Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sandy Thoughts, Key Westerly Shots

I am now the proud owner of a decent Black-and-white Warbler picture. As far as I know Black-and-whites are completely unique in their nuthatchish lifestyle, but I wonder if there isn't an obscure Central or South American warbler that has the same act. Zachary Taylor State Park, Key West, FL.

With both the birding and nonbirding media squarely focused on Hurricane Sandy and associated storms, we here at BB&B feel it must be addressed. First and foremost, I hope all you Northeasterners, birders and nonbirders alike, weathered the storm successfully. It sounds like the storm-waifing was quite good...quite a few birds that were shifted about due to the "Frankenstorm" would be life birds for me. But, of course, lifer-envy is tempered by the significant loss of life and the vast destruction loss and destruction of property that occurred in multiple states.

I really wonder how long our elected deniers of climate change (whom, in my opinion, may as well believe the earth is flat) can publicly continue to stay the course of ignorance. Yes, it is politically expedient in some places to either deny or ignore global warming (as Sir David Attenborough recently noted), but climate scientists are increasingly able to put the pieces together about why the United States seems to be rocked with more and more extreme weather....the obvious answer is, you guessed it, climate change. Scientific American has a great article up on climate change and hurricanes, and why the magnitude of the Sandy Frankenstorm can be directly linked to the loss of Arctic sea ice. I do not doubt that the United States and other nations will act significantly on climate change, but I am fearful of what habitat (for wildlife and humanity) will have been destroyed or seriously altered by the time this happens. Lastly, I will make the obvious point that if this is something you think is important, you should be screaming from the rooftops (perhaps in a flooded neighborhood, where this is the best means of communicating) that no one in their right mind should be voting for Mitt or any Republican candidate in the upcoming Mitt bluntly put it for all of us in the first presidential debate, "I'm not in this race to slow the rise of oceans or heal the planet."

But I digress. Here is another moderate-sized glut of Key West pics. Bird onward.

Great Crested Flycatcher. This bird has the typical big flesh-colored patch at the base of the bill, unlike the bird Christian nailed (with his eyes) in Santa Cruz County (CA) earlier this fall. Indigenous Park, Key West, FL.

Short-tailed Hawks (year bird) were surprisingly not hard to come by. All but one of them that I saw were dark-morphed individuals, which for South Florida are pretty unique looking...they have a very different shape than the only other dark Buteo that is likely to be found in the state (Broad-winged Hawk). Key West Botanical Gardens, Stock Island, FL.

Great White Herons were easy to find in the keys...hard to believe this white thing is the same species as Great Blue Heron. I like the big rusty patch that adds some character to this shot. Key West, FL.

Note the bluish face and heavy bill, good ways to tell these apart from Great Egrets.

The pale legs also set these apart from Great Egrets, although as you can see this bird must not have read the field guides before it came out of the egg.

This monstrosity is a very old Green Iguana. Once they reach a certain age they cease looking like something that is real. Zachary Taylor State Park.

This thing was pretty wild. It looks like a party. Uberblogger Nate Swick informs me it is a Roseate Skimmer. Key West Botanical Gardens.

My only Rose-breasted Grosbeak (year bird) of the trip. This bird acted less like a grosbeak and more like a Connecticut Warbler...a true master of the Skulk & Lurk. Indigenous Park.

Northern Waterthrush is a common bird in the keys, but it can still take some effort to get a good look at one. Finding them is easy though...they are loud and have a distinct call, and have a penchant for taunting birders from the mangroves. Photographed at Indigenous Park.

I took several dozen pictures of this bird at a high ISO, and only came out with a handful of usable pictures. Besides being a denizen of the shadows, the constant tail-bobbing didn't make things any easier. You win this round, waterthrush.

Believe it or not, I have actually taken pictures of humanoids from time to time. This is Booby Brittany on vacay.


  1. That Short-tailed Hawk is sick. After several trips to Florida that and the damnable Mangrove Cuckoo are the last specialties I "need" so totally jealous.

    Your dragonfly looks like a Roseate Skimmer.

    1. Thanks for the dragon ID. They are probably common, but that was the definitely the coolest one I saw down there.

      I am also in need of The Cuckoo...I did see a cuckoo sp. in flight at the one MACU spot in Key West, but have no idea what it was. I also still need BWVI, ANNI, and a few other eastern birds that show up there. Can't wait to go back!

  2. Oh Yeah, Common Cuckoo, Mangrove Cuckoo, Black-billed Cuckoo...I still have a few to see.

    That pink dragon induces a Sword in the Stone reference (the Disney movies), but I won't. Anyway this is a sick post, and not only because most of the birds on here would be new for me. You totally flashed the shit outta that Grosbeak, well done sir!

    What's the blue rock behind the Waterthrush? For a second it looked like it was guarding a Robin's egg, and I didn't know they hired out their services for such things.

    Awesome stuff. So, is the San Francisco scene dull now?

    1. Yeah, I've been using my camera's built-in flash a bit more's really slow though, so not mellow for moving targets.

      I thought everyone knew that waterthrushes guard robin eggs...

      Bay birding has been so-so. Dipped on a Harris' Sparrow today, which is in a really shitty patch of brush between a dump and a junkyard. Pretty classic.

  3. Wait that great white heron just blew my mind. I had no idea they even existed.

    Also a nice big male iguana. Males that big will chase people out of their territories when they are feeling like they have a girl to protect. Glad to hear you survived your encounter.

    1. I would love to see an iguana chase someone. Maybe its on youtube...

  4. That's one of the best BAWW shots I've seen. Badass.

    1. Thanks dude. It was only a few feet away, too close for my lens sometimes.

  5. Wow, that is one mean lookin Iguana! That is a lovely Black & White Warbler shot!

    1. They look a lot meaner than they act, at least in my limited experience. Although when you surprise one and it violently thrashes away through the underbrush, its a bit startling.

      That was the one good shot I got of that warbler, out of attempting quite a few...way better than nothing though, thats for sure.