Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Well, a few cool birds to report. I went to SJWS today at dusk and managed to get some flashing views of the Vermillion Flycatchers snatching a few more midges before they tucked in for the night. The poor birds were being knocked around by the wind pretty badly. Flying out from one tree, getting their insect, and ending up two cottonwoods over!

Last night, while standing around after class with a few other classmates, trying to decide where we were going, I spotted two or three birds flying in the lamplight nearby. The giss (general impresson, shape and size) suggested nighthawk, as did the buffy color underneath. I didn't really give them too much thought, Lesser Nighthawks aren't terribly rare for Orange County, but apparently this is late in the year to see them, they're predominantly a summer bird... who knew? So that was a very neat thing for me.

EDIT: I went to IVC tonight with John Luther and Jim Lomax to try for the nighthawks. No dice, it was super windy, unlike last night, so there were no bugs around the lights that I had seen the birds flying around the night before. Will try tomorrow too since I'll be there for class anyhow...

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Veggie Grill - Four Stars!

A new vegetarian restuarant has opened up in Irvine, CA. The Veggie Grill is a fantastic restaurant if you're a vegetarian living in Orange County. It's only been open about a week, and it's got my rave review, the food was fresh, the menu diverse enough, and the style comparable to Native Foods, my other favorite vegan restaurant in Costa Mesa, CA.

The serve products like qunioa, tempeh, and seitan. Some healthy vegetarian's staples. Personally, I recommend the chili, the sweet potato fries, and the spring salad =)


Monday, November 27, 2006

Co-op America: The Green Pages

Classes are winding down to an end this semester, which means papers, homework, and tests galore. To make up for my not having time to go birding and take photos, here's a really neat website I found while doing a paper for the Cultural Anthro class, the Co-op America webpage. It is a great environmental resource, with lots of good articles, links, and the green pages.

The green pages is the eco-friendly, labor friendly version of the yellow pages. Check it out, they sell everything from clothing to candles.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm a day late, but I wanted to make a Thanksgiving related post. The mascot bird of this holiday is of course the turkey! So here's a little info about turkeys...

Turkey Terms

  • Caruncle - brightly colored growths on the throat region. Turns bright red when the turkey is upset or during courtship.
  • Gizzard - a part of a bird's stomach that contains tiny stones. It helps them grind up food for digestion.
  • Hen - a female turkey.
  • Poult - a baby turkey. A chick.
  • Snood - the flap of skin that hangs over the turkey's beak. Turns bright red when the turkey is upset or during courtship.
  • Tom - a male turkey. Also known as a gobbler.
  • Wattle - the flap of skin under the turkey's chin. Turns bright red when the turkey is upset or during courtship.
  • Scientific genus and species: Meleagris gallopavo
*Info and photos via Google and Wikipedia

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Red-throated Pipit

Got a call from Bruce Aird, a red-throated pipit showed up at my local patch yesterday. I was able to drive right over since I had some down time between classes, and saw the bird. I got one crappy photo, I wanted to get more, but since the bird had only just been found and there would probably be people wanting to see it, I didn't want to risk spooking it to try and get a better shot.

As we were walking back to the parking lot, a Cooper's Hawk buzzed low over the ponds, and proceeded to sit between us and our path. It was the best view I've ever gotten of one, unfortunately, the lighting was just low enough that the photos all came out pretty grainy. A disappointing photo shoot for such an awesome experience...

Monday, November 20, 2006

First State Record: Ross's Gull

Well, this weeked did not quite play out as I had expected... it began in Stockton, at the CVBS. My Friday trip to the Bufferlands was very enjoyable. The birding was good, diverse, and the weather mild. I saw a rarity for Sacramento county, in fact most of California, an American Golden-Plover. After returning from the field trips, a very excited Keith Hanson was the first to tell me of the Ross's Gull, a first ever California record, that had been found at the Salton Sea by the reputable Guy McCaskie.
Saturday after our field trips, (the boys were trip leaders and chose to do the right thing and stay to lead their trips) we left Stockton for the sea. Nearly 8 hours later, and with one stop to see the Fulvous Whistling-Ducks at a dairy in Tulare county, we arrived at the sea. We had pizza and crashed on the floor of the Calipatria Inn, a birder-friendly Inn near the sea, in the suite, appropriately named for birders, the Quail Suite.
The next morning we drove up at about 6:15 am, to discover that mere minutes earlier the bird had taken wing and flown almost directly over our car... We stayed from sunrise to sunset, searching for the bird, and as an offshoot to there being so many birders there searching for the gull, doing the meet and greet circuit. Chasing a rare bird is like an informal gathering of the who's-who in California birding. It was a real treat to meet and bird next to some of the names I have heard time and again, and to make contacts for the future. People came from all over the state, even a few from out of state to try to get a glimpse of the gull.
Incase you're feeling sorry for me that I didn't see the gull, I am honestly consoled by the two other lifers I did managed to gain over the course of the day, Piping Plover and Lesser Black-backed Gull. I was lucky enough to get a ride home with some of my favorite birders, Janet and Art Cupples, who have taken me birding and generally taken care of me in the past, they really know how to show a young birder a good time, and this was no exception.
This is me, not seeing a Ross's Gull...
Birding essentials
The Salton Sea has an otherworldly beauty
We took a slight detour to a field containing Sprague's Pipits

an ode I found outside the Sony Bono visitor's center, I.D. anyone?

