Monday, April 27, 2015

Surprise! Two birds in the Bush are Worth More Than One in the Hand: Bullock's Oriole at Merced Falls

Photo by Mrs. Geotripper
I'm new enough at birding that this kind of thing can still happen. Mrs. Geotripper and I were in the car at Merced Falls trying to get a better look at the Osprey nest on the south side of the Merced River. I happened to look next to me for some reason and to my intense surprise there was a flaming orange bird right next to me, just across the street. I was trying to get a photograph, but the camera kept focusing in the branches in front (yeah, I know, manual focus, but I was fumbling too much). I signaled quietly to Mrs. Geotripper, who was at a better angle, and she got the best set of photos.

Photo by Mrs. Geotripper
It turned out to be a Bullock's Oriole (Icterus bullockii), and it was only the second time I've ever seen one, and the first time we got any kind of decent pictures. The Bullock's Oriole is a close relative to the Baltimore Oriole, but the Baltimore is a pretty much eastern species, while the Bullock's is a denizen of the western states. In the summer anyway. In the winter, the Bullock's lives in Mexico while the Baltimore winters in Central America and the northernmost part of South America. The birds were once thought to be the same species (they sometimes interbreed where their ranges overlap a bit), but they are genetically distinct. 
Photo by Mrs. Geotripper
The Orioles are said to be common, which shows how observant I am in the wild, having seen so few. But I'll be ready for the next one! But the funny thing about the moment was that the Oriole flew away after a few moments, so I watched the Ospreys again, and then I saw movement in the same bush, and it was another bird, and it was another species, and a first sighting for me. And thus the strange title for today's post. More on the other bird in the next post.
And here are my two fuzzy shots through the branches
In the meantime, enjoy these photos of one of the most intensely colored birds I've ever seen around here!

1 comment:

  1. My friend and I were on the Stanislaus River rafting Saturday and I spotted one...such a bright color, hard to miss! Don't remember seeing such a bright one.