Sunday, December 26, 2010

Palo Alto Baylands

Hi all, I feel bad that I haven't posted for a little while, but with the holidays and everything, I haven't had too much of chance. Anyways, here I am!

On December 22, my Mom and I ventured out to the Baylands. We happened to have a fantastic couple of hours. We first stumbled upon this Ring-necked Pheasant:

The Baylands are very famous for their waterfowl. There were a few Ruddy Ducks around, which were adorable as they were so small.

There was also this Northern Harrier female hunting around the area. We can tell that it is a female and not a juvenile because of the streaking on the breast.

Now, one of my favorite birds there was this Cinnamon Teal. The color is fantastic, and when they fly they have bright blue secondaries. I will say, this is one of my favorite birds ever.

This bird was kind of puzzling. I think it is a juvenile White-crowned Sparrow because of the bright pink bill, but I would appreciate some insight.

Every year or so,  I have been informed that the Baylands get about six White-faced Ibis. I happened to come on a day when they had one. This bird kept on following me, and I feel that there were two, because I saw one in a small canal, and not one minute later, I saw another one feeding in a flock of Snowy Egrets. Who knows?

Here is a small flock of Gadwall. I like their pattern a lot because they are plain at first, but become more interesting as you look at them.

This Golden-crowned Sparrow posed so nicely in this tree for me and gave me great looks.

Here is a male and female Cinnamon Teal taking flight. The under-pattern of their wings really sets off their bodies.

My mom pointed out this setting in the background of the Baylands, and I really liked it.

Here is a flock of the female local Bicolored Redwing Blackbirds. I originally thought they were Brewer's Blackbirds, but I was emailed that I had I.D.ed them incorrectly. I still have time to learn though.

Here is a less than decent picture of a Song Sparrow, but, this bird is different from the ones in Chicago, and is of a different subspecies. A subspecies, for those of you that don't know, is a bird that has cousins that make up a bird species. So there is a Pacific Coast cousin, a Pacific Northwest cousin, etc.

My Mom caught sight of this Double-creasted Cormorant fishing, and ths fish in this birds mouth was still alive when it was swallowed.

Here was probably the bird of the day. I think that it is a Mew Gull because of the bill size and its overall look. I would love to hear opinions.

This is a Greater Scaup, because the 'peak' of the crown is more in the front of the head. I have also been told to look at the notch on the bill. The Greater has a much bigger one and the Lesser a very small one.

Last bird of the day was what I think to be a Glaucous-winger Gull. I think so because of its overall size, and the sort of uniform coloration of the bird itself. Insight is welcome.

Well, thats all for now, so thanks for reading. I hope to post again, but we'll see how that works out.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Colds Stink and California is Going to be Warm

Greetings all in this freezing weather,

I have sat all day inside the comfort of my house to wait out a head cold. I went on a Christmas Bird Count yesterday with two of my three birding mentors, Chris and Geoff. We found 40 species of birds in our little area of a 15 mile diameter circle, and overall, we had 74 different species of birds. If there had been no ice cover on the water, we could have found more waterfowl (Ducks, Geese, etc.) and therefore we would have had an even higher count. Throughout the day, I had to blow my nose, which was really annoying. My mom offered to take me home, but since we had to turn down a CBC last year, I was to reluctant to. So, I stayed and suffered. But, throughout the whole day we found some good birds. I found my Lifer Carolina Wren, #216 on my Illinois State List, and #176 on my Illinois Year List. It was a great bird, and here is a photo.

We also found three more birds, which were also new on my state bird list. #177, #178, and #179 which were American Black Duck, Gadwall, and a Great-horned Owl. On the count we were trying to hit 40 species, and we desperately were looking for a Red-brested Nuthatch. I happened to see one when we played the Screech Owl tape to get the birds active and concerned. It was #38 of our daily tally, and we were on out way. The countdown dinner was great at Pompeii, and I was able to converse with some great birders who were very nice.

By the way, a 'life bird' is a bird that you have never seen in your life, and a state bird is one that you have never seen in your state. It is a special occasion, and very exciting for me when I find a new addition to my list.

Tomorrow, I am flying to California to see my Grandpa and Step-Grandma. I am very excited to see them, and to bird the Palo Alto Baylands. I have some contacts from California that I have called up, there hopefully one day of birding will be in the Palo Alto region and the other in the Half Moon Bay region. Very exciting and hopefully some more life birds, and maybe some new state birds as well. I hope to keep this blog active during my trip out there, and I hope you will follow my thrilling journey.

Until ne... *Achoo!* ....xt time.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Exams. Insert Crazy Onomatopoeia Here

Warning, semi-rant is contained below. If you would like to skip, please go right ahead.

If you skipped the warning, I guess you are here to read this. I have a question for you. Do you remember the days in school where you were happy you had a test? Huh? What was that? Oh, ya, I agree, there were none. I have had that feeling many times, and it is not a good one. But, now more then ever am I feeling it. I have exams, which are tests that are stretched in length and require you to know the first half of the years material. I have never had them, and now we all of a sudden do. I had a Biology Exam today, which made me write 3 "essays" which had 3 parts to each. I wrote about 7 lines of information for each part, ending up with 9 different parts. My hand felt like it was going to fall off. I then had a Latin exam, and I wasn't too prepared. Why could we not have just had a normal test in each class just like Middle School? I don't know why the word exam scares me, but it just does. Tomorrow I have a Geometry Exam and a Global Cities Exam. Yay. I should go and study, but I just wanted to write up a short post on how my life is right now. To add into all of this mix, I have tech week in a play I am doing in Evanston, which meets for the main portion of the night, so I have to end up studying at around 9:30. Luckily I didn't go today, so I could have more time, but tomorrow and yesterday were and will be torture. Why is life this cruel! Well, I think I have ranted enough, so I will go and study. Hope some of you can feel the same pain as I do at this moment.

All for now, and hopefully a more cheery post soon.


Friday, December 10, 2010

First Post. Hmmm

Evening all,

What to say as a first post. Wow.  I guess I could say Hi. Perhaps I should explain explain this title. Well, I have this interesting fascination with birds, and I just kinda got hooked. I have always been a nature kid, and loved animals. I went to Zoocamp when I was little, and did all sorts of stuff. I had always wanted to see a Wood Duck, and one day last year in May, I did. I was so happy, that I took a video with my extremely crude video camera on my horrible phone. Talk about freaked. I then came back and took some pictures with a better camera, and met a birder. Here is a photo I took of one on that special day:

He told me about some bird walks on Wednesday's and I found out more about them. Then I learned that a distant cousin was a birder, and she helped teach me. Then the guy who leads the walks eventually became one of my mentors and all was lost. That was birding.

I also have this addiction to collection vinyl figures. Many people think that they are action figures that don't do anything. They are toys that are also art, and are collectible and trade-able. I follow this company called Since I kinda want to talk about both birds and vinyl figures combined, I found that perhaps I should get a blog, and incorporate them both.

Here is a picture of what some Kidrobot pieces I collect look like, from the Kidrobot website:

For this vinyl addiction, I had in fact this past night gone to an art opening for a very famous group of artists by the name of Gargamel. No, not the Smurf's arch-enemy, but the company. You should Google them sometime, but make sure to use the translator, unless you can read Japanese. I will be posting some photos someday, and perhaps I can be a little efficient with blog posts. I have to go study right now, but if you read this, thanks, and I hope it wasn't a uninteresting post. Thanks for reading.

All for now,