DanT1999

is happily asserting imperfection



Recent entries from DanT1999
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DanT1999Thursday 12/19, Friday 12/20 & Saturday 12/21

Saturday, December 21

1) I went for a hike this morning at Santa Anita Canyon (see the collage of photos I took) where I went specifically to find the Pacific wren that other birders had recently seen there. I had a surprisingly easy time finding it in the precise spot where it had been reported. I had seen my first Pacific wren just a few weeks earlier while on vacation in Vancouver, and now I was able to get it on my home turf. Pacific wren was species #324 on the list of birds I have seen in Los Angeles County in 2013…

2) Later in the morning I went to the Los Angeles County Arboretum to look for the orchard oriole that had been reported there. While I was there I ran into Kate and Mike whom I usually see at the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve as well as a couple of other birders from Pasadena. We were all looking for the bird diligently but none of us had any success…

3) Having dinner with Andrew at the Red Chili Pakistani restaurant in Northridge (I had been saying before that it was in Reseda but I guess it is actually Northridge)...

Friday, December 20

1) With people in the holiday mood, it was a generally light day at work…

2) Dinner at The Pita Kitchen in Sherman Oaks where they make the best falafel…

3) Watching episode 120 of the Korean drama “Princess Aurora”... The final episode, episode 150, aired in Korea today. Reading the reviews from bloggers who had seen the final episode, I am excited to ..

Thursday, December 19

1) A quick stop at the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve since it hadn’t started raining yet although rain had been forecast…

2) I said “good” when the Chief Actuary asked me how I was today. He was surprised because I usually say “OK”...

3) Watching episode 119 of the Korean drama “Princess Aurora”... 1 month ago


DanT1999happy guy...

It’s not that common that people ask me to photograph them, but this guy who I think was with a church group having a picnic saw me carrying my telephoto lens and found it impressive. He asked me if I could pose with it and took a picture of me with his iPhone. He was interested in cameras and then asked me to take his picture so he could see the level of detail. He was impressed… 1 month ago


DanT1999Sunday 12/15, Monday 12/16, Tuesday 12/17 & Wednesday 12/18

Wednesday, December 18

1) A quick stop at the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve on my way to work… I ran into Kate this morning who introduced me to Mike, another one of the regular birders in the area…

2) We had a department going away lunch for a colleague who was leaving for a new job in New Jersey at P.F. Chang’s… I hadn’t been to P.F. Chang’s in years; the food isn’t bad but is kind of pricey for what it is and if I have a choice I would rather go to “real” Chinese restaurant than to an Americanized one like this one…

3) Running after work… I couldn’t see the full moon (or almost full moon) tonight because of all the cloud cover…

Tuesday, December 17

1) A quick stop at the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve on my way to work… I once again ran into Hang, the hipster photographer I had pointed out the owls to over the weekend…

2) Running after work… Like yesterday evening, the temperature was warm, over 70 degrees…

3) Watching episode 117 of the Korean drama “Princess Aurora”...

Monday, December 16

1) I got a new work laptop today…

2) Running after work… The temperature was still in the mid-70’s after dark with the full moon out…

3) Watching episode 116 of the Korean drama “Princess Aurora”...

Sunday, December 15

1) Running this morning… It was almost 60 degrees Fahrenheit, over 20 degrees warmer than it was last weekend…

2) Having lunch with Andrew at “Follow Your Heart” in Canoga Park…

3) I went birding this afternoon in Playa del Rey where a rare black-throated green warbler had been reported at a condominium complex. I found the bird relatively quickly which was a relief since birding on private property can create some suspicion. Anyway, black-throated green warbler (see the photo I took) was species #323 on the list of birds I have seen in Los Angeles County in 2013… Continuing my afternoon of birding, I stopped at Lake Balboa on the way home where the highlight was seeing a common loon near the boat launch area. A couple who saw me with my camera started asking me questions about birds… 1 month ago


DanT1999Thursday 12/12, Friday 12/13 & Saturday 12/14

Saturday, December 14

1) I went birding this morning at a couple of deep-water lakes in the northwestern part of the county this morning, Quail Lake and Pyramid Lake. I didn’t see anything noteworthy at either location, just large numbers of the usual ducks… At Pyramid Lake a guy saw me with my camera and asked me to take his picture; if anybody requests, I’ll post it in the comments…

