Friday, December 21, 2012
This morning was bright and sunny and a lot of the birds were out singing and chasing each other around. This blue-gray gnatcatcher was out in the open and didn't mind me chasing him around with the camera at all. Most birds will immediately hide or leave the area if they even suspect you are following them around, but not this one.
One thing that definitely IDs these guys as blue-gray and not California gnatcatchers is that blue-gray gnatcatchers have nearly all white under-tail feathers. This next photo is not the greatest example of that. California gnatcatchers have mostly black tail with white outlines on the under-tail feathers.
I usually find them by listening to their call. They make a more raspy version of the call that California gnatcatchers make. There's more vibration in their calls. California gnatcatchers have a thinner, higher pitched call. Right now, there are a lot more blue-gray gnatcatchers doing calls at the lake than California gnatcatchers.
I took a couple photos of some gulls as we had a gull tragedy today. One apparently healthy and beautiful gull was found floating in the water with his head under water. At first, I thought maybe he got a dose of bad bacteria from his food as is common with gulls around this time of year. But, after thinking about it, I think it was just another case of a young gull dying in his sleep during a cold night. It sometimes happens with very young gulls, I've noticed. He was so perfect, I almost wanted to see if a museum wanted him as a specimen
In the meantime, here are a couple photos of living gulls, the first one being a California gull:
I think this next photo is either a western gull with a pretty head, or a herring gull. Most likely a western gull (or a hybrid):
And, a white crowned sparrow.
The common yellowthroat was out in the open again, but by the time I tried to take a photo of him, he decided to go back into the reeds and do his calls.
All the ducks are accounted for and seem to be doing fine. The geese are fine, too, but are fighting a lot.