Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Kakapo video

Fortunately, Audrey only uses his giraffe and not humans.

Here is a link about the people making the documentary.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


At Ano Nuevo State Reserve, I caught some lucky shots of crows sitting in branches built into the bluff. This picture was enhanced by Adobe Lightroom software.

For those purists out there, here's the original image. Looks a little dull, hunh?

I see no issues with manipulating the image as long as it still looks reasonable.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Yellow-Rumped Warbler

Yesterday we headed down to Pescadero, CA to visit the Ano Nuevo State Reserve. We passed a marsh where the fog was doing really neat things over the water.

I really love living along the coast because of the frequent fog.

After the detour we reached the reserve. Ano Nueovo State Reserve is very popular. People at work asked me if I had visited and I didn't really understand because I've been up and down the coast from San Francisco to Monterey. So what's the big deal?

Well, there are the sea lions, which swell to a population of 3,000 in the winter months.

And the pond is pretty nice.

Plus there are TONS of lizards.

But for me the jackpot is this!

Because where there is brush, there are birds! I saw three new lifers yesterday: a savannah sparrow, a gold-crowned sparrow, and a yellow-rumped warbler. Below is the yellow-rumped warbler.

Okay, I see some yellow and she has a lovely eye ring.

But what's this about a yellow rump or, as Birdchick likes to call them, butterbuts?

What a great butt! These pictures are of the female. The male is blue-grey on the back and more yellow on the front. This place is such a great find, I'll be sure to go back soon and stay in the brush all day.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Warbling Vireo

Do you know how many grey birds there are in San Francisco? There are flycatchers.

There are bushtits.

And there are vireos!

This is a Warbling Vireo. You can tell the difference between a Warbling Vireo and other types by the faint line that goes from the right of his eye to the back of his head.

They can be hard to capture because they move around so much. According to my guidebook, their song is "iggly wiggly iggly piggly iggly eek!"

I was lucky to get these three shots.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Audrey's Giraffe

Audrey has had this giraffe for 20 years. It makes him very happy. You can hear Conner chirping in the background.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Hayward Regional Shoreline

Yesterday we visited Hayward, CA. It's the first time I've been to the East Bay except driving through to get somewhere else. Based on my limited viewing, Hayward seems very bright and dry. I coated myself in sunscreen; there was no shade anywhere.

The view along the bay is very nice.

You can see San Francisco in the distance.

This brown pelican made some very dramatic dives while fishing.

The key attraction was the marshes, which both snowy and great egrets enjoy.

Below is a great egret in the marsh. You can see that he has a pretty large area to fish.

I love all the colors in the brush.

This egret is fishing in the shallow end.

Great egrets are so incredibly graceful when they fly.

This snowy egret was sitting on the side, all hunkered down.

Something caught his attention and he fully extended his neck. It's amazing how much of it he can tuck into his chest.

At one point a great egret and a snowy egret were fishing the same marsh. I was really excited to get a picture that shows their size difference.

The great egret is almost twice as tall as the snowy egret.

Behind the marsh was dry grasslands. The grass attracted goldfinches, black phoebes, house finches, and some little guys that were either flycatchers or bushtits. They were too shy to get a clear picture.

I could have listened to the birds chirping all day. I really love the noises of bird communities. The wildlife refuge is a very nice place to spend an afternoon.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Canada Geese - Golden Gate Park

Visiting Golden Gate Park the other day, we got a real treat: Canada Geese! They were foraging grass in the field. If you expand the picture below, you can see a blade of grass sticking out of his beak and bits of grass on his beak.

I'm not sure if these geese were migrating because this area also has Canada Geese living here throughout the year.

They let me get pretty close, but in between bites, this bird would look at me to make sure I wasn't causing trouble.

do you mind? I'm trying to eat
Some were sleeping.

And the guy below was rubbing his head, completely blissed out in the experience.

first the top

then the side. oh yeah, the side

then the top again

then another side, ahh

There were at least 20 geese hanging out.

They were there the following week, although there was more movement, perhaps in anticipation of a long flight.

Last week I saw several flocks flying across 101. Migration is a fun time of year.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Cross Stitch Project

Almost two years ago I took up cross stitching as a hobby. My first project came from a kit for a pillow. Below is the cross stitched part.

I really like the pattern because, duh, they're birds and because it's similar to M.C. Esher in that the bird wings mesh together. It didn't take too long for me to finish the stitching, but I waited a year and a half to make the pillow. I was worried I would mess that part up because I have no idea how to sew.

But it wasn't difficult. I put a backing behind the cross-stitch layer so that it would lie flat. Then I sewed green cloth to the cross-stitch layer, making sure that the cross-stitch side was facing the inside.

Next I turned the fabric inside out and stuffed the pillow with fiberfill batting. Voila!

Looks pretty nice on the couch!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Conner and the Camera

I just got my first camera phone - an iPhone. Conner was very helpful in helping me try out the camera feature.

He became very curious.

Pretty good pictures for such a tiny lens. Dooce and her husband frequently post iPhone pictures, and some of them appear grainier than these pictures. It must be a function of the available light.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

European Starlings

Back in the 1890's, crazy people decided that the United States should be populated with all the birds mentioned in Shakespeare plays. So they let 100 European Starlings loose in Central Park. I'm not kidding.

A lot of people dislike starlings because they're not native and they thrive here. As I've mentioned before, I don't see a reason to dislike a bird because it's common. I certainly don't agree with disliking a bird because it's not native. It's not as if the bird booked passage on a ship and decided to come here. Regardless, they're here and they're everywhere, so I say embrace them. At least some people agree with me.

you don't like me?
I love the picture below because in the middle of all these big pigeons, the starling swoops down and grabs the bread. The starling is at the bottom, with the piece of bread that is almost the size of his head.

A few months ago I saw this brown bird with very red eyes in Pescadero, CA. I thought I found a new bird. I looked in my field guide and I couldn't find the bird anywhere! So I asked on birdforum, where the people are helpful and all knowing in their collective wisdom. Do you know what the answer was?

juvenile starling
Can you believe that this bird is a starling? It's amazing how many brightly colored birds start out their first year in drab garments.

Starlings travel in gangs. Below, you can see a flock of juveniles that are in the beginning stages of growing their adult feathers.

Today, we stopped off at the mall before birding and got to see a real treat. Teenagers! Look how sassy they are.

look at me when I'm talking to you!

you watch where you're stepping!
There were so many of them making such wonderful noises. And such variety! They all have speckled breasts, but some of them have whiter heads than others and some are still shedding the last of their baby feathers.

Oh, if only they let you hug them, but like most teenagers, they want nothing to do with you.