Sunday, August 30, 2015


Wednesday, 26 August

Yet another tardy-PAD.  Remiss in my duties, as per usual.

  SEFI is currently covered with California sea lions.  They are on the terraces, north and east landing, and sometimes the main path across the island. We avoid disturbing them as we go about our daily tasks (and avoid areas that they have been frequenting--the stench is bold, to say the least) but occasionally our jobs bring us near enough to catch some fun or adorable behaviors.  For example, here is a sea-lion napping atop two elephant seals--and nuzzling continuously (and adorably) until the elephant seal put its flipper over the sea lion (adorably, but not caught on film):

Napmate portrait.
  And here is a portrait of a bird--before the bird drought really set in (it's currently blasting 25-30 knots outside--poor weather for migration.  Good weather for waffles).

Punch a Wilson's Warbler and it'll pop right back up again
The current Island Battle score:  
SCI 50

Thursday, August 27, 2015

O Captain! My Captain!

25 August

   Unfortunate for our battle-standing, the past two days have been slow with new arrivals.  We are hoping that an upcoming front will let loose some heavy movement in its wake--time will tell.

   Here we have The Chieftain, El Dictador, The Man:  Jim Tietz.  He's holding court over an adult female American Redstart that has been slinking around (she's been amazingly cryptic) for the past few days.

What if this American Redstart were banding Jim Tietz?

   And a portrait from the lighthouse of a Black-throated Gray Warbler feasting on a fly:

Today's eBird checklist is dedicated to #7, Filo Joliet.

Current battle stats:  SEFI 63, SCI 50

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Sacrificial Lamb

   There is no such thing as a free lunch.  Nor are there free state or island birds.  Any state bird anyone ever gets, no matter how free it feels, is costly to someone, somehow.  One way in which Farallon birds are earned is through the sacrifice of another.  A sacrificial lamb lays down his or her list for the benefit of others.  I'd say that it's altruism but the lamb generally has no choice and, given a choice, would choose otherwise.  Fate is in control of one's lambdom.

   Speaking of sacrifices, here is the final photograph of Uppy the Upland Sanpiper, who departed SEFI sometime on the 24th or early on the 25th.  Here we have a Meta-Portrait:  a portrait of a portraiter portraiting a portraitee.  If someone had taken my portrait while I was taking this portrait of a portrait...I don't think I can wrap my head around what that would have meant.

Eva obtaining crushing portraits of The King of Bartramia

Here is the current fall crew enjoying a fine evening on SEFI:

Dear pyre: please attract a Eurasian Dotterel.

Faranoia, Redux

23 August

Many of you must remember our post back in 2014 detailing the condition known as Faranoia:

Faranoia (n.)
Pronunciation: /ˌferəˈnoiə  /
Syllabification: far·a·noi·a 
     A mental condition characterized by fear of missing rare birds due to distractions, WPWT, or a simple lack of attentiveness (e.g., looking at one's feet so as not to fall to one's death).

   Particularly acute cases of this affliction are experienced by individuals who are not currently on the island but wish that they were.  The condition is made even more unbearable by the presence of one or more rare birds that the afflicted has missed.  Entire days may be spent wondering what else was missed or will be missed.  It is similar to hypochondriasis, but much, much, much worse.  If you are experiencing serious symptoms that you suspect are related to Faranoia, contact your physician.  Note, however, that the only known treatment is to not be not on the Farallones.

   Uppy the Upland Sandpiper stayed with us at least through the 23rd--and I promised you another portrait.  So here we have the Upland Sandpiper stalking beetles on the marine terrace:

And here's some more typical Western Gull parental care.  Don't we all wish that our parents were this generous?

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Internet Died

22 August

...but now it's back.  I will continue catching up on the 'PAD.

For all of you wonderers, yes the Upland Sandpiper is still here (and will be portraited again soon).

Until then, here's a portrait of a Red-breasted Nuthatch that we caught and banded, one of three that were hanging out between the lighthouse and cypresses:

And here is a Harbor Seal, one of my personal favorite pinnipeds.  There isn't much not to like when it comes to Harbor Seals.

I'm asleep. Stop taking my picture.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Unplanned Sandpiper

  I will keep the August 21st TPAD brief and to the point.  Much suspense has been created regarding a rare bird found on Friday evening by Mr. Rob Rockly (after botching the ID of a Least Sandpiper--but re-identifying it and more-or-less redeeming himself).

Guesses were all over the map.  Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher?  No.  House Martin?  I wish.  Mississippi Kite?  Nope.  Bartramian Sandpiper?  Yes.

Upland Sandpiper.  Not a Tinamou.  Not a Plains Wanderer.
   This is the first record on SEFI since 2002 and the seventh for the island and the 31st record for California.  A good bird by any standard.  Perhaps it will stick around for Don Mastwell's arrival in two weeks?

