Friday, December 7, 2012


I found this Black-and-white Warbler back in October at Lake Merced in San Francisco, CA. It stuck around for a while; the one time I saw this bird again after I reported it, people were completely losing their shit over it. That's cool and all, but the panicked mob that kept trying to stand as close to the bird as possible was more than I could handle.

Well birders. How is winter treating you so far? I wish I could have used this blog title sooner (which is a Game of Thrones cliche, obvi), but I am stuck in the glorious rut-glut of the Dry Tortugas. It's not like I haven't been birding locally though, don't worry about that.

Now that the awkwardness of Thanksgiving is behind us, we can just focus on birds for a few weeks. Multiple colleagues of mine were rumored to almost have been killed over the holiday...which is a typical Thanksgiving for most people I know. I did my part and threw bourbon in somebody's face (it was obvious he needed that), so at least I have stopped my streak of not mentioning bourbon on this blog. I get a lot of complaints about that. Anyways, Christmas will soon come crashing down on everyone, stopping birding plans in their tracks from coast to coast, so we have got to get our winter birds when we can.

Now is the time! So get out there. Find the White-winged Crossbill. Find the Northern Shrike. Find the Snowy Owl, the Iceland Gull, the Snow Bunting. You may fail in your quest to find these birds, for it has been said, "In this world, only winter is certain". But it is better to have toiled and struggled in the snows and icy wastes with scope and binoculars than to cower in a tepid fear of failure in your big, lonely apartment.

I have to admit, it was pretty confiding (I said it!), whether upside or right side up.

Black-and-white Warblers are legendary for being impervious to the forces of gravity.

This is now officially my best Yellow Warbler shot. Time to break out the champagne. It's sweet-sweet-sweet-oh-so-sweet. That's birder humor right there, in case you missed it. Photographed at Lake Merced.

This is one of two Tropical Kingbirds that spent at least a month at Lake Merced. Some people saw them at retina-bursting close range, but that usually happened early in the morning...which is something I don't see a lot of (you know, Perpetual Weekend and all...).

One of the now famous "Devil Birds" that will soon turn Lake Merced into a biological cesspool of evil and filth. If you are unfamiliar with this story, it's just a Great-tailed Grackle that needs to look at itself in a mirror.

People are naturally drawn to chubby birds with short tails, so I know you are getting your kicks in with this young White-crowned Sparrow regrowing its tail. It most likely lost its tail in a close call with a predator. Hayward Regional Shoreline, CA.

Golden-crowned Sparrow is a west coast specialty. The sight of an adult Golden-crown mellowly frolicking through the morning dew makes the heart soar (not "sore") and the eyes water. It's an emotional bird. Lake Merced, CA.

The gray. The black. The GOLD. What a bird.

Green-winged Teal. Look at this plump little bastard. Now that its December and winter has come, ducks are going to be looking real sharp compared to their crappy fall coats. Radio Road, Redwood Shores, CA.

Northern Pintail is widely recognized as America's best dabbling duck. I am not one to argue with this...evolution has made the pintail one of the best examples of what can be accomplished within subtle confines of The Economy of Style. Photographed at Radio Road.

Just when you thought a drake pintail only had about 4 colors to offer, it busts out a purple patch on its head. Damn, what a bird.

Even when you've seen a billion, and you have pictures of a million, American Avocets fail to get old...especially in winter when they aren't shrieking their shrill death-calls at you.  Photographed at Radio Road.


  1. missed the white-faced Ibis @ Lake Merced ?

    1. Yup, can't say I looked for it though...I like getting county birds in SF, but I'm still not big on county listing.

  2. Can you really frolic mellowly? Purple pintail patch? Winter?? So many questions.

    My birding plans won't stop for Christmas... I am once again New England-bound for the holidays and completely ready to torment my family in freezing cold weather so I can look at stupid birds.

    1. Its all about the purp. Can't see it unless youre close and the light is good though.

      Sick. Massbirding? I am jealous, I could pick up a few lifers out there this time of year. I'll be in Costa Rica the day after Christmas though, boo-hoo.

  3. Shoot - I hope I wasn't part of that mob of birders getting too close to the B-and-W Warbler. I'm good at keeping my distance once I find a bird, but I do remember getting right up under some trees in that area trying to find the bird in the first place. Thanks for finding it...

    1. Hey Ken, well if you were, at least the bird didn't seem perturbed. I wasn't very keen on joining in the fray though.

  4. I'll believe winter is coming when it finally gets here, it is "supposed" to snow today but those weather forecasters are almost always wrong. Christmas won't stop my birding photography plans, in fact I relish going shooting Christmas morning because the crowds are at home unwrapping their pressies.

    Those Pintails are dashing and I don't care what anyone says, I think the Great-tailed Grackles are fascinating. The Black-and-white Warbler is striking!

    1. I'll be packing for Costa Rica Christmas day, so no birding for me. Boo-hoo...

  5. So I just wrote a nice long comment but my dumb internets went out...Anyway, I really dig those B&W warbler ones, but i am a little jealous of them, because i've never been able to get a decent photo of 'em! ANd that yeller - sweeet! (I'm really ready for the field season to start cause it's getting a little boring in here)