Birds are confusing!
What is it?
An old question of mine since I-can't-remember to probably until I-can't-remember anything.
(This may be a Daily Bucket diary, then again....opinions may vary dammit Jim!
In the Daily Bucket we post pictures, links, and jibber jabber about stuff we have seen in the natural world around us.
We get out and look all around™.
You should too.)
In my wanderings with my new-old-so-it-was-a-deal camera I have been taking a lot! of pictures.
I am quite addicted of it, especially the instant picture taking qualities of the dslr as different than the older slower point and shoot cameras. We have talked here about that for quite a spell. For me 400 pictures during a two hour wandering is the norm.
Usually I get lots of pictures of the same 50 common bird species big enough for me to ID, mostly around the estuaries and beaches near in Santa Barbara county. Birders here have among the highest bird counts during the Christmas Bird Count(pdf) every year. The weather is crazy mild and birds and people all flock here. It's a crazy place.
I see the same birds, sometimes the actual same bird and they are getting to know me and often don't immediately zing away. I have a pet Willet that walks near me along the Breakwater, I stir up the flies and he gets them. I may be bringing the flies, maybe another diary for that. Or less dairy and less meat...whatever..:>
There's a Say's Phoebe that lives in another 200' invisible territory box on the beach, sharing testily with a Black Phoebe.
The harbor Osprey sits about 15' up on a pole indifferent to the walkers below, most of them oblivious of it....until he sprays out a stream of digested fish product. There was a picture locally in the media of me taking it's picture while tourists walked past us.
There is a Snowy Egret and Black Backed Night Heron rookery near the harbor that produces babies that hang out and hunt together around the nearby beaches as well. We have rescued a couple of them when the babies got out of the trees and into harm's way.
The harbor shelters migrating birds over the winter, about a dozen Western Grebes are down to about one. The winter Grebe mortality has been very sad, this year especially so. I saw four crawl out onto the boat launch at dusk on night..two were dead by morning. Another humped it's way up onto the sand at my feet and died there. Grebes are not meant to be on land..it means they are very sick or starving.
It's sad because they have flown so far to get here, exhausted and hungry, then local conditions either feed them...or not. They spend summers in BC, Alaska, and Washington etc and winter way down here 2000 miles south.
Recently it appears there are a lot less baitfish in the harbor than there were in late fall.
So, living here and having spent so much time in and around the harbor, anything new is pretty noticeable. (I guess that was a long way to go to get to say that huh? No refunds, sry.)
Things do change, we now have about 100 Black Skimmers taking permanent refuge in the harbor sandspit and adjacent beaches, previously they were 150 miles to the south...that seems new in the last 20 years.
There are likely less dramatic immigrations and lost wanderers we never notice, only the most persistent and experienced birders get to see them, then spend hours wrangling over the ID.
Migrations produce rare looks at birds passing thru, being alert and Out There helps one to see them.
If there is a rare bird, local and nearly local birders flock to see it, mobs ensue...for example, currently there is a huge mob chasing a single Common Scoter around the Crescent City harbor....(just south of Oregon border, as far north as California civilization can be found.)
The Common Scoter is native to Greenland and so that is a Certified Big Birdy Deal....a first of everything bird record wise I think.
My little pictures often send me on literal wild goose chases..thinking that I/one sees a rarity because it doesn't fit the easy and common renderings or photographs can be pretty funny, driving otherwise saneish people to hyperbole and distraction.
I used to think only I did that..thinking I had found a rarity...but I have company in that. It's the mark of a beginning birder to find rarities I think...haha, and thanks for your patience....you regular Bucketeers know me well....too well.
So..when walking the beach lagoons after a high tide/surf event I saw all the usual suspects in their winter and transitional plumage...and then...