-size tattoo. Since I'm on the freakishly tall side of things (as some upstart grocery-bagger recently told me), this means the tattoo is going to have to fold over on to the other side of you. I realize this will look terrible and probably cost more than the $10,000 I donated, but these are my terms.

    Like your shots. It's almost an Arizona-esque post, but that Tri-colored Blackbird ruins it. Still, nice that you saw them. That's a new bird I need to see, sooner than later. Good to know they've got a stable spot in San Diego.

    "Poor picture of a great bird" seems to be the modus operandi with Vermillion Flycatchers. I've never gotten a satisfactory shot of those skittish skittles. They act

    A fine bit of synchronicity that you mention the Harris's Hawks today. I saw 3 of them pack-hunting the hell out of non-pack-defensive cottontail bunny yesterday. It was killer...

    1. I think I will have to respectfully decline your generous donation towards my Big Year Laurence.

    2. Oh very well, I'll pay someone else to wear my image. Perhaps a WWE wrestler...

      Are there any federal grants or scholarships you could qualify for, perhaps with some artful, even prevaricating language?

  3. Love this post!

    About Key West, be sure to wear Iguana repellent or we'll be calling you GobbledUpSteve. :-)

    1. I'm saving my iguana repellent for Costa Rica!

  4. You should see plenty of Frigatebirds in the Keys....Dry Tortugas, I'm envious. Have you been to the Keys before?