Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Goodbye Farallones

As you may have gathered, I have departed from the Farallones.  Although it is weird being back in civilization, it's good to be home.  Overall I had a great first season on the Farallones, with 193 species on my Farallist.  I was hoping to break 200, but I missed a few good birds early in the season, that I just couldn't make up for during my 10-week tenure on the island.  My list includes 12 species of waterfowl, 8 tubenoses, 2 Sulids, 5 Hawks, 17 shorebirds, 9 gulls, 7 alcids, 5 owls, 9 flycatchers, 6 thrushes, 24 warblers, 19 Emberizid sparrows, 6 Cardinalids, 8 Icterids, and 7 finches!  I got 38 year birds on the Farallones (marked with stars), putting my total at 430 for 2012 (now 432 with 2 species I've gotten since leaving the Farallones, Barnacle Goose and White-winged Crossbill, both in Long Island, NY).  Here is my complete 2012 Farallist of species, including some photo highlights.

Greater White-fronted Goose (3 October)
Brant (2 November)
Cackling Goose (9 October)
BLUE-WINGED TEAL (17 September)
CINNAMON TEAL(17 September)
Northern Shoveler (29 September)
Northern Pintail (8 September)
Green-winged Teal (7 November)
Surf Scoter (30 October)
Red-breasted Merganser (7 November)
RUDDY DUCK (27 September)
Pacific Loon (15 September)
Common Loon (4 October)
Horned Grebe (7 November)
Eared Grebe (15 September)
Western Grebe (27 September)
*Northern Fulmar (21 October)
*Pink-footed Shearwater (11 September)
*Flesh-footed Shearwater (16 October)
*Buller's Shearwater (21 October)
*Sooty Shearwater (8 September)
*Short-tailed Shearwater (7 November)
*Black-vented Shearwater (16 October)
*Ashy Storm-Petrel (13 September)
*Brown Booby (13 October)
Brandt's Cormorant (8 September)
Double-crested Cormorant (8 September)
Pelagic Cormorant (8 September)
Brown Pelican (8 September)
Great Blue Heron (5 October)
Great Egret (12 September)
White-tailed Kite (13 October)
Northern Harrier (18 September)
Sharp-shinned Hawk (12 October)
COOPER'S HAWK (25 October)
*Rough-legged Hawk (25 October)
Black-bellied Plover (8 September)
Semipalmated Plover (8 September)
Killdeer (12 September)
Black Oystercatcher (8 September)
Spotted Sandpiper (15 September)
Wandering Tattler (8 September)
Willet (8 September)
Whimbrel (8 September)
Black Turnstone (8 September)
Sanderling (15 September)
Pectoral Sandpiper (8 October)
Short-billed Dowitcher (9 October)
Long-billed Dowitcher (28 September)
Wilson's Snipe (18 October)
Red-necked Phalarope (8 September)
*Red Phalarope (10 September)
Black-legged Kittiwake (2 November)
Bonaparte's Gull (7 November)
Heermann's Gull (9 September)
Mew Gull (7 October)
Western Gull (8 September)
California Gull (8 September)
Herring Gull (27 September)
Thayer's Gull (30 October)
Glaucous-winged Gull (22 October)
*Elegant Tern (27 September)
*Pomarine Jaeger (15 September)
Parasitic Jaeger (11 September)
Common Murre (8 September)
*Pigeon Guillemot (8 September)
Ancient Murrelet (23 October)
*Cassin's Auklet (8 September)
Rhinoceros Auklet (8 September)
*HORNED PUFFIN(3 November)
*Tufted Puffin (11 September)
Eurasian Collared-Dove (8 September)
Mourning Dove (12 September)
Barn Owl (8 September)
Burrowing Owl (23 September)
*Long-eared Owl (8 November)
Short-eared Owl (12 October)
*Northern Saw-whet Owl (8 November)
*Vaux's Swift (28 September)
Anna's Hummingbird (8 September)
Rufous Hummingbird (8 September)
Belted Kingfisher (19 October)
