Thursday, September 2, 2010

habitat ~ 09/02/10 ~ Harkins Slough

Harkins Slough
September 2, 2010

Unless I suddenly decide I don't mind hauling around cumbersome equipment (heavy cameras, big phallic lenses, tripods, etc...), I doubt I'll ever get a decent picture of the American white pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhyncho). Yep, those white blobs in the first two pics are white pelicans mixed in with a bevy of gulls. My friend I was visiting had a massive scope, which I declined since I wasn't sure where or how we were getting around the farm during my visit.

Oh, the organic farm sits right alongside Harkins Slough, hence this habitat location label. It looks like the slough area has changed since the main road (as evidenced by the submerged power poles) is now covered and many shrubs have died from the flood of water. Apparently the birds like it.

As a side note and in line with my other comments about seasonal birds in the area, I'm a little curious why a couple reputable online bird sites (Cornell and and the ever present Wikipedia state white pelicans only overwinter along coastal CA. Considering the last time I saw white pelicans was in May and my friend says she's seen them around the farm all summer, this seems to be a glaring trivial error. Stan Tekiela's Birds of California seems to get it right in saying white pelicans are a non-migrator in most of CA and includes the only correct map of seasonal presence I've found. This, my blog readers, is the reason why I'm so persnickety about backdating all my post to the dates of my photos and why I try to keep my blog posts writing to what I experienced first-hand, versus paraphrasing and promulgating potentially incorrect information.


Anonymous said...

Man, I LOVE sloughs and wetlands for birdwatching!!! Re range maps: Birdwatching with keeping some notes since 1983 (I feel old writing that!)I have seen many examples over the years of birds slowly expanding their range and/or changing from migrants to residents over a shorter period of time than the field guides can keep up with in subsequent editions. Little (or big) buggers just won't stay still :-) but that's science for nature itself, always evolving.

Nature ID said...

My farm friend just moved to the area and she's a good hiking buddy, so hopefully we'll be exploring more of the sloughs.

Jennifer said...

Great site! I am a nature lover too. I am often fascinated by birds and how some can live closely with humans while others are hard to adapt. In my neighborhood, the Stellar's Jay are the noisiest! But I don't mind. They all sound great to me!

Cindy said...

I believe you about the white pelicans. I was having the same struggle with what field guides said about turkey vultures in this area. Because they are so common in the Santa Cruz Mtns around my house, I rarely noted them in my field notebook. Now I am wondering about their migration status. I kept asking around and found some neat info.
I was going to suggest you check your local breeding bird atlas and birding groups to see when others see white pelicans, but then I saw your comment link to David's website. He's excellent. Happy birding. The vultures visited again this morning - they are so elegant in a preacher kinda way.

Nature ID said...

Cindy, you're right; it is the mild weather here on CA's coast that throws much published information off, not only for birds, but for marine mammals and blooming times, too. I look to local folks for help. Do you know David? I'm in contact with a local, published birder, but I feel silly bothering him with my incessant questions.