Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Pied-billed Grebe - Black Oystercatcher - Pigeon Guillemot

Update - Cloisters Pond - Good News!  At the back of the pond, a few weeks after my April 5th posting, four tiny Grebes appeared.  A week later an additional three little Grebes appeared at the font of the pond; all have grown to maturity.  Considering the hungry Hawks and Raccoons that frequent the area, their survival rate is amazing.
Update - Black Oystercatcher - Oystercatchers are nesting at MontaƱa de Oro.  A monogamous pair makes a nest by tossing rock flakes, pebbles, or shell fragments toward their chosen nest site.  Two eggs can be seen in a nest, located on a seamount about 100 feet from the cliff.  Only one egg is visible (nest circled in red).  Unfortunately, anytime a person walks out to the point, the Oystercatcher gets off the nest;  when the person finally moves on, the Oystercatcher returns to the nest.  The photo by Mike Baird shows the proximity of the nest to the people standing on the trail.  Unfortunately, the viability of the nest depends on how many people walk out on this popular trail and how long they spend looking at the view.  This area is also popular with fisherman.
Update - Pigeon Guillemots - The action continues - Guillemots are dashing between rocks and the water and the water and the holes in the cliff, but much to my disappointment I have yet to find a nest that I can actually recognize as a nest.  The Guillemots are numerous, so there is hope that some are nesting.   A juvenile Guillemot usually leaves the nest at night; they flutter and tumble from the cliffs to the sea.  Once in the sea, it will take another couple of weeks for their flight feathers to fully develop.  I am thinking positively that during those weeks, I will see a juvenile Guillemot before it fully matures and flies out to sea.  
I am afraid that our love of nature is taking its toll on the nature we love.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Yosemite Birding

Yosemite National Park - On the road to Glacier Point is a peaceful and beautiful meadow.  The majority of visitors to the park do not know what they are missing as they speed by in a rush to the famous Glacier Point.  A few days ago I spent a couple of hours at the meadow looking for birds and listening to their songs.  The only other sounds, besides the birds, were the cars and buses speeding by.  Trying to find a tiny bird in a tall, dense tree is rather a challenge.  I was determined to not only hear the birds but to see them.
Cute and perky Dark-eyed Junco (photo) and Song Sparrow, who sang continually were the easiest to see.  Brown Creeper, and Steller's Jay finally made an appearance, but there was no luck with the Red-breasted Nuthatch whose tinny, single, note call echoed thru the trees continually.

After the Meadow, I headed into Yosemite Valley to Happy Isles, one of the less touristy areas, and to the Happy Isles restored "fen" - a peat-forming wetland fed by moving groundwater.  The Fen restoration project began in 2002.  Today the wetland is a functioning fen habitat that provides nesting and feeding for many species.  A sweet boardwalk provides the only access.  While on the boardwalk I saw only one small group of hikers.  They were headed to the mist trail which leads to Vernal and Nevada Falls, and if you have the stamina, Half Dome.
The bird songs were nearly overwhelming - flitting around were Robin, Red-Winged Blackbird, Song Sparrow and an eye-popping, Yellow Warbler, and to my amazement managed to spot a White-headed Woodpecker. (Wow!)  The trickling sound of water flowing under the boardwalk was music to my ears.   Like magic, a deer appeared out the dense water plants (above photo), nearly close enough to touch - gently the young deer proceeded to nibble on a variety of leaves.  The deer was nibbling long enough to take a video.

Although Yosemite is the third most visited National Park in the United States with nearly 4 million visitors a year, it is possible to find serene, natural spaces where one can experience nature at their own pace.