Friday, September 30, 2016

Eastern Bell's Vireo for President

26 Sep 2016

A nice assortment of birds arrived on the island today (see the complete checklist here), but the obvious highlight was an eastern Bell's Vireo(!) that was found by Major Tietz late in the day in the Coast Guard Tree. All hands were on deck to see the vireo in the light of the setting sun.

Three nerds, including D. Mastwell and R. Rockly, successfully viewing the Bell's Vireo in the failing light. Guest Portrait by Jacob Drucker.
Thankfully, the vireo flew into a net and allowed us to examine it in all of its glory. Guest Portrait by The Future.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Heat Waves

25 September 2016

Today was very hot on the island and very clear--and very birdy. Visibility greater than 60 miles often bodes poorly for bird arrivals on the island--but this was an exception. About 200 birds arrived, mostly Golden-crowned and Fox Sparrows with good numbers of Spotted Towhees, Hermit Thrushes, and Savannah Sparrows--see a complete eBird checklist here.

The island residents, J. Tietz, Alyssa Om, J. Drucker, and G. Duncan were very pleased with the avian bounty brought by Mastwell and Rockly.

Don Mastwell in action at Heligoland. He's either recording bird numbers or reading some trashy fantasy fiction. It's impossible to tell.
Smoke from the Sawmill Fire in Sonoma county provided for a nice sunset--and a further reminder that much of California remains in a severe drought.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016


Well, we're off to a punctual start: Blog #1 is four days late.

On 24 September, Don Mastwell, Rob Rockly, and Mach Zikalonis arrived to reinforce the Farallones Crew. East Landing is broken again, so we have to use North Landing for the foreseeable future--just like old times.

Birds were slow on Day 1, but Rob was able to score an island bird in short order (see below).
Click here for the eBird checklist for 24 September.

We are all crossing our fingers hoping for good weather to incite bird migration. Until then? Portraits.

Rob's 171st Island Bird: Rock Pigeon

A portrait of the Aulon Islets at sunset

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

It's True. All of it.

Rumors are to be believed. Rob Rockly and Don Mastwell are heading back out to the Farallones. Rob's trip was cut short by a pesky eyeball infection(?), resulting in some Seriously Missed Birds, but the pain was more obtuse than it could have been.

If rumors suggest that I am already on The Island, those rumors are Lies.

Rumors that I have unfinished business, however, are true. I do have unfinished business. Here you will find business, finished. The final blog of the 2015 season.

First order of business:

Alas, it is true. The Stahlian Hordes were able to surge to victory in the great Battle of El NiƱo. However, a rematch has been ordered and will commence Saturday, 24 September, upon the arrival of Don and Rob on The Island.

Here, now, are your eight missing portraits from 2015. 

[Portait #1 is the new frontispiece of the blog (look up there ^)]

A traditional portrait of a traditional man

This is a Pelagic Cormorant. Contrary to unpopular belief, this is not a snake.

This must be one of the least disappointed bird species that ends up on SEFI, the lovely Rock Wren. Please, friend, inform the Canyon Wrens of our stony bounty.
"Bloody Mary Bloody Mary Bloody Mary" The smaller of these two Elephant Seals (bottom) took a grazing bite from a shark--it was a shallow wound and likely healed right up.

Red-breasted Nuthatches are probably somewhat more disappointed than Rock Wrens. Few things to hatch.

Eastern Indigo Snake (Drymarchon couperi)

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