Sunday, September 9, 2012

Modest Accolades and Low-Level Glory

Shorebirds have been barreling south through the continent for over 2 months now, but they won't be stopping anytime soon. This flock, mostly Western Sandpipers, was in Imperial Beach, CA.

Wow. A lot has been happening lately here. I just moved out of San Diego, sold my car and bought another one. This is important, because I am much more enthusiastic about taking birding trips when I am not afraid of my car seizing and dying on me. So some boring shit that definitely is not blogworthy went down, but rest assured Ive made sure to keep birding. Once I get to my migratory staging area in Oakland, CA, things will settle down and I can go back to my routine of seeing incredibly rare, good-looking birds.

Wilson's Phalaropes. They have switched gender roles. They swim in circles. They have a lot of different plumages. What's not to love? Imperial Beach, CA.

Here's a juvenile Red-necked Phalarope. This time of year, I think they are a lot more eye-catching than the adults, who are very gray and blotchy. Imperial Beach, CA.

Adult Reddish Egret. It got too close and I clipped its wing, won't happen again. Imperial Beach, CA.

Cooper's Hawks are particularly common throughout the country this time of year...not only are they migrating en masse, but their populations are very high due to the all the young birds (like this one) present. Young raptors have very high mortality rates, most won't make it through the winter. Tijuana River Valley, CA.

This is not a bird you are likely to see in fall migration, at least not in California. If you do find one, expect skepticism...but if you pass the test of the Bird Police, there will be modest accolades and low-level glory. This Least Bell's Vireo was at the Dairy Mart Ponds in the Tijuana River Valley, CA.

Hutton's Vireo. Considering their repetitive 2-note song, and the fact that they look like a Ruby-crowned Kinglet on steroids, I think this is the most boring vireo. This may be a BB&B first though, so I've got to put it up...these birds are generally considered resident but they do show up at migrant traps. Dairy Mart Ponds.

House Wrens are common fall migrants in California lowlands. They don't sing much but they are still's a good time of year to learn their calls. Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, San Diego, CA.

Common Yellowthroat. You know them, you probably don't love them, but you like them. You have definitely misidentified them for other things, if just for a few seconds. Strangely, a BB&B first. Tijuana River Valley, CA.


  1. Wow, looks like you've done quite well for your self here (well, except for the clipped wing..just's still nice). Congrats on your Vireo accolades, well done!

    1. I have been lucky enough to be slaying with the camera lately, these shots are a little older...the vireo was still on its breeding grounds, so not exactly newsworthy.

      Im hoping to get some heart-stopping wader shots on the Florida trip, but Ive never been to the western keys...we'll see how it goes. My nonbirding friend who lives on Key West has staked out a tame Great White Heron at least.

  2. I hope you do well on your Florida trip Steve!

    I love the Yellowthroat, they are gorgeous. And the Wilson's Phalaropes? Fantastic birds all the way around. They are buidling up in numbers here on the Great Salt Lake. Thousands upon thousands of them.

    1. YESSSSS FLORIDA! I cant wait!

      Ive seen your Salt Lake phalarope shots. Nothing short of facemelting.

  3. What kind of bonehead noodle could mistake a common yellowthroat for anything else? =)
    Reddish egret, rawr!

    On another note, I MAY be going to (hoping, praying, NOT the decider) Big Bend in February. Any thoughts re: what I should study up on for birding delights in that so-remote-I-thought-I'd-never-get-there park? Who knew it was only a 21 hour drive?!? =)

    1. Big Bend?! Ive never been....would love to go though. There is a species of warbler that nests there that is almost impossible to find anywhere else in the U.S.

      Off the top of my head, I would imagine they have a lot of the desert/species characteristic of the southwest, including a handful of interesting wintering birds? Im sure there is a bird checklist you can get your hands on online.