Saturday, March 31, 2012

Royal Tern

After I completed my work in California a week ago Thursday, I decided to check out the coastline around Malibu before heading back to the Hotel. I happened to notice a pond on the beach and several gulls nearby so I decided to stop. It was called Zuma Beach and there turned out to be an interesting variety of waterfowl in the pond. I saw American Coots, Mallards, Northern Shovelers, Ruddy Ducks and Buffleheads. There were also some swallows flying over the pond. I believe they were Northern Rough-winged Swallows, but my pictures aren't very good as the sun was about to touch the ocean making for poor lighting conditions.
After seeing all I could at the pond I decided to check out the gulls. It appeared to be mostly Westerns with a few Ring-billed and Californias, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a single tern. It appears to me to be a young Royal Tern, probably transitioning out of juvenile plumage as it has a fair amount of black on its wings and tail and also has partially orange legs. It appears as though its legs are also transitioning as they are a mix of blotchy orange and black. It could be that it was wading in something that stuck to its legs, but since I see many signs of transitioning to an adult, I'll stick with the color transition theory.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Black Phoebe

A Black Phoebe at Paramount Ranch in California played cat and mouse with me for a while until I finally got a close look from my car as I drove past a log fence.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Western Scrub Jay

This Western Scrub Jay was much more cooperative that most. I almost missed out on this opportunity as I was walking away from having photographed a Western Kingbird at Paramount Ranch when I decided to go back for some more. I didn't get any more Kingbird photos, but I did get some of my best of this Scrub Jay.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Brown Pelican

I was back in the LA area during the latter half of last week and was lucky enough to have stopped by a small coastal park named La Piedra Beach where I found a flock of Brown Pelicans. The parking area was high above the beach but had a narrow trail leading down to the water.
I took my time traversing the trail, eventually have to scale some rocks to get down to the beach. The pelicans were right in front of me so I moved very slowly, stopping for a bit then inching a little closer. I had to work my way to the right of them as it was late in the afternoon and the sun was of to the side.
Luckily, though a few stirred occasionally, I was able to get quite close getting my best pictures to date of these majestic birds. Another plus is that they were nearly all in breeding plumage. It seems I usually always see them in autumn in Oregon when they have lost most of their more vibrant colors.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Marsh Wren

The Marsh Wrens were out in full force on Friday at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. There were several amongst the reeds along the road around marker 10. I also saw one Pacific Wren in the same area.
These wrens can be a challenge to shoot as they rarely sit still and tend to stick down low in the reeds. But in the spring they sing almost as much as they move, making it easier to find them, and, with a little patience, capture one in a moment of non-obstruction.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Ring-billed Gull

So, I've gotten very busy at work. Not just work load, but travel too. In addition, I've gotten a bit burned out with blogging. But, since I really enjoy the combination of birding, photography and blogging I don't want to give it up. I guess I just need to work through this busy time and not let the blogging slip away.
Last week I was in the small town of Leominster, MA overseeing the commissioning of a new lighting system in their high school. Since school was in session, we had to wait until classes were over for the day before we could start work. That gave me the opportunity to spend some time birding in the mornings.
I spent some of the time on both Tuesday and Thursday hiking around Mirror Lake in Coggshall Park in nearby Fitchburg. On Tuesday the lake was frozen over and birds were scarce, but by Thursday things had warmed up enough that most of the lake was melted and people were out enjoying the weather.
The birding wasn't much better, but there was a flock of Ring-billed Gulls on the lake. At one point, a family started throwing bread out to the gulls. I decided to take advantage of the situation and began shooting the gulls as they flew about the area.

While the Ring-billeds at the top of this post are clearly adults and mostly in clear breeding plumage, the bird above appears to still be in non-breeding plumage.

This bird appears to be a 1st winter based on the black band on its tail.

At one point there was quite a commotion as, for some reason, an adult got quite upset at one of the juveniles. It chased and pecked at the youngster until they both finally settled back down on the water.