2) Continuing my day of birding this afternoon at the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve (see the photo I took of a Canada goose taking flight over the lake)... I pointed out a pair of owl in a eucalyptus tree to another photographer, a hipster Asian guy named Hang. The pair of owls seemed to be courting each other. Presumably it was the same pair that nested there and produced a couple of chicks last spring. I was getting excited to think that they will probably nest there for a second year in a row…

3) Cuban food for dinner with Andrew at El Criollo in Van Nuys…

Friday, December 13

1) The novelty of the day Friday the 13th…

2) I made a mad dash to Malibu Legacy Park during my lunch break to see the eastern phoebe that had been reported there. Almost all my time was spent driving there and back that I was happy that I saw the bird almost immediately after I got to the park. Eastern phoebe was species #322 on the list of birds I have seen in Los Angeles County in 2013…

3) It was kind of a rough day at work and I stayed at the office kind of late, so it was nice to come home and watch episode 115 of the Korean drama “Princess Aurora”...

Thursday, December 12

1) A quick stop at the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve before work. Though there was nothing unusual and I didn’t get any good photos, there was a nice variety of birds…

2) I wore a shirt to work that I hadn’t worn in a long time and got complimented on it…

3) I was worried about the time it would take to fill my open position, but my boss told me that someone internally might interested… 1 month ago


DanT1999#185 - Eastern Phoebe

(Sayornis phoebe) I shot this photo around noontime on December 13, 2013 at Legacy Park in Malibu, California. It was a Friday, and when I heard that this rare bird had been reported at the park, I made a mad dash during my lunch break to see it. Fortunately, it was very easy to find and it allowed me to photograph it at close range.

The eastern phoebe is a very common flycatcher of open woodland habitats in the eastern United States as well as parts of Canada and Mexico. Though this is a common bird in the east, it is considered a vagrant where I live in Southern California. An interesting fact from the source cited below is that the eastern phoebe is so solitary that the female is even known to chase away the male when she is laying eggs.

The facts I cited above are from allaboutbirds.org.1 month ago


DanT1999#184 - Say's Phoebe

(Sayornis saya) I shot this photo in the morning on November 8, 2011 at Castaic Lagoon in Castaic, California. I see and photograph Say’s phoebes fairly often but this photo is still my favorite capture to date.

The Say’s phoebe is a bird of the open country found from Alaska through the western halves of Canada and the United States and into Mexico. Where I live in Southern California they are relatively common winter visitors in open areas and a few stick around all year long. One interesting fact from the source cited below is that Say’s phoebes nest further north than any other flycatcher, even on the Alaska pipeline itself.

The facts I cited above are from allaboutbirds.org.1 month ago


DanT1999 #183 - Vermilion Flycatcher

(Pyrocephalus rubinus) I shot this photo on October 20, 2012 at Earvin Magic Johnson Park in Willowbrook, California. Though it was an overcast day and I wasn’t expecting to get decent photos, I was impressed with the way this one came out.

The vermilion flycatcher is common in the southwestern United States, Mexico and many parts of South America. It is uncommon where I live in the Los Angeles region though it’s range seems to be expanding elsewhere in Southern California and may in the not so distant future become a regular resident. The bird in this photo is a female. It is similar in appearance to a Say’s phoebe but unlike a Say’s phoebe has a white throat, pale eyeline, and dusky streaks on chest. The male has a brilliant scarlet red chest and crown. An interesting fact from the source cited below is that the male vermilion flycatcher “often seeks to initiate copulation by delivering a butterfly or other showy insect to the female”.

The facts I cited above are from allaboutbirds.org.1 month ago


DanT199949:23

I ran in the 2013 USC Quench the Fire 10K supporting the education, research & treatment of RSD/neuropathic chronic pain diseases on Woodley Park in Van Nuys, California on Sunday, December 8, 2013 (the photo is of my bib from the event).

