Friday, February 28, 2014

Peregrine Falcon - Philadelphia

I continue to be surprised by the birding one can have in a major city. In Philadelphia last year, a Peregrine Falcon pair nested in the tower of St. Joseph's Church which faces Pretzel Park (locally known as the dog park) in an old residential neighbor adjoining the old industrial area of Manayunk. I was not in Philadelphia during their nesting last year.

My daughter alerted me to the falcons' return to the park and church tower, and their apparent intention to set up housekeeping for a second year.

In the bitter cold and wind this morning, I made the short trek to the park.Signs of the falcons' presence were littered through the park - feathers and carcasses of various birds - hopefully mostly from starlings and pigeons.

I only had to wait a short time before one of the falcons flew to the top of a nearby electrical transmission tower and ate a meal - unfortunately backlit, so no photos of the repast.

The falcons perched near one another on the church tower, feathers puffed against the bitter cold.

Here are the first adequate images of a bird that has, until now, avoided coming close to my lens. Hopefully, even better images will follow ...

Peregrine Falcons - Philadelphia

The individual in the following photo was probably grooming and doing feather maintenance, but the photo makes it look like he/she is doing something with its leg band (admiring it? adjusting it? trying to remove it?)

Good Birding!!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Ring-necked Duck

The drake Ring-necked Duck is one handsome devil. The plumage he sports rivals the most elegant tuxedo. I have had some success getting a formal portrait of this gentleman, but he tends to be publicity shy, staying at a distance on ponds and lakes.

At Lands End in Golden Gate National Recreation Area in San Francisco, I saw a flock of these gentlemen, with some ladies in attendance, swimming in the waters of the Sutro Bath ruins.

Ring-necked Duck

Ring-necked Duck

Ring-necked Duck (ring neck visible)

Ring-necked Duck (hen)
Ring-necked Duck

Ring-necked Duck (hen)

Ring-necked Duck

Ring-necked Duck

Good Birding!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Marbled Godwit and "Western" Willet

On the East Coast where I usually roam, the presence of the Marbled Godwit often draws special attention. Typically, it is also distant, often a bare speck in the spotting scope. So it was a treat to walk among dozens of Marbled Godwits on the state beach at Morro Bay and elsewhere.

On the early morning beach walk, mingling with the Marbled Godwits were "Western" Willets, another of those subspecies which many think should have full species status ...

Marbled Godwit
"Western" Willet
Marbled Godwits
Marbled Godwit & "Western" Willet
"Western" Willet & Marbled Godwit
Marbled Godwits
Marbled Godwits
Marbled Godwits & "Western" Willet

Some California beaches hosted hundreds of Marbled Godwits - just nine in this photo (2nd year Herring Gull)
Good Birding!!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Long-billed Curlew

Mid-morning on the state beach near the "rock" in Morro Bay, surfers rode the waves while Long-billed Curlews dodged the waves, foraged for breakfast, and provided many and much appreciated photo ops ...

Long-billed Curlew

Good Birding!!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

"California" Birds

The mountains and deserts of eastern California, and to the east of California, have provided an effective barrier to the movement of species. In addition the Mediterranean climate has meant that many species have not had to migrate to flee winter. As a result, new species have evolved.

The first of these "California" species is a life bird - California Thrasher. Ten years ago I wandered the Elfin Forest near Morro Bay in search of this species. No luck. So, I was not optimistic this time. Then I heard a thrasher type song, sought out the source, and found this gentleman posing and singing ...

California Thrasher
California Thrasher
California Thrasher
 Later the same day at Montana de Oro State Park, this individual emerged from the dense brush to forage boldly a few feet from where I was standing ...

California Thrasher
We encountered coveys of California Quail in many locations. Photos are from Pinnacles Nat'l Park and Point Reyes Nat'l Seashore, respectively ...

California Quail
California Quail (hen)
California Towhee is a fairly "new" species having parted company with the Canyon Towhee found east of the mountains and deserts by decree of the AOU in 1989 ...

California Towhee
The Yellow-billed Magpie lacks "California" in its common name, but it range is pretty much restricted to the central valleys of California. On a rare rainy day, this individual posed for me at a rest area not far from Pinnacles Nat'l Park ...

Yellow-billed Magpie
Yellow-billed Magpie
The California Scrub-Jay has not yet achieved species status; officially it is still the Western Scrub-Jay. The Pacific population is richer in color, has distinctive plumage characteristics, a thicker bill, and tends to be bold and conspicuous. Many feel it is overdue for species status. Someday ...

Western Scrub-Jay (California Scrub-Jay)
Good birding!!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

California - First Sampling

We returned a few days ago from a trip to California - Monterey,  Morro Bay, and San Francisco. It was a good birding trip, good dining trip, and good photography trip. After weeks with little camera time, it was fulfilling to again be behind the lens with the birds ... and much else. I am still working through the hundreds of images. Here is just a first sampling.

Few of the birds will send California birders into a tizzy or chase, but for an Easterner fleeing winter, they presented an invigorating variety.

There will be, of course, a series of posts. I begin with a sampling on or along the Monterey Peninsula coast.

Monterey, CA, Coast
 On the Atlantic Coast, an Eared Grebe will draw the attention of chasers, and when seen, it is often distant. So it was a delight to watch them close to the rocky Monterey coast ...

Eared Grebe

Several new gulls for the photographic archives, including Glaucous-winged and Heerman's Gulls ...

Glaucous-winged Gull

Heerman's Gull
Anna's Hummingbird ...

Anna's Hummingbird

Anna's Hummingbird
... and a Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon's) that seems to think it is a hummingbird ...

Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon's)
Also new for the photographic archives were a variety of shorebirds, including Black Turnstone and Surfbird ...

Black Turnstone and Surfbird
Black Turnstones
And finally (for this post), a non-avian fauna, the Sea Otter. Momma holds a crab on her chest while her pup comes close in hopes of lunch ...

Sea Otter - Mother and Pup
 More anon ... good birding!


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