The sun dropped behind the hills and birders slowly trickled away for the evening, many planning to return the next day
Matt and Ryan, still scanning for the gull as the sun sets
*If you are pictured here, and do not want your photo posted, contact me and I will remove it immediately

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

10th Annual Central Valley Birding Symposium

This weekend is the 10th annual CVBS, and my second year attending. It is a great chance for California birders to get together with eachother - and with some of the big names in California birding such as Kimball Garrett, Joe Morlan, Keith Hansen, and Andy Engilis, and New Jeresy bird photographer Kevin Karlson to name a few- to go birding, discuss ornithological happenings, and generally meet and greet. It runs from Thursday the 16th, tomorrow, until Sunday the 19th.
This year's gorgeous t-shirt design by Rene Reyes

The mornings are filled with various field trips to the local hotspots, and afternoons and evenings filled with presentations, workshops, and booths full of vendors selling their goods to peruse. It is a great time to make new aquaintances for future use, as well as to catch up with old friends that live too far to see regularly.
Last year's youngbirders together for a group shot while looking at MOPLs

I will try to post photos of the birds seen on the trips I attend, and update with highlights of the symposium. Usually the young birders get together and bird on the trip, which might be my favorite part, afterall we are the future of birding and personally it's exciting to see so many talented people my own age out there birding.

Youngbirders together birding =)

CVBS attendees chatting after the dinner presentation by Don Roberson

For all the Cali birders, hope to see you there!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Random Photography

My last post was really what I was going for from the day, but I did get some other fun shots that didn't get into that category so I'll throw them in here =)

Sunset at SJWS

Trail at UNB

Pond at UNB in Big Canyon area

American Crow in the sunset

American Widgeon drinking water

Song Sparrow in the sunset

Eurasian and American Widgeon

Turkey Vulture in flight

Red-shouldered Hawk, assembled camera and took this photo while stopped at a red light... hehe

Fun With Lighting

I had a short amount of time to walk around at Upper Newport Bay today before my class, and I took some photos where the main focus was more the lighting than the objects themselves. It is often thought that the lighting at noon is some of the worst of the day for photography, but I found it quite intriguing to work with, finding angles where the lighting played into the plants edges quite attractively.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

a Silent Killer

This is a disturbing thought, birds being killed by a plant. Common Burdock is found throughout most of the U.S. it is a non-native species from the old world. What is apparently happening, is that birds are getting caught in the velcro-like spines of the seedheads, and dying. Here is an article discussing the problem, as it relates specifically to Golden and Ruby-crowned Kinglets.

Here is the initial link, with a photograph of a kinglet trapped in the burrs, so that you can see what it entails. I'm putting it as a link instead of placing the photo here because although it's not graphic, it is very sad. This site also has a link to the article I linked to above.
Ruby-crowned Kinglet I saw at SJWS with Alex on Sunday

Has anyone ever seen or heard of this happening with RCKIs, GCKIs or other small birds? It was news to me...

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Birding With Alex Part 2: Crystal Cove

After stopping for tuna burgers at Gulfstream, a yummy restaurant on PCH, we went to Crystal Cove State Park to get in a little beach birding. The weather was cooler down by the water, and if the enterance fee weren't so exorbitant, 10 dollars! per car, I'd go birding there all the time. The walk to the water is peaceful, walking along the shore is absolutely wonderful, and the birds are a constant entertainment, skittering up and down in the surfline. We had a nice time there, but by about 2pm, everything was quieting down, and we'd had enough sun. We left with a grand total of 63 species for the day.

Birding With Alex Part 1: SJWS

Today I got to go birding with one of my favorite people, Alex. I used to call her my mini-me when we were little. Well today she is taller than me, but I still feel like she's the little sister I never had. We birded SJWS, when we started it was about 60 degrees, and pretty comfortable out. About a half hour later, it was over 70, and the sun was torching the backs of our necks. Where else is it 80 degrees in November?! Ugh.

Despite the yucky weather, the birding was very good. Plenty of species, easy sightings, and a mellow atmosphere to bird in. We saw three species of raptors at SJWS, White-tailed Kites, Red-tailed Hawks, a Cooper's Hawk, and of course vultures, which aren't really raptors.
Highlight species included a California Thrasher, Say's Phoebe, not one but two Northern Flickers, a cooperative male Downy Woodpecker, and of course the birds of prey. We had about 50 species on this part of the trip.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Bolsa Chica 11/4/06

I visited Bolsa Chica Wetlands for the first time since they re-opened the large back trails to the public again. It was magnificent, the trails looked good and there was a plethora of birds there, which is always a good thing. I walked the length of the park, and met up with a fellow photographer who I walked and swapped stories with for a while.
I saw some birds I haven't seen in some time, seasonally I mean, like Buffleheads and Scaup and the like. I sure haven't been birding much lately, must fix that, I definitely will be back there again soon. While I was there, I bought myself an Amigos de Bolsa Chica hat, because I most definitely support the cause.
I'm going birding tomorrow with one of my best friends, Alex. We're just going to SJWS, but it isn't often I get to go birding with companions, so it should be a real treat.
A shot of the Bolsa Chica wetlands
Belding's Savannah Sparrow
Black-bellied Plover in basic plumage
Red-tailed Hawk

Western Pygmy-blue Butterfly, smallest butterfly in the western U.S.

Forster's Tern

Brown Pelican swallowing a fish

Male and female Lesser Scaup