Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Shit and The Sand-Plover

What's that sound? Can you hear it? Maybe not, but I can smell it...the shitwinds are blowing, and you can bet that this is just the calm before the shitphoon that is about blow ashore...

We at BB&B are not the type of people to be optimistic about the next four (or eight) shitty years, not in the slightest. We are not the type of people to ask our brothers and sisters to reach out across the aisles of shit, to attempt handshakes that will just cover your hands in shit. We are far too realistic. For birds, the environment, and yes people too, the waves of shit are now towering above our heads, and when they break there will be nowhere to run. Drowning in shit is a frightening and very real possibility. The last Republican administration was a hellish thing to experience (on environmental and a great many other fronts), but remember this...even George W. Bush admitted that climate change was real, and who knows how things would have played out if his wife wasn't a birdwatcher! It's no coincidence that Papahānaumokuākea National Monument was created after Laura Bush visited Midway Atoll.

That said, I'm already sick of the blame game, the soapboxes, the half truths, the clickbait...especially the clickbait. We may be hanging our heads, but we are not the type of people to beat a dead shithorse. We will not drag this out any more today, just as we seem to be shaking off the great national hangover. But make no mistake...the shitreaper is coming, and we should all be very, very afraid. - Felonious Jive

Fall is winding down now...many of the summer's birds are already making themselves cozy on their wintering grounds, and we await for the winter's crop of waterfowl/raptors/gulls/rarities (???) to pile in. But the bay area's October bore one last juicy piece of fruit for me...LESSER SAND-PLOVER. After Matt Lau (birding hero) found and babysat the bird for several days, a small nerdsquadron was dispatched to make contact with the wayward Russian. Though a great many struggling birders had complained about the long, sandy walk out to the bird, we made a effortless beeline straight from the RCA Patch, complete with the blessing of the National Park Service as we were caught jumping the gate. Navigating our way through the dunes, we quickly found Matt Lau and a contingent of nerds, who were already on the bird.

I hadn't seen a Lesser Sand-Plover in a long time...a long time. Over 20 years in fact (thanks Don!). Now that I think about it, there is no other bird species I've seen before that I'd gone so long without seeing again. The plover did very plovery things, actively feeding almost the whole time we were there, which we appreciated considering that it does register pretty high on the drab scale.

Other birders really crushed the shit out of the bird on previous days, but we were in a foggy soup the whole time and wanted to avoid pushing around the Snowy Plovers it was with, so I'm happy with the mediocre images I got. Typically, one clueless birder coming towards us walked straight through the Snowy Plover flock without pause while we were waving our hands and shouting "no!" at him...ugh. Unbelievable. Not that a disturbance like that is the end of the world, but it's poor form to say the least.

Not that you can tell from these photos, but the thing that really struck me about this bird was how big it was much, much bigger than its Snowy Plover buddies, and really stood out. It was also not particularly cute, which is unusual for smaller plover species. The bird I saw previously seemed very small at the time (but it was completely alone) and was also as cute as goddamn button, but it was an obvious juvenile. I'm not sure what the consensus is on the age of this bird. At any rate, I'd been hoping to reconnect with this species for a great many years, and was stoked to do it in a county I love birding in. Thanks again Matt!

There was also a pair of Red Phalaropes feeding on the open beach, which is super weird. There have been hordes of them inshore this year though, so it wasn't totally shocking.

While this has been a great fall for birding, it has not been so for photography, for some reason. Here are some American White Pelicans that helped buck the trend at Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge.

White pelicans rank very high on the majestic scale, and I'm happy to have them around.

Not all monarchs migrate to Mexico; California has many important wintering sites as well. As with many birds, both the western and eastern monarch populations have experienced precipitous declines in the last 20 years. That's some shit. Photographed at Point Reyes, CA.

My last trip out to Point Reyes with Don Francisco was solid (hello golden-plovers, 112 species on the day) but did not produce anything interesting in the vague runt traps. The resident Great Horned Owls at Mendoza that roost above the cattle guard could give a fuck, but then again they don't seem to give a fuck about anything except sleeping.

I went out to Marin again last weekend to check out the new tidal marsh at Hamilton Field for the first time...damn, that place is good! Much vague runt potential there, and an impressive example of what restoration can do around these parts (it used to be an airfield). I stopped at the Las Gallinas Ponds on the way back, and had nothing unusual save for a brown blackbird with a yellow eye that I could not will into being a Rusty. This immature Red-tailed Hawk let me walk right under it though, so I gave it a quick crush.

Gadwalls...what would we do without Gadwalls? It is a necessary duck. Mark my words...the day Gadwalls go extinct will be the day human beings go extinct.

The bay area offers a great many opportunities to observe and photograph waterfowl at close range, but Cinnamon Teal are not particularly confiding, especially now that the Radio Road ponds are going to be out of commission. This hen didn't seem to know that though. She had a very drab, almost featureless facial pattern typical of the species.

That's all the time we have today. The Great Ornithologist Felonious Jive would like to thank the phenomenal Trailer Park Boys for his inspiration today. Until the next post, I highly recommend you hang up your keyboard commando boots and go birding...

Or drinking. That helps too.


  1. Nice plover.

    This post makes me want to get a gun and start offing gadwalls.

  2. Good words GOFJ. Good birds SS

  3. Cheers to drinking our way through the up and coming shot tornado. I saw that picture of the phalarope and immediately thought, "What the fuck is a phalarope doing on the beach?"

  4. Yup. Full out environmental armageddon is looming. There is no reaching across the aisle of sludge to those responsible for the looming shitapocolypse. Scary times my friend.

  5. I hope that no matter how deep the shite gets, there will always be birds.