Sunday, January 21, 2007

Missing Link?

Just a bit of humor here since I haven't had a post in a while, a video of a fish with a face that looks almost human... check it out here.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

MLK Holiday County Birding

I birded with Frances Oliver, Oscar Johnson, and Alex Thomas in and around Orange County today. We were targeting specific rarities, and county birds needed by Oscar and Frances. I got to SJWS before they did, and ran into Janet and Art Cupples in the parking lot =) They told me about the Vermilion Flycatcher around the first couple ponds, much closer than the VEFLs had been earlier in the season. I saw the bird a few times, it would flush out past pond E, then return when it felt safe. I finally was in the right place, and got amazing looks at him.
When they arrived, he was nowhere in sight, and stayed that way, darn. We did see the Clay-colored Sparrow that's been wintering, I'm getting pretty comfortable with picking that bird out of a flock now. Oscar tried digiscoping the CCSP with my camera, the result was out of focus, but identifiable.

We tried for a few birds with no success, before going to Aurora Park in Mission Viejo to get the Hooded Warbler that I'd missed a few times before. Luck was on our side there, we got great looks at this bird, but I learned a valuable lesson, use manual focus when shooting a small bird in grass, because auto-focus does not give crisp images when there are so many points it can focus on, boo. From there, we tried for the YTWA at Teawinkle with no luck, but they got their county Eurasian Wigeon. Finally, we went to the boardwalk at UNB to get the Short-eared Owl, my third time seeing it there, and a good way to end the day =)

and just for laughs...

Well Done Photo Site on Flickr

Hey all, just having my morning coffee while I wait for Oscar and Frances Oliver to call and tell me they've reached Orange County for birding today. I was browsing the web as I often do, and found a Flickr account by Jamuudsen that is incredibly well done, you can see it for yourself here. I like the album of his favorite shots best, that Yellow Warbler photo is stunning...

Saturday, January 13, 2007

New Toy

Hey guys, sorry for the lack of posting lately. Between classes starting, and the bizarre cold snap for Southern Cali, I haven't gone out much. On the recommendation by my professor, Bob Allen - known as Bug Bob the entomologist/botanist/photographer- I purchased a Hoya close-up lens set for my camera. This set allows me to get fairly decent macro shots, without having to purchase a $500+ macro lens. So here, for your viewing enjoyment are the photos I took around my house to test out the lens, since its too windy outside to get crisp photos...

Monday, January 08, 2007

Shots Between Classes

Spring semester has officially started for me as of this morning at 9am. I am very pleased with my classes thus far, I have 20.5 units (12 units is considered full-time) and seven classes, two are exercise though ;) My mondays - and wednesdays to a lesser extent- are very very science oriented: Botany, Geology, and Natural History of California, so you can bet you'll be reading (and seeing) a lot more about plants, rocks, and highlights from the Natural History class here on my blog, hehe.
Grainy, but cool birds nevertheless
Here are a few poorly-lit shots of Cedar Waxwings I took between classes on campus today, I suspect there might be a few more entries with similar circumstances since I'll be spending a lot of time on campus this semester...
Check out the spread on that tail!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Lifer and year and county birds, oh my!

Today I finally got to see the Worm-eating Warbler at UCI that I've been chasing for a few days. There were a few local birders, as well as Jim Lomax and John Luther, down from Nor Cal to work on their southern county lists. I rolled up at 8am, and saw people beckoning that they had the bird. I jumped out of my car and ran over... only to see it fly away. We stalked it for a bit longer, another miss, then finally Steve Alter called us over and we were all standing staring at this one tiny bush, the whole of which fit into my binocular view. A rustle, then movement, then another rustle. Finally it popped out and there was a collective cry, it flew up to the bare branches of a tree, then out the backside. I didn't get any photos, but damn did I get a good look. =) I'll try going back later for more pictures later.
You'll just have to believe me when I say this was the Wormy ;)

Next stop off the 133 near Laguna Woods for some Mountain Bluebirds and Vesper Sparrows. No dice on the sparrows, which would have been a lifer, but the MOBLs although not lifers, were year birds, and very just gorgeous. We also had a pipit flock, but nothing out of the ordinary.

On to El Dorado Park where there was a Harris's Sparrow reported in a brush pile with a flock of White-crowns. We walked up and I instantly got on it (I really really love it when I find the lifer myself). It was fairly cooperative, gave us some good looks, then flew off. Too easy. Luther and Lomax went on to bird farther north in L.A., and I went home since I've got tickets to the Red-wings v. Ducks tonight in Anaheim. A slightly different type of bird-watching ;)

(You might have to click to enlarge these shots in order to see the Harris's Sparrow)

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

2007 Birding Begins

Yesterday was a marathon day of birding with Caity again. It's nice to have a girl my own age who birds as avidly as I do =) I wish she weren't going home in a few days. We started at a residential spot on UCI campus, looking for the Worm-eating Warbler (a potential lifer) that Brian Daniels found during the CBC on Dec. 31st. No luck there after much searching, so we headed over to Mission Viejo, to Aurora Park to try for a Hooded Warbler (not a lifer, but sweet to photograph) being seen. It was very busy there, people walking dogs and such, we had lots and lots of Yellow-rumps, and a very vocal Bewick's Wren, but no dice on the Hooded. It was apparently seen only a few hours after we left, darn.
We drove to Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary to bird there. It was very nice under the oaks in the sanctuary, but out in the canyon ravine it was windy, and very very quiet. We had one bird, a Rufous-crowned Sparrow, that was very cooperative and turned out to be a lifer for me! I was suprised the photos didn't turn out that well, I was having a bad camera day I guess. We rounded out the day down at the coast, first at Upper Newport Bay where we collected a lot of shorebirds for our year lists. Then Crystal Cove, where I got more photos of sunsets than birds. We ended the day playing rail tapes at UNB again, where the flyby Short-eared Owl was by far the best sighting, and owling up Silverado Canyon where we turned up a lone Barn Owl.