Birder watching

I like birds.  I like the birds I see in my yard, the ones I’ve seen in Africa, the geese flying to and from Canada, Frank and Elizabeth when they visit in the spring.  So when there was a bird watching expedition offered at the Ruth Bancroft Garden annual gala, I was right there to sign up.  Sunday was the big day.

Our small group met at the MLK Regional Seashore near the Oakland Airport, enjoyed some pastries and set out to watch birds.

A rail--endangered species not easy to find.

A Ridgway’s rail–endangered species not easy to find.

Right off the bat we stumbled on a Ridgway’s rail.  Which used to be called a California clapper rail, until the bird naming authorities decided to change it.  The rail is an endangered species, and we were apparently lucky to come upon it.

I wouldn’t have had the slightest idea of what I was looking at if not for Linda, our intrepid guide and leader. She and her husband Bob seem to know everything about every bird in the avian universe.  That  might explain why she’s on the board of the Golden Gate Audubon Society.

Then there was a grebe:

Looks like a duck to me.

Looks like a duck to me.  But the eyes are cooler.

 

The Regional shoreline has a boardwalk, but somebody decided it isn’t reasonable to expect people to walk without falling into the water, so it is closed–which makes it a great place for the birds to roost. There are hundreds of willets here, and some other birds whose names I can’t recall.

Does this many birds make it a birdwalk?

Does this many birds make it a birdwalk?

I see the sign, but I don’t have any faith that any work will ever be done on this fixture.

Are we really supposed to believe this?

Are we really supposed to believe this?

There was a great blue heron on the very end of the walk:

Great Blue Heron on the right.

Great Blue Heron on the right.  Egret on the left.

After an hour or so there, we got back in the cars and went to the end of Edgewater Drive, where there is a seasonal pond full of migrating waterfowl.  Because it is quite shallow, we were looking at “dabbling” ducks instead of “diving” ducks–they just stick their heads in the water instead of a full body dive.

Mallards are beautiful.

Mallards are beautiful.

 

If two of them dabble together, you get the double duck butt look:

This just amuses me.

This just amuses me.

Watching the birds and learning a bit about them was seriously enjoyable, but I think it was at least as much fun watching the birders.  It turns out that you don’t need to know a darn thing–anytime there is a bird worth looking at, there is a scrum of photographers like paparazzi at a Kardashian barbecue and you can just ask questions and learn all about it.

One of the smaller groups of photographers.

One of the smaller groups of photographers.

Everyone is looking everywhere.

There's a bird out there somewhere.

There’s a bird out there somewhere.

People dress for their own comfort, not for style:

That hat is leftover from WWI, I think.

That hat is leftover from WWI, I think.

I love my cameras and try to treat them well, but some people take it to an extreme:

I wonder if he calls his camera 'baby"?

I wonder if he calls his camera ‘baby”?

 

The worst part of the day is seeing the effects man has on the environment.  All the recent rain has washed a ton of trash down the creeks towards the bay:

You'd hope some Boy Scout troop would clean this up.

You’d hope some Boy Scout troop might clean this up.

The amount of trash in and around the water was simply embarrassing and shameful.   People can be such animals.

Here’s the best thing I saw all day.  Granddad introducing grandson to the joys of nature:

When life imitates the  Norman Rockwell

When life imitates Norman Rockwell

Other than the detritus, the day was completely enjoyable.  I learned some, took some good photos and got a bit of fresh air.  I may end up being a birder after all.

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4 thoughts on “Birder watching

  1. Terrific photos, Chris. Was this part of the national “bird count”?

    If you go next year, I would love to be included. I’m almost a birder myself.

  2. As the grandmother of a serious birder, I have to say I love this entry. I only would’ve loved it more if there were some Calif. Alti in the photos. Maybe next year!

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