Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Total Chaos

It's been a while since I've done one of these posts, and I will go ahead and admit it up front: this post is nothing but old-fashioned TOTAL CHAOS.  Anyone remember that band?  Not sure why anyone liked them.  Anyways, this post is nothing but random birds that have not yet found their way into any other posts yet, but here they are.  There is no rhyme or reason, just a smorgasboard of bay area birds from earlier this spring.

Let's lead things off with a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.  Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is a rare bird here...nothing anyone would shit their pants over, but it's a good bird to bat leadoff in today's post. This bird has wintered at Don Castro Regional Recreation Area the past few years and I thought it would be best to pay it a visit.

It was hella cooperative, loafing on a tree next to the trail, occasionally sidling over to its sap wells for some sugary goodness.

Did someone say...gulls?  No?  Phew.  Can you imagine if it was gull season year round?  Fuck, that would be brutal.  Luckily, despite how well-adapted gulls are to humanity, they still migrate away from where I live for half the year.  This male Thayer's Gull is a long, long way from here right now.

Despite the identification challenges involved, birders love Thayer's Gulls.  They really do.  That's why I post so many of them on here.  Unlike most birders, I have the opportunity to walk right up to them and crush them with reckless abandon, without any regard to my personal safety.  Why do I do it? Because being scared of a Thayer's Gull is a ridiculous notion.

Far less inspiring, I am also not afraid to get close to Herring X Glaucous-winged Gull hybrids.  It's pretty gross though...I am always left feeling so...impure.  Note the yellowish orbital on this abomination.

Like silent gulls, silent dowitchers can always provide an identification challenge.  The bird coming into alternate plumage on the left (yes, the one with the short bill) has distinct, fine spotting on the breast, which is mellow for Short-billed Dowitcher.  The bird on the right has some different patterning on the breast, but since it is molting I'm not quite sure what to make of it.

A dowitcher is half the size of a Marbled Godwit, if that, though that doesn't seem to prevent them from wanting to unnecessarily roost inches away from one another...maybe the dowitcher was using the godwit as a wind break? At any rate, if this scene doesn't represent total chaos, then I don't know what does.

From one vantage point at a local park here in the east bay, the voyeuristic birder can watch feeding shorebirds directly beneath you on the rising or falling tide.  Western Sandpipers in high spring fashion have fantastically intricate back patterns that are hard to ignore.  I've said it before, but I don't understand the birder who doesn't have the stomach for sorting through shorebird flocks.

Look at those linear chevron patterns on the mantle.  This is really an underrated bird if you ask #7...look at one of these little cripplers for too long, and it will break your will to look at any other birds the rest of the day, abundance be damned.  Feeding in bubbles isn't helping things.

Forster's Terns have finally quit looking horrible and regained their simple yet elegant form of spring.

Up Mendocino way, this Golden Eagle greeted our crew of vagrant-starved nerds as we set out to see the Brownish Shrike.  As far as omens go, it's hard to top a Golden Eagle, and the cooperative shrike popped up after only a couple minutes of waiting.

You may look upon this image and think to yourself, "well this is certainly rubbish"...but you would be wrong.  For this is not a terrible picture of an American Robin, it is actually a profound photograph of a Varied Thrush.  The Varied Thrush is a bird of the ground, and a bird of the shadows.  This image captures the very essence of the Varied Thrush, and you know what that means...you are looking upon art.


  1. We need a Blantons cork in the pic to make it really artsy :)

  2. Haha. Yes, I remember Total Chaos. Or at least heard them. If there's a third birder in the world who has though I'll be amazed.

    I would actually consider VATH a bird of the trees, at least that's where I typically see them during the summer when I encounter them in the mountains.

  3. #3 who remembers that shitty band.

  4. Profound, yes. Also, eerily similar to the poster for The Exorcist. "The power of Ixoreus compels you"

  5. Given how impossibly sleek that tern is, I suspect they think most other birds are total slobs.
    That shot (& the thrush) made this minimalist happy.