This evening birds rose in a cloud from the surface of Bolinas Lagoon and a Peregrine powered across the water with great purpose. I soon spotted the reason for its determined flight in the shape of a fleeing Marbled Godwit.
The Peregrine seemed to be closing in I thought the Godwit was doomed but on the next pass over deep water the Godwit landed quickly and floated on the water’s surface. The Peregrine immediately lost interest and flew on toward the distant shore.
I was driving to work through the fog when I saw a dark shape float low over my car and drift toward Bolinas Lagoon. My first reaction was “Turkey Vulture” followed by a glimpse of a white-ish tail… “Osprey perhaps?” They were both usual suspects but when it banked I knew it was the first Bald Eagle I’d ever seen in Bolinas (granted I’ve only lived here for four months). It felt like a 3rd year bird, my hunch based on the amount of white in the tail and the scatterings in the body and remiges. I’d heard they can winter here and was so excited to see it scaring up Northern Pintails as it flew off into the fog. With no place to park and a meeting to get to, I kept on going and hoped that when I got home it might still be around.
When I got back to the lagoon there was a dark shape in the top of a snag, where I thought the eagle might be, but it turned its red featherless head and began to preen. While watching that Turkey Vulture another lump in the next snag turned its head and I immediately stopped at the next pullout.
It came to rest in the Eucalyptus trees and preened and watched the grebes foraging in the waters below. Then the Ravens which drove it out of the original tree returned to cautiously mob the newcomer.
An Anna’s Hummingbird at the feeder and just getting warmed up in the morning light. I posted the image below on an earlier version of BLW but thought I’d share it again. It is a young hummingbird preening a few hours before it fledged.
Still no internet but this deserves a cell phone post. I woke up to find this beautiful strange bird immobile on the deck and panting hard. It was a window strike. I didn’t know what kind of bird it was, just that it was much bigger than the siskins and goldfinches that frequent my feeders.
I couldn’t bring myself to euthanize it and the Scrub Jays were hanging out like little blue vultures so I gathered it up and put it in a small bird cage. I provided some water and set the bird on my kitchen table where it would be warm and peaceful. I didn’t hold out much hope. My friends helped me ID it as a juvenile male Western Tanager, a first for my yard. I was thinking about it all day.
When I got home later that day I was shocked and delighted to see the Tanager comfortably sitting up on a perch like a pet bird. It had recovered and taken some water and food, and deposited some berry-laden droppings in the cage. As the sun threatened to set I walked the bird outside and released it from my deck. It exploded from my hand with strength I never imagined would return to the panting, shocked bird I had held earlier in the day. I am so happy he survived.
This isn’t a particularly birdy post but it does set the scene. I’m lucky to call Bolinas home. Here are a few shots from a recent late afternoon outing on the lagoon. Above, my friend Stijn gliding near Pine Gulch Creek.
I’m getting to know this Peregrine now, but she isn’t quite sure of me. I’ve drifted by her in the canoe before but this time she seemed suspicious and left suddenly rather than comfortably preening. I’ll recalibrate my distance next time and try not to disturb her. I know it’s the same bird because she is missing the tip of her upper mandible (bill).
I took to the lagoon for a maiden voyage in my solo canoe last Saturday. It was wonderful. Glass calm water and a four foot tide meant I could explore far and wide. And as I suspected… I was being followed. A few seals broke off from the pack and quietly shadowed me for most of the next hour.
She gave a stretch and took off, flying a wide arc over the marsh before climbing and setting off toward the same flock of shorebirds. It was a wonderful and unexpected encounter on a grey, still, and lovely day. I can’t wait to get out there again.
Violet-green Swallows have taken up residence outside my living room window so I thought a bit of digiscoping might be in order. It is great fun to watch them forage for food and make their rounds.
A rare moment of stillness. Keeping watch from the entrance.
Tipping out at an unusually steep angle.
How’s that for timing? Lining up the approach to home with a last minute insect to grab.
Swooping past the entrance with grace and style.
Brushing wingtips in an act of precision flying.
Out for more. They make sweeping arcs through the sky outside the window and are such a lovely addition to the yard.