Tuesday, March 4, 2014

So Long California

Sometimes a bird will be so used to people that it maddeningly won't acknowledge your presence. If a bird can't be bothered to look at you, then the best thing to do is to crush the rest of its body. Great Blue Heron, Marin Civic Center, San Rafael, CA.

I've noticed that most of my posts lately have had some kind of central subject or theme to them, which is very unlike me...it's high time I do a potpourri (aka diarrhea) post. I don't do a very good job at keeping BB&B in sync with current events and photos that I take, so here's some randomness from the last couple of months...it may be my last California post for a while.

I haven't done that much birding lately...my year list could be a lot higher than it is, but that is something I can live with. If it wasn't for time spent in Baja, it would be borderline pathetic. Maybe that's not something the nation's #7 birder should readily admit to, but such is life. Of course, not being able to live with this fact would be shameful...I am not just a creature of lists and ticking. Tomorrow I embark on my road trip to the Lower Rio Grande Valley, so all that will change soon. My eBird rarity alerts no longer feature counties like Alameda, San Francisco and Marin...instead they are set to unfamiliar names like Cameron, Hidalgo, and Starr. The winds of change are blowing strong.

If you missed it, The Great Ornithologist Felonious Jive posted at 10,000 Birds on his feelings about being birding's ambassador, and how you too can share the stage. I can offer my own advice on the matter...more bourbon, less bitching.

Watching birds take baths is always fun. There seems to be a tangible enjoyment that they take in it...although I have seen a couple night-herons that seemed completely dismal about it. Snowy Egret, Marin Civic Center.

More plumes. I don't think of American White Pelicans as a tufted bird, but that's because I'm an idiot. Photographed at Lake Merritt, Oakland, CA. This is a free-flying bird, not Hank (a non-flying bird).

There is more than one tufted fowl that allows crushes at Lake Merritt.

I generally don't bother photographing this bird until February every year, because it just kind of looks like shit earlier in the season. It's flanks are now pristine and it's tuft grows more voluptuous by the day. I reckon it will be around for at least a couple more weeks.

It took me a few years to get a decent open-wing shot; this one works for me.

Birds are funny. Great Egret, Lake Merritt.

I am unhappy with all the Barnacle Geese that show up in the northeast every winter now. Not because I think they are all escapees, but because thousands of birders are gripping me off. At least we have Ross's Geese. Marin Civic Center.

Why the rippley neck? One of the great mysteries of the universe.

A drake Gadwall displays his bulging, scallopy breast. It's hard to look away. Marin Civic Center.

So majestic. Soon, I will find myself beleaguered by Mottled Ducks, which has been nominated for Most Boring Native Bird. Of course, two species of whistling-duck will be providing me company as well.

If Slartibartfast designed ducks instead of continents, there is no doubt he would get an award for Northern Pintail. Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA.

This Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (a BB&B first) was a cripple. Not a crippler, since it's pretty shoddy looking, but a cripple; it's right wing is pretty mangled and only useful in that it can aid in fluttering to the ground so the sapsucker could make it's way to the next closest tree. Canada Larga Road, Ventura County, CA.

Hopefully the wing injury wasn't permanent; at least the bird had a good food source.

Loggerhead Shrike is a fairly common bird that I love that I just have not administered a brutal crushing to yet. I'm working on it though. Canada Larga Road.

Cropped differently than the above photo. I think I like this version better.

Shorebird enjoyment: one of the handful of "family-friendly" activities that I can also condone. Middle Harbor Shoreline Park, Oakland, CA.

Dunlin and Western Sandpipers comprise the bulk of the big sandpiper flocks in the bay area in winter. The economy of style is almost too much to handle...thankfully, most other birds don't wear such dismal attire. Middle Harbor Shoreline Park.

American Avocets were one of the first birds I was really fond of before I became a birder. Not a trigger bird per se, but a solid gateway species. Middle Harbor Shoreline Park.

I get dangerously accustomed to Heermann's Gulls sometimes. They really are striking, and we are lucky to have them. Berkeley Fishing Pier, Berkeley, CA.

This gull had put on some eyeshadow to get the cat-eyed look that's popular with the ladies these days. It will undoubtedly be participating in numerous copulations once it gets to Baja.


  1. In my book, those Loggerhead Shrike photos would be considered brutal crushings. Perhaps I use a different field guide from you. Safe travels and all that. I'll be in CA Thursday, hopefully your stank will have dissipated by then. Is stank a word? I don't know where that just came from.

    1. It seems right, although "stench" is probably what you were looking for. See you down there?

  2. Can a loggerhead shrike be truly crushed without it crushing a lizard in its bill? Safe travels man.

    1. Christ what I wouldn't do for a photo like that.

  3. I really appreciated the Hitchhiker's reference. Safe travels. Super jealous about your new location. Expecting great crushes.

  4. Oh man...I didn't think anyone else knew about the south Texas area being good for birds. I guess the secret is out.

    Good luck with the move and upcoming tropical birding--I'll be most looking forward to your posts.
    Come June it'll being piling cigarettes, bourbon, cheez-its, and cherries in the car and heading on a week+ long road trip through New Mexico (gotta get APFA) and Big Bend (COWA), stopping to get Golden-cheeked before hitting the RGVA fro 5 or so days. The plan is to live in the car and bum wifi and outdoor showers from the Gulf coast resorts.

    Harlingen got me hooked on birding, when I was so young and helpless, and I must return to the area to crush Green Jays and other absurd birds.
    Crimson Collared Grosbeak or bust!

    I'll be taking notes on all your findings in the mean time.


    1. Damn...that's a hell of a road trip you've got planned, should be a great trip list. I'll see what I can do about that grosbeak.