Mixed Feathers

(Burrowing Owl Update Below)

In the last two months so many park events have claimed my attention that some encounters have got ignored. Here I’m trying to catch up by posting a miscellany of images that might have had their own blog posts in less busy periods.

The Anna’s Hummingbird is an almost regular sight on a tree in the southern apron of the Native Plant Area. Here I happened to click the shutter at a couple of moments when the bird displayed is bright green back and just a hint of the iridescent pink on its head and throat.

I’d been stalking the Black Phoebe for some time, never getting a good shot of this fast-moving bird. Finally my luck turned and the bird held still long enough for me to get a casual portrait or two.

These two Clark’s Grebes seemed to be a pair. They stuck close to one another. Sometimes they dived together. Other times one dived, the other kept watch. I’ve also seen solo Clark’s and sometimes a solo Western Grebe.

Clark’s Grebes (Aechmophorus clarkii)

Two of the smaller grebes visited in November. The Eared Grebe, below left, seemed to be by itself. The Horned Grebe, below right, was one of five quietly cruising the waters of the North Basin. That’s an unusually big turnout for them here. I saw both species for a few days in mid-November. Then they were gone.

For hints on how to tell the Horned from the Eared, see Eared? Horned? Small Grebe ID 101 Nov 12 2019.

These Ruddy Ducks were part of a little flock of six, or maybe a harem would be the better word, as there was only one male. In past years I’ve seen much larger numbers of these. Perhaps there are more to come.

Common Goldeneye have been on the North Basin for several weeks. I’ve seen both male and female, sometimes widely separated, more recently close together as if a pair. These also seem at this point to have a diminished population compared to recent years.

The Bufflehead have been around the park since October. Apart from just a couple of males chasing each other to gain the attention of a female, they forage separately, far apart, without obvious interaction. Maybe that will come later as temperatures warm up.

Lastly, I saw this flock of maybe 100 Least Sandpipers on the sandy beach next to the Schoolhouse Creek outfall in the southeast corner of the North Basin. Watching them forage almost gives me a headache. Image a crowd of people at a party moving in this kind of chaos. There’d be constant collisions, apologies, fistfights, panic attacks. Seems to work just fine for the sandpipers, though. I saw no collisions and no hostile pecking. They seem to have the protocol of fast social movement in close quarters honed to a fine point.

Least Sandpipers (Calidris minutilla)

Burrowing Owl Update

There were problems this morning. The Burrowing Owl had moved back to Perch A, next to the dried California Poppy bush, where you can’t see the bird from the paved perimeter trail outside the fence. Someone had torn down all six of the “Area Closed: Burrowing Owl Sanctuary” signs on the fence. And on the south end, a fisher with a can of beer sat on the Spiral (the Open Circle Viewpoint) tending to three fishing poles. I had to thread my way through his lines to set up my camera to take this brief video of the owl far away in Perch A. At least the bird appeared normal, alternately drowsy and alert, resting on one leg, staying alive.

Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia) Dec. 7 2022

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One thought on “Mixed Feathers

  • Beautiful photos and video! But I really don’t understand why someone (or a group) would tear down six “Area Closed: Burrowing Owl Sanctuary” signs. What’s the motivation? Anger that any area is restricted? Not giving a hoot (sarcasm intended) about an endangered species? Juvenile prank? Late night alcohol/drug high? I don’t get it. But much thanks and gratitude for your daily update.

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