Wednesday, June 27, 2018
It's not always a pleasant experience to realize there is something really big in the brush off to your side when walking alone on a trail. The Tuolumne River Parkway Trail is not exactly a wilderness with bears and mountain lions or other menacing creatures, but there is still a moment of uncertainty and doubt when some large animal makes that first detectable motion. I quickly looked around and could see that it was actually a pair of juvenile turkey vultures warming themselves on a fallen log. I've seen an adult in the immediate vicinity in the last couple of days, but I have no idea where their next was located.
So....hold your nose and politely say to the proud parents what lovely babies they are raising. It's the polite thing to do.
Monday, June 25, 2018
nests of some 220 other species.
Brown-headed Cowbirds are certainly a native species, long a part of the ecosystems of North America, but they have increased their range with the expansion of agriculture. This has happened because they prefer open fields where grazing animals disturb insects that can then be captured and eaten.
I finally got my first clear look at a Cowbird in an unlikely place, in the middle of the Mojave Desert at Hole in the Wall Campground. They are far more common back home in the Central Valley, but I've always managed to miss them in the large flocks of blackbirds with whom they tend to hang out.
I dunno, do you think people would like them better if we thought of them as unfortunate children who were abandoned by their parents, and they just need our understanding?
Sunday, June 24, 2018
Friday, June 22, 2018
specifically in Tuolumne Meadows.
These birds were hanging out two weeks ago in our campsite at Morefield Village in Mesa Verde National Park. I recognized them as fledgling bluebirds but I was not sure of which kind until I saw them chasing poppa around the campsite (the females are far less colorful). I didn't get a shot of their faces, but I did get this one shot of parent and baby together.
Mesa Verde National Park is famous for the ruins of the Ancestral Puebloan people that are common in the alcoves and mesa tops. The protection of the archaeological resources actually provides for the protection of the bird life and other animals as well, since people are not allowed to roam freely around the park. They are allowed only in specific areas leaving large parts of the ecosystem intact and undisturbed (aside from the all-too-often wildfires).
Wednesday, June 20, 2018
|Pine Tree Arch on the Landscape Arch Trail|
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
In terms of bird sightings, the trip was a mixed bag. We certainly saw a large number of birds, but there was little time for careful observation. I will be posting some of them in coming days. But we did have some interesting surprises at times. The best is what we saw at Navajo Bridge over the Colorado River in Arizona upstream of the Grand Canyon. It was a pair of California Condors.
As modern civilization encroached on their remaining territory (and left lead buckshot in the carcasses of deer), the Condors lost ground and lost population. By the late 1980s there were fewer than 30 of them left in the wild, and the decision was made to capture them all and begin a program of captive breeding. It has been a great (and unfortunately rare) success story, as there are now 410 living birds, and more than half of them have been released into the wild.
Friday, June 1, 2018
As I've pointed out in previous posts, Mute Swans produce ambivalent feelings among birders and ecosystem managers. They are beautiful birds, the subject of myths and legends, especially in European culture. But that is because they are native to Europe. They were brought to America as domestic waterfowl, part of the landscaping for rich estates. But as usually happens some escaped and established feral populations, and as such they have caused a lot of damage by eating up much of the available forage, and displacing other species. There have been many efforts in the eastern United States to control their populations. Permits are needed to own these swans in California because of their potential in damaging natural habitats. For the time being, there are only a few showing up on the EBird reports in the region (Dawson Lake has been another dependable spot for seeing them).