Birds along the Mendocino Coast – Take 2

Blue Jays are like English cuckoos. They are mean. Yesterday one somehow infiltrated into my train room via wife Sarah’s office. Blue Jays screech. Blue Jays screech VERY loudly. This one made a racket like no tomorrow trying to get out. I got me a towel and after chasing the SOB around my layouts I cornered the vile beast and got the towel over it. As I tried to hold it the blank blank thing bit me. I let it go and retreated. When Sarah returned home we got a much larger and thicker towel, smothered it, picked it up and let it go. If there is a next one I will tell it to leave peacefully or i will belt it with my precious cricket bat.

Later I found out that said bird had left his calling card all over the layouts ………….

Which is how I got into birds. I am not a twitcher and can I identify a very few birds. Lynn Catletts, “You know you’re from Mendocino if …….” facebook page has a plethora of amazing photos of birds who either live here on the Mendo Coast or who fly through it. In our garden there are the regulars and those who come and go. Currently we have swifts/swallows whizzing around our abode.

So, here are a dozen or so  great bird photos I have half inched. See how many you know. (Click to see full size.)

Pelicans along the Mendocino Coast – Part 2

My favorite bird is the Great Blue Heron. An easy second is the Pelican. I thought that Ogden Nash Dixon wrote this limerick. He didn’t,  Lanier Merritt, editor of The Tennessean, wrote it:

A wonderful bird is the pelican.

His bill can hold more than his belican.

He can hold in his beak

Enough food for a week,

But I’m damned if I see how the helican.

I have tried to take pics of the Pelican. The last time I tried I got 17 pics of the sea and NO Pelicans.  They look prehistoric. And, there is a  reason. Pelicans appeared a hundred million years ago and “reached the peak of diversity” around 65 million years back. No kidding. The oldest intact pelican fossil is from thirty million years ago and reveals that our modern version is nearly identical to his ancestor, but smaller.

Pelican anatomy is practical. Bulky bodies, long necks, short legs, short, square tails, and long beaks look awkward but are accessorized with the stylish pelican throat bag; a stretchy pouch of naked skin hangs from the jaw and holds up to three gallons, two to three times more than its belly can.  Such big birds’ flight would seem limited. The bird is clumsy taking flight, simultaneously running on water with pounding feet and flapping wings, but aerodynamics lighten his load: air pockets in the bones connected to respiratory airways that lie under skin of throat, breast, and wings to add buoyancy, and a “fibrous layer” in the breast keeps wings horizontally steady for graceful gliding with heads against shoulders, necks tucked in. He hops aboard thermal updrafts, soaring up to ten thousand plus feet—then flies low, skimming the water surface, wings compressing air to greater density, getting a “ground effect,” an upward draft beneath him, and conserves energy, a vital issue to pelicans who travel daily up to ninety-three miles in single file lines or sometimes in V formation to and from feeding grounds. Some of those anatomical features are also crucial to feeding.

Fortunately for me there are folks who have good cameras (and not Kodak Brownies like me) and know how to use them. See the gallery below:

[Click on any photo to see full size]


When I lived inn Kentfield in Marin for work purposes I frequently went over the Richmond Bridge to Berkeley. In Berkeley there was a hardware store that had buckets of pink plastic flamingos in the window and outside. I wanted to plant a hundred or so in the garden. She who must be obeyed naysayed the idea. Well, I still like flamingos and think this pic which I garnered from Lynn Catlett’s Facebook page, “You know if you are from Mendocino if ……….” is absolutely amazing:

Flamingos en masse

Flamingos en masse

Alas, I have no idea who took the pic or where it was taken.

Osprey fishing for salmon

ZA picture is worth a thousand words. I’d certainly need more than a thousand words to describe what is in these pics.

I have seen quite a few Ospreys since I moved here (Fort Bragg, CA.) in 2000. I have never seen one with a salmon in its talons.

Click on any photo to see full size in a gallery.

Thanks to club member Mike Aplet for giving me a heads up on these great photos. Thanks too to the photographers for sharing these remarkable photos.

Birds of the Mendocino Coast – Photographs by R L Vargas

I am not a twitcher, I mean I know a sparrow from an ostrich but not a whole lot more. I do know that the Mendocino Coast is regarded as a through way for migrating birds – which means a lot of different birds appear here.

One man who does know more than I is R. L. Vargas. His photos are “regulars” on Lynn Catlett’s Facebook page, “You know you are from Mendocino if ……… ” Here’s a few of his really cool photos to give you an idea of what I am sure I have seen. Click on any pic to see full size.