Monday, February 8, 2010

Standing out in the crowd

Standing out in the crowd

A sequence of images from a few trips to the Radio Road Ponds in Redwood City last year. There's an area where the dowitchers like to congregate on an underwater ridge, and occasionally a larger bird will hang out there too. I enjoy seeing different species mixed together, and this provides a nice opportunity.

Dowitchers relaxing with an American Avocet:
Shorebird reflections

With a Northern Shoveler, and their reflections:
Shoveler and dowitchers

And with a Marbled Godwit:
Dowitchers and a Godwit

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Western Burrowing Owls at the Berkeley Marina

Burrowing Owl at Cesar Chavez Park

After spending an hour or so around sunset the night before at Cesar Chavez Park on the Berkeley Marina (see the post), we came back the next day to try our hand again at spotting the western burrowing owls that winter there. I've read that there are five individuals there this winter, and we spotted only two of them on this trip.

Camouflaged burrowing owl

These guys are actually quite small (not all that much bigger than the ground squirrels that were so abundant in the area), and were really hard to spot initially. They blend in perfectly with the area around their burrows.

Burrowing Owl at Cesar Chavez Park

Mostly they spent their time squatting in or right by their borrowed burrows, and we only saw this one fly once over a short distance. Unfortunately, it was due to a human visitor who decided it was pertinent to make hooting sounds and lean over the protective fence towards it. This spooked the poor little guy and it flushed back to its further away hole. This was really a bummer for me, since this was the only time we found one of them close to the fence, and with a nice green area around it too.

Burrowing Owl at Cesar Chavez Park

Once back to the burrow, he stood outside of it, and we got to see all of him for a short time before he dropped back inside. Regardless of if it was inside or out of the burrow, those big golden eyes were always dancing about.

Burrowing Owl at Cesar Chavez Park

Friday, February 5, 2010

Quick Post - Wild Hummingbird at the San Diego Zoo

Wild hummingbird at the zoo

There were a number of wild birds taking advantage of the nicely kept grounds of both the San Diego Zoo and the Wild Animal Park when we visited last December. This hummer was flitting about between the flowers growing along the paths before stopping for just long enough to let me snap off a few frames.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Sunset over the Golden Gate

Sunset over the Golden Gate

Over the weekend we headed out to Cesar Chavez Park in Berkeley to look for the small group of western burrowing owls that overwinter there. On Saturday, we didn't find the owls, but we were treated to a remarkable sunset over the Golden Gate Bridge.

Sunset behind the Golden Gate Bridge

I've often seen images from Africa where the sun looks incredibly huge while it sets over the horizon, and I've wondered why that happens and if it happens here too. It was amazing how large the sun looked, and it was a reminder of how quickly our planet rotates around its axis -- it only took a few minutes for it to completely pass behind the bridge and slip from sight.

Golden Gate Bridge sunset panoramic

Monday, February 1, 2010

A forgotten trip to Limantour Spit in Point Reyes National Seashore


When I was looking for something to post on flickr the other morning, I ended up flipping back through the archives to a pre-dawn trip I took to Limantour Spit in Point Reyes National Seashore that I had forgotten about. This was the last trip I took with the D50 as my primary (read: only) camera. Later that week my D90 arrived, and I spent some time trying it out at a few locations, leaving these unsorted in the archives.

All in all, this wasn't a super-productive trip, but it was a gorgeous morning with clear skies for the sunrise. I spent attempted to photograph sanderlings with the first rays coming over the horizon, but I still need to go through those images. Soon thereafter, I headed back towards the other side of the dunes to explore some of the coastal scrub.


I was also treated to a group of turkey vultures sunning themselves in the early light while following the trail. They're a pretty ugly species, but it sort of fits well with their there important ecological role of scavenging.

Turkey Vultures at Limantour Spit

After wandering along the backside of the dunes during most of the good morning light without finding too much else, I decided to head back to the trailhead and then follow the Muddy Hollow trail back along the side of the salt marsh. The tide was very high that morning, giving a really nice flooded marsh plain -- which was quite stunning in the early light (see the top shot of this post). I also encountered some lovely song-birds in the bushes along the marsh edge, including this savannah sparrow.

Savannah Sparrow

It posed quite nicely with those rich colors in the backdrop.