Friday, December 5, 2014

Local Birds & Wildlife of Marin CA-Fall 2014

I can't believe we have been in Kona for 3 weeks! We landed here to take care of house projects and have been pretty much immersed in painting and yard work. As we start to get ready for our 3rd trip to Midway Atoll to count Albatross nests (see my blogs from January 2014), I feel compelled to share these photos of some of the local birds and wildlife we were lucky to see while in Marin, CA......

We saw this Alligator Lizard sunning on the Palormarin Trail.
The Anna's Hummingbird female - feeding and a rare moment at rest below:)

One of the local Barn Owls that hangs out at Ranch B or Mendoza's Ranch
A Bewick's Wren was giving us a show at the Stinson Beach State Park
This Black-bellied Plover in its winter plumage, was busy feeding in the Bolinas Lagoon.
We saw a few Black-throated Gray Warblers feeding in mixed flocks with Townsend's Warblers,  Chestnut-backed Chickadees, and more.
Bob catching up with an old childhood friend on Stinson Beach.
This molting juvenile Brown-headed Cowbird had us looking in the books to figure out what species this was.....thank goodness for the wonderful resources available to birders today:)
Juvenile Towhee in Stinson Beach
A California Sea Lion on the beach near Fish Docks at Outer Pt Reyes Peninsula
It was such a pleasure to see the California Towhees
All we need to do is to listen and look for the Chestnut-backed Chickadees to find the birds feeding in the area. From what we understand, many migrating warblers will hang out with the local chickadees to feed.
A Clark's Grebe off of Stinson Beach, CA
There is nothing "common" about the following "common" birds.....

This Common Loon we saw off of Fish Docks at Pt Reyes still looks like it is in breeding plumage.
This Common Mure had washed up on the beach in Stinson.
Common Raven at Drake's Bay
This Downy Woodpecker was feeding on Bob's Dad's suet feeder. It did not seem to mind being photographed:)
Dunlin's in winter plumage feeding at the mudflat's in Bolinas Lagoon
We never tired of seeing and hearing the Elegant Terns flying over Stinson Beach between the lagoon and the ocean.

It is always a treat to get to see and hear the Golden-crowned Sparrow along the coast. 

This unfortunate Golden-crowned Sparrow appears to have some form of avian pox. We came across 2 Golden-crowned sparrows with the pox along the Palomarin Trail.
This Gray Fox was out exploring during the middle of the day at Fish Docks at Pt. Reyes Peninsula
We noticed the 2 Great Horned Owls that were perched in the trees above where we parked near B Ranch (Mendoza's).

When we returned to the truck....the owls were gone but they left us a few presents.......owl pellets on our truck hood:)

A Western Gull hanging out with a group of Heermann's Gulls on Stinson Beach
Heermann's Gull on Stinson Beach
There were a pair of Hermit Thrushes enjoying the berries up Owl Canyon in Bodega Bay

This was one of the only Hermit Warblers we saw during our 2 month stay in Marin. This Hermit Warbler was near the residence at Fish Docks in Pt. Reyes.

A beautiful male House Finch on top of the world
A great look at a Hutton's Vireo along the Muddy Hollow Trail leading to Limantour Beach

A Lesser Nighthawk was discovered to be roosting in the Pines at Fish Dock in Pt Reyes. This was the first Lesser Nighthawk I had seen. Apparently they are common in the Sierras but it was a rare sighting to see one along the coast.
This Lincoln's Sparrow was trying to stay cool on a hot day at Muir Beach:)
America's largest regularly occurring shorebird ...... the Long-billed Curlew. The female's bill is longer than the male's as well as straighter than the male's with a more pronounced curve at the tip. The male's bill gently curves through out its length. The juvenile's bill is distinctly shorter than the adults' for the first few months......this looks like it might be a male??
Marbled Godwits feeding along the shoreline at Stinson Beach

Monarch Butterflies overwinter in coastal Monterey pine, Monterey cypress and eucalyptus groves in California and fir trees in the Mexican mountains. Their breeding habitat depends on as a result of the loss of milkweed habitat the Monarch Butterflies are decreasing in number....

