Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Sunday, November 27, 2016
they've been profiled here six times now. including a life-and-death struggle with Bald Eagles on Vancouver Island a year ago. We were taking a short break this afternoon at the roadside rest near Ashland, Oregon, when Mrs. Geotripper spotted a heron in the nearby field. I snapped a few pictures, as well as a video of the heron hunting. It's fascinating to watch how they hold themselves so steady as they walk forward. Although it didn't catch anything while I filmed, I can't doubt that some kind of amphibian or bug became a meal tonight. They seem very patient...
Saturday, November 26, 2016
Monday, November 21, 2016
The California drought, five years and counting, has had a devastating effect on the state, but some areas in Northern California were a bit closer to normal precipitation this past year. One sign of improvement would be a rebound in bird populations. After five years of limited plant growth, a wet year would mean more food and shelter.
I have no idea if that is actually the explanation, but during our field studies journey through Pinnacles National Park this last weekend, I saw hundreds of California Quail (Callipepla californica), instead of the usual dozens. I saw most of them as we drove along the roads, but when I walked the lower part of Bear Gulch, this female stuck around just long enough for a picture.
The California Quail is the state bird of California, but its range extends from the southern tip of Baja California north to the Canadian border. They are mainly ground-dwellers, moving about in large coveys. By preference, they melt into the vegetation when an intruder comes near, but will fly for cover if startled.
Saturday, November 19, 2016
I hope you enjoy this picture, because it was a lot of work to get it! It's my first sighting and first ever picture of a Wrentit (Chamaea fasciata). I got the picture while hiking in Pinnacles National Park in the Central California Coast Ranges. I was on the Six Bridges Nature Trail in lower Bear Gulch on the east side of the park when I noticed some small birds hopping through the shrubs next to the trail. Most of them flushed as I walked by, but one of them kept searching for bugs on the far side of the bush. I stood quietly, hoping it would move into view, because I could see it was a new species for me. The intense eyes were intriguing. I wasted ten shots as it moved around, and it finally came into view and I got the only picture I was happy with.
The guides describe the bird as hard to see, and I have to agree! It is a species of the west coast of North America, living in chaparral and thickets in the coastal mountains and Sierra Nevada foothills. Its range extends from Oregon to Mexico. Although the name mentions two different groups, the wrens and tits, it is actually related to neither. There are no similar species in North America. According to the Cornell bird site, their closest relatives are in Africa, Spain, India, and China. The site also mentions that they may be most sedentary bird in North America, as they tend to range no more than 1,300 feet from their birthplace.
It's always a thrill to add a new bird to your list!
Wednesday, November 16, 2016
It looks like some Snow Geese and Ross's Geese have begun arriving in the valley. I could see a flock at the pond in the great distance, along with the Cackling Geese.
Tuesday, November 8, 2016
Monday, November 7, 2016
Sunday, November 6, 2016
(Yes, this is the same post as the one I just did at Geotripper. For all I know, I may different readers of my two blogs!)
Friday, November 4, 2016
rarely stays still enough for sharp pictures. Today, one of them cooperated with me for a few moments. I was on my customary exploration of the Tuolumne River Parkway Trail and caught a few shots. It helped that a lot of the leaves in the shrubbery have fallen.
Wednesday, November 2, 2016
Tuesday, November 1, 2016
On the other hand, the pond has been dry for months. It serves as the drainage and groundwater recharge basin for the entire west campus, and it has been very dry, to say the least, for the last six months, and for much of the last five years. Consequently, without water there have been few birds hanging around. The last two storms brought some record rainfall totals, though, so I was pleased to see water in the pond, and even a few Mallards in attendance. There was also a Great Egret (Ardea alba), which I haven't seen on campus in months. It was a bit skittish, taking off before I even arrived at the fencing, but it perched in the old cottonwood tree while I walked by, and allowed me a few pictures.