Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Bulletin #15 - Monterey CA #3

David McDonald Photography
Friendswood Texas
Oct 10, 2007

Bulletin #15 – Monterey CA birds September 2007 – part 3

Hello friends,

I was back in California on vacation over the week of Labor Day.

There is a bird banding facility in Big Sur at Andrew Molera State Park. Thanks to Jay for telling me of this place. I went there 2 mornings and was able to get close-up photos of several small passerines. Thanks a million to Josh Scullen and his staff for allowing me to photograph the birds as they were banding them.

The first is the Wilson’s Warbler (Wilsonia pusilla). The yellow bird with black cap is diagnostic.

The next is the Pacific-slope Flycatcher (Empidonax difficilis). I had tried to get photos in May of this small empid, but he wouldn’t sit still long enough. This bird is actually a juvenile as the wing bars are buffy. In the adult they are white.

The next is the Wrentit (Chamaea fasciata). This is a very secretive bird who keeps to the underbrush. I have seen it many times, and heard it hundreds of times, but getting a photo in the wild is tough. He actually belongs to the family of Old World Warblers. Notice the white iris. The second photo is a close up of the face. click ‘next’ once

The next bird is a Hutton’s Vireo (Vireo huttoni).

The close up shows the broken eye-ring with a dark area above eye. The lores are also white. The hooked beak, characteristic of vireos, is easily discernible.

Lastly, the Bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus) is a tiny bird that I photoed in May, but here is a close up. He appears somewhat similar to the Wrentit in hand, but the iris is buffy. In the wild, small flocks of Bushtits move through the canopy and are easy to see.

The last bird was a bonus for me. I had seen the American Dipper (Cinclus mexicanus) a couple of times in Colorado. I knew that it was listed as living along the Big Sur River, but I had never found it on earlier trips. Well it turned out that the banding station was beside the river and the Dipper is a regular. I waited beside the river and in about 15 minutes I found the bird and got some photos.

For those unfamiliar with Dippers, these cute little birds are the only aquatic passerines. They can swim and also dive under the water to catch insect larvae. The adults are uniformly gray with gray beak. The juvenile shown here has a yellow beak and light gray throat. The second photo shows the thick white eyelids. click ‘next’ once

Another favorite area for viewing wildlife is the Point Lobos State Preserve. This park is on the coast about 2 miles south of Carmel. Mule Deer, Sea Otters, California Sea Lions, Harbor Seals, and Douglas Ground Squirrels are readily found in the park. The birds include sea birds gulls etc as well as a variety of land birds. One of the interesting habitats is the kelp beds just offshore. Kelp is a giant seaweed that reaches to the waters surface. Many birds pluck food off the leaves, but the most interesting thing to me is to see wading birds walking on the kelp or driftwood in the kelp beds.

The first is a Snowy Egret on some kelp behind a pair of Harbor Seals.

The next is a Great Egret on some driftwood.

And lastly, a Great Blue Heron on another driftwood log.

One last unique phenomenon in Point Lobos is the orange growths on branches and rocks right by the shore. It is actually a green algae species that makes carotene (the dye in carrots) giving the orange appearance. This is a very arid area, but the fog is so dense that the algae can survive. It doesn’t harm the trees at all.

All comments and suggestions are welcomed and appreciated.

Happy Birding,

David McDonald

photos copyright 2007 David McDonald

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