Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving Day Birding.

Well, it's been awhile.

And Ryan and I have seen a lot of birds.

On Thanksgiving we went to Harkin's Slough, in Watsonville, and then Kirby Park, which is only a few miles south of Moss Landing.  We saw:

Tricolored Blackbird
Lesser Yellowlegs
Cinnamon Teal
Black-crowned Night Heron
Comoon Moorhen
Ruddy Duck
Northern Flicker
Yellow-rumped Warbler
American Avocet
Northern Pintail
White-faced Ibis (which is actually pretty rare in this area)
Long-Billed Curlew
Say's Phoebe
Western Sandpiper
Red-Shouldered Hawk
Western Gull
Black-necked Stilt

All those species in only one day!  Our total "life list" of species has now topped 60.

Eventually we need to get a better pair of binoculars with a higher magnification (we're using 7X).  Some of the birds are so small and so far away that it's nearly impossible to make out differentiating markers that point to their species.  10x binoculars would be better.

Anyway, best way to spend Thanksgiving: outside.  No one is usually out and about and we practically had the whole slough to ourselves.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Antonelli's Pond and Elkhorn Slough.

More birding today.  It is actually much more difficult than I thought it would be to identify birds.  This morning Ryan and I turned an impromptu visit to Antonelli's Pond into a bird watching/frisbee tournament.  I was able to identify a black phoebe,  and a coot (there were quite a few).  There was also an egret but I was unable to tell if it was a great or a snowy without binoculars.

In the afternoon I drove myself to Elkhorn Slough, and after writing a check for $2.50 and dousing the souls of my shoes in anti-sudden-oak-death-liquid, walked some trails to find some birds.  This was where I began to full realize how limited my bird identification skills (as well as my $20 binoculars) were.

Although I saw tons of birds, I was only able to identify a few:

Scrub Jay
(saw some more Buffleheads)
Great Ergret
House Finch
Red Winged Blackbird (female)
Brown Pelican

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bufflehead. First on the list.


Walking downtown Ryan and I spotted a whole bunch of ducks swimming, sleeping, and feeding in the river by our apartment. We were able to identify some of the ducks we saw (mallards, egret), but not this little black and white guy. (The photo is of the male) Turns out the Bufflehead is the smallest duck in North America, and migrate from the Northern part of the continent to the eastern and western coasts. They also tend to mate monogomously, unlike most ducks.

We also saw an odd mallard that we were unable to identify. One of the distinguishing characteristics of a mallard is the white ring around it's neck, but the duck we saw (relaxing with other mallards on rocks) was sans ring, and almost twice the size of the other ducks. It had a green head, and dark brown body.

Our research led us to the fact that mallards are the most common ducks to produce hybrids, with over 400 hybrids having been identified.

Now I need to start taking my camera everywhere I go, so that I can start taking photographs of all these birds!

Birds Sighted:
1. Bufflehead
2. Mallard
3. Great Egret