Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Wild Bird Wednesday - Black Turnstone

The weather has continued to be challenging.  Sunny during the week when I'm at work and then overcast or actually raining on the weekends when I have free time.  Although, it still hasn't really been enough rain down here to make an appreciable dent in the drought (Northern California seems to be doing a bit better than we are).  We're at the end of January and I still don't really see this El Nino materializing into actual storms - certainly not as compared to the last big El Nino where my house practically floated away!

All this by way of saying that I'm still reaching back to a sunny day in September for my birding pics.  The last couple of weeks I've shared the Surfbird and the Ruddy Turnstone so this week, it's time for the Black Turnstone:

I've found the Black Turnstones to be much more numerous on our beaches that the Ruddy Turnstone.  Everywhere I visited, the BTs were out in force, but there would usually only be 2-4 RTs.

The BTs were very enjoyable to watch, though.  Masters at ferreting munchies in the wrack or the sand...and then incredibly single minded in pursuing them.  The entire pile of sand in this picture was flicked up by this single bird's beak over the course of just a few minutes.

And then he moved onto a new location and did it again!

Daring me to just try and take his seaweed!

The only time he stopped pursuing food was when a big dog walked by behind me...he froze and I used the opportunity to grab as many shots as I could.

And then it was right back to digging...

Look at that sand fly!

Presiding over the mess he's made.

When he was done with the sand, it was time to move on to the rocks for possible snack opportunities.

My favorite thing about this shot as the last rays of the sun were slipping away is that the feathers on his upper back revealed this tiny amount of green iridescence that you would never guess was there if you didn't see him in just the right light.  Of course, he still has sand on his beak LOL!



Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Wild Bird Wednesday - Ruddy Turnstone

Last week's post featured the Surfbird.  I had some good luck with other shore birds on that same day in Crystal Cove including the Ruddy Turnstone:

This bird is transitioning between plumages...

You can see a bit of the "ruddy" color that gives the bird its name.

It was fun to watch this bird actively hunting through the sand for prey.

I don't know what it was catching, but either the bird was really hungry or the food was extra yummy because it was really gorging itself (and not paying all that much attention to me so I was able to get extra close).

Down the hatch!

Even at the midway point between plumages...quite a handsome bird!


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Wild Bird Wednesday - Surfbird

It's been almost two weeks straight of gray, dreary and rainy weather here.  Good news for our drought...bad news for birding!  I've been fighting off a rotten cold on top of the weather (so much for my holiday vacation days!) so I'm reaching back to September when I had a particularly productive afternoon at Crystal Cove (one of my favorite local beaches).

Besides there being a plethora of birds out in force, I felt like this day marked a turning point in my photography skills as I came home with some photos I was quite pleased with from both lighting and composition perspectives.  Since I am my own worst and harshest critic - it's great when I can pass my own inspection LOL! 

In addition to the usual customers such as gulls and osprey, I met a new bird on this outing called a Surfbird.  You'll see how it got its name in some of the photos:

A short, two-tone bill and yellow legs are some of the field marks for this bird.

Although they are rarely found on the sand, this one posed on the beach for me for a while before heading onto the rocks.

Here he is hunting among the tide pools.

How to grip slippery rocks with your toes...

...and walk around without falling (unlike the clumsy humans)...

...while still keeping an eye out on the waves and the food supply.

The setting sun is doing a nice job bringing out all the colors in the rocks...

...and those yellow legs!

And why do they call it a Surfbird?

THAT's why!  And no...he didn't move out of the way LOL!