Northern Flicker (7 October)
American Kestrel (12 September)
Merlin (8 September)
Peregrine Falcon (8 September)
*Olive-sided Flycatcher (12 September)
Western Wood-Pewee (8 September)
Willow Flycatcher (14 September)
*Least Flycatcher (8 September)
Pacific-slope Flycatcher (18 September)
Black Phoebe (15 September)
Say's Phoebe (23 September)
Ash-throated Flycatcher (12 October)
Hutton's Vireo (3 November)
Warbling Vireo (12 September)
Common Raven (18 September)
Horned Lark (18 October)
Northern Rough-winged Swallow (12 September)
Violet-green Swallow (11 Ocotober)
Cliff Swallow (10 September)
Red-breasted Nuthatch (9 September)
Brown Creeper (7 October)
*Rock Wren (8 September)
House Wren (3 October)
Pacific Wren (14 September)
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (17 September)
Golden-crowned Kinglet (9 October)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (25 September)
*ARCTIC WARBLER (28 September)
*Swainson's Thrush (18 September)
Hermit Thrush (18 September)
American Robin (4 November)
Varied Thrush (25 September)
Northern Mockingbird (8 September)
European Starling (2 October)
American Pipit (12 September)
Cedar Waxwing (12 September)
*Lapland Longspur (19 October)
Ovenbird (25 September)
Black-and-white Warbler (16 September)
*Tennessee Warbler (11 September)
Orange-crowned Warbler (8 September)
Nashville Warbler (25 September)
*MacGillivray's Warbler (17 September)
Common Yellowthroat (13 September)
American Redstart (12 September)
*Cape May Warbler (8 September)
Magnolia Warbler (12 September)
*Bay-breasted Warbler (12 September)
Blackburnian Warbler (12 September)
Yellow Warbler (8 September)
Chestnut-sided Warbler (12 September)
Blackpoll Warbler (10 September)
Black-throated Blue Warbler (29 September)
Palm Warbler (26 September)
Yellow-rumped Warbler (15 September)
Prairie Warbler (21 September)
Black-throated Gray Warbler (16 September)
Townsend's Warbler (12 September)
Hermit Warbler (13 September)
Black-throated Green Warbler (4 October)
Wilson's Warbler (12 September)
Spotted Towhee (1 October)
Chipping Sparrow (8 September)
Clay-colored Sparrow (8 September)
Brewer's Sparrow (8 September)
*Vesper Sparrow (17 September)
Lark Sparrow (8 September)
*Lark Bunting (8 September)
Savannah Sparrow (8 September)
Grasshopper Sparrow (18 October)
Fox Sparrow (21 September)
Song Sparrow (11 November)
Lincoln's Sparrow (11 September)
Swamp Sparrow (12 October)
White-throated Sparrow (3 October)
*Harris's Sparrow (18 October)
White-crowned Sparrow (22 September)
Golden-crowned Sparrow (25 September)
Dark-eyed Junco (24 September)
*LITTLE BUNTING (14 November; Pending acceptance by CBRC)
Summer Tanager (14 November)
*Western Tanager (16 September)
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (12 September)
Black-headed Grosbeak (10 September)
Lazuli Bunting (9 September)
Indigo Bunting (17 September)
*PAINTED BUNTING (18 September)
DICKCISSEL (17 September)
Bobolink (8 September)
Red-winged Blackbird (7 October)
Western Meadowlark (23 September)
Yellow-headed Blackbird (9 September)
*RUSTY BLACKBIRD (14 November)
Brewer's Blackbird (7 October)
Brown-headed Cowbird (11 September)
Baltimore Oriole (11 September)
Purple Finch (11 October)
House Finch (18 October)
RED CROSSBILL (13 September)
Pine Siskin (28 September)
Lesser Goldfinch (8 September)
American Goldfinch (7 October)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The One that Got Away (Little Bunting)