It had been more than a couple of weeks prior to the event since I had been running regularly and a few days earlier had just gotten back from a gluttonous vacation during which I had literally gained five pounds. Needless to say, I was not in top shape and was not expecting to set any personal records. I just ran this race for fun since it was taking place where I normally go for my runs. I made it just a few minutes before the start and was the last person allowed to register. The temperature, 38 degrees Fahrenheit, was uncharacteristically cold so uncharacteristically I kept my shirt on during the race and even wore some light gloves. Nevertheless, I still wore my BOA 1 inch elite split leg short neon lime colored shorts which attracted some stares but I couldn’t care because BOA shorts I think are the best. Richard Dean Anderson, the famous actor from the 1980’s, was the host of the event. I saw photos of him online from back then, and he’s not that recognizable now. He could probably benefit from training for a 10K himself (I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’). Anyway, since I myself hadn’t trained for this event, I felt like I was struggling a little bit. I was happy though that I finished in less than 50 minutes with a pace of less than 8 minutes even if it was almost 3 minutes slower than my last 10K.

Here’s how I did this time relative to the competition:

Overall: 13 out of 68
Men: 10 out of 46
M 35-39: 2 out of 5
Finish: 49:23 (minutes:seconds)
Pace: 7:58 (minutes:seconds per mile) 1 month ago


DanT1999Sunday 12/8, Monday 12/9, Tuesday 12/10 & Wednesday 12/11

Wednesday, December 11

1) A quick stop at Lake Balboa before work where I found a Townsend’s warbler in a pine tree. It wasn’t a rare species but just one that I had never previously seen at this location…

2) I had to go to Hollywood after work today. I was happy that I didn’t have to work to late and that traffic wasn’t too bad so I was able to make it on time to where I was going…

3) I didn’t want to, but I had grudgingly agreed to go with Andrew to a holiday party this evening at Yamashiro, a Japanese fusion restaurant in the Hollywood Hills. I hadn’t been there before, but the food was free (for me anyway), the views of the city lights were impressive, the blood orange meringue pie for dessert put me in ecstasy, and I had some interesting conversations with some of Andrew’s coworkers or their spouses…

Tuesday, December 10

1) A quick stop at the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve on my way to work even though the birding was slow…

2) I had insomnia last night but managed to function throughout the day despite the tiredness…

3) Watching episode 112 of the Korean drama “Princess Aurora”...

Monday, December 9

1) I wasn’t too sore after running the 10K yesterday…

2) My first day back at the office wasn’t so bad. My staff member handled some fires that erupted during my absence relatively well…

3) Watching episode 111 of the Korean drama “Princess Aurora”... Though I had missed almost two weeks of episodes, I was easily able to get back into the storyline. It helped that the series is a few weeks ahead in Korea and I follow the viewer blogs and thus already knew what had happened in the episodes I had missed and even in many episodes that haven’t aired in California yet…

Sunday, December 8

1) Though it was so cold this morning (in the 30’s!) and I was not in top shape, I ran a 10K this morning. My time was below average for me but I’m still glad I did it…

2) I went to Ken Malloy Harbor Park in Harbor City this afternoon to look for a rusty blackbird that had been reported there. I had tried looking for it a few weeks earlier without success, but today the bird was easy to find. Rusty blackbird was species #321 on the list of birds I have seen in Los Angeles County in 2013 and also a new addition to my life list…

3) On my way home, I stopped at the beach in Playa del Rey (see the collage of photos I took)... 1 month ago


DanT1999#182 - Rusty Blackbird

(Euphagus carolinus) I shot this photo in the afternoon on December 8, 2013 at Ken Malloy Harbor Regional Park in Habor City, California. I find the delicate coloration of this bird, a female, to be gorgeous. This was my first time seeing a rusty blackbird, and I was thrilled to get this bird on my life list.

The rusty blackbird is a bird of the northern and eastern sections of North America. It is a rare visitor to Southern California where I saw and photographed this bird. Unfortunately, for unknown reasons, the population of rusty blackbirds has declined at least 85% over the last forty years and thus the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) considers this species as vulnerable.

The facts I cited above are from allaboutbirds.org.1 month ago


DanT1999#181 - American Redstart

(Setophaga ruticilla) I shot this photo in the afternoon on December 7, 2013 at the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve near Encino, California. The American redstart is a fun bird to observe as it constantly fans open its tail as it hops around from branch to branch.

