Drove down to La Ribera today. The weather was so nice, just a breeze, warm and kosey. Ran into some other people on a guided birding trip and the leader asked me if “I’d seen anything special today”. Told him I was just getting started and wished them good luck. They headed off this way and I that-a-way. Never saw them again. After gazing at a passing Brown Pelican
I realized my reading glasses were missing from their normal perch (hanging on my neck). I hadn’t walked very far so to avoid getting THAT look from Debbie I get when I lose something, I retraced my steps. Well, I found them and as I stood up after retrieving my little friends I noticed what looked like a piece of black plastic trash bag hanging in a leafless bush 50 feet away. No big deal, accept that my mind told me it wasn’t there a moment ago. Up comes the 100X400 Canon camera lens and to my delightful surprise, I see a Groove-billed Ani. A rare sighting in Baja Sur. I shoot a few frames for proof and get to work figuring the best way to get closer without scaring off the birds and get a better photograph. I like to get as close as I can to my subjects without causing harm. For whatever reason, maybe a raptor nearby, all the birds were anxious today and this Ani was watching me closely. To better my chances, I played an Ani love call on my phone and right away 2 more Groovies popped up out of the brush to the left. Without delay, I scoot closer and get a few pics before they fly off. Okay, okay, there are a few sticks in the way but all considered, not a bad shot. Groove-billed Ani-
Now I’m happy as a spring lamb. I wanted to share my discovery with the group of birders I ran into but they were out of sight, so I mosey along. There was a large flock of gulls warming the sand up ahead of me. All but one looked like they had hatched out of the same nest. These are 1st winter California Gulls.
The one bird that didn’t fit in was a 1st winter Glaucous-winged Gull. That’s cool because it is a first for me. Gulls are especially hard to I.D. in the winter because their plumage is so bland.
I’m still excited thinking about the Ani when I look towards the lapping surf to see two different seabirds. A Royal Tern tip-toeing away while keeping an eye on me like I’m some sort of threat, oh come-on!
And a Black-bellied Plover. It’ll get a black tummy closer to breeding time-
Now I see why the birds are so nervous. Speeding by like a feathered rocket, there goes a Merlin. I know, not a great shot but I wanted to show off this raptor’s colors. This is a small but fearless member of the falcon family.
Speaking of color, check out this Lesser Goldfinch. These tiny seedeaters (mostly) cling together in noisy little flocks. You may have seen them at your bird feeder.
Getting back to the water, off in the distance are a few shorebirds. I see a Black-necked Stilt (you can see where it gets it’s name).
And a Greater Yellowlegs. A bird named for it’s legs, of course.
I can’t say goodbye today without showing off a nice photo of a family of Long-billed Dowitchers.
Debbie and I hope you all have a chance to get out and do some birding, where ever you are. Have a great day, Happy Birding from Chris and Debbie
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