(Anthus rubescens) is one of those birds that I often miss while watching for larger, more familiar birds. From a distance, I mistake them for sparrows.
American Pipets are just that: American. They breed in the Arctic regions of Alaska and Canada, and migrate in the winter season to the southern tier of U.S. States and Mexico. They occasionally show up in Japan and Korea, where a closely related subspecies lives, the Siberian or Japanese Pipet.
Wednesday, November 22, 2017
I don't why this made me think of Thanksgiving, but I was walking out at the San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge this afternoon when I saw a Great Egret (Ardea alba) and a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) sharing a branch on a tree by the slough. I saw two different, yet related species occupying close quarters, and doing so quite peaceably.
|Doesn't the heron in flight remind you of a dragon?|
Monday, November 20, 2017
Ae'o (Himantopus mexicanus knudseni). Why? Because it lives in the Hawaiian Islands, 2,000 miles from any other populations. A few somehow made it across the ocean and survived in the strange new environment of the islands. Most stilt populations are stable and doing well, but the Ae'o is threatened because most of the Hawaiian freshwater marshes have been co-opted by development for agriculture or urban expansion (see a picture of one at the end of this post).
Monday, November 13, 2017
Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge near Sacramento. On Saturday we were touring the Merced National Wildlife Refuge, and had stopped to try and catch some Stilts. I noticed a gray blob in the reeds, and for once actually thought "Sora", and tried to focus in. These aren't great shots, but they are better than my previous effort.
Friday, November 10, 2017
exactly one month ago. We headed out to the refuge this afternoon, and I walked the same Bittern Marsh trail that I walked last month, and to my surprise, I saw another Great Horned Owl, quite possibly in the same tree. I would say that it is the same individual, but this one seems a bit thinner (maybe it's the angle).
Today was another case of being closer to the bird that is comfortable, but I didn't see the bird until I was actually walking past it (about 40 feet way), but this time it didn't scare or fly away. It just kept an eye on me (well, two eyes...two very intense eyes).
The Merced Refuge has several nice walking trails in addition to the six mile auto-tour. It is already full of all kinds of birds, especially thousands of Sandhill Cranes. There are hundreds of Snow Geese, but thousands more are on their way. If you find yourself anywhere near Merced in the next few months, be sure to check it out. It is always interesting, and when tens of thousands of birds take flight all at once, it is spectacular.
|The owl is just about in the center of the picture.|
Thursday, November 9, 2017
So...I was out for my normal lunchtime stroll, and was looking for a small raptor that I've seen hanging out in a dead ash tree at the north end of Parking Lot 209. I noticed another bird in the upper branches and turned on the camera to get a closer look. It had the characteristic yellow underside and the charcoal colored head with the white neck stripe of a Cassin's. I got these pictures, did a quick check with the local Audubon folks and confirmed that my identification was correct. So now I've seen two rare birds, even though they could be the same individual. There have been four reports of Cassin's Kingbirds in our immediate region over the years.
The distribution map below gives an idea of how unusual sightings actually are this far north (and keep in mind that most sightings are in spring and summer). In other words, our campus Cassin's is quite a bit out of place, and out of time.
Friday, November 3, 2017
I'm trying to catch up with a summer's worth of bird pictures. This was late June during our journey through the Pacific Northwest. We were making our sole stop at Mt. Rainier National Park near Chinook Pass (everywhere else was still covered in snow), and this little bird I have never seen before showed up out of nowhere and was watching us carefully for any dropped food particles. It apparently has a reputation for being kind of obnoxious about securing food this way.
|Seriously, this was the latter part of June! The passes had just opened up.|