Friday, October 10, 2008

Birding Festival - part 2

This is MoonGlow Dairy. Click on the link to read more about it. They are situated on the south side of Elkhorn Slough, just off of State Highway 1, near Moss Landing. This is my concept of what met us at the end of the road -- these cows are eating artichokes. I couldn't pass up this photo op with the tree and part of Elkhorn Slough in the background.
[Don't forget to click on the photos to see larger images.]
Another first that I saw was this nest. Any guesses what bird made this nest? I haven't a clue, but it was quite large, so my guess would be a raptor of sorts.
As we walked down the trail we saw several birds in the pond. They all looked like the bird in the photo below. This was the best shot I could get. I recommend going to Red's blog to see better photos. Anyway, Red has informed me that this is a red-necked phalarope. And there were at least 30 of these birds in the pond. This is apparently their winter plumage and definitely a lifer. Now I wonder if I would recognize these same birds in their breeding plumage.
A little farther down the trail we came to a clearing where we could see quite a bit of Elkhorn Slough. We saw some folks enjoying themselves kayaking. I sure hope I get to do it one of these days. It looks like a lot of fun, and you can certainly see a lot more wildlife up close and personal.
Great egrets abound, and so do brown pelicans. Here is a shot of a great egret that seemed to pose for me. In the background you can see pelicans (well actually they are too far away) about midway (horizontally) in the photo.
The grebe in the center of this photo is a Western grebe. The other two I couldn't ID. But we were told that both Clark's and Westerns are all around in Elkhorn Slough.
These two are pie-billed grebes -- more common birds found in the area. Nonetheless, I think they are cute.
And here is my shot of brown pelicans flying low over the slough. Red has better shots of the pelicans.
Here's another shot of more pelicans flying over the slough. It was funny to watch these birds because they chose to fly only over the slough. They would not necessarily fly over the land, only the water.
Here is another shot of grebes. This one I could better identify them. The farthest left and the farthest right are Westerns. The second grebe on the right is a Clark's. As you will note from a field guide the Western grebe's black cap extends over the eye and has a greenish-yellow bill. The Clark's grebe has a black cap that stops just above the eye and has an orangey-yellow bill. Now just to let you know, if you look closely at the grebe on the far left it has the cap that says "Western." But if you look at the color of the bill it's the color of a "Clark's." Could it be a hybrid? I've heard that it does happen.
Farther down the trail there were fewer birds, but different species we didn't see earlier on the trail. This bird is a long-billed curlew, another lifer.
Another solitary bird -- this is a marbled godwit. I think it's funny this bird was being a loner because I have seen marbled godwits before (at Palo Alto Baylands) and they are found in large flocks. According to Stokes Field Guide these birds are found among moist grasslands in the summer and they winter along the coast. They certainly have an interesting diet -- worms, mollusks, crustaceans, grasshoppers, and pondweed and sedge seeds and tubers.
Now this photo you'll have to take my word for it -- there are many Western Sandpipers in that sandy area. Apparently they have a similar diet to the marbled godwit. But I thought it was strange they were just laying around on the ground. Maybe they decided to sun themselves. They didn't look like they were searching for food. Any other thoughts to why they were on "land" rather than on a watery mudflat?


Linda in Erie said...

Wow, what a great variety of birds. I'd love to see a brown pelican. We get Great Blue Herons and those are magnificent but it would be great to see pelicans. That's quite a bunch of sandpipers. There must have been a good food source there? Great photos and thanks for sharing for those of us who don't get to see those birds and habitat.

Leedra said...

Very interesting series of photographs. Such variety. Not sure about the nest. I have one about the same size, don't know what it is. Hope to remember to return next spring to see what is using it. I guess all raptors reuse their nest, but don't know for sure.

Ruth's Photo Blog said...

Great series of pictures.The one with the Clark's and Western Grebes was most helpful for identfication.

KGMom said...

Do you have ospreys where you are? The nest, with all the twigs sticking out, looks like an osprey nest to me.

Ruth said...

It really is worthwhile to click on the pictures to see them large. Good ID shots. I agree with KGMom...looks like an osprey nest.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Mary,
Cool pictures! I saw the phalaropes, marbled godwits and Western Grebes in North Dakota back in June. Judging from my field guide maps, it looks like they'll be wintering in California.

zhakee said...

Many of the large water birds make nests that look similar to the one in your image. Maybe you can return to that area in the spring and see what nests up in those trees. I imagine the same pair of birds may return.

Lynne said...

So many wonderful birds Mary, I don't know where to begin!

I think pied-billed grebes are cute too.

Mary C said...

Hi Linda, thanks. I was also thinking there must have been a good food source there for all those sandpipers. Glad you enjoyed the photos.

Hi Leedra - thanks. I'm also tempted to return next spring to see if that nest gets reused.

Hi Ruth - glad you liked the photos and explanation of the grebes. Do you get to see grebes in your neck of the woods?

Hi Donna and Ruth -- apparently we don't get ospreys here, but I checked Moon Glow Dairy's bird list and white-tailed kites are listed. They apparently have very similar looking nests. So I think it may be a kite's nest. I guess I'll have to return in the spring to check it out.

Hi Ruthie - I guess they're already here for the winter? They sure have a funny looking plumage for winter. I'm not sure I would recognize red-necked phalaropes in their breeding plumage.

Hi Zhakee - I looked up white-tailed kites in my field guide to see what kind of nests they make, and yes, they are similar to the ospreys. I guess to verify the occupant I'll have to be sure to return next spring.

Hi Lynne -- thanks. I guess I could say most any small-sized birds are "cute." And the large ones I'm always saying things like "wow" how beautiful, how elegant, etc. Glad you liked all the birds.


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