Posted by: atowhee | September 23, 2014


Can birding the California Coast be called “coasting?” That’s what I was doing last week with a group of clients from Pat=rtnership for International Birding.CATO GLANCCalifornia Towhee…in California.


curl in fog (2)Curlew in the fog, Morro Bay.

Diving Elegant Tern, Morro Bay.
pelican rock
Pelicans on rock northof Gorda, where we laso saw a passing California Condor pursued by Peregrine.
pelican slope

sleeping sausagesThus is what a sleeping sausage would look like…these happen to be only young elephant seals on the beach near Piedras Blancas.

Pfeiffer-Burns waterfall into the sea.
Whute-crowned Sparrow adult.

whale spoutThe spouting whale off Pfeiffer-Burns State Park in Big Sur. It was a humpback whale surrounded by attending Heermann’s Gulls and Sooty Shearwaters.
Above the park we saw a pair of soaring condors, giving us three on the day.
California zebra, a rare breed…actually exotic livestock on the Hearst Corporation property at San Simeon.

Posted by: atowhee | September 22, 2014


Here’s some interesting info on birds and their links to dinosaurs.

Posted by: atowhee | September 22, 2014


Our recently-completed PIB birding trip along the California Coast had many highlights…here are about five hundred in one single frame. Elegant Terns loafing on a sandbar at Moss Landing in Monterey County.

ELEGANT BECHD (1280x654)

No far from the madding crowd with its squawks and boistrous shoving, there was this contemplative soul having a snooze on the incoming tide:

Posted by: atowhee | September 22, 2014


Vermont is doing what much of the U.S. can’t seem to do. They are going green for energy. Here is segment from an NPR show that explains how Burlington gets all its electricity now from renewable sources. Even though they are just across the border from SHALE OIL CITY (that would be Canada).
Of course, Canada’s head-of-state is too busy to attend tomorrow’s summit on climate change in New York. Probably doing another ribbon cutting at a shale quarry, or maybe inspecting those explosive rail cars rolling across the land. Go Canada! Dig, baby, dig.

Posted by: atowhee | September 21, 2014


The evening of September 19th I got the chance to show some visiting Colorado birders the Vaux’s Swift phenomenon at McNear’s Brickyard in San Rafael. I think the count that night exceeded 1519-thousand birds…plus one Kestrel who didn’t apparently catch a swift.vaux's kest

vauxs kest2






As the light drops the swirling swifts become literally a blur to my camera:


Rusty Scalf was tere doing his count and said the Kestrel is rarely a successful swiftp-hunter, unlike his bigger, faster cousin, the Merlin.

McNear Brick and Block, Marin, US-CA
Sep 19, 2014 6:15 PM – 7:45 PM. 6 species

White-tailed Kite (Elanus leucurus) 1
Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius) 1
Vaux’s Swift (Chaetura vauxi) 15000
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) 1
Brewer’s Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus) X
House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus) X

Posted by: atowhee | September 18, 2014


Our Partnership for International Birding (PIB) California trip did Monterey County today, from sea to Salinas Valley. From sea otter to Yellow-billed Magpie.CUTE KILLER (1280x543)This sea otter is about the cvutest predator you’ve ever seen. Right? Lying on the mud on his back at the mouth of Elkhorn Slough.
South of Greenfield, California, and up Pine Canyon Road we found a flock of Y-B Magpies. Photo taken by one of the Colorado birders with me. How;d we find the birds? Asked the locals in a nearby cafe. Oh yes, they said, the magpies comeinto my yard and steal my dog’s food.magpies
No the group has seen 100% of the North Americans endemics, Corvids both–Island Scrub-Jay and Y-B Magpie. Neither has ever been recorded outside California.

Posted by: atowhee | September 17, 2014


The Elegant Terns were not living up to their name. They were frantic in their pursuit of small fish in the Morro State Park Yacht Harbor–yeah, I know, yacht harbor in a state park? Local hominids told us there was a heavy run of anchovies this year and many fishing birds were brought to the shore. That included a long line of pelicans, both white and brown. But today the terns were the whole show. Each dive took a bird beneath the water, leaving a small circle of ripples, then the tern would emerge, sometimes with a three-inch fish in its beak which would be swallowed as the bird lifted out of the water.
tern flock1
tern divetern emerge2

tern emerge 3

tern emerge 4

tern emerge 7

Posted by: atowhee | September 17, 2014


The U.S. has two endemic species. They are both Corvids. They are both California-only birds. Yesterday our PIB trip to the California Coast got close to one member of the Island Scrub-Jay species. This immature bird wanted to be fed in seems. He or she cam overhead and whispered sweet songs to us in the baked scrub on Santa Cruz Island off Ventura.IS-SCJA BANDS (1025x1280)IS-SCJA FACE PROFILE (1280x962)

IS-SCJA GLINT (1280x960)
This bird has never been found off the island and it id an example of giantism that sometimes evolves in isolated population, like the Galapagos tortoises. He’s bigger and brighter than other Scrub-Jay species.
IS-SCJA IN SHADE (1265x1280)

IS-SCJA JAW (1280x1074)

IS-SCJA LONG1 (696x1280)

IS-SCJA SHADE2 (1280x1235)

IS-SCJA-FACE1 (1197x1280)

IS-SCJA-LONG2 (770x1280)

Posted by: atowhee | September 15, 2014


tv drinks (1280x960)

tvs borth-cu (1280x960)

tvs both drnk (1280x960)
Turkey Vultures drinking from small spring branch that flows onto sand at Stinson Beach and then sinks beneath the surface. Gulls drank there as well on a hot, sunny day.

Posted by: atowhee | September 15, 2014


kite hovr
White-tailed Kite over Olema Marsh. The dark band under the bird’s throat is mark of young bird.
kite passes

kite-v (1280x960)
Bluebird on the roof.
roftop blu
Turkey Vulture warming in the morning sun.
tv warms
anhu (1280x960)
Anna’s Hummer at the nectar bar. Fill’er up. Joe.
anhu buzz (1280x960)

el crowd 2 (1280x960)
Below, hundreds of Elegants and Heermann’s on the sand bar at the mouth of Bolinas Lagoon.
ele and heerm (1280x960)


eles c-u (1280x960)elgnt flutter (1280x960)Above, an Elegant flutter.

heerm1 (1280x960)
Above Pintails loafing allng edge of Bolinas Lagoon. Below: Common Murre.

qwal brite
High tide on Tomales Bay has Western Sandpiper flock restless to find resting spot.wesa in air (1280x960)

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