Sunday, August 31, 2014

Wind, Wind, Wind.

Today was, again, wind.  No new birds graced us with their presence.  We await the forecasted south and southeast winds beginning Tuesday.  Tomorrow at 8am: the official beginning of shark watch season.  I sincerely hope to provide the world with more passerine portraits in the near future--but be prepared for a week or more of Elephant Seal faces.

This is a Pelagic Cormorant.  It may look ridiculous, but it is a Cormorant.

Western Gulls make yet another appearance (no, not the last)--black of heart and (here) body.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

A Hummingbird, a Baby, and Creosote

Today is a very windy day with very few birds, and no new arrivals.  We have about 8 songbirds on the island, almost all of them holdovers from yesterday.  The winds continue through Monday then drop precipitously--possibly dropping loads of birds with their dropping (and with their droppings).  One can hope.  In the meantime, here is a Rufous/Allen's Hummingbird utilizing mallow in the new MLB Reserve.  This bird might similarly utilize creosote at some point in its future.  Or it might be utilized by a pelagic fish in the middle of the Pacific.

This is an adorable bird--a Rhinoceros Auklet chick.  The last of the seabirds are near fledging, and Alcid feeding trips have slowed dramatically.  The island Western Gull population has also plummeted, much to the relief of human ears, hearts, and minds.  A very special thanks to Robert Snowden for restraining this beast.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Glue-bray Catgnatchers, Flestern Wycatchers, and the Matthew L. Brady Reserve

Here is a Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher (51st island record, found by Rob Rockly), in mallow, a limited resource on the island that is much sought after by birds.  The SEFI Landbird Conservation Consortium is currently transplanting ~14 mallows from a site that is to be demolished and turned into exotic-free seabird nesting habitat.  The mallow will be moved to a reserve located halfway between the PRBO and Coast Guard houses.  It will be named after a great mallow conservationist of yesteryear, Matthew L. Brady.

This Western Kingbird is upset, probably because it is in my hand.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Feather Beards

Here is a Cassin's Vireo, one of at least three we have seen so far this fall.  It is biting a finger--my finger?  Dan's finger?  Who can know.

Dan Maxwell, trend setter.  Feather beards will soon be the rage.  All of it.  Here he is seen sporting the feathers of a Gray Flycatcher.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Birds, Waves, and Blood (dedicated to Steven Tucker)

Here is a photo of the 60th island record of Baltimore Oriole, found this morning by one James Tietz, master bird-finder.  Today was slow, bird-wise, and northwest winds forecast for the next week promise more of the same.  But a slow trickle of interesting birds has kept us entertained--and shark watch starts on September 1st!

This Lazuli Bunting popped into a net today and is displayed here by Dan Maxwell, whose finger is co-portraited.  Notice the faint peppering of blue feathers on the face.

The south swell from hurricane Marie has reached us--the swell is supposed to build to 8 feet by Friday.  Blood=me chopping my thumb open while cutting bell peppers.  Life is pain.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Flies, Flowers, and Elephant Seals

More non-bird-portraits--deal with it.  I have more bird portraits than I know what to do with.  The island gull population has dropped rapidly as young Western Gulls start flying to the mainland to start new lives away from this rock.  The blowflies have capitalized on the bounty that is dead gull chicks (and Alcids, and seals and sea lions...) and have been waging battle on the PRBO house occupants (Dan's banana cake was successfully defended this evening against a far superior force).  Birds have been slow.  Life goes on.

Elephant Seals provide endless entertainment--they stare at you with their giant goggle-eyes, they grunt, they jiggle... And they wage war with their own kind.

One of a handful of native Farallonian plants: Sand Spurrey (Spergularia macrotheca).  This is a double portrait: flower plus blowfly.   Look forward to a portrait of the famous 'Farallon Weed' in the near-future.

Monday, August 25, 2014

A Varbling Wireo and Gestern Wull Battle

Here is an attractive portrait of a Warbling Vireo, taken by the inimitable Dan Maxwell--he doesn't just band birds, folks--he also crushes them silly.

The bete noir of SEFI makes another appearance--and it will not be the last.  Endless annoyance and entertainment as well as moments of beauty (to be displayed later).  More passerines to come--we banded our second Least Flycatcher of the season today (found by the equally inimitable Rob Rockly.)
And now: ping pong (2-1, Mastwell v. Searoy)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Maxwell's Demon

This is a portrait of Dan Maxwell, hard at work inside the SEFI banding laboratory.  Note his signature bird-bag handling style; the mark of a professional.  He is about to band a bird--no one knows what species.  Not a Lesser Yellowlegs.  Not a Virginia Rail.  Beyond that, the possibilities are myriad (somewhere, a Lesser Yellowlegs just flushed).
I like this Western Gull photograph.  A lot.  Western Gulls frequently have things in their mouths--golf balls, sea stars, Cassin's Auklets; myriad (flush) things.  This gull might be reminiscing about the nesting season, or perhaps it is gearing up for next year.  We can't know what goes on inside the head of such a creature--and once we knew, we could never go back...

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Lesser Yellowlegs Hate the Word "Myriad"

This adorable first-year Virginia Rail was found by none other than the infamous Don Mastwell (with chimp support).  His reputation should be well known to all citizens of the blogosphere.  It was last seen this morning diving into the burrow of a Cassin's Auklet.  Will it be present tomorrow?  It is impossible to know.

This is a jumping spider--a member of the family Salticidae (same root as Saltators, which are named for jumping/hopping habits--nomenclature!)  Jim Tietz found it in his room--what species is it?  What genus?  I have no idea.  It could be endemic to the island--we simply don't know. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Warble On

Here we have a lovely (not lowly) Wilson's Warbler--banded and about to be released.  Watch out for those Western Gulls, little buddy.

Snowden found this American Redstart today.  I tried to scare him into a net--instead, he wandered over to the powerhouse to forage in the dirt amongst discarded pipes and old bits of concrete--excellent habitat.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Progressive Portraiture

Good evening followers,

Here is a traditional portrait of a wonderfully attractive Pigeon Guillemot, parenting away on cliffs below the lighthouse.  A most eximious creature.  Pigeon Guillemots nest in holes and rocky crevices on the island--the young are brought food (fish) until they are ready to fledge--they then leave the nest and are independent from the time of fledging.  The Farallones have one of the largest breeding colonies of this species, numbering about 2,200 birds.

This is an untraditional portrait.  Any guesses as to the owner of these feet?  (Hint: there are at least 8,000 of these feet on the island).

Tomorrow's post will feature recent landbirds--so get ready.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Flipper Sacks

Elephant Seals occasionally feign adorableness, especially during their aquatic life-stages.  But don't be fooled--they are disgusting creatures for the majority of their out-of-water existence.
 This is a commissioned family portrait of a loving and caring Western Gull with three chicks.  Light of heart with a maw that is bottomed.
 Harbor Seals are the most likable pinnipeds available.  Cute aquatic dog sausages.

These are California Sea Lions.  My good friend and fellow island-dweller, Don Mastwell, believes that sea lions are actually humans in a form of hell or purgatory--cursed to live within a burlap sack. With flippers.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Number 1. And number 2.

Hello, global bird-watching and portrait-loving public.  Some of you might remember TPAD.  This is TPAD but different:  more plectra, better photographs, and all portraits.  That's right. Too Portraits a Day.

 A common resident--you will see many portraits of this, the bete noir of SEFI.

A lovely Hermit Warbler, jovially navigating the wastes of SEFI.