Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Mammoth, SF Road Trip: Nerdy Birdy - Arrowhead Marsh

My last stop of the trip was Arrowhead Marsh. I purposefully left this one for the evening because of the tide schedule. At 4:30 pm it was high tide, and high tide tends to flush out some of the more elusive birds sometimes.


In particular I was looking for either the Clapper Rail or the Sora both very secretive elusive birds who live deep in the reeds. Arrowhead Marsh is the perfect habitat for the endangered Clapper Rail. They have a few breeding pairs documented here and everyone is hopeful that with continued protection they may have a few chicks here in the future.


I arrived a bit early so I spent some time taking photos of what was around. A hummingbirds territorial calls immediately caught my ears. I found him pretty close by perched on the barbed wire of a fence. Although I would much prefer getting a photo of a bird on a branch I couldn’t help but fall a little in love with this photo. Usually when I take pictures of the Anna’s Humminbird the GLORIOUS pinks in the head wash out. Those pink feathers are like giant reflectors and play havoc with my cameras sensors but because the clouds were rolling in I was able to get a perfect shot of him without blowing out the pink. LOVE this one!


Another bird on a wire I just couldn’t resist posting is this White Crowned Sparrow. He is a pretty common bird, I have hundreds of photos of him already but I just adored how all the colors in this photo played so nicely together. The bird, the background all blend into this delicious soft color. Time to get your nails done though big guy... seriously!


I spent some time also with a group of Meadowlarks. Their song is simply gorgeous although without them singing they can be a little hard to find. If they hear a noise or sense an intruder they simply turn their backs and blend in perfectly with the grass. Forward facing they have the most brilliant yellow chests with a fun little necklace. A pretty bird, you can only imagine how hard it is to get a shot with them facing forward.


I then started following around a young Ring Billed Gull whom I dubbed Einstein. All the other Gulls were following him and then I figured out why. He was grabbing muscles from the marsh, carrying the shellfish over the pavement in his mouth and then dropping it to the concrete below. The other gulls, instead of working, were simply following him back and forth trying to get his hard won food. I didn't have to worry, he was pretty fierce and none of those hanger-on groupies got a nibble of his meal.


High tide came and I decided to sit on one of the many benches to see if the Clapper Rail would come out to play. I had on my big thick ski jacket... it was freezing. After a half hour of waiting, once the sun was dipping low and without hearing a single clapping call I decided to pack up and get back to the car to unthaw. BURRRRRR.


I sat in the car and looked at the weather. The universe wasn’t being very kind a large storm system was approaching and over the next three days it was calling for a high chance of rain. I still wanted to spend another three or four days out but with rain in the forecast I decided to just end my little trip. The places I want to visit aren’t going anywhere I will just come back in a month or two.



paul peggy zeus said...

Oh man, you do look cold!! and you're sweet hubby misses you too. What a nice trip you had though, thanks for taking us along with you. Nice hummingbird shot, by the way!

lilmansworld said...

anna's beak is sexy! Sparrow is the 'grumpy old man' Jack Lemmon. If you were a bird you would be ' Red Faced White Breasted Beauty'

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