Archive for October, 2007

Warblers and Sparrows and Goats, Oh My!

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

(Apologies to user vanilla, from whom I stole the idea for the title.)

So, with the fall migration in full swing, things have really been hopping on the birdcam. After a long summer with only the usual suspects to look at, new species are popping up seemingly every day.

Back on October 22 we got the Townsend’s Warbler, and then, on the evening of Saturday, October 27 at 5:02 p.m., avatar99 and annelizabeth combined for three more great shots of it. Here’s my favorite, by annelizabeth:

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That would have been exciting enough, but just 10 minutes prior to that, birdbrain and achadamaia snapped a total of six shots of what I’m inclined to think are two Yellow-rumped Warblers. So far all the shots are in disputed status, with none of them particularly close to an ID, but take a look at these three (which I think are the clearest of the bunch), and see what you think:

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These images make me think about an interesting aspect of bird-watching via the birdcam, versus doing it in real life. If this were real life, it would be easy to just watch these birds for a few minutes, waiting to see the telltale flash of that yellow rump, or to hear the characteristic Yellow-rumped “chip!” But with the birdcam, all we’ve got is what’s in the shot. Which is actually a good thing, some ways; I’ve definitely honed my ability to ID a House Finch based on an out-of-focus image of just its back, for example, with that characteristic pale edging on the feathers. But it can make things challenging in a situation like this. Like the Orange-crowned Warbler from October 26, we may just have to content ourselves with leaving these birds in “disputed.”

Continuing the theme of birds that are achingly close to being a new species, check out these three disputed shots by kryptonkay and avatar99 (there was also a fourth one by achadamaia, but I’m leaving it out because it’s pretty much identical to kryptonkay’s, only a bit fuzzier). The first shot is from 4:26 p.m. on October 28; the other two are from 4:06 p.m. on October 29:

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I think what we’re looking at here is an immature White-crowned Sparrow. The pinkish/yellowish beak is what gives it away; the Golden-crowned’s beak is grayer. I’ve got a ton of these guys at my feeder in the backyard these days, and they sure look like this.

An interesting development is that some goats have been penned on the hillside behind Craig’s house; apparently they’re being used to clear out some of the underbrush in the Interior Greenbelt. Here’s a nice shot taken by none other than cnewmark himself:

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Update: More details on Craig’s blog: My pet goats.

Finally, I have to include this shot taken by spurdin. As vanilla pointed out in the comments, “perfect for Halloween!” 🙂

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Orange-crowned Warbler?

Friday, October 26th, 2007

Today at 11:06 first petemokazfi, and then robin54, got shots of what almost certainly is a new bird for the game. Here’s the first shot:

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And here’s the second:

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That second shot, especially, really says “Orange-crowned Warbler” to me. Granted, there are other possibilities, but that’s the first thing I thought when I saw the image. I’m alone in that ID on both photos at this point, though, so it seems unlikely that we’ll get an official Orange-crowned Warbler in the game based on these images. But if the bird sticks around, and we get some more shots of it, maybe we’ll get to add it before the camera shuts down (which we now know is scheduled for November 18, according to a news update on the home page).

Congratulations, petemokafzi and robin54, on getting shots of this very exciting (well, in the context of the game; I realize it’s actually fairly drab as far as birds go) bird.

Townsend’s Warbler!

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

I didn’t notice at the time, but on Monday just before 6:00 p.m. killeshin got a trio of shots of the first new species in the game since the Wilson’s Warbler on July 30: a Townsend’s Warbler hanging out on the birdbath:

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Great bird! Congratulations, killeshin!

I wonder if that will be the last new bird in this instance of the game. If the camera is coming down in a few weeks (the site’s home page says “mid-November”), and if no important ID changes happen due to voting, 26 could end up being the final species tally.

Look Who’s Back!

Tuesday, October 16th, 2007

I confess I’ve let myself get busy lately, and haven’t spent as much time as I’d like with the birdcam. And then it was down for a while, and when it came back we got the depressing news that it’s due to go away permanently next month (though with the promise of being redeployed in Texas in March, which sounds exciting, even if it’s a long way away).

But in the meantime, people have been taking some great pictures, and I’ve sometimes checked them out in the evening after work. But I’ve never seen one that was exciting enough to get me off my butt and posting a new item to the blog.

Until tonight, when I saw that the Golden-crowned Sparrow has returned. Yay!

It was one of the rarest birds in the system, with only two photos taken way back at the beginning of the game. The very first shot of the game, in fact, was this one by patti (who is Patti Bao, who did the webcam site’s user interface and website design), taken back on April 20:

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And there was just one more shot, again taken by patti, on April 21:

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After that the birds moved on, and it has taken until now, with the Fall migration under way, for them to turn up again. Honors for the first shot of a Golden-crowned Sparrow in almost six months goes to avatar99, who got this great shot in the trees on Monday, October 15, at 1:21 p.m.:

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Several more shots were taken during that appearance in the trees, and then on Monday evening the bird was briefly on the railing, where my favorite shot was this one taken by achadamaia at 5:49 p.m.:

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There was also this hard-to-identify shot that was taken by vanilla this morning at 7:33 a.m.; it’s currently in status “disputed”, but I’m reasonably confident that’s a Golden-crowned:

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Finally, there were some more nice shots this evening, including this one taken at 5:17 p.m. by robin54:

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You might well see me paying more attention to the birdcam over the next few days. I’d love to get a shot of a Golden-crowned myself. 🙂 But in the meantime, congratulations to everyone who’s managed to get a photo of this great bird!