Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Hacking My Way Through The Field Season

I'm over halfway through my field season...time flies! The Global Birder Ranking System awarded me many points when I Haynored this female Lark Bunting through a dirty truck window at Christy Ranch last month. Not only a very rare spring bird anywhere in California, it is the first one ever recorded on Santa Cruz Island! This one is especially white and neatly-marked.

This Yellow-headed Blackbird (immature male?) was around for a few days as well. In fact, I got to put it on my meat list. I realize some of you think that I'm making me dumb Farrallon joke, but the original definition of this phrase (which came into existence years before) is far more perverse...I will enlighten you all soon.

I crushed this Rock Wren back in March, but I visited its territory again recently for another round. I think it likes the attention. I wonder what singing birds think when they attract a large half-asian birder instead of a female.

California Quail are introduced on Santa Cruz Island, but they don't seem out of place. A couple feather piles I've found make me think the foxes don't mind them being there either. My inner biologist tells me to shun them, but I like them anyway.

It seems I've never posted a Pacific-slope Flycatcher before. I practically melted my camera firing off shots of this confiding individual at the Scorpion Ranch visitor center. No one will ever call this bird a facemelter, but it's hard not to like them.

This is a nesting colony of Brandt's Cormorants, one of the things I'm paid to look at. By the time I get back out there practically ever Brandt's Cormorant nest will have hatched eggs, and some will have large chicks. The nests I'm monitoring seem to be doing pretty good, but we'll see how many chicks get fledged.

One of the views at Christy Ranch, one of my temporary homes for the summer. Not bad, eh?

Gratuitous Island Fox cuteness.

They seem to constantly be squinting. Maybe their allergies are as bad as mine.

A young Barn Swallow keels over and dies. The end of days are upon us. When the swallows fall from the skies, we can expect the skies to be falling right behind them. Repent! Repent for all your misidentifications! Repent for the times you nerdily tried to one-up another birder in conversation!

Who said that? This bird is just sunbathing.

The "jay crew" reports that Island Scrub-Jays are having a terrible year. Very few young are fledging, and they are finding some birds far from where they are expected (these birds are not prone to wandering). I haven't seen any juveniles at all yet. This can probably be directly or indirectly attributed to the drought, but its hard to say whats giving them problems for sure.

I'm really hoping the drought breaks next winter. Everything needs the water...of course, this is all just going to get worse as the years go is pain, unless you are looking at an Island Scrub-Jay lifting its skirt.

I have seen this Zombie Spotted Towhee a number of times. I don't know what's going on with it; the other side of its face looks even worse, with a lot more blue-gray close to an actual Terminator a Spotted Towhee can get. Luckily for us, this bird only terminates seeds and insects.


  1. Dude. Black-and-white Warbler today. Yum.

    1. That's a good bird. Crossing my fingers for something at Christy!

  2. Damn, I was all whoa, Tucker's gettin dark with the dead bird shit... Trying to snap us out of foxy cuteness distraction?

  3. Was birding up in Ouray, Colorado with a group and the leader mentioned that the Steller's Jay population in the area was being decimated a virus. Hope that's not happening with your Scrub Jays.

    1. I haven't heard any talk about a lot of adult mortality, so hopefully its just a bad year for breeding.

  4. I hope the Jays do better next season Steve. :-( Droughts suck but we had better get used to them more & more in the future.

    You crushed the wren! Coyotes here seem to squint as much your fox, I just figured they don't like the really bright light in their eyes.

    Missed seeing your posts while I was in Montana.