#403 Long-billed Dowitcher

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

After work today I walked over to San Joaquin to see what might have come in in the last week, New birds included three Blue-winged Teal and two Least Sandpipers (both in Pond A), new birds for the year and my BGBY list. There were also close to 100 dowitchers feeding. The light was decent and some of them were quite close, so I paid more than the usual amount of attention to them, and some of them definitely looked like they had eaten grapefruits, a classic field mark of a Long-billed Dowitcher, though personally I’m not sure how reliable that is. Two of them looked like they distinctly had not eaten grapefruits. Maybe Short-billed? or Long-billed in a funny posture? Who knows? Certainly not me.

Long-billed Dowitcher feeding in shallow water

However, shortly after I arrived something spooked most of the dowitchers and they took off in a tittering flight. When I got home I compared the flight calls of the Long-billed Dowitcher to the Short-billed Dowitcher. The Long-billed calls were spot on with what I heard, and the Short-billed calls were noticeably different. At least the ones that flew were Long-billed. Of course now I’m uncertain about the “Short-billed” Dowitchers I’ve reported earlier this year. I may have to go back and revise those. I think I had both species today, but it’s really hard to tell.
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California Sea Lions

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

California Sea Lions on red buoy
California Sea Lion, Zalophus californianus
Dana Point, 2008-03-26

#402 Pacific-slope Flycatcher

Monday, March 24th, 2008

Yesterday I spent the morning exploring William R. Mason Park, trying to add a few more birds to my BGBY list and keep pace with fellow OC birder Neil Gilbert (at least for the walking competition. No way I can match him for the bicycling BGBY). I started at the West end (more park-like) and walked all the way out to Concordia Road, then back.

I got out early enough to catch the shorebirds that sometimes hang out on the park’s lawns at dawn and dusk. Today there were not only several Long-billed Curlews and a dozen Whimbrels. There were also a few Marbled Godwits, a first for the park if not my list.

Whimbrels., marbled Godwit, and Long-billed Curlew
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Brown Garden Snail

Sunday, March 23rd, 2008

Snail crawling on sidewalk
Brown Garden Snail, Helix aspersa
William R. Mason Regional Park, Irvine, CA, 2008-03-23

These are edible if they haven’t eaten any poisonous snail bait in the last couple of weeks. They were introduced to California around 1850 in a failed effort to jump start an escargot industry.

#400 Cassin’s Kingbird

Sunday, March 23rd, 2008

While updating my life list, I discovered that the Red-naped Sapsucker seen on this month’s Sea & Sage Audubon trip to Santiago Oaks was in fact a life bird. That makes the Cassin’s Kingbird we found a little later #400! (I had previously seen this one on my own at San Joaquin Wildlife Refuge but misidentified it there as a Western Kingbird.)

However, that number is a little “soft”. It includes several exotics that don’t officially “count” including:

  • Muscovy Duck (in my opinion, this one should count. These are feral populations, but very well established.)
  • Common Peafowl
  • Yellow-chevroned Parakeet
  • Greylag Goose: I know I’ve seen Greylag Geese in multiple countries. I just don’t know if any of them were wild.
  • Black Swan: this one really shouldn’t count, but it was very early in my list keeping.

If I remove those, I’m only at 395.

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WAMU: $25 Checks for Life

Saturday, March 22nd, 2008

Just a quick note that Washington Mutual’s advertised “free checks for life” is a lie. After opening an account with them, they did indeed send me some free checks. However the checks they sent were incorrect and not what I ordered. When I attempted to replace them, they wanted to charge me $25 (more than I would pay through a 3rd party printer) and flatly refused to honor their promise of free checks for life.

If they lie about something this trivial, what else are they lying about? If they can’t even get a basic check order right, do I really want to trust them with my money?

On top of that, WAMU doesn’t support Quicken for the Mac (again, despite telling me they did). Time to look for a new bank.