Sunday, September 25, 2016

Bay Area: Northern Harrier and Anna's Hummingbird

[Late 2015/Early 2016. Bay Area]

We review some highlights from the San Francisco Bay area that were long delayed in their publishing in this blog due to the blogger's travel schedule. 

We trust, however, that the eclectic mix of species presented herein shall not be unworthy of the reader's patience

Specifically, we shall review species such as:
  • Anna's Hummingbird
  • Raptors: Northern Harrier, Red-tailed Hawk
  • Herons: Snowy Egret, Great Blue Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron
  • Flycatchers: Black Phoebe, Say's Phoebe
  • Songbirds: Audubon's Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, House Finch, Song Sparrow
We start with the hummer:



This is a common hummingbird of the West and has increased its range thanks to the corresponding spread of exotic flowering plants. A counter-example to the notion that only native plants benefit native species.

Anna's Hummingbird was named after a French noblewoman by Rene Lesson.
 




This stunning male was seen at Lucy Evans Baylands Preserve in Palo Alto.



Shifting gears to Raptors, we start with Northern Harrier. Globally, this is known as the "Hen Harrier" and in the early days of American birding was known as the "Marsh Hawk".



In "Birds of America" by JJ Audubon, the flight of the Northern Harrier is beautifully described:

The flight of the Marsh Hawk, although light and elegant, cannot be said to be either swift or strong; but it is well sustained, and this may be accounted for on comparing the small size and weight of its body with the great extent of its wings and tail, which are proportionally larger than those of any other American Hawk. While searching for prey, it performs most of its rambles by rather irregular sailings; by which I mean that it frequently deviates from a straight course, peeping hither and thither among the tall grasses of the marshes, prairies, or meadows, or along the briary edges of our fields.
 




The harrier was spied (as was the next raptor) at the WPCP in Sunnyvale.

Red-tailed Hawk is a raptor found across the country:







This buzzard comes in a light and a dark morph; and, like others in its family, the females outsize the males by up to 25%.
 
On the heron front, a Great Blue Heron was seen at Charleston Slough:




As was Snowy Egret:
 



Also at WPCP Sunnyvale, the reed beds held many Black-crowned Night Herons hiding in the vegetation:





This is a nocturnal species and the blogger's approach caused many to take to the air:






This included immatures (above) as well as adults (below):
 





Somewhat dumpy looking when standing, these herons are extremely graceful in flight.
 
Both the expected Western phoebe's were observed: Black Phoebe and Say's Phoebe:




The Black Phoebe above -- caught in the moment it snapped a fly in its bill -- was seen at Baylands. This is common flycatcher in California and was well observed in appropriate habitat.
 



Say's Phoebe:


Seen at Coyote Valley, this colorful flycatcher was named in Honor of Thomas Say who was an eminent naturalist of his day specializing in insects and shells.


On the songbird front, a couple of warblers, a finch and a sparrow were spied:



Audubon's Warbler:
 



Seen at Baylands as was the Common Yellowthroat:



House Finch:


Song Sparrow:


Finally, a couple of bonus birds -- Western Gull:


and, Belted Kingfisher:

 
A stunning hummingbird named after a French noblewoman and a hawk with a captivating flight that inspired Audubon, the West Coast of the US has a plethora of avian riches that will excite the interest of any birder.



1 comment:

  1. A spectacular capture of the Black Phoebe's feeding behavior, Hemant. Thoroughly colorful and crisp shots of your observations. I particularly like the image of the House Finch in its habitat. Is that another finch above and behind it?

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