Blog Birding #293

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Birding has many joys, not least of which is finding something that is definitely not supposed to be where it is. Dorian Anderson of The Speckled Hatchback recounts the discovery of a California Dusky Warbler.

However, the excitement of chasing rarities, “poaching” as I often refer to the process, pales in comparison to finding rarities for myself. The feeling when I realize that I am looking at something totally unexpected simply isn’t replicated by chasing previously reported birds. The last time I had that feeling was the 1st ABA record of Red-legged Honeycreeper that I helped find and document during my 2014 bicycle Big Year. I bring all this up as I, alongside Orange County birder Roger Schoedl, found a fantastic rarity in Central Park in Huntington Beach this past Saturday. Roger initially spotted the bird low in the lake bed, and I soon picked the same bird as it made its way towards me.

In a neat bit of news, researchers have discovered that an invasive plant species is responsible for making normal Yellow-shafted Flickers looks like intergrades. Meredith Mann has the scoop at 10,000 Birds.

It’s been a head-scratcher for quite some time.  What’s with the yellow-shafted Northern Flickers in the eastern U.S. bearing some orange feathers? (As in the photo above, courtesy of C. Hansen)  The birds in question weren’t anywhere near the mid-continental hybridization zone where they could fraternize with their western red-shafted brethren.

Birding has many joys, not least of which is finding something that is definitely not supposed to be where it is. Dorian Anderson of The Speckled Hatchback recounts the discovery of a California Dusky Warbler.

However, the excitement of chasing rarities, “poaching” as I often refer to the process, pales in comparison to finding rarities for myself. The feeling when I realize that I am looking at something totally unexpected simply isn’t replicated by chasing previously reported birds. The last time I had that feeling was the 1st ABA record of Red-legged Honeycreeper that I helped find and document during my 2014 bicycle Big Year. I bring all this up as I, alongside Orange County birder Roger Schoedl, found a fantastic rarity in Central Park in Huntington Beach this past Saturday. Roger initially spotted the bird low in the lake bed, and I soon picked the same bird as it made its way towards me.

In a neat bit of news, researchers have discovered that an invasive plant species is responsible for making normal Yellow-shafted Flickers looks like intergrades. Meredith Mann has the scoop at 10,000 Birds.

It’s been a head-scratcher for quite some time.  What’s with the yellow-shafted Northern Flickers in the eastern U.S. bearing some orange feathers? (As in the photo above, courtesy of C. Hansen)  The birds in question weren’t anywhere near the mid-continental hybridization zone where they could fraternize with their western red-shafted brethren.

As the cold weather comes, birders begin to look for bird congregations, be they migrating hawks, flocks of geese and swans or the cryptic grassland birds like Lapland Longspurs, a favorite of Mike Patterson of North Coast Diaries.

One of the best places to find longspurs in the fall migration is the Salicornia flats at parking lot C of Fort Stevens State Park. In a typical season, small flocks of up to 20 can be found feeding on the seed of salt marsh grasses and plantagos. In some years, the numbers are much greater. I remember one season, years ago, when I estimated a flock of nearly 300. Nobody believed me…

American Pipits are also a classic bird of late fall and winter across much of the continent, and easily overlooked as one of many brown birds of windswept landscapes. But they’re worth a close look, as Mia McPherson offers at On the Wing Photography.

American Pipits are migrating through Utah in large numbers right now and yesterday morning at Farmington Bay they seemed to be everywhere! I’ve been hearing them in flight and have seen them on the wing but yesterday was the first time I have been close enough to photograph the migrating American Pipits this season. I saw them with prey in their bills.

On the far reaches of the continent, and within sight of Russia, Gambell is a truly unique place that offers truly unique birding. Cory Gregory shares his experience at See you at sunrise…

One of the main features of birding in Gambell are the boneyards.  In short, these are places where bones and carcasses have been discarded for more than 2000 years!  However, because ivory from walrus tusks is so valuable, many of the locals spend their days digging through these boneyards hoping to find old ivory.  These boneyards are filled with half-dug holes and plenty of vegetation thus providing shelter for lost songbirds.  Here’s a view of some bones in a boneyard… any white rabbits?
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