The American redstart is a common breeding resident or migrant throughout much of the United States. However, in Southern California, where I saw the bird I photographed, it is an uncommon but regular winter visitor or fall migrant. An interesting fact about this bird that I found on allaboutbirds.org is that its behavior of flashing its wings and tail seems to startle insects making them easier for the bird. 1 month ago


DanT1999Friday 12/6 & Saturday 12/7

Saturday, December 7

1) There was some light rain this morning so I didn’t go birding. Instead, since I had a prescription for eye glasses that was going to expire within the next week, I decided to look for a new frame. The lenses had not been replaced in six years and were thus quite scratched and though I liked the frame I had, the paint on the metal had chipped. Andrew came with me to LA Eyeworks near West Hollywood, the place where my current frame had come from, because I thought I would have my best shot of finding something similar there. I did find something similar but it was disappointingly a little larger. The salesperson told me that the current fashion trend is for larger frames but told me that the trends go in cycles and that if I endure the small frames will eventually come back in style. Anyway, Andrew said he could hardly notice the difference in the new frame, so I ultimately decided to spend the $700 on the new glasses. I would get them in about a week and despite the initial hesitation I looked forward to it…

2) We had lunch at the Middle Eastern restaurant Carnival in Sherman Oaks. I get take-out there relatively often but have not actually dined there in quite some time…

3) The rain had stopped by afternoon so I took advantage of the better weather and went birding at the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve. The highlight of my visit was seeing an American redstart fluttering in some willows near the creek…

Friday, December 6

1) I had the day off from work. Though I came back from my trip yesterday, I thought I would need Friday plus the weekend to fully recharge to take on the mountain of work that was awaiting me. Anyway, I spent the morning birding at the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve (see the photo I took). I found a plumbeous vireo, which was species #320 on the list of birds I have seen in Los Angeles County in 2013…

2) I spent most of the afternoon at home finishing writing up my year-end self-evaluation which was due today. So even though I was off work, I was still doing work. I hate writing self-evaluations so I was glad to get it mostly out of the way…

3) Downloading and sorting through the many photos I took during my vacation… 1 month ago


DanT1999#180 - Plumbeous Vireo

(Vireo plumbeus) I shot this photo in the morning on December 6, 2013 at the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve near Encino, California. I had been trying to get plumbeous vireo on my county year list all year, and at some random time when I was even trying to find one I saw one. I hate it how it works out that way, but at the same time what makes birding exciting is not knowing exactly what you will find at any given time.

The plumbeous vireo is a bird primarily of the southern Rocky Mountains and the Great Basin region of western North America. They are uncommon, but regular winter visitors to Southern California where I saw the bird that I photographed. It’s a rather large vireo with, as can be seen in the photo, a thick bill, distinct white spectacles, a dull gray body (“plumbeous” means colored like lead) and white belly.

The facts I cited above are from allaboutbirds.org.1 month ago


DanT1999#179 - Hutton's Vireo

(Vireo huttoni) I shot this photo in the morning on November 23, 2013 at the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve near Encino, California. At first glance I thought this was a ruby-crowned kinglet, but I noticed that it seemed to be slower and heavier in its movements. I played the song of the Hutton’s vireo on my iPhone and sure enough this bird responded and called back.

The Hutton’s vireo is a bird of the forests and oak woodlands of western North America including Mexico. It is very similar in appearance to the ruby-crowned kinglet but can be distinguished by its thicker, slightly hooked bill, black instead of orange feet, more sluggish behavior and its harsh, scratchy call.

The facts I cited above are from allaboutbirds.org.1 month ago


DanT1999#178 - Bell's Vireo

(Vireo bellii) I shot this photo in the morning on April 22, 2012 at the Hansen Dam near Lake View Terrace, California. I first detected this drab bird by its loud, harsh sounding call. It was quite territorial, making circles around me when I was in its territory. Note that this bird lacks the white eyebrow that is found on the similar warbling vireo.

The Bell’s vireo is a bird primarily of the central and southwestern United States and Mexico. The subspecies found in Southern California is the Least Bell’s Vireo which, having suffered loss of habitat to to urbanization and suburbanization, is federally recognized as an endangered species. I once met a biologist who monitored constructions sites near the habitat of the Least Bell’s Vireo to make sure that protected areas were not damaged. Conservation efforts like that seem to have made some positive difference.

The facts I cited above are from allaboutbirds.org and the Center for Biological Diversity1 month ago


DanT1999#177 - Warbling Vireo

(Vireo gilvus) I shot this photo in the morning on April 14, 2012 at Placerita Canyon State Park near Santa Clarita, California. The arrival of warbling vireos in the local foothills is one of the sure signs that springtime has arrived in Southern California.

