Little Brown Job

Monday, April 27th, 2009

I skipped Moth Monday last week because, although I had a couple of good new moths, no one had ID’d them yet. A week later and they still haven’t been ID’d though, so maybe it’s time to post one here and see what folks think. This is from Mountain View Shoreline in Santa Clara County, just off the salt ponds, about 6:00 A.M.:

Brown striped moth on wall

One thing I like about moth photos is that even when a moth is very nondescript in nature, something the eye just passes over, look closer with the camera and it’s quite stunning. There are many little brown moths that we usually ignore but they’re worth a closer look.


Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Attempting to install Lord of the Rings Online for the first time on a fairly stock Vista system, and the installer fails while updating some Visual C++ runtime library. When are we going to learn that we should not depend on the latest versions of every single library? Software should simply not require users to upgrade their libraries. (I say this having just shipped a product that fails on Java 5 on the Mac but succeeds on Java 6, so I’m hardly blameless here. The bug is really Apple’s fault, but we should have worked around it. Update: looks like a colleague fixed that a few hours ago. Cool.)

However, the real WTF is this error message I got while the installer was updating the files:

An error occurred while installing Microsoft Visual C++ 2005 Redistributable Package (X86). Please download and install 'Microsoft Visual C++ 2005 Redistributable Package (X86' from ''

Naturally, I can’t copy and paste that URL. I’m supposed to type it into my web browser. More likely I just won’t play the game and try Warhammer instead.

The One-eyed Sphinx

Monday, April 13th, 2009

Moth Monday time again. This next moth is gorgeous and showy but has a really annoying habit of showing up on the shady side of buildings behind fences completely out of reach of my lens/flash combo Unless I set the ISO way too high. :-(

Smerinthus cerisyi – One-eyed Sphinx – Hodges#7822
Santiago Oaks Regional Park, 2009-04-11

Happy Easter

Sunday, April 12th, 2009


#467 Black-chinned Hummingbird at Santiago Oaks

Saturday, April 11th, 2009

I’ve been visiting Santiago Oaks Regional Park about once a month for over a year now. There’ve been some good life birds there including Rock Wren and Lazuli Bunting, but two regulars have persistently eluded me: Black-chinned Sparrow and Black-chinned Hummingbird. Well, last Sunday April 5 on Linette Lina’s monthly walk we finally found a Black-chinned Hummingbird:


This is a tough one because it’s relatively quiet, and looks a lot like the more common Anna’s Hummingbird unless you see it in really good light. Plus it’s much more skittish of people than an Anna’s or an Allen’s. However it does tend to hover a little more than an Anna’s does, and this one was relatively cooperative.

#465 and #466 at the Salton Sea

Friday, April 10th, 2009

A couple of weekends ago (March 21-22), Beth was out of town so I decided to drive farther than normal from my usual O.C. stomping grounds. In particular, I decided to take a spin around the Salton Sea. It’s about 300 miles there, around, and back again, and seemed like a good fit for a weekend. I didn’t get as many life birds as I hoped but I did add two, plus one new species for my California list.

The first bird came almost as soon as I arrived Saturday morning. I drove down Lincoln Street to the Whitewater River delta. However all the gates were closed, and marked off with no trespassing signs. Bummer. However on the way back, I watched an Abert’s Towhee scurry off to the side of the road. This wasn’t a great look, and I might not even count it, except that I saw another one at my last stop of the day at the Sonny Bono Salton Sea Visitor Center, and two more the next morning in a vacant lot in Brawley. More often than not, the first bird is a “Is that what I think it was?” and you have to find a few more to be sure. That was the case for #465.

#466 though, left no room for doubt. I’ve looked for Common Ground-doves, without success at San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary in Irvine where they breed; but I found them all over the ground at the Sonny Bono Salton Sea Visitor Center where they were attracted to the feeders. Basically this is a sparrow-sized Mourning Dove. I even got pictures:


Although, just now as I look at the photos I notice this bird was banded. Hmm… That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not countable; and I did see more than one individual, at least one of which flew. Still if this is not really a wild bird, it doesn’t really count. Fortunately, I found another one the next morning at the Riverview Cemetery in Brawley, and that one counts even if this one doesn’t.

Another birder also showed me a Barn Owl roosting right next to the center. Not a lifer but rare and special nonetheless. I also had a maybe on a Yellow-footed Gull after walking the path out to the Sea, but I couldn’t be quite sure.