Thursday, January 22, 2015

Recent stuff.

Oh man have I been slacking on my motorless list so far this year.  I haven't even dusted off my bike yet- all my birds are from dog walks and the yard.  LAME.  Hopefully I can fix that on my days off coming up, but till then, here is what I have to show for myself.

January sunrises are top notch

My drive home from work this month has coincided with the time of day that I have always called (in my head, not to anyone else) when the crows fly.   I started noticing the evening flight of crows a few years ago and have since really enjoyed watching this sort of low budget spectacle.  Having this occur while stuck in traffic really makes things better.


I have heard rumors of a big crow roost downtown, and perhaps that is where these birds are heading.  They fly over my backyard sometimes, passing in pairs, sixes, dozens, quietly and with purpose.  It's calming.

In yard news, I have had all of my ash tree cleaned up and removed, and the fence finally fixed.  There has not been a huge impact on bird numbers thankfully.  My Anna's Hummingbird females still visit daily, and chase away any males that dare show up.


Last weekend a new yard bird showed up in the pouring rain.  He left quickly and I feared I had imagined it, but he came back in the sunshine on Tuesday.  A slate-colored junco!



The high school near my house has helped add some quality gulls to my motorless list.  My attempts to scope them from my living room (for my yard list of course) have mostly failed, but I will keep trying.

Mew Gull

Thayer's Gull

Herring Gull

Yesterday morning I peaked out my blinds to see the sky turning some brilliant colors.  I checked the sunrise time and realized I had exactly enough time to make it up to the river for it, so the dogs and I took off walking.  Unfortunately as we walked, the cold ground was feeling the heat and a fog rose up washing out the vibrant pinks and oranges.  


The sun rose as we passed under the Glen Jackson bridge and I tried to talk myself out of my disappointment about the muted sky.  It's fine, I told myself, everything happens for a reason.   We approached our usual destination, a little spot where you can walk right up to the water.  We must have walked there a hundred times before.  

I saw something white through the grass, probably a Coors Light tall boy I thought.  In the summer this place collects a lot of trash so it would not be unusual.  Then the white thing moved.  Oh shit.  That's not a beer can, that's a long-tailed short-tailed weasel.  


The weasel had a dead rodent.  He ran around trying to decide how to react, finally grabbing the rodent and dashing a short distance before popping back up to reevaluate the situation.  I forgot I had switched to manual focus and most shots are blurry, but they're cool (to me) anyway.


From there the weasel took off running east along the rocks, dropping the rodent along the way.  


Again, he reevaluated the situation, and decided to run back for the rodent straight towards me.  



With the rodent dangling, the weasel took off again, heading east into what was becoming pure fog.


The dogs thoroughly inspected every square inch of the spot where we first saw the weasel while I thought about how amazingly fortunate I had just been and how grateful I was for that initial glance through my blinds at the sunrise.  Yes.  Everything happens for a reason.  Good times. 

21 comments:

  1. Wonderful weasel pics. I haven't seen one in person yet. Not always easy to tell, but based on the white chest and white front feet, I'd say this is likely a short-tailed weasel, Mustela erminea, the infamous winter-white weasel of ermine coats. But when in their brown pelage they're called stoats.

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    1. Ah, thank you so much for the correction! I wish it had been all white...

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  2. I would be interested in your reasoning on the Thayer's and Herring Gulls. If the lower bird had a darker eye, would you say Thayer"s? Thayer's can be dirty yellow in color. Herring have jet black primaries. The underside of a Thayer's wing is mostly pale on a Herring it is black with a mirror like the top of wing. Plus the bill on your bird looks small.

    And the top bird has a huge thick bill. I would have switched the names. Or would have thought top bird was at least majority Herring. I am not sure if the primaries are black enough, but maybe they are. That gull had a dark eye?

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    1. Hi Bob, well the first gull struck me as a Thayer's when I saw it, with the shape of the head, the slate-y primaries, the color of the legs and the base of the bill. I showed it to my two gull experts who both said they agreed, but that it was on the large side. For the second gull, as I posted the photo I thought to myself, now this guy looks like a Thayer's also. But at the time I had thought Herring so I just went with it. I take it back!

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    2. I think head shape, leg color and the underwing of right wing on lower bird shows Thayer's.

      Top bird would be a big Thayer's, wish I could see the underwing. I think it is inflating its neck, that could be throwing me off as to the size and bulk. But I suppose primaries and bill are fine for Thayer's. And it does have a big tertial crest, which is a Thayer's thing. SO okay;)

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    3. Yeah, I should have used the photo just following this one in sequence where the neck didn't look so strange. Funny about the second bird- I tend to look for Thayer's and then half the time call them something else. Argh.

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    4. I would lean toward GWGU X HERG for the bottom bird.

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  3. Well, I'll mess everyone up and say they're BOTH Thayer's! That's the beauty of single photos for bird ID--sometimes a picture's worth a thousand words, but 800 of them are wrong (mine included)!

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    1. So I was going GWGUxHEGU for top then chickened out and took THGU, THGU for bottom. Greg is THGU both, and Steve is GWGUxHEGU bottom. Hope this clears it up for you Jen. Just thought I would try and summarize today for you.

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  4. I want to rent a single piece jump suit and then put that weasel inside of it while wearing it, but not in a creepy way of course.

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    1. Hmm, and that is not considered creepy in your neck-of-the-woods? Jen, where do you find these folks?

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    2. Oh Laurence. I don't even know what to say.

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    3. You don't find these folks Bob. These folks find you, but not in a creepy way of course.

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  5. Well, thank you everyone for your gull thoughts and comments. Apparently I am overdue for a gull post because you all got a little too excited about just these two. I mean, I throw a freakin WEASEL into a post and all you want to talk about is a gull? Birders are a strange and mysterious lot.

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    1. I wanted to talk about the weasel...

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    2. In defense of us, that weasel has appeared before....I think...

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  6. Laurence wins the comments. Bottom gull cannot be a pure HERG due to the color of the primaries (not black), and the Thayer's like pattern on inside of the primaries. The primaries rule out THGU as well, as an adult THGU will have black primaries. Many of the GWGU X HERG I see in the bay area strongly resemble this individual, which has a strong HERG look to it's face. I agree the gull above it doesn't look like a THGU off the bat, but I credit that to the bizarre position its in.

    I like weasels.

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  7. I was just about to come in here and ID all those gulls for you...not really, but nice weasel! The last one I saw was also hanging out in a rock pile and ran right at me. Laurence's jumpsuit idea is going to give me nightmares.

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  8. I just come for the comments section.

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  9. I don't know why but this post just showed up on my blog roll today!! What an amazing animal that weasel I need one to keep mice outta my yard shed!! I really like that sunrise shot &
    Great birdy shots too...

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