The warbling vireo is common as a summer breeding resident or migrant throughout much of North America except in the northern parts of Canada. It is a common spring and fall migrant through the Los Angeles region. It can be told apart from the similarly drab Bell’s vireo by its distinctive white eyebrow. It’s song sounds something like “If I sees you, I will seize you, and I’ll squeeze you till you squirt!” Pretty violent for such a cute, little bird, huh?

The facts I cited above are from allaboutbirds.org.1 month ago


DanT1999 #176 - Philadelphia Vireo

(Vireo philadelphicus) I shot this photo in the afternoon on October 30, 2013 at Legg Lake in South El Monte, California. This was a rarity that had been reported a few days earlier that I had staked out. I waited almost two hours before the bird made an appearance in the magnolia tree it was known to frequent and I was able to photograph it and point it out to another birder that had been waiting for it as well. Philadelphia vireo was a new addition to my life list.

The Philadelphia vireo is a bird of the deciduous forests of eastern North America. It is considered a vagrant in California where I saw the bird that I photographed. It’s close and much more common in the West relative the warbling vireo lacks the yellow coloration on the breast.

The facts I cited above are from allaboutbirds.org.1 month ago


DanT1999Thursday 12/5

Thursday, December 5

1) While Andrew slept in, I spent my last morning in Vancouver once again birding along the Seawall at Stanley Park. This morning, among the usual massive numbers of surf scoters and Barrow’s goldeneyes, I spotted a few white-winged scoters. I will miss seeing the number and variety of diving ducks so close to the shore when I get back to LA. Before heading back to my hotel room to finishing packing, I walked through the park to Lost Lagoon to get a few more birds on my list. During the week I was in Vancouver, I ended up seeing 60 species of birds, bringing my Vancouver life list total to 84 species…

2) On our way to the airport walking down Davie Street with our luggage to the SkyTrain station, we stopped to have lunch in Yaletown at Rodney’s Oyster House. We had had dinner there when we were in town a couple of summers ago and found it to be good and had it on our target list of places to eat at before going home. I got fried oysters and Andrew got raw oysters. I am a little bit leery about eating raw oysters because I’m afraid of getting sick from bacteria, but our server gave me one to try on the house and I did find it delicious and I did not get sick… We ate at so many good places in Vancouver this trip that I literally gained five pounds during this vacation. I will have do more running when I get home…

3) Getting through security and customs at the airport was hassle-free (the customs agent I spoke to even knew what an actuary was) and the trip home went smoothly. I watched the movie “We’re the Millers” on the plane. It wasn’t a deep movie at all, but not a bad way to stay entertained a couple of hours… I was surprised that when we got back to LA, the temperature was almost as cold as it had been in Vancouver…

See the collage of photos I took today… 1 month ago


DanT1999Wednesday 12/4

Wednesday, December 4

1) I spent most of this cold but sunny morning walking along the Seawall around Stanley Park birdwatching while Andrew stayed at the hotel lounging around. There were literally about 5,000 surf scoters just offshore and more and more kept flying in. The sound of their wings was amazing. I was lucky to spot some less common birds among them like a long-tailed duck and a black scoter. There was a pair of harlequin ducks as well, the birds I was especially hoping to see, but they were just too far offshore for me to photograph well. All and all, it was an excellent morning for seeing birds (please check out more of my bird photos here). The temperature was below freezing but I still saw some people running in shorts which I would have liked to have tried myself since I had never been running in temperatures that cold. The one thing I regret not doing this vacation was going for a run along the Seawall since I opted to spend my time birding instead, but hopefully I will be back in Vancouver next summer and will get to do it then…

2) We spent our last full day in Vancouver not doing much, just a little shopping. We had lunch at a trendy place called Finch’s Tea & Coffee House near Gastown and then took the SkyTrain to the Metrotown mall. Andrew told me all the jeans I own are not stylish enough and are not well fitted so he made me buy a new pair. He did have a point, and I think I will gradually update my wardrobe to be a bit more stylish in the coming year. I also bought a tee shirt and a new hoodie sweater from Roots; I have to get at least one thing from Roots every time I visit Canada…

3) We had dinner at Stepho’s Souvlaki Greek Taverna (don’t get the fried fish there it’s way too salty) which was downstairs near our hotel and had some pastries we got across the street at Transylvania Traditions Bakery. We stayed in our hotel room finishing off a bottle of wine and watching TV our last night in town…

See the collage of photos I took today… 1 month ago


DanT1999#175 - Chestnut-backed Chickadee

(Poecile rufescens) I shot this photo on the morning of December 5, 2013 at Lost Lagoon in Stanley Park in Vancouver, British Columbia. I love the rich chestnut color of this bird, and for that reason the chestnut-backed chickadee is my favorite of the chickadee species.

