Thursday, May 18, 2017

Squid, Scum, Styrofoam, Scavengers

It's May. Not much birding lately...except from my exceptional yard. So far this month, I have the best yard list in the entire state, in eBird anyway. What else do you expect from #7? I'm not fucking around over here. Yardbirding has suddenly become very serious. But more on that to come...

Though I haven't been slaying lately, I did bird a great deal this winter and earlier this spring, so let's dip into that, starting with a Squid Crow. I've seen American Crows eat a great many different things, but this is the first one I've seen with a squid. The novelty is compelling; the ramifications are still being fully ascertained. San Leando Marina, San Leando, CA.

This first cycle Herring Gull was pleasantly typical. Novelty may be something worth seeing with Corvids, but not with large gulls. Revel in the simple gulls such as this that do not leave you wanting to reach for the bottle. San Leandro Marina, San Leandro, CA.

Soon, Thayer's (above) and Iceland Gulls may become much less of an identification headache. We are now in the calm before the shitstorm of butthurt that will come ashore when these birds are lumped. Get you shitjackets ready. San Leandro Marina, San Leandro, CA.

Anyone know who is putting field-readable bands on Western Gulls in the last few years? The banded birds from the Farallones typically just have an unnumbered color band as far as I know. San Leandro Marina, San Leandro, CA.

I'm sure something ended up scavenging this hapless scaup. Life is pain. Lake Merritt, Oakland, CA.

Is this what the future of birding looks like? Scum, styrofoam, and a mopey Mew Gull? Perhaps. Lake Merritt, Oakland, CA.

This Glaucous-winged Gull* has beady black eyes. Trippy. It looks possessed. Look away, nothing novel to see here. Lake Merritt, Oakland, CA.

*Not sure if Olympic Gull can be ruled out, but at the very least it presents as a GWGU.

Here is a more typical-looking Glaucous-wing. Not novel. That is fine. Lake Merritt, Oakland, CA.

We get a lot of birds that look like this in the bay in the winter. They aren't very big, and at first glance they look like a good candidate for a Herring or a pale-eyed Thayer's. In fact, with a second or third glance, they still like one of those two. Lake Merritt, Oakland, CA.

Take a look at the orbital's almost colorless. A grayish pink? It's not what you would expect on either a Herring or Thayer's. I reckon this is a Herring X Glaucous-winged that looks mostly like a Herring. Oh, and it did not show a Thayer's pattern on the underside of the primaries, if you are wondering.

Since we may be saying goodbye to Thayer's Gull, here is another one. So long, old friend. Pacifica Pier, Pacifica, CA.

Few species in the world have had poorer reproductive success than Heermann's Gulls in the last few years. HEEGs drew the short straw as far as fledging chicks goes...we in California can tell because juveniles have suddenly become rarities. Not mellow. Pacifica Pier, Pacifica, CA.

There are a few places around the bay area where Common Ravens are extremely tame. Though abundant and generally bad for nesting birds, they are pretty impressive up close. Look at that profile! Those cankles! Pacifica Pier, Pacifica, CA.


  1. Shitstorm heard many times, but shitstorm of butthurt is a first for me. Nice!

    1. Shitstorms and Butthurt go hand in shitty hand!

  2. Looking at winter gulls in May is brutal. Thanks for the torture.

    1. We must prepare for their return. They'll soon be back, and in greater numbers.