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Friday, December 3, 2010

Turnstone and Surfbird Poses

We made it back to San Juan Island on Tuesday and will spend a couple of weeks here before taking off for a month around the holidays. The drive back was just as rainy as the drive down, but the weather since getting home has been fairly mild and gray. With chores around the house and holiday gift shopping taking the forefront, there hasn't been much to photograph in the last couple of days. The one major exception occurred this afternoon when I saw a male evening grosbeak while walking to the grocery store! Of course I didn't have my camera with me, but I got great views of the bird, the first time I've seen one in San Juan County. The only other time I've seen this species this year was back in May in Williams Lake, British Columbia, which was a fantastic birding day where I added ten year ticks.

Since I don't have any new photos to share I thought I would post a few more pictures of the black turnstones and surfbirds that I saw in Seaside, Oregon over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. If you spend enough time doing bird photography you eventually catch them in some non-traditional poses...

Black turnstone landing
Black turnstone jumping from rock to rock
How do they balance like that? Many of the surfbird appeared "one-legged" as they tried to keep warm.
Surfbird in flight
These two species look fairly similar in flight: both have white wing stripes, white rumps, and a black terminal tail band. One apparent difference, other than the darker color of the black turnstone, is the pointed dark rump patch on the turnstone. The gray on the rump of the surfbird seems to go more straight across. The black turnstones also have white visible on their backs, while the surfbirds are solid gray.

These two species are commonly seen together in mixed winter flocks, and though they feed on the same thing (barnacles, limpets, etc.) there is one slight different between them. Turnstones remove the animals from their shell, while surfbirds eat them shell and all.

1 comment:

Kate said...

Gosh I have missed you...:) I hope all is well and you had a lovely Thanksgiving. I would imagine the pods have gone to other areas for now...