Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sketching at Famosa Slough

I'm taking an online watercolor and sketching class. The idea is to go out on location and sketch and paint what you see. This week's lesson was to do animals. I decided the birds at Famosa Slough woild be perfect!

Though the Slough wasn't as birdy as other times, an American Avocet and a couple of American Coots cooperated by staying fairly close, though I still needed my binoculars, which added a degree of difficulty! The Marbled Godwit will be added at another time.

It was interesting to learn how many little details I wasn't aware of until I had to draw these birds. No wonder David Sibley is such a good birder--though I'm not in any way comparing myself to Sibley.


-- Posted from my iPad!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Duck Hunting

While I'm out in San Diego, I subscribe to and read SDBIRDS, the San Diego Birding List. People post the locations of interesting or rare birds that they see. For the last couple of weeks, people have been posting about a Long-tailed Duck in Mission Bay, right where we're staying.

I don't normally "chase" birds, as it's called, but this one was tantalizingly close. And so many were seeing it. And it would be a life bird (meaning I hadn't seen it yet). The long-tailed duck summers and breeds in northern Canada and in Alaska. It winters along both coasts, but I hadn't yet seen one in Virgina. For you old timers, until 2000, the long-tailed duck was called the "oldsquaw."

(I think I probably saw it earlier in the week, before I read the reports. I had seen something that generally looked like a pied-bill grebe, way off in the distance, but with a lot more white on the head, swimming with a flock of surf scoters in the bay. Couldn't get a picture and didn't have my binoculars, so at the time I chalked it up to one of those mystery birds I would never identify.)

Fred humored me in my quest by going out three times to look for it. The first two searches, in two different parts of Mission Bay, proved fruitless. Chasing one bird in an area the size of Mission Bay is a bit like searching for a needle in a haystack. I pretty much didn't think that I would ever see it, and thought of giving up. But those reports of sightings kept coming!

So we went out a third time. I looked for specks of white in the Bay. Lots of loons, buffleheads, surf scoters...wait--what's that white thing? Get the scope! There it is--the long-tailed duck, swimming just a bit too far out for a good picture, but I did get this record shot of a female, winter plumage, long-tailed duck.

I was glad that my hunt was successful. Fred was glad that he didn't have to go out looking for the duck again. It was a good day for both of us!

Next: Sketching Birds at Famosa Slough....

-- Posted from my iPad!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Bewick's Wren at Marston House, Balboa Park, San Diego

Fred and I went to the Marston House to look for the Hepatic Tanager that had been reported there. No luck, but I did get a couple of record shot of this Bewick's Wren. Not a great shot, but the wren is identifiable!

Also saw a whole mess of bushtits. Where there is one bushtit, there are a couple of dozen more.

-- Posted from my iPad!

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Famosa Slough, San Diego (Friday, Feb 4, 2011)

I've been meaning to post about our trip to Famosa Slough. Here it is, better late than never! For more about our trip to the Slough, see my trip blog.

The Slough is one the San Diego's birding hotspots. I can't believe I hadn't been there before this. Here are pics of some of the birds we saw. (I didn't realize some of the settings on my camera were off, resulting in some over exposure, sorry!)

Snowy Egret:

Belted Kingfisher (female):

A scaup parade led by an American Coot. I think that the 3rd scaup from the left is a greater scaup, the rest definitely are lesser scaup.

Black Phoebe:

Little Blue Heron:

Lots of ducks: Coot, American Wigeon, two Gadwells.

(We also saw northern pintails, ruddy ducks, blue winged teal, northern shovelers and some mallards.)

Say's Phoebe:

Red-tailed hawk:

Great Egret:


Greater Yellowlegs:

Pied-billed grebe and horned grebe:

Blacknecked stilts, american avocets, northern pintails among others. The stilts and the avocets have successfully bred in the Slough the last few years.

Aside from the birds already mentioned, we also saw:

Anna's Hummingbird
Marbled godwit
House finch
House sparrow
Song sparrow
Orange crowned warbler
Yellow rumped warbleer
Northern mockingbird
Mourning dove
Western gull

It was indeed birding heaven. If you are in San Diego, definitely worth a visit! See their website for more information.

-- Posted from my iPad!

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Birding San Diego

No photos to post yet of birds, but I have seen a few of the usual San Diego suspects. I haven't really done any birding yet, these are just in passing.

First bird in San Diego (woohoo) was a house sparrow. *rolls eyes*

black phoebe
double-crested cormorant
brown pelican
anna's hummingbird
western gull

We've also had fun watching the pelicans dive in the channel outside the condo with a gull in hot pursuit, in case the pelicans surface with something!

And, not a bird, but I saw a seal swimming by in the channel this morning.

-- Posted from my iPad!

In San Diego and not a minute too soon!

We had a pleasant flight out to San Diego from Baltimore on Southwest Airlines. Our rowmate was a young mother with a 13 month old boy named Adam. He really was quite good. By far not the worst rowmate we've had. (Did I ever tell you about the woman who was concerned that the change to daylight savings time would cause the earth to wobble on its axis?)

I won't say much about the weather we found when we arrived in San Diego, because I know you don't want to hear it. But a picture is worth a thousand words, they say...

Above, waiting for the rental car shuttle. Below, after picking up the car, we went off to lunch at the Prado in Balboa Park.

The Prado has wonderful fish tacos, I wish I'd taken a picture...but here's a picture of the flan we had for dessert.

-- Posted from my iPad!