Monday, July 11, 2016

Post #70 - Who cares about this silly blog?!?! Red-legged Honeycreeper news!

First, honestly, who cares about this blog? Its little more than my own birding diary with a few photos thrown in for laughs. Well, as I am sure many of you are aware, this has been a particularly rough few weeks to be an American. It seems like its one bad news story after another: shootings, bigotry, racism, campaign rhetoric, etc. Facebook is overrun with opinions and squabbles; It sometimes seems like there is no escape from the noise. It is from that cacophony that I hope my little blog offers at least some amount of refuge (and hence why I keep it apolitical). I hope it's simply a 5-minute diversion from life's usual chaos. At some point I think it will morph into something more, but for now I hope it's enough to keep you coming back - even if only once in a while. Now on with the birds and such!

I am happy to relay that the Red-legged Honeycreeper that I observed at Estero Llano Grande in South Texas on Thanksgiving day in 2014 has been deemed ABA countable! This means that my 2014 bicycle Big Year total now stands at 618 species - woo hoo!  For those not familiar with this species, it is usually more tropical, generally residing in the Caribbean and Central and South America. Prior to our 2014 sighting, there were several sightings in Florida, but these were presumed to be escaped caged birds (South Florida is infamous for escapees). Our bird, a hatch year female, was accepted by 7-1 to by the ABA records committee and thus represents the the first accepted record of the species for North America. It was just one of those "right place, right time" moments about which birders universally dream. Here is the official ABA announcement, complete with my photo of the bird!

Red-legged Honeycreeper range
But wait...there's more! In its annual update, the American Ornithologists' Union (AOU) has decided to split Western Scrub Jay into California Scrub Jay (Pacific Coast) and Woodhouse's Scrub Jay (interior). As I observed both then-subspecies during my Big Year, this counts as an "arm-chair" tick two years after the fact. So, with the addition of this new species, I guess that runs my total, on top of the honeycreeper, to 619 species. I say "I guess" as the 618 that I found during the year will always hold a special place in my heart. Asked moving forward how many species I saw during my Big Year, 618 will be my answer. For those that are interested in the other changes to the AOU checklist this year, please look here.

Last bit of news is that I this week I walked without the aid of the walking boot for the first time in nearly 6 weeks! As I have a incredibly difficult time sitting still for even short periods, it was a tremendous liberation to get out birding after such a long absence. Mid-summer birding on the SoCal coast is quiet. The Elegant Terns at Bolsa Chica have kept me busy. Right now there are something like 30,000 of them there. It is really quite impressive. I visited on a good day for photography last weekend, the light and tide perfectly aligning. More photos coming as the leg heals!

***Click images for full size versions***

Elegant Tern - Thalasseus elegans
Canon 400mm DO IS II on EOS 7D2
1/5000 at f/8, ISO 800, handheld

Elegant Tern - Thalasseus elegans
(This bird is shaking off after a dive!) 
Canon 400mm DO IS II on EOS 7D2
1/5000 at f/5.6, ISO 400, handheld


  1. Thank you for your blog, Dorian. It is a welcome diversion from the hatred and craziness of this world, not to mention a great way to learn more about birds and birding. And your photos are beautiful. Hope to see you out at Bolsa Chica one of these weekends. Good birding, and be well.

    Chris Boyd
    Redondo Beach

  2. Congratulations on your Honeycreeper! Keep up the blogging, the silent majority does appreciate it.

  3. We do care, as we enjoy reading an intelligent and articulate appreciation of our environment and its inhabitants. Few birders are outgoing and even fewer are able to express their insights in a way that touches others.
    Keep up the good work and get well asap!

  4. Agree with all the other good comments already offered above. We need your blog and others as healthy diversions from the junk. Try not to become to cynical, avoid the junk and vote.

  5. Dorian, I want to add my agreement to those of the other commenters. However, you likely would get more followers (and posting might be more satisfying for you) if you responded to your commenters. It's your blog, so you can do what you want, but if you want more interaction and more readers, you ought to respond.