Thursday, February 14, 2013

Some Recent Birds: Majestic, Mighty, Nemesis, Oiled, Typical, Snazzy, Grotesque, Crippling.

Not much new to report here at BB&B. Post-Costa Rica birding has been good, but has gotten a bit slow lately...even year birds are getting difficult. I do have my first job interview of the year next week, and so The Perpetual Weekend is now in jeopardy.

Here is a Black Turnstone that happened to land in front of me. They are common along the west coast, but this would be a definite MEGA in any of the other states...just a matter of time, I reckon. Photographed at Pillar Point Harbor, CA.

Behold its breathtaking wingspan.

Majestic, as always.

The Mighty Dunlin: Often seen, but rarely me anyways. Coyote Point County Park, San Mateo, CA.

It's still gull season here on the California coast. Despite my efforts I have seen absolutely nothing interesting beyond a handful of freaks and unusual hybrids since locking on to my state nemesis Slaty-backed Gull (above, middlish) in Sausalito several weeks ago, where this was photographed. Other birds in this photo are Glaucous-winged X Western Gulls (aka "Olympic" Gulls), and a pure Western Gull (bottom left). Oh, if you disagree with any of my gull ID's, please provide cruel negative feedback.

The oiled bird is an adult Herring Gull; the bird in front is a pale-eyed Thayer's Gull. Herring and pale-eyed Thayer's can certainly be confused for one another...I think this photo shows the contrast in bill and head shape between the two pretty well. Pilarcitos Creek, Half Moon Bay, CA.

A pretty typical first cycle Glaucous-winged Gull with a bit more pink in the bill than normal, but that is not unusual in late winter. Sausalito, CA.

I don't think Eurasian Wigeon has graced BB&B many times, although I am lucky enough to see them pretty regularly. The drakes (left) are really snazzy looking ducks, and the hens (not pictured) provide a good ID challenge. Pier 94, San Francisco, CA.

Here is a grotesque Greater Scaup. I don't know how a duck goes about having a huge chunk of it's bill removed...that's gotta hurt. Lake Merritt, Oakland, CA.

Here is a non-grotesque Greater Scaup for comparison. Lake Merritt.

Harlequin Duck is in that small realm of birds that defy explanation, both in plumage and lifestyle. Someday I hope to have some photographs that do them justice, but at the moment all I have is stuff like this. This crippler is hanging out at Pier 94 with a female Surf Scoter.


  1. Isn't it in the nature of a Harlequin to be perplexing, frustrating, confusing? It's probably one of the better-named birds around.

    I will not be goaded into a Gull fight, which is too bad cause' otherwise I don't have much to say, except that you've made Black Turnstones look about as badass in your photos as ever I've seen em'. Nice work.

    Think the snaggle tooth duck got stuck in something or was attacked?

    1. I have no idea what could have befallen the scaup. Perhaps it had a beak to face underwater encounter with a snapping turtle.

  2. Did like the Herring Thayers comparison shot, perhaps it's not just shape but bill size. Year bird situation, classic law of diminishing returns.

    1. Yes, bill size would be more accurate. Year bird sitch would be different if I did something other than bird the same spots over and over again...

  3. I too appreciated the Herring/Thayer's comparison. Why can't they always line up like that?? So are you battling anyone for year birds this year?