Monday, July 8, 2013

Welcome to the Hotel California

My part of the Central Valley is big on agriculture. The creek that I usually bird on is surrounded by fields. Last year, they hosted sunflowers. This season, they hosted wheat. In the past week, the fields have been alive with workers, cutting the wheat and wrapping it into stacks and carting it away. All that activity scared away most of the birds. So when I went birding yesterday, I tracked down the one or two spots where birds were still hiding, and I had some fun with my camera.

I told you there are crowds of Song Sparrows on the creek! This group seemed to be a family, maybe some newly fledged chicks? They were very cooperative to my camera. They hopped around in the foremost reeds, right where I could see them.

The bird in the picture above got itself into a bit of a predicament when it grasped one reed in its left foot and the other reed in its right. These reeds are just too soft for that kind of gymnastics. It ended up doing some very impressive splits. I wasn't fast enough to catch a picture of that, but this picture is right after it got its balance again. Look at that manufactured composure. It's doing the bird equivalent of nervously running a comb through its coiffed hair.

And this little bugger was just too cute to leave out of this post.

Barn Swallows are the bane of my photographic efforts. I always want to get pictures of them swooping overhead and chittering, but I'm just not quick enough. This one accomodated me by landing on a wire overhead. Check out the proportions of its wings and tail - those are some long feathers! Swallows need as much air surface as they can get to pull off their aerial stunts.

BARS have such pretty plumage! I love that russet color on its cheek against the buff on its breast.

Black Phoebes are the quintessential bird of the Central Valley. It's extremely rare that I go birding without seeing one of these flycatchers. This one is most likely a new fledgling. Check out the baby brown plumage peeking through its new black feathering, and its ratty tail. It looked like it was fending for itself pretty well! But I wouldn't be surprised if it still gets fed by its parents every now and then.

In order to take that picture of the Phoebe, I had to walk out on this blue railing, which is exactly as sketchy as it looks. It is literally a metal grating propped four feet above the water. If I had to describe this contraption in one word, "high-tech" would not be my first choice.

I'm going to try a new birding place soon, give this creek a bit of time... there are some other ponds and wetlands around my city that I could try.

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