The Huntington Botanical Gardens – San Marino, California

In May 2009, Matt and I took a trip to southern California to visit some friends.  While there, we stopped in at my alma mater, Pitzer College, as well as one of my favorite haunts as a college student: the Huntington Library’s Botanical Gardens in San Marino (near Pasadena).  Here’s a bit of the photogenic wildlife we spotted there.

A mated pair of Wood Ducks (and a very curious turtle (maybe a soft-shelled turtle or a pig-nosed turtle?):

A mother Mallard and her duckling (with koi):

Frogs beating the heat (it was well over 90˚ that day):

And some ants on a blooming succulent:

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Chestnut-backed Chickadee

We’ve seen a couple of these in the last week here in the backyard.  Not as common as the Black-Capped Chickadees we have every day, they are a lovely variety.

I snapped these shots as we were heading out the door for Saturday brunch.  He’s feeding on a Woodpecker’s Picnic seed cake from Wildbirds Unlimited.

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Late identifications

One of the best things about digital photography is that you can look closely at oldish photos and find new details.  It’s especially interesting when you find that you’ve taken several photos of birds that you couldn’t identify at the time, but now have the resources to do so.

Case in point:  I needed a horizontal header image for this blog.  I went back into my digital archives and found a nice composition from a trip Matt and I took three Thanksgivings ago.  We were staying in Port Angeles for the holiday, then ferrying over to Victoria for our first visit there together.  The day before we left for BC, we took a drive out to the Ediz Hook, just outside of Port Angeles, and took some photos of  birds on the beach there.  There is a Reservation for Native Birds there, but I’m not sure on the rules of birding to know whether our spotting counts as natural or supplemental.

We hadn’t really gotten into birdwatching at that point, so the birds have gone unidentified for three years.  Until just about an hour ago, when I found the photos again and identified the two types I snapped.  All shots were taken on the northern shore of the hook, very near the “A” marker in the photo above, on November 22, 2007.

This is the raw image of the header, above.  Across the log are eight Black Turnstones, which are members of the sandpiper family.  They are found along the Pacific Coast in the Winter and they summer in the coastal areas of Alaska.

Black Turnstone - Arenaria melanocephala

In the bottom right corner of the raw header image you can just make out some little white headed birds – another type of sandpiper: Western Sandpipers.

Western Sandpiper – Calidris mauri (plus an errant Turnstone)

At least, I’m pretty sure they are Western Sandpipers, though without a known control for contrast, they could be Semi-palmated Sandpipers or even Sanderlings.  I use the Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America for all my local identifications. I also have a copy of the guide for Eastern North America as well, for when we’re back east visiting Matt’s family in Massachusetts.  This Thanksgiving, we’ll be in Chicago, where I hope to see more birds I can identify for practice.

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Backyard Sightings – November 20, 2010

 

Black-capped Chickadee - Poecile atricapilla

Photos were taken in our backyard, on our suet feeder (squirrel baffle can be seen in bottom right corner).  Feeder and suet are from Wild Birds Unlimited – their Christmas Blend.  At the bottom of the feeder is half of a seed cake, WBU Ultimate Blend, which was mostly eaten by squirrels prior to the purchase of the metal baffle ($9.99 at Fred Meyer). We haven’t seen a squirrel on the pole since I put it up.  Success!

Red-breasted Nuthatch - Sitta canadensis

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Hello world!

This is Ginger and Matt from Snicklenose and The Sail & Anchor.  This is our new project:

We’ve always been interested in birds – especially the birds we see on our walks through Seattle’s extensive city park system – and the birds we can see from our backyard in the Phinney Ridge-Green Lake neighborhood of Seattle, which turns out to be quite a lot.  Over the past few months we’ve seen these birds just from our living room windows:

  • Bald Eagle
  • Osprey
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Dark-eyed Junco
  • Bushtit
  • Black-capped Chickadee
  • Red-breasted Nuthatch
  • Northern Flicker
  • Hummingbirds (a few varieties)
  • (and of course, American Crow, Rock Doves [feral pigeons], and various Gulls)

We’re bound to see more as we explore more of the parks in Seattle and other cities.  But you can only have so many pretty photos of birds without having something to do with them.

So we’ve started this new blog called Urbaniformes.  The name comes from the naming convention of the orders of birds (like, Pelecaniformes, or Strigiformes), but with a specific focus on city birds.  If we happen to see birds on less urban adventures, so be it, but mostly it’s going to be about city parks and our backyard. It’ll be an outlet for our birdwatching photos, identifications, and general birdbrainery.  It’ll also be a place where we can write about the different parks in Seattle, especially those with great bird habitat like Magnusson, Carkeek, Seward, and Discovery Parks .  There are over 400 parks and open areas in the Seattle City Parks system, and we’d like to visit them all and document them.  Mostly for birdwatching potential, but also for their views, features, and accessibility.

Yes, it sounds like a big task, and a little more general than is really feasible, but it’ll get narrowed down to something manageable after we get our feet wet.  The first few posts will be about our backyard flocks, baffling squirrels, and a city park walk in Olympia, WA.

Hope you enjoy reading about our feathered friends!

 

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