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Donation Reminder!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

December 8, 2018
by
Have you donated Yet? (Clipartkid.com)

Have you donated Yet? (Clipartkid.com)

Finished with eating turkey???  Tired of endless football, basketball, hockey games??? Sick of shopping and Black Friday ads???

Why not take a minute, go to the blog and click the Donate or Join Button on the right side of the screen to help us with our Annual Appeal?
[Get to the blog quickly by clicking above on the title “Reminder!!!!!!!!!!!!!!“]

Or you can use the return envelope that came by snail mail.

Now don’t you feel better for helping the birds and the environment?

(Click here to see what we’ve been up to over the past year).

Don't let this happen to you. (Clipart - Andertoons.com)

Don’t let this happen to you. (Clipart – Andertoons.com)

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Christmas Bird Count: Saturday, December 15, 2018

December 6, 2018

Strange to say, but our coastal Audubon chapter runs a Christmas Count in the desert, with the circle center at Butterbredt Peak north of Mojave. For those not familiar with a CBC (Christmas Bird Count) the deal is we spend the day counting every bird we see inside a circle 15 miles across. The area any one person or group of people might cover depends on how many people we get to come. The compiler makes a list of all sightings and sends it to the Big Bird Computer at Cornell University, which makes this a ……

Citizen Science event. The data gathered on Christmas Counts (over 2,300 of them) is available for use by researchers in, for instance, bird populations and climate change. This is your chance to contribute to the advancement of science.

You’ll need to dress warmly, pack a lunch and snacks and be ready to spend all daylight time (it gets dark around 4:30 p.m.) in the Butterbredt count circle as we do our part to count all the birds that were too macho to fly south for the winter.

On previous trips we’ve seen: Mountain & California Quail, Western Screech-Owl & Great Horned Owl, Ladder-backed & Nuttall’s Woodpeckers, Loggerhead Shrike, Steller’s, Western Scrub- & Pinyon Jays, Rock Wren, California & LeConte’s Thrashers, Black-throated, Sagebrush & Golden-crowned Sparrows and Pine Siskins.

Family guide: long car ride, cold weather; gotta love the birds.

[Directions] Contact coordinator Chuck Bragg (cgbjr67 at gmail.com) for exact instructions (the count circle instructions are different from our regular field trips to Butterbredt). We’ll be happy to arrange carpools if we get enough drivers.

Back Bay Newport & Ridgway’s Rail: 8 December 2018

December 12, 2018

Looking south down the bay towards the Pacific
(Lillian Johnson, Upper Newport Bay 12-8-18)

The Gods of Tides were with us for a second year in a row, granting us a 6.0 ft. high tide at 8:55 am. The Weather Gods were in a good mood, and squeezed in blue skies and moderate temperatures between one rain storm (actual) and another (predicted). Even traffic was light. On a roll!

Great Egret (Ray Juncosa, Upper Newport Bay 12-8-18)

Our target birds for the day were [any and all] rails and the California Gnatcatcher. The local park ranger, just arriving, informed us that the best spot for this very endangered, uncommon and local gnatcatcher was between the parking lot and the interpretive center (with its open bathrooms). “I know everyone wants to see them because they’re so hard to find, but I see them so often that I hardly think about it any more,” he said.

Great Egret (R. Juncosa, Upper Newport Bay 12-8-18)

Sure enough, about 30 ft. from the parking lot and almost the first birds we saw were three gnatcatchers – two well-marked and bright Blue-Grays and the smudgy brown California, scruffling around the ground and low in the bushes. Seeing them simultaneously helps with the I.D., and the California was a life bird for some of us. Onward to the bay.

The railing and the bay (L. Johnson, Upper Newport Bay 12-8-18)

Our birding route consisted of a bike/walking/running/horse path along the northwest portion of the bay, running all the way up to the Jamboree Road bridge over the top end of the bay. We slowly wandered along this route for a couple of hours, sorting through the numerous ducks, of which we saw far more than I was willing to attempt to count.

Male Northern Shoveler (R. Juncosa, Upper Newport Bay 12-8-18)

Finally we spotted a rail. Then another. The birds were in the general direction of the sun so colors and patterns were difficult to discern, but through repositioning ourselves and careful observation, we determined they were Ridgway’s Rail (Rallus obsoletus), formerly classified as Clapper Rail (R. longirostris).

