Sunday, December 16, 2012

I came. I saw. I birded. I photographed. I eBirded. I cried because I have no friends.

Dusky-capped Flycatcher was one of the first rarities I laid eyes on earlier this year, in San Francisco. This bird in Gary Bloomfield's yard last week in Arcata was sweet, Mexican icing on the proverbial bird cake. Zehndner Ave., Arcata, CA.

How is that for a title eh? Talk about the birding Zeitgeist. Luckily, I have a plethora of nonbirding friends whom keep me from falling into that dreaded social cesspool that contains birders who only know other birders. Are you a nonbirder? Do you know a birder who has no "normal" friends? Adopt a birder today, or they will be doomed to a life of weird sexual encounters (urgent message for bird nerds: ladies don't have cloacas, men don't have weird corkscrew duck penises) and correcting other people's spelling errors on Facebook. How embarrassing!

Right, just a thought. Last week I was up in Humboldt County, where I got two (2) county birds, Dusky-capped Flycatcher and Franklin's Gull, and my 2012 White-throated Sparrow, Ferruginous Hawk, the aforementioned gull, and a Lewis' Woodpecker in Mendocino County. Great successes, all.

Aside from that trip, birding has been pretty mellow lately. I have not chased any of the hot California birds (Falcated Duck, White Wagtail, Gray Hawk), and I become more and more agitated by the day that I don't have a goddamn Swamp Sparrow for the year. I spent over an hour looking for one the other day and failed...the embarrassment caused by that episode was only forgotten when I got my first San Francisco Ross' Goose at the end of the day. Did I mention I'm not a county lister? Ahem. Right...well at this point, I am really fiending for a few more year birds...Bostick is just a few birds behind me, and I can feel the Fear and Loathing growing in my spine.

I'm not sure if this bird is still being seen or not, although people were finding it on the regular for a couple of weeks or so. It gets bloody cold at night in Arcata, not the sort of place a Dusky-capped Flycatcher should be wintering.

This talented bird even did a Nutting's Flycatcher imitation. And yes, only high-ranking birders will understand this joke.

Aside from Swamp Sparrow, I have a number of other embarrassing misses for the year. No Solitary Vireo of any kind. No Hammond's Flycatcher. No Red Crossbill. No White-headed Woodpecker. No Townsend's Solitaire. This is what happens when you year list without doing a Big Year. But there have been so many other quality birds that I met in 2012 that I cant even think of complaining.

Of course the big news is that I will soon be birding with Corey Finger, one of the bird barons that runs birding uberblog 10,000 Birds. With our birdosphere powers combined, there is no telling what we can find. Hopefully I can convince him to do all of the day's eBirding...

A Great Egret shows off its Victorian almost-crest. Lake Merritt, Oakland, CA.

One of my rare flash shots that I actually like. The white is so intense...

Ah, the pink and green woodpecker, a sight for sore eyes. This is one of the best birds the American West has to offer. This distant Lewis' Woodpecker was at Potter Valley, CA.

Maybe the geese that winter in weird urban parks have it all figured out...there's no hunters! This is the Greater White-fronted Goose of Lake Merced, San Francisco, CA.

Common Goldeneye is one of the many diving ducks that shed their wariness when they winter at  Oakland's Lake Merritt. I wish their Barrow's brethren would do the same... 

This female Common Goldeneye has the typical gray and yellow bill pattern for her species and gender: Barrow's females usually have an all yellow or orangish bill. Lake Merritt, Oakland, CA.

While birding in the Ferndale bottoms, Rob Fowler spotted a Franklin's Gull foraging right next to the road. You gotta love the bottoms in winter, they are brimming with rarities. I only got a poor picture of it though, so here is a better picture of a similar one. Des Lacs National Wildlie Refuge, ND.

A Western Nashville Warbler. Have you started identifying these birds to subspecies yet? The bird powers at be tell me they might be split into different species down the road. Photographed along the Salt River in the Ferndale Bottoms, CA.

What kind of gore has this Great Blue Heron been getting in to? Pillar Point Harbor, CA.


  1. Bird baron? I like that!

    I'll do the eBirding in return for you driving and providing bourbon.

    And if you find me a Franklin's Gull (I know, I know, unlikely) I will be very very happy.

  2. Well hey, you've got some great photos and at least you're got a birding date set up. Maybe you bird nerds can pool your secular/lay person/non-birding friends just as you'll pool you're birding knowledge and talents. Or not, that could get weird, and kinky.

    At any rate, I am proud to say that I not only understood, but chuckled at your Nutting's Flycatcher reference, because this morning I had a Nutting's belt out right in my face at the Bill Williams NWR. It was great, like a blessing from the heavens. Also one of my eardrums is till bleeding profusely, as if it were stabbed by the Great Blue Heron...

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  7. Sadly, my non-bird photography friends don't understand it when I speak. Their eyes just glaze over.

    You have a few more days till the end of the year git ye out there and find that Swamp Sparrow!

  8. Well, I am on the opposite end of the spectrum- none of my good friends are birders. Lucky for me most of them actually tolerate (and some even enjoy) being dragged around on adventures in terrible weather to wander around murder barns or duck ponds or whatever.

    And really? No Red Crossbills? COME ON. Get your shit together, Jack Black.