Saturday, February 5, 2011

sunset in Pacific Grove
February 5, 2011
red-shouldered hawk
Buteo lineatus

I'm amazed at the variation of red-shouldered hawks, even among my own pictures. I could be wrong with this ID, as I think I've seen 2-3 different kinds of hawks around home in the past couple of months. They're often being harassed by crows and in flight they look very different from each other in size and shape. Don Roberson lists numerous hawks and related for Monterey County.

I really should get a new bird book, as I've finally decided the one I have isn't so good. The reason why I've been putting off getting one of the recommended books (National Geographic or Sibley) is silly: there's a little part of me that suspects that once I start really getting into birds, then I'll want to join all those bird groups, then I'll want better photographs of birds for ID, then I'll want to get a better camera and binoculars, then I'll want all the trappings of nature photography (lenses, tripods, external hard-drives), then I'll end up hauling a bunch of crap everywhere (that could potentially be seized by a government, see BBB), then I'll end up not really enjoying actually hiking, then I'll be spending even more time behind the computer looking at photographs, etc. So, I almost simply do not want to start down that path...

ps 02/16/11 - I queried Don Roberson yesterday after receiving a couple comments questioning the ID of this post. He's been kind enough to answer my e-mails about bird IDs. I really try not to pester the experts too much with my incessant questions. With many thanks he's given me permission to post what he wrote in a reply e-mail. Here's what he says, " is often difficult to identify a hawk from a single photo, and especially one in which the tail, wings, and back cannot be seen. However, I think this is an adult Red-shouldered. I can see white barring on the rufous things, which rules out Red-tailed (among others). Further, our usual Red-tails have a prominent white chest. [Some dark morphs of Red-tail, which are scarce locally, can be dark-chested.]" Don goes on to say, "I think adult Red-shouldereds look pretty much alike, but the variation you mention is in immature stages of plumage. Further, there is huge differences in Red-shouldered Hawk between our local California population and populations in the east, and another population in Florida (which looks very different). There has been some talk of separating our California birds as a separate species, and to revive the old name given to it over 100 years ago, Red-bellied Hawk." So, there you have it folks. Thank you, everyone, for your interest.

torch aloe ~ 02/05/11 ~ Shoreline Park

torch aloe / krantz aloe
Aloe arborescens
Asphodelaceae (now included under Xanthorrhoeaceae)

I'm still not positive about this ID. Calflora essentially ignores this genus with two species poorly represented. I've searched, but it doesn't seem anyone really knows which particular species is so prolific along the seashore in Pacific Grove and massive - I was standing straight up when taking this photo. Does anyone know for certain? It originates from southern Africa.

ps 01/12/12 - I often find visitors get much better pictures than I could ever make, because I am someone who sees this kind of thing every day and after a while I don't appreciate the beauty:
great egret
Ardea alba

Often great egrets look much like snowy egrets (Egretta thula), especially from a distance and in photographs when the sense of size is misleading. For a really nice little table on how to tell the two birds apart and additional photos from this same area of what I prefer to call Pacific Grove Shoreline Park, check out Bread on the Water.