Friday, September 30, 2011

Don't Look At TPAD Today If You're Expecting Birds

Bleak.  Dreary.  Hopeless.  These words could all be used to describe yesterday on Southeast Farallon Island.  Therefore, instead of birding, ping pong was the chosen activity.  My camera didn't even venture out of doors.  Instead, I take you to the National Farallones Table Tennis Club of America.

MB (Animal) with a well placed shot.

Dan getting real with massive slam.

In other news, it's now September 30th.  Outside, I can see high overcast cloud-cover.  A gentle SE wind has been blowing all night, and there is not thick blanket of fog smothering the Island.  Things are looking Hecka Great.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Great Victory and Success

Hopefully this message finds you all happy and keeping it real.  Another Life Bird for Dan yesterday.  Totally chill.  There was a nice little pulse of just a few birds.  Mostly good ones.  Baltimore Oriole, Cape May Warbler, Ovenbird, Lark Bunting, FOF Hermit Thrush, Fox Sparrow, and Yellow-rumped Warbler.  Hopes were high for a wave today, but the fog rolled in at about 5 AM.  No wave.  If the fog miraculously lifts to a decent ceiling, we could get a few birds.  I'm not keeping my fingers crossed.

HY male Cape May Warbler.  Life Bird.  Epic.  Sick.  Hecka. 
An especially bright Baltimore Oriole.  Also a HY male.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

HJs For Two

Just when I was emotionally at my lowest, the clouds parted and the sun shone down on me.  Out of nowhere, during my sharkwatch yesterday, a Rose-breasted Grosbeak fell out of the sky and onto the Lighthouse railing.  Within five minutes MB and EA called up a Prairie Warbler from the Coast Guard Malva.  After such a long bird drought, these arrivals were totally unexpected.  Perhaps Life is not actually Pain?

My life Prairie Warbler (How embarrassing I know right).  This is the third Life Bird of my fall on the Farallones.

SY Rose-breasted Grosbeak.  Life Is Sick.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Cast a Long Shadow On the Ground.

We found about two migrant landbirds yesterday.  Astounding.  Most of us are reckoning this to be the slowest September 24th, 25th, and 26th on record.  I will soon be entering a state of Catatonic Despair.  Oh well. Who knows, today may be the day.  Ima go have a look.

Our lonely migrant Western Meadowlark on Marine Terrace.

Black Phoebe murdering spider.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Weak Week

We had about three arrivals yesterday.  Anna's Hummingbird, Pectoral type Sandpiper, and Elegant type Tern.  The last two were not seen well enough to identify.  We were not pro enough.  I think all the fame is getting to our heads.  I took very few photos.  I'm about to dig through and see what I can find.  Here goes.

Our Anna's Hummingbird.  BOTD.

This Sabine's Gull has been hanging out in the kitchen for a long time.  It's here pretty much every day.  Good kitchen bird. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

I Am No Nostradamus

The fog lifted to some nice high overcast yesterday and the wind was quite calm.  I was sure that this would produce a solid wave today.  Alas, I awoke to decently thick fog, LIP.  In other news, we all got famous yesterday during the video shoot.  They filmed me lifting my binoculars to my face, cutting bagels, tuning the radio, and eating coffee cake.  It will air in November I guess.  

Kristie arrived yesterday and immediately started getting famous by putting away the groceries .

After all the camera crews and hair and makeup artists left, Jim got down to business and  caught this Northern Saw-whet Owl.  Hecka cool.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

TV Star

We have an early boat landing today.  A film crew for the program Eye On The Bay is coming out to do a segment on the Farallones.  I have to go get ready for my closeup.  Here are some old photos from when we had some rare-ish birds on the Island.

Banded Chestnut-sided Warbler in Heligoland.

Here's a little quiz bird for y'all.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Butter and Maple Syrup is the Oldschool

A Baird's Sandpiper, Lapland Longspur, and Pine Siskin were the highlights of another slow yesterday.  Good news is, the fog is thicker, colder, and suckier than ever!

This Longspur has been around since Wednesday and is super friendly.

This Pine Siskin made a brief appearance yesterday.  Despite cooperatively posing on our rain gauge, I was unable to get any epic photos. Frowny face.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Mouse Ate Some Of Our Flour

Notable birds yesterday: Clay-colored Sparrow, first of fall Varied Thrush, Lapland Longspur.  Today is foggy and hopeless.  I'll probably just post some photos of my feet tomorrow for lack of better pictures.  I officially predicted a huge bird wave for this coming weekend.  We need it badly.

