Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Wild Bird Wednesday - Osprey on a Cloudy Day

Now that I know where to look...I've enjoyed multiple encounters at different locations with Ospreys.  I find them to be amazing birds - from their sheer size to their fishing ability.  And I never get tired of seeing those crazy-looking yellow eyes, sharp beak and large talons.  One look at those feet and you'd think that nothing could escape them and yet I've seen them drop a fish on more than one occasion.  Still, they are formidable predators and fun to watch.

This particular encounter took place on a very gray, overcast day back in June at the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary.

The wind was blowing and ruffling up the Osprey's head feathers.

This post is at the edge of the parking lot and the Osprey is there quite frequently...often with a freshly caught fish...although not on this particular occasion.

That stare makes me glad that *I* am not a fish LOL!

More wind-ruffling...
If you look closely, you can see some spots of blood on his chest and belly...maybe I got here just AFTER the fish got devoured!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Wild Bird Wednesday - Meet the Gold Finches

Since May, I've been following some Lesser Goldfinches that like to hang out in the raised garden bed at my son's school.  They particularly like the sunflowers, but will also perch on some of the trees on the campus.  Below are various photos I've taken of them over the past few months.
Female in a tree in the parking lot watching the sunset.

She was also keeping an eye on me!

Male on the very tippy top of one of the trees on campus...surveying his domain.

And enjoying the breeze in his feathers.

The male bird again...this time in the small tree in the raised garden bed.

Such tiny little legs!
Here's the female hanging out on a sunflower stalk.

Then she flew to a nearby tree branch when I got a little too close.
I haven't seen them around lately so they may have moved to another location.  The garden beds were stripped and re-planted when school started at the end of August so the sunflowers are gone at least for now.  I'm sure they'll be re-planted soon and I hope I'll see the Goldfinches again!


Thursday, October 15, 2015

California Coast Trip - Day 8

Whew!  It took a LONG time to process all the photos from this day.  We visited the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium and had a wonderful time.  I was surprised to see how the crowds have grown since my one and only previous trip there about 10 years ago - that definitely impacted the experience a bit, but still...this place is amazing.  And, because it backs right up onto Monterey Bay with an outdoor viewing deck, you can get plenty of wild birds and other creatures to supplement the indoor exhibit experience.

I started off on the outer deck with some sea birds:

A Pelagic Cormorant was swimming around the pilings below the deck.

I was a bit surprised to see this goose hanging around on the ocean.  I think it might be a Snow Goose?  If anyone knows for sure...let me know.

It was happy to honk to let everyone know it was there. 

Pigeon Guillemots were definitely one of my favorite discoveries on this trip.  I could watch them all day.

Here's a pair practicing for the next Olympic synchronized swimming event.

Gotta love those bright red legs!

Of course, once the event is over, you have to...as Taylor Swift says..."Shake It Off"

Can't be a good athlete unless you do your wing exercises.

And 1...2...1...2...
Around this time, the rest of the group decided that I had wasted enough time on birds and that we needed to go inside RIGHT NOW, MOM!  I took a lot of the indoor photos with my iPhone due to the dim lighting.

Baby turtle checking out its reflection in the mirror. 

They had one tank devoted to the fish (characters) from Disney's "Finding Nemo."  This is a Blue Tang.

They are one of my favorite fish - such great colors (same as my Alma Mater:  UCLA) 
Shrimp with anemones in the background.

These little orange and pink anemones are called Strawberry Anemones...such a perfect name!

That is one serious suit of armor...you do not want to mess with this crab!

Leopard shark (I think).
Hermit crab in the foreground with squid in the background.

Squid close-up.
Cuttlefish - these guys can change their colors to blend in with their background or communicate to other cuttlefish. 

Another favorite of mine:  the nautilus.

Again...I could watch (and photograph) these guys all day.

Their eyes are amazing.

Again...this is where I got yelled at for "TAKING TOO LONG, MOM!"

Giant Pacific Octopus. 
The Aquarium has a whole wing devoted to just jellyfish...all done in a kind of Psychedelic 60's theme.  It was really cool (and I never thought I'd say that about jellyfish. 
Comb jelly...you can see it's bioluminescence.  The bright dots in the background are tiny copapods and other miniature critters that also exhibit bioluminescence.
Moon Jellies

This is a Polka Dot Jelly. 

This is an Upside Down Jelly...the bell goes on the bottom and the tentacles all reach up.
After that, the joke was on my family because, guess what?  There's an INDOOR BIRD EXHIBIT...mwahahahaaaaa!
This penguin gives new meaning to the phrase "asleep on your feet."

Of course, I'd be tired, too, if I had a baby penguin to take care of.  So cute!
This Bufflehead is swimming IN THE SHARK TANK!  Okay, so they are baby sharks, but still...I wondered if he knew his toes might be in danger of getting nibbled on.

This Bufflehead is playing it much more safe by hanging out at the food dishes.

I have the impression that this is a  younger bird...SO CUTE!

Dunlin getting a drink...

...and a bite to eat...

...and then posing perfectly for me. 


Least Sandpiper from the front...

...and from the back.

This was my favorite bird in the exhibit...Red Phalarope.

Another view...such gorgeous colors.

This was a close second favorite...Red-Necked Phalarope.

Showing off the reason for its name.


Willet snoozing on the sand...

...and giving me the "Can I help you with something" look for interrupting its nap.
After that, it was time for the sea otter show and movie and then lunch and then one last look from the deck outside:

More cormorants...sunning themselves on the rocks.
I tried really hard to capture the iridescence of their feathers in the sun.

This guy helped me out with a wing flap display.  Whenever I see them, I'm reminded of one of my favorite childhood novels "Island of the Blue Dolphins" and how the main character made a skirt out of cormorant feathers.
The Guillemots were back...this time fishing for their afternoon snack.

Of course, after you catch your snack, you have to do a victory dance!

It's like a football player doing the End Zone dance after making a touchdown.

And then you swim off with your prize before anyone else can grab it.
Because the Harbor Seals are hungry, too.

Hiding in the kelp bed waiting for anything that gets dropped.
Gosh, this was a fun day.  But I realized at this point that we only had a few days left.  Have got to make them count!