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Friday, December 9, 2016

Harbor light (and the answer to the mystery!)

Light on Bodega Harbor, 9 December 2016

P.S.  If you're wondering about last night's mystery flower (to review it, click here) the answer is...Dichondra donelliana!  It might have been challenging to identify because the flowers of this species are inconspicuous; sometimes they're even found underground!  Dichondra is a low-growing plant in the morning glory family.  I'll address it more fully in a future post, but for now I thought you'd like to know the answer!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Mystery flower

I ran out of time tonight, but here's a mystery for you — a local but not-commonly-seen flower.  This one was photographed in the Bodega Dunes in March 2010.  I'll reveal the answer tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Time to go

Shorebirds in Bodega Harbor on 7 December 2016, flushing in response to a falcon overhead.

Click on the picture for a larger version.  Look for Sanderlings, Dunlin, and Least Sandpipers in the foreground.  Marbled Godwits and Willets are blurred in the background.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Hovering over Bodega Head

Just a few quick pictures of the Rough-legged Hawk (Buteo lagopus) that's been seen on Bodega Head for the past two weeks.  I caught up with it briefly today along the Overlook Trail (near the top of Owl Canyon and the Horseshoe Cove Overlook).

Rough-legged Hawks nest in arctic and subarctic Alaska and Canada, then winter in southern Canada and the northern U.S.  They're relatively rare winter visitors to Sonoma County.  The status of Rough-legged Hawks in this area is described as "irregular", i.e., the number of individuals that show up in any given year varies a lot — from none, to a few, to many.  [This is the first one I've seen on Bodega Head.]

This individual is a "light morph" note the very pale coloration on the head and chest (and the contrasting dark band across the belly).

Rough-legged Hawks are known for having a large amount of white at the base of the tail:

And this individual also had a striking amount of white at the base of the primaries (outermost flight feathers), creating large pale patches when viewed from above.  Here are two more examples of the wing and tail patterns:

Rough-legged Hawks often hover while hunting for small mammals (e.g., mice or voles).  I was struck by a view of this Rough-legged Hawk hovering over Bodega Head, with the Pacific Ocean as a backdrop:

This has been a banner year for small mammals on Bodega Head.  It's been a great time for viewing raptors!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Hola, HOLA!

Well, these are very "grainy" shots...it was getting dark when we were walking tonight (5 December 2016).  But this is only the second time I've seen a Horned Lark (Eremophila alpestris) on Salmon Creek Beach (during the past twelve years), so it seemed worth sharing some photos for the record.

Here's a view from the side.  In the first photo and the next one, note the yellowish face and throat; the dark facial markings; the black "necklace"; and pale underparts.

This individual showed quite a bit of russet coloration on the nape (neck) and some of the wing feathers:

The next photo is just fun.  It shows the more golden color above the bill (between the eyes) relative to the pale yellow on the throat and sides of the face.  [The Horned Lark is actively foraging among washed up eelgrass (Zostera marina).]

Parmeter and Wight (2010) write that Horned Larks have become scarce in Sonoma County. (I haven't heard thoughts about the reason(s) for this decline.  If you know more about local changes in Horned Lark populations, it would be interesting to hear more.)  It would be nice if this one decided to stay around for a while!

P.S.  The title of this post is a play on the 4-letter code for Horned Larkusing the first two letters from each word.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

In the sun

Have you heard that it might get chilly this week?  Night-time and early morning temperatures might dip into the 30s (°F), even at the coast.

A few days ago, on 1 December 2016, I noticed a few Monarchs basking in the sun and nectaring.

Here's one perched high in a Myoporum:

Stay warm!  :)

Friday, December 2, 2016

Looking west

Looking west, 2 December 2016