Friday, November 28, 2014
I walk in the beach areas near Point Loma fairly often. I see many types of birds on the lawns, shores, and water of Mission Bay Park, in the mud flats of Rose Creek, the San Diego River, and Famosa Slough, the ocean shores, and the urban gardens. Today, I saw a 15" Garter Snake in Famosa Slough. There are many fishing birds there who would gladly eat a garter snake, but it's also a lush place for the snake to live. There was a Sting Ray swimming with several large fish near the San Diego River mouth, or Dog Beach. A few days ago, I saw a Shovelnose Guitarfish in Rose Creek. I see Raccoon prints in the mudflats regularly.
Late November, December, 2014
The photographs here were taken in late November and December of 2014. Some birds were wintering here: different birds might be present in other seasons. I made no effort to catalog all the birds I saw: there are many other species. The colors and patterns of the bird's feathers vary from season to season.
Sunday, January 18, 2015
I saw four Great Blue Herons perched in the trees at the Sea World Research area where various herons rook. In December, when most of these photos were taken, I did not see herons there. I also saw several ravens harassing a hawk in Rose Creek.
1 - Mission Beach
2 - UCSD Kendall-Frost Marsh
3 - Rose Creek
4 - Mission Bay Park
5 - Tecolote Canyon
6 - San Diego River channel
7 - Famosa Slough
8 - Ocean Beach
9 - Spanish Presidio Site
10 - Sunset Cliffs
11 - Shelter Island
12 - Cabrillo National Monument
|Kingdom Animalia Phylum Chordata Class Aves|
|Recurvirostridae||Himantopus||mexicanus||Black Necked Stilt|
|Long Billed Curlew|
|Ardeidae||Ardea||herodias||Great Blue Heron|
|Egretta||caerulea||Little Blue Heron|
|erythrorhynchos||American White Pelican|
|Columbiformes||Columbidae||Columba||livia||Rock Dove Pigeon|
|Zenaida||macroura||Mourning Dove Turtledove|
|Suliformes||Phalacrocoracidae||Phalacrocorax||auritus||Double Crested Cormorant|
|This Cormorant is too young to have adult breeding markings. It was alone and separate from any adults, and was unique in allowing me to approach and photgraph it.|
American White Pelicans Pelecanus erythrorhynchos on San Diego River Sandbar
Brown Pelican Pelecanus occidentalis on Ocean Beach Pier
Brown Pelican Pelecanus occidentalis Swimming
Brown Pelicans dive for fish, whereas American White Pelicans hunt while swimming, and may cooperated to herd prey. American White Pelicans nest near inland lakes, and during the breeding season, both males and females develop a bump atop their beaks.
American Wigeons Anas americana in Famosa Slough
Mudbar with Redheads, American Wigeons, and Cormorants
Mallards Anas platyrhynchos in Famosa Slough
Redhead Aythya americana and Lesser Scaup Aythya affinis
Western Grebes Aechmophorus occidentalis
Western Grebe feet
Flattened toes, like Coots, but not lobed.
American Coot Fulica americana
← Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias
→ Little Blue Heron Egretta caerulea
← Snowy Egret Egretta thula
→ Great Egret Casmerodius albus
There are a few other Egrets and Herons who show up occasionally, but these four pictures are of the common ones.
Great Blue Herons are about twice as heavy as Great Egrets Ardea alba, but only a little taller. The bill of a Great Blue Heron is usually dull yellow, becoming more orange briefly at the start of the breeding season. The lower legs are normally gray, but more orange at the start of the breeding season.
Adult Little Blue Herons have grey-blue bills, feathers, and legs. The neck is purple in breeding adults. Young (first year) birds are white except for dark wingtips and dull green legs. White / young Little Blue Herons often group with Snowy Egrets as they are more tolerant than adult colored Little Blue Herons. Also, they may be less apparent to predators when mingled with similar colored egrets.
Snowy Egrets have a yellow (red in breeding season) area between the eyes and black bill. The legs are black and the feet yellow. In juveniles, the bottom of the beak is light colored, and the back of the legs is yellow or green.
→ Burrowing Owl Speotyto cunicularia
Squirrels and Belted Kingfishers Ceryle alcyon also live in the levee riprap, so the soil must be good for burrowing, and there are probably many existing tunnels to renovate for new homes.
Locally, Burrowing Owls and Belted Kingfishers each perch and observe their surroundings for prey, but the owls are usually 2-3' off the ground, like on a rock, and the Kingfishers perhaps 7', like on a chain link fencepost, so they can be distinguished by perching behaviour from a distance. Their shapes are also different.
San Diego River levee riprap
↔ Raccoon Prints Procyon lotor
← in Famosa Slough mud
→ under bridge
On the left, the prints are in slimy organic, clay, and sand mud. Note smearing and bird prints. On the right, the prints are in sand under a bridge over the San Diego River channel. No rain or sun ever hits the sand, and it is always humid. Over time, the sand builds a poofy texture that will take tracks of almost anything.
Black Necked Stilt Himantopus mexicanus
Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes
↔ Long Billed Curlew Numenius americanus
← Long Billed Curlew
→ Long Billed Curlew Eating Crab
Marbled Godwit Limosa fedoa
Willet Catoptrophorus semipalmatus
Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura
Pigeon or Rock Dove Columba livia
Anna's Hummingbird Calypte anna
Western Gull Larus occidentalis
↔ California Gull Larus californicus
← Breeding Colors
→ First Winter / Camoflage Colors
One difficulty in identifying birds is that they change colors and feathers over their lifetimes and over a year to be more noticable for breeding and more camoflaged when not breeding.
Western Gulls stay near the Pacific Ocean year round and nest on islands, etcetera.
California Gulls migrate to the Pacific Coast in winter, but typically breed at lakes as far east at Utah. Mono Lake is one breeding area. Recently, California Gulls have begun breeding in south San Francisco Bay.
Double Crested Cormorant Phalacrocorax auritus
Juvenile Bland Coloration
Sunset Cliffs Sea Stack with Cormorants, Brown Pelicans, and Gulls
Old Trolley Trestle in Famosa Slough
Leroy, Don, and me (Dan), Sunday breakfast by Rose Creek