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Friday, November 12, 2010

A Little Fall Birding

Know what makes me cranky? The bird that got away. Case in point, a beautiful bird, that flew all the way to California from the high arctic where Narwhales blow bubbles under the ice. That bird is an Ivory Gull, that flew into Pismo Beach just last weekend.

Not to whine, but I should have leapt into my car, picked up birder buddy Don and zoomed down to Pismo Beach. We could have seen that high arctic gull that only once before has ever entered California.

But Nooooo - like a jerk, I skipped the opportunity, thinking I would drive down to see the bird on Thursday, Veteran's Day. No dice - the beautiful Ivory Gull skipped off to heaven only knows where, Wednesday. The horror!

Beautiful gull, seen here thumbing its nose bill at
tardy birders, such as me, who did not see it

So, as a birdie boobie prize, yesterday Don and I picked up buddy Teressa and we all headed to Fort Mason in San Francisco. Fort Mason is a pretty spot on the bay, right across from Alcatraz. There were loads of other birders when we got there, who just like us, were looking for a less rare vagrant, a Black-throated Blue Warber, an Eastern species.

A Black-throated Blue Warbler - another no-show for the week

No dice. Skunked by the Black-throated Blue, last seen yesterday, Wednesday afternoon. Still, we all had fun looking at the more cooperative, and easier to see birdies. And I enjoyed photographing the more cooperative birds that bopped cheerily around the trees and shrubs. There were Varied Thrush, several Pygmy Nuthatches and a Northern "Yellow-shafted" Flicker that may have been a bit lost. I managed a few shots of some Pygmy Nuthatches and even shots of the teeny little Brown Creepers that worked at 'de-bugging' the bark of a vine strewn tree.

Brown Creeper, living up to its name - being brown, and creeping

Looking a lot like a bit of Bark

Around midday we drove north to Petaluma in search of Pacific Golden Plovers. I've seen them before but they were still a 'lifer for me, because the place I saw the lovely little Plover below was the Isle of Hawaii - therefore those birdies didn't count as North American seen birdies.

My Pacific Golden Plover that didn't count, yet was still rather a beauty

We saw several beautiful, golden hued Pacific Golden Plovers at Schollenberger Park. I didn't take any photos there, but we saw Mute Swans, Blue-winged teal, Mallards, Black-bellied Plover, and other species as well. Nice stop, and the Golden Plovers did bring my total for lifers in 2010 up to 18 birds.

Up one lifer for 'moi', we headed south to visit Don's daugher Rose, at her work place, a veterinarian clinic. I can't believe I was so taken by the critters at the clinic - adorable lizards, loads of exotic birds and so help me, FERRETS! I didn't think to take Rose's picture. Rose promptly brought out a beautiful ferret for me to play with. HEAVEN! I would love a trio of ferrets for pets, but the timing at this point of my life sucks so no ferrets for me. Still it was fun getting to hold a particularly cuddly one.

So we all out for a nice lunch with Rose & her fiance Nate (really sweet guy, Rose knows how to pick 'em). I chatted with Rose who is chock full of pet helpful knowledge and we talked 'critters' all through lunch. It was nice getting in a visit, hadn't seen Rose in ages.

Following lunch, Don, Teressa and I headed back to Fort Mason for another shot at the Black-throated Blue Warbler, but it was no where to be seen. A Townsend's Warbler took pity on me and bounced around in the sunlight, allowing to take some so-so shots of it.

Townsend's Warbler

The Townsends hitting a more classic pose


Sooo that was that for the day! On the drive back to Don's place, before I took off for home, I spotted the only Barn Owl I've seen this year. It sailed by over my car on the freeway. I took that as a good omen for my drive home and it was.

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