Monday, December 23, 2019

Santa Cruz Island (26Nov2019)

Morning broke in Ventura Harbor and I explored the hotel grounds a bit while the family slowly woke and commenced their ablutions.

Townsend's Warbler

Eared Grebe - I loved the early morning light reflections on the water.

I am going with Clarke's Grebe for this one based on the white around eye and yellow bill but I know hybridization can be tricky.

Say's Phoebe

Our itinerary for the day was a nice full day motoring out to Santa Cruz Island in the Channel Islands National Park and spending the day hiking.

Once on the Island Packers Ferry, I positioned myself up on the top deck and in front to look for pelagic birds.

Not far outside of the harbor, we started seeing our first shearwaters but most were far off and silhouetted like this one....

Presumed Black-vented Shearwater.  They were the only ones I positively ID'ed.

The boat slowed down for large pods of dolphins which was fine by me as the dolphins were schooling with the fish which the shearwaters were also partaking in.

Black-vented Shearwaters

Presumed Pomarine Jaeger

Cassin's Auklet!  Closer to Santa Cruz Island we started flushing tons of Auklets off the water.  They all appeared to be Cassin's based on the stubby bill and white marking in front of the eye.

Brandt's Cormorant

More Cassin's Auklets

Northern Fulmar

Santa Cruz Island itself was awesome.  A huge mountainous island in the middle of the Pacific with some good birds and great hiking.

Hutton's Vireo

Golden-crowned Sparrow

Island Scrub-Jay - these Jays are only found on Santa Cruz Island so if you are working on your ABA region list, you absolutely must make the day trip out to Santa Cruz Island.

Spotted Towhee

Island Scrubbie

Red-shafted Northern Flicker

Black Oystercatcher - Black is Beautiful!

Brant - the only bird that flagged on my eBird checklist

Pelagic Cormorant! Note the dainty thin bill.

Also, note the unkinked neck when flying, another field mark for Pelagic Cormorant.

This Raven was tagged on its wings.

Island Fox!

What a cool place!  Back on the ferry the weather started to get dicey and the light began to fade.  It was getting dark by 4:30pm but the sea life was teaming so I tried to make the best of the conditions.

Again Black-vented Shearwaters were the most abundant.

Young Heermann's Gulls kept tricking me.

More Cassin's Auklets

Pomarine Jaeger

Pacific White-sided Dolphin

Black-vented Shearwater

This partially leucistic Black-vented Shearwater threw me for a loop.

But compared to the normal one, it was structurally the same.

We saw Humpbacks!

Humpback flaking and shearwaters all around it.

I just noticed what looks like a calf behind the adult's dorsal fin.

I would go back for another crack at this island....

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Mountain Bluebird (Sialia currucoides) - 26Mar2018

I hate to disparage the Eastern Bluebird, but the Mountain Bluebird crushes his eastern counterpart in so many ways.

Here is a pic from the mountains west of Colorado Springs.

These were photographed near Rifle, CO in a random roadside field.