Friday, September 25, 2015


16 September

No, TPAD is not dead. But it will soon be dead. Until it dies, I give you TPADFFMD.

Once a month some intrepid souls make the journey over to Main Top Island (West End) to visit the Northern Fur Seal (Callorhinus ursinus) colony, census all of the pinnipeds, look for tagged animals, and maybe pull some spinach. Ideally, this is done on a slow/no bird day. Cases of Faranoia may become particularly acute on such days (see this post from last year).

West End is loud, smelly, and furry: bleats growls and wickers are broadcast continuously and are punctuated by the unmistakable roaring of Steller's Sea Lions. Adults fight, pups fight, sea lions and fur seals bicker. A noisy smelly place that is thoroughly enjoyable to expose one's self to. Take me back.

Here is a family portrait (not really, but they are all Northern Fur-seals) from Weather Service Peninsula, which lies on the west end of Southeast Farallon Island
Look at this thing. Keep looking at it. Don't stop looking at it. Is that the longest you've ever laid eyes on a Northern Fur-seal?

Friday, September 18, 2015

In Which Railey II, A Mouse, and a Chestnut-sided Warbler

14-15 September 2015

Yes, dear readers, another FPAD...or 4PT.

The birds have begun to trickle. Presaging a crack in The Wall? Is birds coming? We don't yet know.

The good news is this: WE ARE IN THE LEAD AGAINST SAN CLEMENTE.  Will it last? It mightn't. It might. Stay tuned.

Here are portraits from these days:

An eastern warbler!  This Chestnut-sided Warbler hung around with the hooligans of Lighthouse Hill

There are mice.  Here's a mouse.  Someday we hopet'n't have mice.

This is a Virginia Rail in temporary residence on the (very) windy side of the lighthouse.  It looked  exactly like this all day.  So we (Boo) caught it and brought it down to live in the Coast Guard Tree.  You're welcome rail: good luck.

Railey II.  Railey I took up residence on the island for ~1 week last September.
September 14th eBird
September 15th eBird

SEFI: 95
SCI:   94

A Pleasure Trip to The Farallones

12-13 September 2015

Another multi-pad, dominated by furred things for lack of feathers. My days grow short but I remain busy with non-blogging.  I apologize to you all: I have not forgotten.

Weather has not smiled kindly upon us: the birds aren't here. September remains in a veritable avian-drought. Fog and strong winds have kept most birds from finding our small and insufficient refuge. Siren-songs from Mastwell and Rockly are belched to no avail. Our near-constant Sulid companions remain a small bright light in this shadowy world as we anxiously await the flood. Will the sparkling hordes arrive before Rob must take his leave?

I won't look like these guys on my return trip.  I just won't do it.

Don Mastwell loves Zalophus, especially this one (Steve). This portrait was commissioned by Don to illustrate his love for the California Sea Lion.

Fact of the day: Northern Elephant Seals are punishingly adorable.

Martin Sheen? Hippo? Wet Elephant Seal.
SCI:   89
SEFI: 86

This list is no way to win a war:
September 12th eBird checklist

At least this one's a bit better:
September 13th eBird checklist

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

It Takes Noctuid to Tango

11 Sep 2015

On this day I have a new niece or nephew. It is impossible to know which, but I think it's a niece. My sister is wise to hide this from me. I can't know until I bring her a herring, a truffle, and a rainbow roll.

The 11th of September had few birds. More birds than nieces/nephews, but not by much.

In their stead, here is the large yellow underwing (Noctua pronuba), a widespread Palearctic species that was introduced to North America in the 1980s and has rapidly colonized the continent. This character (in part) was featured on TPAD last year.

Large yellow underwing (Noctua pronuba)

Keeping up the babe theme, here are two Pelagic Cormorant chicks.  This cliff ledge is typical nesting habitat of this species. Look at that neck-fluff.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Crushed Vacuum

10 Sep 2015

Another day dogged by fog, the tenth was.  Birds remain slow.  Weather remains less'n ideal.

 “They walked out in the gray light and stood and saw for a brief moment the absolute truth of the world. The cold relentless circling of the intestate earth. Darkness implacable. The blind dogs of the sun in their running. The crushing black vacuum of the universe. And somewhere two birders trembling... Borrowed time and borrowed world and borrowed binoculars with which to sorrow it.”  
     --Cormac McCarthy, in part

My days on SEFI grow short (for this season) whilst a companion's days grow long--Don Mastwell's 1st island birthday will take place this Sunday night, his 365th spent on the island.  This is exciting, no?

Until then, here are some birds:

Northern Harriers (and other raptors) frequently fly in from the south (as this one did). Why?  No one knows.

This is a Whimbrel.  Any questions?


SCI:   89
SEFI: 86


Sunday, September 13, 2015

On Dasher &c.

9 Sep 2015

  Our eBird checklist might be too embarrassing to share so I'll sharen't.  I added (finally?) "subscribe" gadgets (look over there-->): I wouldn't but you're already here so something must be wrong.  Just roll with it.

  The Lead of Stahl has lessened but remains dense.  Weather forecasts have been difficult to assess, and migration activity on the island remains pitiful. At least we have each other. And an occasional bug. And harbor seals. Witness:

One of two Blue Dashers (Pachydiplax longipennis) who dropped by Twitville for a one-day visit, delighting all observers (not a common creature here).  They are a dainty and most attractive dragonfly.
Need I caption this photograph?  No, I needn't.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Insular Potentates

8 Sep 2015

  Few birds on this day and fewer in the immediate future.  San Clemente has pulled into a hearty lead and the weather has turned poor.  Some new birds were found on this day (many thanks to Don Mastwell, Emberizid Whisperer)--a Clay-colored and Brewer's Sparrow.  To find out how many days go by until our next arrival is recorded, keep reading.

  Until then, potentates:

Commander-in-chief, Major Tietz, accompanying Corporal Curry down the cart path.
Monarch of the Isle.  This lovely butterfly showed up after some strengthy northwest winds.  We've had 2-3 this season.  Strong fliers they are--and they are in trouble.  Plant milkweed, buy organic, and don't use pesticides.

SCI:   89
SEFI: 73

eBird Checklist (they only get worse!)