Saturday, January 16, 2010

Cal Poly Birding - January 14

Having missed sapsuckers on my bike three times at Santa Rosa Park and twice at Cal Poly I was beginning to call these woodpeckers "suckers" without reference to sap, but today I was a little more lucky. Yes, I did miss the reported Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (birders often use the term "reported" when they cannot re-find a bird originally found by another birder), but today I did see a Red-breasted Sapsucker in a pepper tree in front of Cal Poly's Kennedy Library on a late lunch break from work. (Work is such a nuisance.) When photographing birds, I sometimes see things I don't otherwise observe. I noticed that the sapsucker's odd back pattern really blended in well with the bark of the tree that it was on. This possible adaptation is perhaps obvious to others, but I hadn't noticed it before.
After watching the sapsucker, I headed up to the wooded riparian, oak covered hillsides, and pastureland of Poly Canyon. I was in search of the introduced (or reintroduced - see Don Roberson's article at Turkey. A flock showed up near the wooden footbridge to the right of Poly Canyon, just before the ranch house (right where Mike Stiles said to look). They are sure funny birds. They seem to avoid flying as much as possible - I followed them up a steep slope, over rocks, and around trees. They stayed just enough ahead to avoid a good photograph and were fairly quiet for a flock of about a dozen very large birds in the woods. I confused them by circling behind them and gathering them in a tighter bunch. Upon approaching close they all blasted out a loud "gobble, gobble, gobble" and noisily crashed through the brush and fallen branches in all directions. It was startling and amusing at the same time. They then assembled back together and continued feeding quietly along the ground a short distance away from me. I then wondered if I should count these birds for my BIGBY since they are arguably not a native species. I decided to list my species from now on as either "native" or "introduced/reintroduced". Today I added one to each category.

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