Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Birds of California

I birded in two areas of Northern California on my recent vacation, the coast near Crescent City, and the Modoc Plateau (Clear Lake, Tule Lake, and Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuges).

I went to the coast first, so I'll show some coastal birds first. This big sea stack has 25,000 Common Murres, nesting in a colony. They're just salt and pepper specks in this photo, because the rock is offshore, to protect them from predators. The strange noise coming from that rock sounded like the Penguin colony in those BBC documentaries I watched.

The Black Oystercatcher has a vividly orange bill, and it picks and probes about near the water line looking for food.

Whimbrel. They can be seen in Idaho, but I've yet to make the distinction in Idaho between this bird and the Long-billed Curlew. Both have downcurved bills, though the Curlew bill is much longer.

Now we'll look at birds from the Modoc Plateau. There are large lakes in the area, right on the migration route of water birds, and this Marsh Wren obviously enjoys the cattail habitat.

The habitat around the lakes is mostly Juniper, with some sagebrush. This is the Sage Thrasher. You might notice some insects flying in some of these photos. It was thick with insects.

And, the Juniper Titmouse. This is the very westernmost extent of its range. Closer to the coast lives the Oak Titmouse. They look so similar, they used to be considered the same species, and were called the Plain Titmouse.

I'll show two tern species, and you can see how easy it is to tell them apart. The Forster's Tern has a long, graceful swallowtail and a relatively smaller orange bill.

The Caspian Tern, by comparison, has a more squared tail, and a thick red bill.

This is the nicest photo I've managed to obtain of the Northern Pintail.

Two American White Pelicans in flight. They seem to fly very gracefully, rarely flapping, often following a leader to take advantage of the decreased wind resistance.

Common Nighthawk ... and they do catch insects in broad daylight, not just in the evening. Their bold white markings look like some World War II aircraft.

I've been trying for a long time to get a close photo of an Eared Grebe, and I sure got my fill of opportunities on this trip. I must have seen hundreds of them. This one is wet, as it just came up for air.

I had never seen an Ash-throated Flycatcher before this trip, and now I've seen quite a few, and I even recognize their call, which sounds like "come here."


Anonymous said...

Beautiful birds! You got some really good photos that trip. I especially like the grebe.

Robert Mortensen said...

nice stuff!