Two Ridgway’s Rails, sitting on the pickleweed
(R. Juncosa, Upper Newport Bay 12-8-18)

We eventually saw about 15 Ridgway’s, including a group of 6 on one “island” of sticks and floating vegetation. This 14.5” species looks a lot the 9.5” Virginia Rail, and at several hundred yards it’s difficult to judge their size, other than that they were obviously all the same size, thus the same species. When a 13.5” Pied-billed Grebe paddled up to one and the rail was at least as large as the grebe, we erased the final wisps of doubt.

Ridgway’s Rail at slightly better lighting angle
(R. Juncosa, Upper Newport Bay 12-8-18)

The only other rail seen was a single Sora, spotted by Femi, but who scuttled off into the bayside brush before anyone else clamped binos onto it.

Lesser (L. 10.5″) & Greater (R. 14″) Yellowlegs
(R. Juncosa, Upper Newport Bay 12-8-18)

The larger shorebirds were common, especially Willet and Marbled Godwit. A dozen Greater Yellowlegs patroled the nearby shallows; one Lesser Yellowlegs joined them and made comparison easy for us. Gulls were mostly Ring-billed and no terns were seen. Northern Harriers constantly cruised over the flooded reed beds and ducks.

Red-tailed Hawks in this area have been quite dark for decades
(R. Juncosa, Upper Newport Bay 12-8-18)

We had a good assortment of passerines prowling the brush, ground and hillsides, totaling 21 species. Prominent among them were Black & Say’s Phoebes, Cassin’s Kingbird, Crows, Marsh Wren (mostly heard), gnatcatchers, House Finch, Song, White-crowned and Savannah Sparrows. Among the Savannah’s we had at least three subspecies: Belding’s (a pickleweed obligate), Large-billed and another, probably a migrant from the north.

Cassin’s Kingbird like to winter in SoCal (R. Juncosa, Upper Newport Bay 12-8-18)

Our next stop was Bayview Way just west of the Jamboree Rd. bridge, a good spot to view the ducks at the northwest corner of the bay. But street parking was completely filled, so we continued across the bridge and parked on East Bluff Drive. There are often shorebirds here but all we saw was a single flight of Sanderlings. Among the ducks were many dozens of Redhead, a few more Blue-winged Teal and a single female Canvasback, three species not terribly common in SoCal. Our species total was 65, including 13 ducks and 1 goose.

American Kestrel, probably a male
(R. Juncosa, Upper Newport Bay 12-8-18)

Several of us had lunch at the Sea & Sage Audubon Center at the San Joaquin Marsh, located on Riparian Way, slightly NW of where Campus Drive crosses over San Diego Creek, a mile or so upstream from the Jamboree Rd. bridge. The ponds here usually have good views of interesting birds. We found a lot of Cinnamon and Green-winged Teal and White Pelicans. A few new species were: Black-crowned Night-Heron, Black-necked Stilt, Caspian Tern, Nuttall’s Woodpecker (heard), Tree Swallow, Bushtit, Wrentit (heard), American Pipit and a Palm Warbler. This last species, an eastern warbler, shows up in SoCal every winter in small numbers, and this is not the first time one has wintered at this particular marsh.

Male Allen’s Hummingbird (R. Juncosa, Upper Newport Bay 12-8-18)

For those who want to visit Back Bay Newport (aka Upper Newport Bay), I suggest the high tide days in December through February; check the on-line tide tables (December 2018, for example). Get there ½ – 2 hours before high tide, so you can (one hopes) watch the birds being forced out of their hiding places in the reeds. There will also be more ducks present farther into winter, with Canvasback, Redhead and even Eurasian Wigeon possible, plus more grebes and possibly loons. The Mountains to the Sea Trail & Bikeway one-way road along the east side of the bay also has excellent birding, usually with plenty of shorebirds. Link to map of the bay [Chuck Almdale]

Many thanks to our photographers Lillian Johnson and Ray Juncosa.