The chestnut-backed chickadee is a bird of the West Coast and Pacific Northwest where they are found in dense, wet coniferous forests. They do not make it as far south as Southern California where I live though in California I have seen them in San Francisco. An interesting fact I found on allaboutbirds.org is that fur and other animal hair comprise up to half of the material of the chestnut-backed chickadee’s nest. 1 month ago


DanT1999Black-capped chickadee at Lost Lagoon

I shot this photo of a black-capped chickadee on the morning of December 5, 2013 at Lost Lagoon in Stanley Park in Vancouver, British Columbia. It was among a mixed flock of both black-capped and chestnut-backed chickadees. I don’t often get to see either of those species of chickadee because they are not found in Southern California where I live. I previously wrote an entry about the black-capped chickadee under my goal to identify and photograph birds so I post an entry under this other goal just as an excuse to post what I think is a much better photo than the one I posted over four years ago. I am a little embarrassed when I look back at some of the older bird photos I posted because they weren’t that good. However, I was really excited when I was first learning about birds and at the time I was thrilled with even the bad photos and in fact still am when a bad photo is all I’m able to get of an unusual bird. 1 month ago


DanT1999 1 month ago


DanT1999 #174 - Mountain Chickadee

(Poecile gambeli) I shot this photo in the afternoon on January 18, 2014 at the Buckhorn Campground in the San Garbriel Mountains of Los Angeles County, California. Chickadees are fun to watch and not very shy. I enjoyed watching the particular bird that I photographed eating snow.

The mountain chickadee is a bird of the evergreen forest of the mountain West in North America. It can be readily distinguished from its close relative the black-capped chickadee by its distinctive white eyebrow. In Southern California where I live identification is easy because the mountain chickadee is the only chickadee species found in the region. They are voracious eaters of insects but also supplement their diet with seeds and nuts being common visitors to bird feeders.

The facts I cited above are from allaboutbirds.org.1 month ago


DanT1999#173 - Pacific Wren

(Troglodytes pacificus) I shot this photo on the morning of December 4, 2013 while walking along the Seawall in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada near English Bay Beach. Despite its diminutive size, this was a rather loud, active and curious bird.

The Pacific wren is a tiny wren with a short, stubby tail. It is common in dense thickets in forested areas of the Pacific Northwest. While common in Vancouver where I saw the bird I photographed, it is a relatively uncommon winter visitor to Southern California where I live. Until recently, in terms of classification pacific wren was lumped together with winter wren, the East Coast version of this bird.

The facts I cited above are from audubon.org.1 month ago


DanT1999 #172 - Golden-crowned Sparrow

(Zonotrichia atricapilla) I shot this photo on the morning of December 5, 2013 at Lost Lagoon in Stanley Park in Vancouver, British Columbia. I saw this bird among a mixed flock foraging through leaves on the ground near some shrubbery, a flock that included song sparrows, fox sparrows and spotted towhees. It should be apparent from this photo why this bird is called a golden-crowned sparrow.

The golden-crowned sparrow is a bird of western North America, breeding from Alaska to British Columbia and winter along the Pacific Coast down to Baja California in shrubby habitats. They are common winter residents in Vancouver and also common winter residents in Southern California where I most typically see them near the foothills. An interesting fact I found on allaboutbirds.org is that because the song of the golden-crowned sparrow sounds (with some imagination) like it’s saying “I’m so tired” it was dubbed “Weary Willie” by Yukon miners near the start of the twentieth century. 1 month ago


DanT1999#171 - Fox Sparrow

(Passerella iliaca) I shot this photo on the morning of December 4, 2013 while walking along the Seawall in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada near Third Beach. It was sifting through leaves on the ground, typical behavior for fox sparrows.