A Chipping Sparrow in my hand.

I call this one California Gull Landscape.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I Make My Coffee One Cup At A Time

Still snoozing out here.  Hopefully Fall Migration doesn't end before we get some good weather.  I'm still spending my days looking at painfully common birds.  Also, the Giants lost to LA last night, bringing my misery to an even deeper level.  Pray for me.  Silver lining: common birds are still beautiful, and generally much easier to photograph.

A young male Anna's Hummingbird in the Coast Guard Yard.

One of many recent Burrowing Owl arrivals on the Island.  These guys spend a great part of the year out here gorging on the abundant Norwegian House Mice.  SEFI is probably Burrowing Owl Heaven.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Shining Red Beacon Of Truth

During a very slow yesterday, an Acorn Woodpecker was found on Lighthouse Hill.  I stupidly left my camera at East Landing.  This was something like the 17th record for the Island, making it the official 2PAD Bird Of The Day.  Some Hypernerding took place last night (how embarassing), as well as some Violent Raging.  Also, I took pictures of some birds that are just as common as Acorn Woodpecker over on the mainland.  Still waiting for the Megawave.

Lazuli Bunting, at the Incinerator Patch.  

American Kestrel perched on the jagged banding spear of doom.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Blueberry Scones

I have absolutely nothing to say about yesterday.  Here are the photos.

When there are no birds around, shoot the E seals.  This is a foolproof plan and works every time.  This one is so cute that she even has a pink heart shaped scar on her lip.

It has come to this.  I have resorted to posting Western Gull photos.  30,000 of them breed here.  Somebody counted them all.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Waffle Day

Decent day.  I got one Island Bird, several Island Year Birds, a binocular neck tan, and fresh ice cream.  In other news, how are all of you?  Are you seeing neat things every day?  Finding true love?  Drinking a lot?  Eating healthy foodstuffs?  Here at TPAD, we want to know.  Send in your answers and the most interesting selections will be read live on air

My first Island Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, showing off at the lighthouse.

This Humpback Whale put on a breaching show for hecka long yesterday.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Dark Wings, Dark Words.

Yesterday there was a hurricane.  It was cold.  It was not birdy.  There was a shark attack, and a horribly mangled California Sea-lion clinging to life on the rocks at East Landing(can't show you that here, and you don't want to see it anyway).  Pretty much a dismal day.

A throwback to happier days.  Poor foto of the Painted Bunting, which has since fled the Island.

Cackling Goose.  Anyone care to venture a guess at subspecies?  This is one of a pair of Cacklers that has been here since my arrival.  They spent the last month molting their flight feathers and are now taking short practice flights around the Island.

Friday, September 16, 2011

This Bitter Wind Is Cold On My Skin.

High North-westerlies and mostly clear skies brought little to no migrant action to the Island yesterday.  The forecast is calling for more of the same.  In other news, I made six pizzas last night.  They turned out very well to my surprise.  I shoulda taken a picture of those, seeing as there are so few birds around to shoot.

This is a retro active foto from about 3 days ago, as I took few pictures yesterday.  Northern Waterthrush.

Lincoln's Sparrow, my only Island Year Bird yesterday.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Slow. Children at Play.

2PAD is getting off to a very slow start today.  Yesterday was quite slow aside from MB allegedly seeing a Xantus's Murrelet flying by the Island.  I think the best bird for me was a Merlin, spotted by James R. Tietz.  Yawn.  So in honor of the boring day yesterday, here are two totally common but beautiful birds.

Brandt's Cormorant, North Landing.

Quimbrel, North Landing.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Dixie Chicks Are a Good Band

I got two new Island Birds yesterday: an Osprey and a White-winged Dove were hanging out around.  Two more tick marks for Dan.  Aside from those two, it was a pretty slow day.  I didn't take a ton of fotos.  It got sunny, which is an Unusual Event.  Also, we broke in some new ping pong paddles.  They're pretty sweet.  I mostly lost. LIP.

Eyeball, HY female American Redstart.

White-winged doves have white wings.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Old Man Farallon Beard

I ended up missing the best bird yesterday.  A Virginia's Warbler was seen up at the Lighthouse while I was down the hill.  Sucks to be me...Life Is Pain.  in other news, we got our first Black-throated Gray Warblers for the fall, and banded the first MacGillivray's (a different individual than was featured yesterday).  Time to go see what Old Man Farallon has blown onto the Island for us today...hopefully something hecka sick.

A pair of HY male Black-throated Gray warblers caught yesterday.