And now we have this guest portrait from Jim Tietz:

Costume Party?  Western Gull wearing a Pigeon Guillemot.  Photograph by Jim Tietz.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Bad Parenting?

20 Aug 2015.

Here, dear readers, is a Western Gull chick: fluffy, adorable, innocent:

"Why?" you might ask, would the following have been written about such a creature:

"Much that is good and all that is evil has gathered itself up into the Western Gull [...]  the Western Gull is cruel of beak and bottomless of maw [...] Nothing in the life of the Farallons [sic] is more striking than the rapacity of the gulls and their determination to profit by any excitement which will frighten the peasantry."  --William Leon Dawson, in The Birds of California, 1923

A picture is worth a thousand words:

"Am I hungry?  Yes.  Can I get away with it?  I'll try."

And the eBird checklist for 20 August:

SEFI 41.1
SCI   41

Lunch with Zalophus

19 Aug 2015.  Another brief-PAD--tomorrow should be the day I catch up to today.  Then we'll all be here, finally.  And here is a place I'm happy to be because Rob got a state bird today.

Until then, I give you a portrait of the omnipresent (especially this year) Zalophus californianus, the California Sea Lion, taken at North Landing:

This poor young Mourning Dove thought we were having it for lunch--we didn't do that.

"Dear Ape, please don't eat me.  Sincerely, Dove."

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Circle

The days are already blending seamlessly (when is it?) and the gulls are speaking in tongues (yes).

Few birds, more boat training, plenty of gulls, hordes of Sea Lions (so many sea lions)--but more birds lie in our future as has been prophesied by Gemini.

Some days (such as today) the island brings us things that are objectively beautiful, such as this Selasphorus hummingbird (probably a Rufous) attempting to subsist (successfully?) on Mallow:

Roger The Hummingbird
  Other days (such as today) the island brings gulls puking up large (too large?) fish into the mouths of babes.  All of this is part of The Circle.  Yes, even you.  Open wide:

 Today's eBird checklist brought to you by I didn't enter the eBird checklist yet but will soon.

The war goes on:
SEFI 41-point-something (to be explained later)
SCI 40

Writing Blogs is Hard

Dear Readers,

   Apologies for the delays in getting TPAD to live up to its AD promise.  Things have been busy and I've been getting to bed too late.  We'll get caught up and move form TPAW or TPEOD back to TPAD ASAP (barring death, severe illness, laziness, etc.)

   Island update:  Birds?  Slow.  Sea Lions?  Plentiful.  Maintenance?  Much.

   San Clemente is at 41 species.  SEFI is at 40.  Ugh.  Need waves of birds.  Need reinforcements.

Here are two portraits from 17 Aug:

Still life with Lark Sparrow 

What kind of bird is this?  I'll let you be the judge.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Who needs enemies...

   Good evening dear readers--and welcome back to the land of TPAD.

   Rob Rockly has arrived safely on Southeast Farallon Island (hereafter, SEFI) after an uneventful trip under the Golden Gate and a much-better-than-expected sail (forecast 7-9 feet at 8 seconds and 20-30 knot winds...less-than-pleasant).  He is accompanied by the inimitable James "El Jefe" Tietz, Laurel Ann "Boo" Curry, Jonathan "The Shoe" Shore and Coulter "Coltrane" Cook.  They were met on the island by the outgoing seabird crew and will be joined for the first three weeks by Eva "The Pollard" Gruber.

This is a Tufted Puffin.  The first few weeks of the Fall crew are blessed by the constant presence of these wonderful creatures--and the population on SEFI is increasing.  This is objectively good news as no one wants fewer Puffins.  No one.
   Day 0.5 and 1.0 are now over (I'm writing this on day 2.5, don't tell, thanks) and have been busy getting things ordered, organized, and ready for the waves of migrants which are surely in our future. The species list is low but is slowly crawling upwards and onwards--the first land-bird spotted was a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (not a common bird on the island, ~60th record) followed by Bullock's Oriole and Lark Sparrow.  The slow trickle, God willing, will burst forth into a deluge over the coming weeks.

"I want a mustache."
   WHICH BRINGS US TO: The Battle of 2015.  An unexpected declaration of war was made by various inhabitants of an island to the south.  Emperor Stahl of San Clemente Island sent a carefully worded diplomatic dispatch that read, more or less,

"San Clemente Island will rise to claim the Crown of Fall Migration.  Let the battle begin!"

What does this mean?  It means that the two island crews will tally their respective daily lists and see who comes out on top.  Updates will be posted (along with the usual eBird checklists) on each blog post (Current score: 31:32, SEFI in the lead).

A final note: the posts this year might come out the day after actual events.  It is too difficult (usually) to get posts out at a reasonable hour at the end of a long day.  All of this is done with The Readership's best interests at heart.

I will leave you with further Puffin.  Things could be worse. Much worse.