There are four main groups of fox sparrows found in North America, all of which may some day be considered distinct species. Red fox sparrows breed in the east and the north, slate-colored fox sparrows breed in the Rocky Mountains, thick-billed fox sparrows breed in the mountains of California, and sooty fox sparrows breed in the Pacific Northwest. The bird in this photo is a sooty fox sparrow, the expected subspecies in Vancouver. Sooty fox sparrows are also winter visitors to Southern California where I live. However, during the summer in my area the expected subspecies is the thick-billed fox sparrow which is a common breeding resident in the local mountains. If anyone requests, I will post a photo of the thick-billed fox sparrow for comparison.

The facts I cited above are from allaboutbirds.org.1 month ago


DanT1999#170 - Barrow's Goldeneye

(Bucephala islandica) I shot this photo on the morning of December 4, 2013 while walking along the Seawall in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada near English Bay Beach. The bird in this photo is a male as the female has a gray body, brown head and typically an all yellow bill. This bird is similar to the common goldeneye which I had previously written about here. However, there are a few diagnostic criteria that can be used to easily tell them apart. The male common goldeneye has a peaked crown, long bill and a round white spot at the base of the bill. The male Barrow’s goldeneye by contrast has a rounded crown, a short stubby bill and a crescent-shaped patch at the base of the bill.

Although first discovered in Iceland, the Barrow’s goldeneye is primarily known for being a duck of the western mountains of North America. It is an exceptionally rare bird where I live in Southern California, and in fact I have yet to see one in my area. By contrast, I found them to be exceedingly common near Vancouver. I saw hundreds of them near the Seawall feeding on molluscs which I obviously found exciting since previously I had never even seen a single one. One of the advantages of birding away from home… Anyway, an interesting fact is that most of the world’s Barrow’s goldeneyes nest in British Columbia.

The facts I cited above are from the website allaboutbirds.org and the book Birds of Southwestern British Columbia.1 month ago


DanT1999#169 - Long-tailed Duck

(Clangula hyemalis) I shot this photo on the morning of December 4, 2013 while walking along the Seawall in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada near English Bay Beach. I was searching the flocks of literally thousands of surf scoters that were feeding on molluscs just offshore when among them I found this bird which was a pleasant surprise. Large flocks of surf scoters are worth checking because sometimes less common diving ducks can be found among them. The bird in this photo is a female in non-breeding plumage; the male is more boldly patterned and has a long pointed tail which gives this species its name.

According to allaboutbirds.org, the long-tailed duck breeds in the Arctic and winters off both coasts of North America. It is an uncommon but regular visitor to Southern California where I live. Where I shot this photo in Vancouver, the long-tailed duck is a “fairly common but local winter resident” where it is usually found on coastal waters and rarely on freshwater according to the book Birds of Southwestern British Columbia. 1 month ago


DanT1999#168 - White-winged Scoter

(Melanitta deglandi) I shot this photo on the morning of December 5, 2013 while walking along the Seawall in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada near English Bay Beach. There were a handful of white-winged scoters associating with the hundreds of surf scoters just offshore feeding on molluscs. Large flocks of surf scoters are worth checking because sometimes less common diving ducks can be found among them. The white wing patch is obvious on the bird that I photographed which happens to be a female with its brownish plumage. The male is black with a small white mark behind its eye in addition to the white wing patch.

White-winged scoters are common winter residents off the coast of Southwestern British Columbia where I saw the bird I photographed. Very few however make it as far south as Southern California where I live and I am lucky if I can even find one each winter. One of the advantages of birding away from home… 1 month ago


DanT1999#167 - Black Scoter

(Melanitta americana) I shot this photo on the morning of February 10, 2013 at Dockweiler State Beach near Playa del Rey, California. I saw it among a flock of a couple hundred surf scoters. Large flocks of surf scoters are worth checking because sometimes less common diving ducks can be found among them like for instance this black scoter. The bird in this photo is a male with its jet black plumage and bright orange upper bill. Females are brownish with a white cheek.

Black scoters are uncommon winter visitors off the Pacific Coast of North America. Few are found each winter where I live in Southern California though they do seem to be reported every year. I found it a little bit difficult to find much interesting information on this species other than how little seems to be known about it. According to the book Birds of Southwestern British Columbia, “Black scoter is the least common scoter in the region. Some 250,000 breed in Alaska, yet fewer than 5,000 winter on the Pacific Coast south of Anchorage.” 1 month ago


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