Female MacGillivray's Warbler.  A HY as well.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Fun At The Lighthouse

We got quite a few new birds yesterday, as well as a few new Island residents.  Notable birds were Purple Martin, Blackpoll Warbler, ASY male American Redstart, Northern Waterthrush, and the continuing Painted Bunting.  Also, during my sharkwatch shift at the lighthouse, we got some good sharky action.

First of fall MacGillivray's Warbler with a little schmutz on breast.

This is usually as much of the shark as you're likely to see.  The smaller front fin you see is about halfway up the shark's back, so you can about double the distance between the fins for an idea at the true length of this animal.  What I failed to capture was the gigantic blood pool that forms after the initial attack.  The victim in this case was likely a Northern Elephant Seal.  I've been wondering if the pattern on this shark's tail fin makes it distinguishable from other individuals.  The oldschool shark researchers knew all of the resident Farallon sharks by their unique fin markings.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Yesterday was mostly slow.  Super foggy.  A few warblers still cruising around.  Nothing crazy.  Then while I was fixing dinner, Matt found a Painted Bunting on Corm Blind Hill.  I ran outside and finally got on it after about an hour, just as it was getting dark.  No usable photos of the thing, but hopefully it is out there right now and I can go snap a few off for tomorrow's TPAD.  Here's some marginal stuff in the meantime.  This morning looks very promising, by the way.  Could be a Mega Wave.  Keep fingers crossed for Asian Goodnes.

Wandering Tattler, yelling.

Spizella.  But which one?  I will mail a gold star to the first correct responder.  Just send your name, answer, and a self addressed stamped envelope to:

Too Photos A Day
1 Cartpath Lane
Southeast Farallon Island
San Francisco, CA

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Poor Photos of Birds Doing Weird Things

So I saw birds doing things that I have rarely, if ever, seen before.

I've always read that shorebirds have really dexterous bills.  I've just never really seen it in action.  Here is a Western Sandpiper showing off.

At North Landing yesterday, I witnessed an epic battle between Crab and Pelagic Cormorant.  It lasted several minutes and ended with the corm finally shaking the crab off it's head.  Crab was then eaten by a California Sea-lion.  

Friday, September 9, 2011

Lifting Fog With Cormorant Barf

The fog lifted yesterday morning and we got a few new birds.  There were a few Blackpolls, a Chestnut-sided, Townsend's, Yellow, and Wilson's Warblers.  Also seen on the Island yesterday was a Willow Flycatcher, Western Tanager, and the rarest bird of the day: Green Heron.  There are less than 30 records for Green Heron out here, so this was a pretty good find.  In between all the birds, Jim, Adam, and I went out to look for Brant's Cormorant regurgitation pellets.  They are little rubbery nuggets that contain the otoliths (ear bones) of fish, and scientists use them to study the diets of fish-eating birds.  I also went hunting for full frame Puffin photos yesterday and got one or two.  Here y'all go.

Tufted Puffin coming in for a landing at Shubrick Point.
Bird of the Day, Green Heron.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Fog continues.  We are keeping our spirits high through participation in extracurricular activities. Jumping jacks, hackey sack, Tai-Chi, and canoeing are keeping us entertained during the slow periods.  The Giants lost again, which is depressing.  Adam caught and banded 2011's last Black Oystercatcher chick.  Also, a few birds have been stuck on the Island since our migrant wave a few days ago, and I took some pictures of them.

Baby Black Oystercatcher, during processing.

This Bobolink has been hanging out in an area known as the Cabbage Patch.  I reckon this patch will host some remarkable birds this fall, and this BOBO will pale in comparison.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Yellow Notebooks

Yesterday was pretty slow.  The fog has returned in force.  We are pinned in on all sides.  Hopefully we will make it through the day.  In the meantime, here are some pictures to look at.

A bull Northern Fur-seal.  These guys are the kings of the rock.  When they walk through a herd of Sea-lions, every one of them runs for dear life.  Super tuff.

My first Island Yellow-headed Blackbird.  Lurking about.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Wavy Day

Yesterday the migrant wave continued, with quite a few more birds than Sunday.  A few new warblers showed up, which are showcased below.  Also a South-Polar Skua, Northern Saw-whet Owl, American Redstart, Bobolink, and Yellow-headed Blackbird were notable.  Today looks like NW winds and fog.  Should be a nice relaxing day.

Ovenbird, getting a little time in at the Lighthouse.

My first ever Bay-breasted Warbler. This was a probable female, because it had yellowish tipped coverts, green rump, and weak black centers to the mantle feathers.