Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Baylands II

About a week and a half ago, Mom and I went back to Palo Alto Baylands. We specifically were looking for nesting birds, so we stuck around the duck pond. It was later that day - or the next - my new friend Chuq let us know that the Egret nesting locations can be cyclic and they weren't there. I might say we should have asked around before going, but even at the duck pond you can see a lot.

Check it out!
First, a pair of Mallards. Actually, there were several pair. One I think was nesting near the parking lot because they never moved the entire time we were there. This pair was walking around and just looked so cute - especially the female.
Then I spotted a gosling. I didn't notice the parents right away. This little one was all by itself and way ahead of the parents. It's a shame there was only one of them. Maybe it's siblings were also too brave and became someone's dinner. (see next pic for suspect) It was moving so fast and right for me that I kept reducing my zoom lens and trying to take it's picture. I never did get a crisp shot, but this expression was so cute I made it look like a painting instead :)
But then... we saw a hawk fly into a nearby tree! We weren't the only photographers either :) I felt a little bad using this other photographers point of view, but it really was the best angle. Otherwise the branches were in the way. This Red-tailed Hawk stayed put for quite a long time. I actually left the scene before it did. I'll bet we were scaring it's prey away.
And I'll bet these little critters were it's prey.
These two are so cute... they reminded me of Tango and Cash with their funny looking and pointy noses. The one on the right has a look Tango often has, lol.
Ah, but then, we turned around and noticed a Black-crowned Night-heron perched on the outside of a tree near what I think was the garbage bin. I took a closer look and it turns out there were 7 BCNH nesting in that tree.

The one that perched on the outside moved inside a bit, but it moved to a much better position for me to take its photo. I took some of the nesting birds, but they were hidden nicely. This one was somewhat difficult as it kept preening. But I came away with a few nice shots and this one below that not only has it's "pony tail" showing, but the eyes were so clear and crisp and RED! I really hadn't noticed that on any other BCNH before, probably because they were much further away. I posted this on twitter earlier today, so some of you already have seen this.
Then we wandered about looking for the funny looking ducks I saw when we were trying to approach the hawk in the tree. They popped out from behind someone's car. They are domesticated Muscovy Ducks I guess. I don't remember them from the last time I was there, but they are very very friendly. I wonder if they were someone's pets. Sure, all the ducks and other birds approach humans begging for food, but I felt these two were going to jump up in my arms.
They were somewhat aggressive that way. They also had a way of looking at you with a pleading eye. The spotted one above had brown eyes, the all white one below had blue eyes - a very pretty blue. It also appeared younger because it had less wrinkles, but who knows.
There were also Red-winged Blackbirds flitting here and there. They just would NOT sit still long enough to focus. Finally, one sat on a garbage can long enough for a pic and I thought that was all I was going to get. But nope, on the way back to the car, I spotted this one in a tree and quickly snapped. Amazingly enough it was in focus. Technically - Bi-colored Blackbird as it doesn't have a significant yellow streak bordering the red. It's a California oddity, perhaps subspecies.
Then right after that, my mom spotted a bunch of large birds flying overhead. I quickly pointed the camera up and hoped to get that red focus dot on one of them. I did, and here they are! I think this one was a 400mm, but I also had another one that I pulled back to 250 mm to get a group shot. Not only were these White Pelicans huge, but they weren't all that high in the sky either. They flew so gracefully.
And I was thrilled to come home and notice that a few of them had those breeding bumps on the top of the bill. Be sure to click to enlarge and see that!

After this, the lighting was getting very dramatic with a storm (ha - drizzle clouds) coming in. So I walked over to the picnic grounds by the ranger station and scouted for some landscape shots. I'll make those my next post.
And the post after that, our second trip of the day: Rancho San Antonio.

Final count for PA Baylands:
9 Canada Goose
Branta canadensis

30 Mallard
Anas platyrhynchos

1 Ruddy Duck
Oxyura jamaicensis

14 American White Pelican
Pelecanus erythrorhynchos

7 Black-crowned Night-Heron
Nycticorax nycticorax

1 Red-tailed Hawk
Buteo jamaicensis

8 American Coot
Fulica americana

30 American Avocet
Recurvirostra americana

12 gull sp.
Larinae sp.

30 Rock Pigeon
Columba livia

1 Anna's Hummingbird
Calypte anna

2 Black Phoebe
Sayornis nigricans

1 Western Scrub-Jay (Coastal)
Aphelocoma californica californica

7 American Crow
Corvus brachyrhynchos

2 Common Raven
Corvus corax

4 Cliff Swallow
Petrochelidon pyrrhonota

1 Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Poecile rufescens

1 Bushtit
Psaltriparus minimus

1 Northern Mockingbird
Mimus polyglottos

5 Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon)
Junco hyemalis [oreganus Group]

10 Red-winged Blackbird (Bicolored)
Agelaius phoeniceus [gubernator Group]

1 Brewer's Blackbird
Euphagus cyanocephalus

2 House Finch
Carpodacus mexicanus

2 House Sparrow
Passer domesticus
24 species total.


Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

Wowser! What a list! I love every one of those pix.

The watercolored gosling is worthy of a frame.

Red said...

Thanks Lynne... I'll have to print it out on the copier and see :)

It's amazing all the species and yet it qualified for a stationary count.

Leedra said...

Like the effect of your change to painting. Looks good.

I am photographer first, and just happen to try my hand at birds. I like it when I can id a bird before reading the id, as I did with your Black Crowned Night Heron. Someday I may actually be a birder.

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Red said...

Thanks Leedra :) I just had to keep it... but the picture was really really bad.

I am a photographer first still... but I think I can safely say bird photographer now :) Part of my id-ing comes from taking the pic and studying it later at home. I can id probably 35 birds in the field, but they are the ones I'll see all the time. Little brown birds, forget about it. I'll say sparrow or whatever and look for markings later. Bigger birds are much easier for me to id.

Mary C said...

Nice post, Heidi. I'll have to get my PA Baylands post up soon, hopefully this weekend. I like what you did with the gosling pic - that was a neat idea - a great way to "erase" all the background stuff around it. I'll have to be sure to post the photo of the (backsides of the) gosling and parent as they walked/waddled away from us.

RuthieJ said...

Great pictures Heidi! I especially liked the "squadron" of pelicans soaring overhead.

Red said...

Thanks Mom... lol, that'll be a cute pic of the geese.

Thanks Ruthie! It was cool to watch them.


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