Trip List – Back Bay Newport 12/8/18 11/4/17
Canada Goose X X
Gadwall X
American Wigeon X X
Mallard X X
Blue-winged Teal X
Cinnamon Teal X
Northern Shoveler X
Northern Pintail X X
Green-winged Teal X X
Canvasback X
Redhead X
Greater Scaup X
Lesser Scaup X
Bufflehead X X
Hooded Merganser X
Ruddy Duck X X
Pied-billed Grebe X X
Eared Grebe X
Western Grebe X X
Clark’s Grebe X X
Double-crested Cormorant X X
American White Pelican X
Brown Pelican X
Great Blue Heron X X
Great Egret X X
Snowy Egret X X
Green Heron X
Turkey Vulture X X
Osprey X
Northern Harrier X X
Cooper’s Hawk X
Red-tailed Hawk X X
Ridgway’s Rail 15
Sora 1 X
American Coot X X
American Avocet X
Black-bellied Plover X
Spotted Sandpiper X
Greater Yellowlegs X
Willet X X
Lesser Yellowlegs X
Whimbrel X
Long-billed Curlew X
Marbled Godwit X X
Sanderling X
Least Sandpiper X
Ring-billed Gull X X
Western Gull X X
Rock Pigeon X
Mourning Dove X X
Anna’s Hummingbird X X
Allen’s Hummingbird X
Belted Kingfisher X X
Northern Flicker X
American Kestrel X X
Peregrine Falcon X
Black Phoebe X X
Say’s Phoebe X X
Cassin’s Kingbird X
American Crow X X
Common Raven X
No. Rough-winged Swallow X
House Wren X
Marsh Wren X X
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher X X
California Gnatcatcher X
Ruby-crowned Kinglet X
California Thrasher H
Northern Mockingbird X X
Orange-crowned Warbler X
Common Yellowthroat X
Yellow-rumped Warbler X
California Towhee X
Savannah Sparrow X X
Song Sparrow X X
Lincoln’s Sparrow X
White-crowned Sparrow X X
Western Meadowlark X
House Finch X X
Lesser Goldfinch X
Total Species – 80 65 52
X – Seen
H – Heard only
1, 15 – Number seen

Christmas Bird Count Reminder: Saturday, December 15, 2018

December 11, 2018

Strange to say, but our coastal Audubon chapter runs a Christmas Count in the desert, with the circle center at Butterbredt Peak north of Mojave. For those not familiar with a CBC (Christmas Bird Count) the deal is we spend the day counting every bird we see inside a circle 15 miles across. The area any one person or group of people might cover depends on how many people we get to come. The compiler makes a list of all sightings and sends it to the Big Bird Computer at Cornell University, which makes this a ……

Citizen Science event. The data gathered on Christmas Counts (over 2,300 of them) is available for use by researchers in, for instance, bird populations and climate change. This is your chance to contribute to the advancement of science.

You’ll need to dress warmly, pack a lunch and snacks and be ready to spend all daylight time (it gets dark around 4:30 p.m.) in the Butterbredt count circle as we do our part to count all the birds that were too macho to fly south for the winter.

On previous trips we’ve seen: Mountain & California Quail, Western Screech-Owl & Great Horned Owl, Ladder-backed & Nuttall’s Woodpeckers, Loggerhead Shrike, Steller’s, Western Scrub- & Pinyon Jays, Rock Wren, California & LeConte’s Thrashers, Black-throated, Sagebrush & Golden-crowned Sparrows and Pine Siskins.

Family guide: long car ride, cold weather; gotta love the birds.

[Directions] Contact coordinator Chuck Bragg (cgbjr67 at gmail.com) for exact instructions (the count circle instructions are different from our regular field trips to Butterbredt). We’ll be happy to arrange carpools if we get enough drivers.

The Neuroscience of Creativity | PBS BrainCraft Video

December 10, 2018
by

Your brain uses lots of different pathways to communicate – which form complex networks in your brain. Creativity depends on the cooperation of two competing networks: one that generates spontaneous thoughts (the default mode network) and the executive control center of the brain that governs everything else. Our random, free-flowing thoughts that are worthy of further exploration pop into our consciousness when they’re recruited by the executive control network.

This is an installment of the PBS – BrainCraft series created by Vanessa Hill. If no film or link appears in this email, go to the blog to view it by clicking on the blog title above. If the film stops & starts in an annoying manner, press pause (lower left double bars ||) to let it buffer and get ahead of you.  [Chuck Almdale]

Memorial Plaque installed at Sageland Ranch

December 6, 2018

During the Halloween Camp-out at Sageland Ranch in October, A beautiful memorial plaque was installed by longtime friend to Keith Axelson, Andrew Nawrocky.  Andrew set the bronze plaque with great skill to forever commemorate Keith’s life and love of the natural world.  The Axelson family wants to thank Andrew for designing, coordinating its production and of course, setting it so masterfully on the granite boulder that stands so grandly on Sageland Ranch.

— Lys Axelson

 

Untitled-1
Keith Axelson.

Untitled-2
The large granite boulder.

Untitled-3
Andrew prepares the landing zone.

Untitled-4
Fitting the plaque.

Untitled-5
Andrew and Lys with the final installation.

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