June 21, 2009
I had a vacation in the Monterey California area last month. I have photos of most pf the land birds to be found there, but needed to improve on some of them, so these were the birds I was searching for this trip.
The next tiny (4.25”) bird is the Pygmy Nuthatch (Sitta pygmaea). As its name implies, it is our smallest nuthatch. It is normally found at elevation in mountains of the west, but does occur along the coast of central and northern California. It is usually found in pine trees. It has a dark gray back, light gray head with faint light spot on the nape of the neck. The breast is white with a tan wash. There is a black stripe through the eye.
The Wrentit (Chaemaea fasciata) is a bird of scrubby brush in California. It is small and gray-brown in color. The iris of the eye is white. It is difficult to see as it stays hidden in the brush, but it has a unique call like a bouncing ball. It is more often heard then seen. I was able to coax this bird into the open with a tape.
The most difficult birds for me to photograph are the swifts. They are common and easy to see flying around, but they do not perch except on vertical surfaces like cliffs or inside chimneys. Thus, one is left trying to take aim at a rapidly flying bird and hope to get it somewhat in focus.
The local swift in the southwest is the White-throated Swift (Aeronautes saxatalis). There was a flock of swallows along with a few swifts flying above a 50’ cliff. I focused the camera on a tree on top of the cliff and started snapping pictures as birds flew into the viewfinder. I spent about 15 minutes with mostly blurry photos and many were the swallows rather than a swift.
So here are 2 reasonable photos of this bird. It is dark with a white throat and white rump. A swift has much narrower wings than a swallow and they almost appear sickle shaped as in the second photo.
The so-called true seals or earless seals have fixed hind flippers, so they just wiggle to move on land. They don’t have external ears, only openings in the skin. The common Harbor Seal (Phoca vitulina) shown here with brownish adult and gray pup both are spotted. The external ear opening is seen on the adult.
photos copyright 2009 David McDonald
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