I went to North Lake in Golden Gate Park in search of Yellow Warblers that had been reported there. Instead I found three of these guys sauntering around in daylight. This guy showed up as I was setting up my tripod. An un-cropped shot, but taken through my 500mm lens and a tele-converter. I was about 20 feet away, and I don’t recommend getting any closer than that. After standing up on two feet and sniffing at me, it turned and walked back into the brush on the shoreline. There are American Coots year-round at the lake. Here near the north shore, a floating nest in coot incubating eggs. She blends in nicely with the reeds. The male coots were still feeling randy and kept chasing each other and displaying like this one. The Mallards, more than 20 spend their time at the south end of the lake. Their eggs had hatched a while back … Finally, Steller’s Jays were about, looking for seeds. Another corvidae, The Common Ravens were present as well in a tree close to where I had parked. Before heading home, I checked out a report of three Great Horned Owl fledglings at another location in the park, and found them napping in a tree.
Wherever you have trees and flowers, you will find birds and the birds at the Berkeley Botanical Gardens are comfortable around people. It was easy to photograph them with a moderate long lens without spooking them. It was a very relaxed atmosphere and I found some great bird life on a recent visit.
Flying overhead a Red-tailed Hawk was soaring low enough for a good view.
I had trouble identifying this one, but got help from the SFBirds list members. It’s a juvenile Oregon Junco.
We see lots of Anna’s Hummingbirds, but over in Berkeley, all we saw were the Allen’s
And where you find flowers, you find insects and insects that hunt other insects, like this beautiful red dragonfly.
While you are there, don’t forget to enjoy the flowers too…
Thanks for viewing and please visit the Berkeley Botanical Gardens.
On our first day in Edinburgh Scotland, we fought off jet lag by walking from our inn to Blackford Hill where the Royal Observatory was located. My Scotland birding guide book mentioned the park there as a great place to experience several bird species. But on the way there, we kept hearing a beautiful songbird singing out of sight among the many homes. Finally I found one on a roof gutter singing. It is known as the Common Blackbird, it’s Latin name is Turdus merula.
Solid black with a yellow beak and yellow ring around the eye. “It has a beautiful, mellow song that is a slow, clear warble, which ‘tails off’ at the end.”
So what can I leave you with.
Appreciate all life – and don’t ignore the common.
Comments are always welcome. Thanks for looking and listening.
Buteo’s are known as hawks here in North America, but over in Scotland and indeed all of Great Britain, they are called buzzards. There are nine buteo species in North America, the most common of which is the Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis). There is only one species of buteo found in Scotland, and they simply call it the Buzzard (Buteo buteo). The field guide Raptors of the World calls it Common Buzzard and says it is sometimes treated as conspecific (same species) with the Red-tailed Hawk. This guide even shows one version, a Rufus adult with a red tail. Plumage variation in the Common Buzzard varies a great deal, much as it does in the Red-tailed Hawk. However, this is the only place I can find reference to them being conspecific. So here is a photo quiz. These are all shots I took on my travels here and in Scotland. Look at the following photos and decide, Red-tailed Hawk or Buzzard. Post a comment as to which each one is. I’ll post the answers after you have had a chance to study the photos.
Recently Charlene and I spent 10 days vacationing in Scotland. While there, I did some birding and wanted to share some of the birds I photographed on the trip. In this post I would like to show a comparison with our Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) and the Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) found in Scotland and other locations in Great Britain and Europe and Asia.
First are two photos of a Grey Heron taken on May 30th at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh Scotland
a close-up of its head
And now here are two shots of Great Blue Herons taken here in the San Francisco Bay area. Note the brown area on the wing.
from Wikipedia summarizing the physical differences…
The Great Blue Heron
It is the largest North American heron and, among all extant herons, it is surpassed only by the Goliath heron (Ardea goliath) and the white-bellied heron (Ardea insignis). It has head-to-tail length of 91–137 cm (36–54 in), a wingspan of 167–201 cm (66–79 in), a height of 115–138 cm (45–54 in), and a weight of 1.82–3.6 kg (4.0–7.9 lb)“
“The great blue heron is replaced in the Old World by the very similar grey heron (Ardea cinerea), which differs in being somewhat smaller (90–98 cm (35–39 in)), with a pale gray neck and legs, lacking the browner colors that great blue heron has there. The grey heron (which occupies the same ecological niche in Eurasia as the great blue heron) has very similar plumage but has a solidly soft-gray neck.”
The Grey Heron
It is a large bird, standing up to 100 cm (39 in) tall and measuring 84–102 cm (33–40 in) long with a 155–195 cm (61–77 in) wingspan. The body weight can range from 1.02–2.08 kg (2.2–4.6 lb). Its plumage is largely grey above, and off-white below. Adults have a white head with a broad black supercilium and slender crest, while immatures have a dull grey head. It has a powerful, pinkish-yellow bill, which is brighter in breeding adults. It has a slow flight, with its long neck retracted (S-shaped)
So there you have it. The Grey Heron is a little smaller, solidly soft-gray neck, and lacks the brown areas on the wings and legs.
If you want to see the complete series of the Grey Heron and the rest of the birds photographed on the trip, you can check them out at this page…
This is what I saw coming home the evening of Feb. 20th. Low in the western sky, the crescent Moon and just below it Mars and below that Venus. Nice visual I just wanted to share with everyone. The photo barely does it justice. The earthshine on the dark side of the moon was vivid in reality. This was photographed with a 500mm lens on my Canon 1DMk4 body. There should be something almost as nice in a couple of weeks.