#419 Red-necked Phalarope in Two Counties

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

This was one of those tricky lifers. You’re not quite sure when you saw it first because you’re not quite sure about the first sighting. I think my first Red-necked Phalarope was at San Joaquin Wildlife Refuge on April 27. However those birds weren’t in breeding plumage, and I didn’t have a scope. I can’t say with absolute certainty that they weren’t Wilson’s Phalaropes (though I do think they matched Red-necked much more closely.)

Phalarope at San Joaquin, Pond A

Fortunately just a few days later I was in Santa Clara County on business, and as I like to do I went to Mountain View Shoreline before work. Usually I start out at the end of San Antonio road and walk around the lake. However, today I decided to take a different route and explore the area to the north along the 101. About halfway to the next exit, I found some ponds, and in one of them a flock of about 20 Red-necked Phalaropes were feeding. This time most of them were in full breeding plumage so even without a scope there was no doubt. I even got some recognizable pictures:

6 Red-necked Phalaropes feeding in water


Dude, I Can’t Believe I’m Getting a Dell

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

Yep, I did it again. I ordered yet another PC from Dell. I wasn’t exactly happy about ordering my latest box from convicted fraudsters; but nobody else I trusted came close on price, especially when the Memorial Day sale price kicked in. I actually wanted a less powerful system with no monitor, mouse, or keyboard and Windows XP; but that would have cost quite a bit more than what I did buy.

I most certainly did not buy the extended 3 year warranty with onsite service. I have no faith at all that Dell would actually fulfill any part of that promise. However, this isn’t a mission critical system (I mostly bought it for Age of Conanexperimenting with Java 7) and I’m capable of supporting myself for most tasks.

Borked Again

Monday, May 26th, 2008

While I wasn’t looking, WordPress somehow decategorized most, but not all, of the over 700 posts on this site. However it did this mostly to older posts so I didn’t notice at first. However the result of this is that most of the URLs have now changed, and many things that shouldn’t be in the birding category now seem to be; for instance, this post about Mac OS X Leopard. In addition the category pages such as Sci Fi now are virtually empty.

I can see no alternative but to go through and manually recategorize all 730 posts on this site as time permits. If I do 10 a day I’ll be finished in three months. Bleah.

I am increasingly unpleased with WordPress. I’m going to stop recommending it to others, and will seriously consider any alternatives that come along.

Western Tiger Swallowtail

Monday, May 26th, 2008

Western Tiger Swallowtail, Papilio rutulus
Shipley Nature Center, Huntington Beach, 2008-05-26

Large black and yellow butterfly sipping from flower

Bolsa Chica Shorebird Mystery

Monday, May 26th, 2008

These photos were taken at Bolsa Chica today (May 26, 2008), at the first pulloff from PCH, where the boardwalk is. This was looking away from the ocean just past where the bench is that overlooks the tern colony (at a different time of year). I’m pretty sure the bird with lots of rufous on its chest is a Red Knot. What are the others? Red Knots? Dunlins? Curlew Sandpipers? Ruffs? Something else? There may be more than one species present.

The photos you see on this page are reduced in size. Click on each photo to see it at full resolution. The images are cropped but otherwise unretouched.

Shorebirds feeding on sand spit


#420 Yellow-headed Blackbird at the UCI Arboretum

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

Sometimes you have to work for a bird, and sometimes it shows up in your backyard. In this case, it showed up in the backyard of my office, which happens to be an area of the UCI Arboretum that’s not open to the public. However, you can still stand on Fairchild Road and peer over the fence. That’s what Robert McNab did on May 7 as he recounted on the OrangeCountyBirding mailing list:

I was leaving work today (~ 3:45P) and decided to look at the blackbird flock in the high dry grass near my work that I had been glancing at all day. Turned out to be 36-50 YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRDS with nearly the same number of Mourning Doves (and Nutmeg Mannikins) feeding in a field adjacent to the UCI – closed marsh area west of Campus drive. The flock was inside the black cyclone fence area at the north end of the FDA building, 19701 Fairchild Drive, Irvine, CA. Fairchild is a connector road between MacArthur and Jamboree Roads at the Irvine/Newport Beach boundary near Upper Newport Bay. Many birds were on the fence itself nearest the marsh and farthest the street and should be visible to non-FDA employees if you look from Fairchild Drive. Parking may be a little tricky, but where there is a will, there is a way!.

I was out of town and didn’t get the message until Thursday evening, May 8, so I didn’t get out to look for them until Friday, May 9. I checked in the morning before I went to work, but no blackbirds were to be found. I checked again in the afternoon after lunch. I walked from the FDA complex down to MacArthur and then down MacArthur pretty much all the way to San Joaquin Creek and back. I was about to give up but then just past the FDA complex in the other direction I spotted these two lovely ladies perched on a chain link fence:

Two female Yellow-headed Blackbirds perched on chain link fence