Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Foggy Day in London Town

Actually, at Point Reyes Station and Point Reyes National Seashore, but that's one of my favorite songs--as sung by the great Judy Garland.

Matty and I went to Point Reyes today -- what an amazing place. Sadly, we were socked in by some very thick fog, but I managed to get some decent pics... and two lifers! (possibly three, but I'll need your verdict on that--see later in the post.)

First, the lifers! I have been hoping to see what I call the Elvis of the bird world for some time, and I was not disappointed; check out the stylin' hairdo on this California Quail:Here he is with his little family (most of them--he has another young one farther ahead of him on the path but he was too blurry to make out, so I cropped him out):I like how he's the only one who's hitting the hair product; Mommy and Baby have far to go to get a bouffant like Daddy's. I had to pull a Mary when I saw Daddy posing on the post; I hit the brakes, whipped the car around, drove back at a creeping pace, and snapped his pic. He then fluttered to the ground and called his family together, and they hot-footed it into the thicket of plants there at the roadside, peeping all the while.

Here's lifer #2, which incidentally also merited a hit-the-brakes-and-turn-around maneuver, a Western Grebe!
This was in Tomales Bay, not the ocean. After (ahem) kinda-sorta stopping traffic while executing a U-turn to get us back on our way after getting the pic, Matty informed me that there would be no more Lifer Quick-stops. Good thing we were on the way home at that point!

I also saw this White-crowned Sparrow way up at the top of the cliffs near the lighthouse:And hey--isn't that an egg to his/her left? And a baby to his/her right?! Let me get more of the picture:Wow! I got a lot more there than I thought! Cool! But do you think that the egg will hatch? I mean, that baby looks pretty far along for him to be from the same clutch as the egg, unless the egg is part of a new clutch. We can hope, right? Still very cool!

Oh, and to clean up some old business regarding lifers: I'd been seeing what I had presumed were female Western Scrub Jays all over the place around here until I found out that the females of that species look much like the males. The birds I was seeing were robin-sized and -shaped, with a buffy-rufous patch on their heads and their undertail coverts. I finally figured out that I was seeing California Thrashers when I noticed that sharp metallic "CHEEK!" I keep hearing everywhere was coming from these same brown and buffy birds. So that was Lifer #210, and the California Quail and Western Grebe take the official ABA count up to 212! Woo hoo! I will try to get a pic of the Cali Thrasher because they're actually kinda pretty, if a little plain. The one I last saw had his head feathers fluffed up almost like a crest; he must've been pissed off at something (but not me; I kept a respectful distance from him!). I have been focusing so much on the markings and the body that I have completely missed the long decurved bill, but I'll check that out next time (I know just where to go on campus to see lots of them) when I get a photo.

So--we drove along Sir Francis Drake Road, along the peninsula that juts out (and has the lighthouse at its tip), and went all the way to the tip. I wish it hadn't been foggy or it would've looked like this:instead of like this:Can you see the waves hitting the beach down there? Maybe a little? Now imagine it's really windy and the fog is thick like Texas drizzle AND you're only wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Now it's really like you were there with us!

In addition to the above postcard, I also got this cool guide to California coastal birds, which is kinda cartoon-y but very handy and helpful. Here's their Western Grebe:and here's another picture of my Western Grebe:See the similarities? : )

Here are a few photos of what it looks like going out to the tip of the coast and up to the lighthouse, complete with young Tule Elks (I think--or else they're very woolly deer) and dairy cows wandering around all over the place:

Do you see the big brown furry Sea Lions in that last pic? Life mammal! Also saw a couple of gray Harbor Seals too, another life mammal!

Now--here's where I'm wondering if I'm seeing plain old Double-crested Cormorants or Brandt's Cormorants:
Brandt's Cormorants would be lifers, but gees--can YOU tell whether they have that head bump or not? I can't. What do you think?


Elizabeth said...

Lovely pictures! I keep meaning to visit Point Reyes, but it is such a pain to have to drive through San Francisco to reach the Golden Gate Bridge.

It's funny that you ask about cormorants because I just did a post on Double-Crested Cormorants, which are in abundance around here. I posted pictured if you want to compare them to yours.

They're not Double-Crested Cormorants. The Double-Crested Cormorants have a yellow-orange throat pouch that you'd be able to make out at that distance. But have you considered Pelagic Cormorants? They look similar to Brandt's Cormorants, except they have red near their beak and tufts of feathers on top. I've seen both kinds around Monterey Bay, but I don't know about as north as you are.

Earl Cootie said...

I love that photo of Elvis on the post with the fog in the background! It makes me very happy.

Your twodeer look like Black-tailed Deer to me, though I'm not sure if they get that far down south.

Okay, with Dawn's Montana pics and your NoCal pics, I think we're going to have to start traveling a bit farther afield. I wish I could remember to buy lottery tickets once in a while. That'd be a sure bet for getting rich quick.

KGMom said...

You are having lots of fun, aren't you?
Well, good for you.
Drive carefully, though.

Rick said...

the nest time you are at Point Reyes check out the Junipers(i think that is what they are) just past the parking lot going out to the old Life boat station. There is a Great Horned Owl that lives there and if you go to the old RCA station you will probably see a bunch of Barn Owls.
Good Birding,

Rabbits' Guy said...

Aw the danged old fog ... pretty prevalent I guess!

Did you get to stop and see the San Andreas fault ... I think it is called the Bear Valley Visitor station or some such that has a nice walk where the big ground shift is very evident!

I remember all the cows and deer and even some redwoods on that long, curvy, slow drive out there. Quite a place.

Actually the whole of Marin County is a "different" place!

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

You need one of those big bumper stickers that says


That first photo of the California Quail on the fence in the fog-
love it.

dguzman said...

Elizabeth--take the back roads! You know, I wondered about Pelagic Cormorants too. No idea!

Earl--late last night, I read your comment and didn't log on to reply, but I ended up DREAMING that you were standing next to me in the house I grew up in, and we were watching those same deer only they were HUGE, and you were telling me they were Black-tailed Deer! And then you turned into my father, and the deer turned into bears and they were hunting me, and... well -- it got kinda weird after that. And I think the lottery is such an under-rated way to make the big bucks too.

KGMom--yes, Donna, I'm having fun. But the money is running out, so I have to get a job soon! Glad you're enjoying the pics.

Rick--really? Dangit, I wish I'd known! Do you have to go there near dark to see these owls?

Rabbits' Guy--seriously? The fault!? Wow. We're going back for sure! And yes, Marin is beautiful.

Lynne!--I've missed your comments lately. I've been job-searching for too long up here to make it around to all the Flock blogs. Glad you like the fog pic--it was a lucky shot.

Susan Gets Native said...

You sure that egg isn't a pong pong ball?

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