Friday, November 26, 2010

A Couple of Hummers

California has 2 hummingbirds that hang around through fall and even winter - Allen's and Anna's. I got to see both of these little beauties up close and personal on my trip last week. They are both pretty fearless. They flew right past me many times squeaking all the time. They perched close on the ends of dead branches either in trees or bushes. They hovered around flowers. They chased each other around fiercely.

Anna's hummingbirds are abundant. They have brilliant magenta heads and throats. Really brilliant:

Ok, so you can't always see the brilliant magenta. How about this backlit photo. Do you believe me now?

Sometimes the bird lands and you can't see it you get this sudden blast of magenta which gives the bird's location away.

None of the photos above show the full brilliance of the head and throat. I couldn't get the bugger to face the sun!

Allen's hummingbirds do not have flashy colors but they are subtly handsome with their rust tones.

The photos are not good quality but you can see how adorable these birds are anyway. I hope you enjoy them.

Monday, November 22, 2010

More West Coast Birding Briefs

I finally figured out how to work around the photo upload glitch so here are some more photos from my fabulous west coast trip starting with water birds. I got 4 different grebes on this trip including many Pie-billed and Western grebes, a few Horned grebes, plus a Clarke's grebe. Here are some photos. Its hard to see the difference between Western and Clarke's grebe. You have to get a really good look at the eyes.

Western Grebe - notice how the black cap comes down to the eye

Clarke's Grebe - notice how the white surrounds the eye, no black

Horned Grebe - notice the point on the back of the head

Pie-billed Grebe - notice how darned cute it is

I also had good luck with Spotted Sandpiper on this trip. I practically tripped over this one several times. It just wouldn't run away from me. It finally popped out into the sunlight for this shot.
Spotted Sandpiper - notice the stout legs

And finally, this Kestral eating some sort of mouse on the top of a telephone pole. There was a guy flying a 'tethered airplane' about 50 feet away from the Kestral. The plane whirling by again and again. The Kestral was completely unphased.

American Kestral - notice the poor little mouse

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Scoters Anyone?

I dragged poor Sam out birding with me yesterday.  Sam is a young man that works at NPower and made the mistake of telling me that he would go along.  So, I dragged him along.  He was very polite and acted interested in the birds.  The first bird we encountered was a Turkey Vulture perched on a fence post that did not move even when we approached within 20 yards or so.  We were birding MLK park which is also known as Arrowhead Marsh (again with the arrows) which is a salwater harbor.  We saw alot of birds.  I'll do another post on it tomorrow. 

The bird that was really incredible to see up close was the Surf Scoter.  It is the most interesting of all the scoters.  Here are some photos (pretty good if I do say so myself).

Blogger is being a real pain in my ass lately. The images will not load properly so I have to edit the HTML code myself. The photos may be a little disproportionate. I'll repost them when Blogger is fixed.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Birds, Arrows and V16s

A quick jaunt to Pasadena to visit my uncle netted me some great little birds at the local park called Lower Arroyo Seco. The park is part of the Rose Bowl complex and runs along the Arroyo Seco which is a "river".  River is in quotes because all rivers in the Los Angeles area are basically trickles of water that run through an ugly concrete conduit with chain link fence on either side to keep people from drowning when it actually has water in it during flash floods.  You expect a car chase from a cheesy 70's cop show or movie at any moment.

This particular section of the Arroyo Seco is set up for archery.  There are targets set up on big bails of hay with distance markers etc all along one side of the "river".  It is pretty cool.  People show up with their bows and quivers full of arrows.  Blunt point only.  Signs posted everywhere state "NO BROADHEADS".  There are also people with dogs and kids running all over too.  Nobody gets shot.  Oh yes, and birds are all over too.  Typical California birds such as this Bushtit which swarm around in flocks of 10 - 40 at a time flitting from tree to tree all the way down the river, then back again.  It is pretty neat. 

More on that later.  More about arrows and V16s.  I only had the day to spend with my uncle.  We hung around the house, then went to brunch.  All the time, he is calling his friend Aaron asking about "the collection".  When would he be at the warehouse?  Although this went on all day, I really didn't even ask about it but at 4:30, Aaron called to say that he was at the warehouse and to come over.  So off we went.  I thought we were in for some artsy craftsy type stuff.  This is what we found:

This is only part of his private collection in his suped up garage warehouse called The Flying A Garage.  He is a collector of rare/classic/amazing cars.  He shows them and also uses them for charity events.  I thought this bird photography was an expensive hobby.  HA.  I'm ashamed that I ever thought that.  It was truly an awesome experience to meet this man and see this collection of cars.  More to come.  I'm in Oakland now.  Sam just showed up and we are off to explore the bay for birds before our conference begins.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Answer My Friend

Was blowin' in the wind today.  Boy, was it windy at the shore.  Di and I almost got blown off of Higbee beach.  It was blowing in from the bay and pushed the water so high that there wasn't any beach to walk on.  I dragged Di down the shore in hopes of seeing a Redhead (which is a duck, not a woman with red hair). We didn't see the duck but we did see some other good birds.

We did have a sparrow smorgasbord in the field.  I took alot of photos of sparrows for identification purposes. And, I am still unsure of this one ( I think Swamp Sparrow).

We also saw a good number of hawks.  Sharp-shinned hawks were everywhere along with Red-shouldered and Red-tailed.  We even saw a Red-tailed Hawk that was getting banded at the hawk watch platform.  Here is the bander holding the hawk.  It was soon released but I couldn't get a good shot of it.

I also got these shots of Norther Shovelers. Male:
 Typical Pose with butts in the air:

Monday, November 1, 2010

Those Damned Jones

You know the feeling.  You've experienced this a number of times in your life - both personally and professionally:  You do something that makes you feel good - like buying a new Subaru, or having a good birding day - only to have someone else buy something better - like buying a BMW, or having an unprecedented birding day.

Take this weekend for example.  On Saturday, Connie and I had to buy a new Subaru. Our Forrester was just giving up the ghost.  After a long day at the dealer, we chose an Outback over the Forrester and chose Azurite Blue Pearl with Warm Ivory interior.  Pretty car and nice to drive.  Exhausted from the experience, we went home and collapsed.  Lori and I had plans to go to Lake Galena on Sunday morning, so I needed the sleep and never checked the Internet birding reports. . .

Of course we drove the new Outback to the Lake.  Tara joined us for a nice surprise and so did Roxy.  We can take Roxy with us on some trails, but not on others so we leave her in the car (don't call the Humane Society, it was 50 degrees and overcast).  We had a pretty good day and got a Purple Finch, Hermit Thrush, Kinglets, Juncos, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Flickers and various Sparrows.  I even got this good photo of the Purple Finch:

Now for the deflated feeling.  Although I didn't speak to anyone who bought a BMW or got a better deal on their Outback, Roxy did manage to get into Lori's PBJ sandwiches and proceed to eat them, drop the PB and Jelly on the Warm Ivory passenger seat of the new car, step in it and parade all over the backseat too.  We were horrified upon our return to the vehicle.  (Humane Society folks are now mumbling something about divine intervention).  Once we got home and cleaned up that mess, I settled onto the sofa to log our sightings in eBird and check the birding reports.  What a mistake.  You have to read this to believe what we missed by not going to Cape May this weekend.  Please read it View from the Cape and tell remind me that we got Purple Finch and a new car . . . .