Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Shorebird With A Heart Of Gold

Gull-billed Terns are no longer as clean cut as they were earlier in the spring. Making babies is least they aren't going bald yet. Imperial Beach, CA.

How you doing birders? Is everything ok? I hope all you bourboners, bastards and birders are keeping your heads up. Its a mad world out there people. I'm really looking forward to taking up my Perpetual Weekend once keeps me sane. I have tried working year round...I don't know how ya'll do it. Seems like a pretty soulless endeavor. But then again, the world is filled with people who are absolutely terrified to be forced to spend time alone, so I suppose its not so shocking.

Whats new on the California birding front? Not much. A couple pelagic trips went out last weekend and were pretty boring. One got a Red-billed Tropicbird (rare, but not unexpected), but happy birders weren't so happy when the boat broke down for several hours. How embarrassing. A White-eyed Vireo at the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery arrived at a strange time, and appeared to have been a one day wonder.

Shorebirds continue to make their way down the coast, the best of which is a Little Stint that arrived in Humboldt County yesterday...this is the second in the state this year, and I continue to sacrifice puppies, kittens and small bunnies to the bird gods in hopes that I will be able to pluck one from a flock (with my eyes, not literally) here in San Diego. I'd be happy with a Semipalmated Sandpiper though.

I was able to see the Imperial Beach Curlew Sandpiper one more time this month, and got some considerably better looks at the bird. It's still a bland looking thing, but when it comes to shorebirds you have to get stoked on the subtleties. Here it is communicating telepathically with a dowitcher ("Are you an Asiatic Dowitcher? How the fuck do you get to China from here? I tried to go a few weeks ago but somehow ended up at Sea World. That place is fucked up."). Imperial Beach, CA.

One thing the Curlew Sandpiper did that set it apart from other shorebirds was seek out broken stalks of plants, and then jam its bill down inside of it looking for invertebrate goodness. It did this on the it is about to take the plunge.

Such a good bird. It should be called the Golden-hearted Sandpiper.

This Willet in summer duds accentuated by a long, flowing, kelp robe, was at Border Field State Park, CA.

We need a token passerine in today's post. This is a Bushtit. They are highly-skilled at fluffing and hate-looks. Famosa Slough, San Diego, CA.

Less well known than fence lizards, Side-blotched Lizards aren't any less common in a lot of habitats in California. I don't know much about their variation in coloration, but I am partial to these turqoise-spotted duders. Border Field State Park, CA.

Pondering Death From Above, aka Gull-billed Terns. Gull-bills love eating these things.

This is what a monstrosity looks like. If it could make noise, it would sound like "blllllleeeeennnngghhhhhh. BLLLLLEEEENNNNGUH. BIGLENGUHHHHH".

This monstrous dead crab washed ashore at Imperial Beach, CA. Nerds of the marine persuasion, feel free to tell us what this is.

Heermann's Gulls are a fixture along west coast shores for much of the year, making amateur seawatchers think they're seeing jaegers from Mexico to British Columbia. When they look like this, it's hard to confuse them with anything else though. Border Field State Park, CA.


  1. Impressive set of photos! The Heerman's Gull is a beauty; haven't heard of this gull before. Nice Sandpipers also; word on the street here is a great variety of Sandpipers are arriving at the Merritt Island NWR~need to get there soon:)

    1. Yes, get stoked...its all about the shorebirds. Thanks Tammy!

  2. The color variance of Utas are actually a fun little game of evolutionary trickery. Check this reference for the fun story:

    Sinervo, B. and Lively, C.M. 1996. The rock-scissors-paper game and the evolution of
    alternative male strategies. Nature 340:240-246.

  3. Link to a free version of the paper:

    1. Wow that is bizarre...what a strange system. I would love to apply that study to people somehow.

  4. Kelp robe! I like it. That monstrosity will give me nightmares... Bushtits skilled at fluffing... My non-birding (i.e. all of my) friends would die over that.

  5. That is some crab!

    Love the Heerman's Gull, wish we had them here in Utah!

    Bushtits are scary, the last one I tried to photograph hypnotized me into believing I was a bird photographer, imagine that!

    1. Utah's birding reputation would surely be enhanced by the addition of such a gull.

      We are all grateful for the Bushtit giving you the skills you have today.

    2. Steve, I should be grateful to the Bushtit for my photographic skills but the problem is that I also cluck like a chicken at the most inappropriate times, damn that Bushtit!