Northern Elephant Seals have come back from the brink of the 1890s there were nearly exterminated by the whaling industry for the oil rendered from it great rolls of blubber. In 1892, a tiny colony of fewer than 20 animals were discovered on Guadalupe Island, off Baja California. It was protected & there are now around 115,000 Northern Elephant Seals that breed from Baja California north to San Fransisco.
We saw this male Red-shafted Northern Flicker. The male has the red "whisker"
Oak Titmouse taking cover in dense foliage
This Orange-crowned Warbler was hanging around the pines at Fish Docks at Pt Reyes. Some more advanced birders said they thought this was the sub species "olestra" which is duller in color than the "lutescens" of the Pacific Coast. The "olestra" is typically seen in the Rocky Mountains and Great Basin region.
This Osprey was resting on a dead snag near Bolinas Lagoon.
WOW-what colors.... the Black Oystercatcher is a resident of the Pacific Coast from the Aleutians to Baja California. They forage along the rocky coast looking for mollusks, especially mussels & limpets.

This Pacific-slope Flycatcher was one of the last flycatchers we saw for the was probably getting ready to head to southwestern Mexico for the winter
This Pied-billed Grebe is still in breeding plumage with the black ring on the bill and the black under the chin.
This female House Finch was feeding at the Arrigoni bird feeders in Marin.
What a year for Pygmy Nuthatches! We saw or heard Pygmy Nuthatches almost everywhere we went. The National Geographic Bird App says that Pygmy Nuthatches serve as an indicator of forest health of ponderosa pine forests and is listed in several states as a species of special concern. We saw them in Oaks and Bishop pines..... It is wonderful to think that their presence is a message that the forests in the area are doing well:)
This Red-shouldered Hawk looks like it was trying to capture prey or do a little dance.... it then flew back up its perch on the pole
Note the "red shoulders"

A Ring-billed Gull on Stinson Beach
A Rock Wren foraging along the fence near the residence at Pt Reyes Lighthouse.
This flock of Semipalmated Plovers stopped for a rest at Stinson Beach on their migration through to coastal areas to the south
We saw this Snowy Egret hunting while birding Pine Gulch near Bolinas Lagoon.
The Surf Scoter is a seaduck common on the Pacific & Atlantic coasts in the winter.
We saw a great number of foraging Townsend's Warblers - which makes sense since they winter along the Pacific Coast from British Columbia to Baja California & onwards to northern Mexico & Costa Rica. This looks like a male since it has a black throat. Typically the female's throat is yellow.
We came across a large flock of Tricolored Blackbirds feeding in the cow pasture out at Pt Reyes. They have a very interesting posture while feeding.... they have their wings slightly out to the side and their tails cocked upward... see the bird in the lower right of the photos below.
This Turkey Vulture was enjoying a snack while feeding on the tree tops at B Ranch or Mendoza's at Pt Reyes.
This was a great view of a Varied Thrush busy feeding near the residence at Fish Docks at Pt Reyes.

A Warbling Vireo swallowing a meal......
just hanging out catching rays....
A Western Gull on Stinson Beach
This Western Meadowlark had the whole grassy area to itself one morning at the Stinson Beach Federal Park
This female Western Tanager was probably heading south to its winter home from central Mexico through Costa Rica.

This White-tailed Kite was resting on a dead snag near Bolinas Lagoon.
A Willet in winter plumage feeding on the mud flats of Bolinas Lagoon
This male Wilson's Warbler was probably getting ready to migrate on towards So Cal.... Mexico .....or Panama.
This Yellow Warbler was spotted at the pines at Fish Docks at Pt Reyes. It is probably heading to its winter home in Mexico or Central or South America.

I think this is a Myrtle's Yellow-rumped Warbler- the throat appears to be white and also there is a white eyebrow which can be an indicator of a Myrtle's ....... looks like it almost lost the berry....

I can't see the throat but I think this is an Audubon's Yellow-rumped Warbler

That is the end of our tales from Marin:) We will be remote, counting Albatross on Midway Atoll and then working with the Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project team on the south side of Haleakala in Maui until early February.

Happy & Healthy Holidays to everyone!!

The world is full of beauty & wonder,

Turtle & Hawk

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