Wednesday, June 28, 2006

50. Blue Jay

I think it's fitting that a Blue Jay take me half-way. Jays have always been some of my favorite birds, and were probably the first species I could identify (as a child). We don't have Blue Jays in California, at least not around here, only Scrub Jays and Steller's Jays.

While those birds share a lot of the same characteristics, they aren't the birds I remember so well from my childhood. The birds that used to dive-bomb the owl decoy in the back yard. The birds that used to bunch up in the trees, crying, "thief, theif" at neighborhood cats.

When I was at my mother's place, in Georgia, I heard one in the trees outside, signaling that old familiar alarm. Number 50. Sound counts. Still, I wanted to see one. And when I met my father I told him that I was hoping to actually see a Jay.

Yet the next day, when dad came bounding into the room at ten till seven in the morning, at the little cabin on the lake, surounded by water, saying "come quick, come quick," I had no idea what he was on about. It was, of course, a Jay. For the second time in two days, my 50th bird of the year. And I was glad to see him.


I spotted 28 species of birds in a single morning in Eufaula. I'll be adding all the new ones over the coming days.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

49. Snowy Plover

I had a front row seat to the Snowy Plover Soap Opera, as I watched careless beachgoers trample past fences and into the dunes, threatening nesting sites. Meanwhile hawks, vaultures, ravens, and even an Eagle soared low over the beach, back and forth and back and forth across the dunes looking for a quick, snowy snack.

But this is definitely the cutest bird I've seen.

I saw two individuals, one much closer than the other. The first was one the beach, standing atop some driftwood, and flitting about the beach. The second was by the lagoon, alongside the trail on the way out. While I saw the second up cose and personal, I only got a minute or two to watch him, while I got to check out the one on the beach that was farther off at my leisure.

48. Golden Eagle

When I first saw it, I thought it was a person sitting at the top of a hill. But the binoulars showed what clearly looked to be a Golden Eagle, in the hills and dunes behind the Snowy Plover nesting site at Abbott's Lagoon. It soared out over the hils, over the nest sites. Yet I was a little worried that it might be some sort of large hawk; there had been several large birds of prey flying over during the day, and I had noticed earlier the difficulty in getting perspective. Fortunately, two Turkey Vultures also came gliding in, coming quite close to my bird. My eagle had a clearly larger wingspan.

47. Osprey

I saw between two and four Osprey at Point Reyes. I saw three fly overhead with fish in their talons. Two came through nearly back to back. It looked very much like this picture. Dinner time!

46. California Quail

I saw several California Quail, again in both places in Marin country (Rodeo and Point Reyes). These birds are so much bigger, both fatter and longer, than the quail I was used to in the South. They're gorgeous birds, with their golden breasts and bishop's hats.

45. Wilson's Warbler

I saw Wilson's Warblers both in Rodeo and Point Reyes. In Reyes, I saw them along the trail back from Abbot's Lagoon. I stopped as one landed in the branch in front of me, and I got to take a good look at it for 10 minutes or so before it flew again.


I've been remiss in updating my trips. Up to fifty and I'm feeling nifty. Last weekend I went to Rodeo Beach, and yesterday I went up to Point Reyes. There are considerably more birds in Marin than San Francisco, and I've hit the point where I can't reasonably expect to stay in the City anymore and consistantly increase my species count.