Saturday, March 4, 2017

Post #94 - Seeing rarities where they aren't rare is the best.........

I am back from Spain! It was an incredible trip, and I promise a full recap in the very near future. But I must first make a really important plea. I have added a "Followers" gadget under the "Blog Archive" tab on the right hand side of the page. PLEASE considering following this blog if you like it. All it takes is a Google account (i.e. email) and you'll be set to go. You'll get email updates about new posts, and you'll really, really help me quantify and display the collective interest in this blog. As I have resigned my scientific position at USC, I am now officially unemployed, starting all over as an aspiring writer/photographer. I have no idea where this path is going to take me, but I do know that a blog with a loyal (and hopefully large) readership will certainly help me grow my writing brand moving forward. Please share this blog with friends and please also consider following me on Instagram (dorian_anderson_photography) as that platform will help me advance the photography arm of my new career/brand. My content is 100% free, so please take just a minute to help with this. It would really mean a lot to me. I'll just say 'Thank you' in advance!

The referenced Spain recap is being temporarily held up as I am now in San Francisco searching for an apartment ahead of our upcoming Bay Area move. I'm here for a few more days, then back to LA for 2 days before heading to Belize and Guatemala for the following 10 days. We'll move after that trip and then - finally - things will settle down a bit. At that time, I'll crank out the Spain recap (to be followed thereafter by the Belize/Guatemala recap).

I did en route to SF collect the now long-staying Emperor Goose in Pacifica. The bird was initially reported to the birding community by a non-birding local on January 24th. In the days that followed, the bird behaved very predictably, as though it already had an established routine. This suggested that the bird might have been present well before the 24th and therefore might be wintering in that precise spot. Knowing that I would be SF in early March, I decided to forgo chasing the bird in that last week of January. That strategy paid off, and I was this week rewarded with my first ABA bird of 2017!

ABA seen bird #714 - Emperor Goose!
(Record shot only, shooting east, into the morning sun)

He's the normal range of Emperor Goose.
The above bird is well off course in CA!

Emperor Goose records away from Alaska.
The species is a rare but regular visitor to the Pacific Coast.

I will confess that seeing this magnificent bird on a California golf course was quite anticlimactic. Some of the lackluster was due to the fact the the bird behaved so predictably and was all but guaranteed to be found, but some of it was the precise setting in which I saw the bird. Emperor Goose is a rugged species, a species that survives on the edge of the world in the Bering Sea. I always figured that I'd see this species when I finally made it to Alaska, possibly as it winged its way past me at Nome, Gambel, or Dutch Harbor. I envisioned a small group of them fighting into the wind, winging over the churning waves with distant but unspoiled lands as a backdrop. Instead I got a golf course with dozens of adjacent houses. Don't get me wrong, I was stoked to see the bird, but the sighting just lacked some of the splendor that I had envisioned. I probably won't stop chasing would-be ABA life birds anytime soon, but I will try to appreciate observing species in their more usually habitats and haunts whenever possible. Just some thoughts. I'd love to hear yours on the same subject!

I'll leave you with another recent shot. I think this guy looks as though he was just caught with his hand in the cookie/acorn jar!

*click for higher resolution vew*
Acorn Woodpecker - Melanerpes formicivorus
Orange County, CA
Canon 400mm f/4 IS DO II on EOS 1D Mark IV
1/2000 at f/8, ISO 800

That's it for now. Much more coming moving forward!


  1. Love the blog. Re the Emperor Goose, which I've enjoyed seeing twice - yes, it's a very suburban, perhaps less dignified location for the bird. But when I was there with a scope, we showed the beauty of this bird to several locals and talked about this and the other geese etc. it's providing a good opportunity for education, and for showing that birding brings people to your city from all over.

  2. This is all true. Sometimes a rare bird can really galvanize a community. It was actually a local dogwalker who pointed me in the direction of the goose when I arrived. Several other locals stopped by while I was viewing the bird and told me a myriad of stories. Its good for folks to see a birding presence in the communities. Perhaps they'll someday join the ranks!