By Luke Musher

Today was an unexpectedly good day for us on Southeast Farallon Island.  We had a Rusty Blackbird, which is a CBRC species and a Summer Tanager, which is also a rather good bird for the island.
Rusty Blackbird, Southeast Farallon Island, CA.
However, it was also an unexpectedly horrible day.  We saw a Little Bunting.  I know what you are thinking.  "That doesn't sound so bad.  Little Bunting has only occurred in North America outside of Alaska two other times, once of which was on the very island you are on now.  You guys found an extremely rare bird."  No; it was horrible because nobody photographed it.  The bird will almost certainly not be accepted by the CBRC without a photograph, and there is little we can do about it.
At least we can prove that this bird exists.
Jim Tietz initially found the bird and radioed to us to bring our cameras immediately.  When we got there the bird had just flown.  Jim described the bird to us, small emperezid sparrow with a lot of chestnut on the face, light streaking on the underparts, white outer tail feathers, eye ring, and call a faint tsip.  Then we searched a little more, but were unable to relocate the bird.  I kept looking and found a Pine Siskin with another bird.  I couldn't see the bird well, but I distinctly heard a call just like Jim had described so I kept on it.  The bird then flew straight at me.  I could clearly see the chestnut face, eye ring and white outer tail feathers, and the call matched Jims description.  I ran after the bird while radioing the rest of the crew.  The bird then flew back over my head towards where it came from and was never seen again. I just listened to several recordings of the their calls from asia, and was pleased to see that most of the recordings matched what I heard.

I am hopeful that the bird is still on the island and that we will see it tomorrow (unlikely).

Here's a link to our ebird checklist today including Jim's description of the bunting:

Ebird Checklist

Monday, November 5, 2012

Farallonia's Common and Scarce

By Luke Musher
HY Anna's Hummingbird, a common bird on the Farallons.
Since I first arrived, I have found it incredibly interesting how some species that are fairly abundant just 30 miles east on the mainland can be incredibly rare, and are thus highly coveted by us Faralisters here in Farallonia.  Then there are birds that are much more likely to turn up here than on the mainland.  For example we get far more Least Flycatchers, an eastern vagrant, than Dusky or Hammond's Flycatchers, which are relatively common species in the west.  We recently had two Farallon megas, Common Goldeneye and Cooper's Hawk that are doubtfully any birder's idea of chase birds.  However, birders who spend time on the Farallons take their island lists very seriously, so when I called out the goldeneye over the radio, the others came sprinting to me as if it were an Arctic Warbler (not surprisingly also induced a rapid and shamefully twitchy response).
NOT the Loch Ness Monster, but the 20th Island record and 6th Fall record of Common Goldeneye for Southeast Farallon Island.  Nearly all records are in winter.
Cooper's Hawk, one of roughly 30 records for the island [Photo by Ryan DiGaudio]
Despite the fact that the birding has been slow due to various amounts of wind and/or fog, we've had a a trickle of arrivals over the past few weeks, including new Grasshopper Sparrow, Lapland Longspur, Short-eared Owls (almost daily), Rough-legged Hawk, Blackburnian Warbler (a good vagrant anytime, but especially this late in the season), and Surf Scoters to name a few. 
Lapland Longspur, the most likely species of longspur here, but still a relatively uncommon bird.
Short-eared Owl, a common species but an outstanding bird every time.
We have butterflies too, like this west coast lady....
...and this painted lady.
We haven't seen many Pigeon Guillemots lately, but this individual, Hermen, has been here since the breeding season, and is finally molting in a much-needed new set of remiges.
One of my favorite recent birds was a Horned Puffin yesterday (pow! that's a lifer) that was spotted while we were operating the crane to bring the boat on shore.  Ryan DiGaudio, Nora Livingston, Maggie Spilatro and I all basically spotted the bird at exactly the same time and realized it wasn't a Tufted Puffin, which breed on the island and would be far more likely, but a Horned.  Jim Tietz got this as an island bird while still waiting on the boat he was arriving on.  Note the white underparts, pinched base of the bill, and obvious paleness in the face–much different than any Tufted Puffin.  What a BAMF.
Eh not the best photo ever, but a great bird anyway.  Horned Puffin just chillin'.  One of less than 30 records for the island, 8th fall record.  This bird is far more likely in Spring, but rare any time, and scarce in any part of coastal California.