I thought when entering June things would start slowing down a bit. Wow, was I wrong. Somehow forgot all the work that has to go into the homestead this time of year. Time is being devoured battling the forest as it continuously plots to revenge our incursion, grass growing way to fast thanks to the barrage of rain (apologies to the dry southwest), a Mole army that could repel a Russian invasion and those hell spawn Chipmunks that I swear breed daily (where are all the Owls). Doesn’t Mother Nature know that I have to focus on the new Halloween props for the fast approaching Haunted Trail (link here)!?! Oh well, shouldn’t complain, far better than having to get all these tasks done and still go to work every day.
The good news is I have had some opportunity to bird. Although I still have not updated the Birding Chronicles (link here), …. wait, stop the presses, will be back in a jiffy (imagine the Jeopardy theme tune playing in your head)…just a bit longer… a few more seconds… there, back. Sorry about that. I have probably noted that the Chronicles had not been updated for like a month if not more. Inner Bri demanded I simply update it ha! Feeling hypocritical due to how much I curse at IDOT for taking the time to have a sign made and send out a 4 person crew to install said sign to inform motorists there’s a bump in the road – FIX IT!!!. The latest stats have our “Average Year” progress for Ron at 219 (note, he added 3 more this week) and I am sitting at 249 for unique species this year. Quite shocked really as there are still plenty of easy targets left and a number of good birding trips planned between now and the end of the year (not to mention 2 seasonal changes remaining). Need to have Ron update the video with our latest excursions.
Hit the jump to read more about the bird from where “the girls get so tanned”.
Today, thought I would feature a bird that is ineligible for inclusion in this year’s unique species quest, but does represent a new lifer for me. Counting just the 32 new lifers this year and a multitude still to be processed, that should put my potential life count minimally around 338 – I say potential as I can’t take the tick until they are featured here, so lots of work remaining on that front as well.
With this post I can officially add the California Gull to the list. Not eligible for this year’s count as it was taken back in May 2019. We had the opportunity to attend our nephew’s wedding in Lake Tahoe at that time and flew into Reno, NV to make our way there. Added a few days to the itinerary for birding to see if I could tin some western birds. On the list of key targets was the White-Headed Woodpecker (link here), Western Tanager (link here) and Mountain Chickadee (link here), but the California Gull was a complete surprise.
Now, one reason for that is I rarely focus on Gulls and you probably noticed very few of them ever get featured here. Simple really – THEY ALL LOOK ALIKE! Unfortunate enough to tin a solo juvenile – might as well bend over like Kevin Bacon and have your ass smacked by a frat paddle. Every turn of the Gull reference book – “is that the Gull?”, smack, “thank you sir, may I have another?”, turn page, “wait, is that the Gull?”, smack, “thank you sir, may I have another?”, turn page, “ugh, that looks like it as well”, smack, … you get the picture. I managed to get a bit lucky on this one as someone who was at Virginia Lake Park at the same time reported this species (25 of them specifically) and one other that I knew wasn’t it as it lacked the bill marking.
Checked the region maps, past ebird reports and a few comparisons on Cornell’s site to confirm not a Ringed or a Herring. Also did a final check with Ron to see if he agreed. Note, this is probably a second year specimen with the bluish legs and still has some mottled brown in the wing/back feathering.
Eesh, out of shots, better get to some interesting facts before letting you go. The California name is a bit restrictive as they do spend their nonbreeding days on the west coast, but they will migrate inland (primarily northeast into Canada and bordering states. If you look close on the map, you will see a small year long area circling the Reno, Lake Tahoe area. Now this is an odd one – the California Gull is the state bird of, wait for it.. wait for it.. Utah. According to Cornell, these birds saved the Mormon crops from a plague of Katydids back in 1848. Lastly (also from Cornell), the young Gulls hone their ninja midair hunting skills by dropping sticks in flight and “swooping down to catch it” – rumor has it their sensei also makes them put wax on and take wax off their cars.
Will call it a post there, need to get back to work. Hope you enjoyed the latest addition to my life list.