Sunday, April 28, 2013

Birds For Bullshit Artists, A Pipit of Excellent Posture, and More

American Pipits have captured the hearts of birders almost solely on personality alone, although no one can deny their excellent posture. Maybe that is why vagrant Red-throated Pipits always hang out with them in fall...the assertive strut of the American inspires nothing but confidence in the disoriented, Red-throateds. San Leandro Marina, San Leandro, CA.

As some of you know, I am in the midst of what biologists call "the field season", when we are constantly working out of doors for long hours, being stressed out, exhausted, occasionally risking extreme bodily harm...and have the lame ability to go to sleep before 9 PM. So my apologies for not keeping up my rigorous BB&B posting schedule of the gone (but not forgotten) Perpetual Weekend. In honor of said seven month long weekend, here are a few birds from the end of winter that never made it onto BB&B.

I hope you all are getting a stronger dose of spring migration than I am. I did get my FOS Olive-sided Flycatcher here on Santa Cruz  Island the other day, although it wasn't a year bird (thank you Costa Rica).

Somewhere...somehow...a Black Turnstone is watching you. North Jetty of Humboldt Bay, CA.

This the Purple Finch's first visit to BB&B...although not rare by any means, I just don't see them too frequently in California. I always thought the huge hole in their range in the Lower 48 was strange...I'm sure Cassin's Finches fill their niche in many mountain ranges, but you can find them side by side in some places in California. Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA.

A homely Hooded Merganser hen nibbles a stickleback. Mergansers eat a lot of sticklebacks in this little pond at Golden Gate Park, and they always nibble the shit out of the fish before actually swallowing them...perhaps they just need to get the fish into the perfect position to swallow, or else they will get stickled. Stickled? Stuckled? Stuck.

American Wigeon. The abundance and variety of subtle patterns found in waterfowl feathers blows me away. Golden Gate Park.

Great-tailed Grackle. I think that brownish wash in the iris is leftover color from being a young males have bright yellow eyes. Lake Merced, San Francisco, CA.

Although I am writing this at the height of spring migration, I know some of you sick bastards secretly are really missing gull season. Here is a weird worn and whitish Herring Gull...this was taken almost 2 months ago, so it's probably doing a good Glaucous Gull impression somewhere by now. Golden Gate Park.

Although superficially resembling a Thayer's Gull (ok...not superficially, it really does), check out the size of the bill on this bird. Not exactly cute, is it? What we have here is a Glaucous-winged X Herring Gull, not a rare bird in northern California but always worth a good study. Lake Merritt, Oakland, CA.

Compare the above bird with this little bird. Look how cute and neat it looks! Look at that little-bitty bill! This is a first cycle Thayer's Gull. Many in late winter have extensive pink in the bill, as this bird does. Lake Merritt.

Enough of gulls already. Gulls are essentially bullshit, just fodder for birding bullshit artists. Forster's Terns are not. San Leandro Marina.

After missing them entirely in 2012, I finally ran into some Red Crossbills at Redwood National Park, in Humboldt County, CA. The (red) woods were teeming with them, in fact. Check out the length of the primaries of the bird on the right! These birds were literally built to be nomads.

Some photogs would have just thrown this picture out, but I think this fleeing Red-tailed Hawk (which I did NOT flush, thanks) has its own merits. This picture is a poor imitation of what Walter Kitundu can do...he is a bay area photographer who gets some amazing perspectives. Photographed at Golden Gate Park.


  1. Sweet sick shots Seagull, especially of that radioactive water in which the Mergansers gets her stickles.

    1. Some birds always think there is better foraging in greener waters.

      Get it???

  2. Wonderful images Seagull, I know I like that last image a lot because I see that view often!

    1. to get to work on creating some NEW images...time off is hard to come by out here.

  3. I think that's a greay shot of the Red-tailed as well! Nice action shot of the Forster's as well! I was watching a small group of them pluck frogs out of a pond today, then consume them midair. Pretty cool.

    1. Frogs?! I've never seen them eat frogs. You Floridians are crazy!

  4. =) Really love that black turnstone shot. I've always loved those guys: so industrious, so pleasantly plump, SO easy to ID and count in a shorebird survey... Adorbs. And I've hardly ever had anyone point them out and exclaim how cool they are, yet, they are. Under-birds.

    If you are so exhausted from fieldwork that you are crapping out at 8-something p.m., you are CRANKING! Nicely done. Delightful post, as per.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.