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Borrego Springs, CA

Monday, April 14, 2014

It never fails…

Since I’ll be heading out of here in a week, I’ve been slowly starting the process of packing up.  Over the weekend I collapsed my ‘suitcase’ picnic table and stored it away.  That also meant taking apart my outdoor gas grill which ended up in the dumpster.  It was an el-cheapo, and had rusted apart after two years.  I’m not sure I’ll replace it.  Maybe I’d be more inclined to grill out if I had one of those popular Weber-Q things.

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                   Female boat-tailed grackle.  Thought I’d include some photos of common birds tonight.

Then the other day, I packed away the small electric heater that I use in winter.  It’s been close to 80* lately with lows in the 60’s.  I should have known better.  It never fails.  Pack the heater away, and today a wintry like cold front blows in.

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                                        Male boat-tailed grackle making its squeaky door hinge call.

It was hot and muggy this morning as close to 90 fifth grade students came to partake in our Bridges to Birding programs.  I was sweating bullets as I ran the stuffed bird banding station.  These education days are never dull, and today the table I was using had the one leg rust out and collapse the table in the middle of a session.  Bands, record sheets, measuring devices, and stuffed birds went flying everywhere!  I asked which young man in my group was strongest, and had several volunteers to haul over a cement block to brace up the rotted side. Winking smile Just can’t wait to see what’s going to happen over the next three mornings as the rest of the fifth graders from this school district come to visit our six stations…

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     Female red-winged blackbird.  The identification of this bird stumps many beginning birders.

We were all surprised that this group didn’t cancel today as the forecast was for severe thunderstorms.   I’m glad they didn’t cave in to the weather guessers, but almost as soon as they were done the front was upon us.

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                                                                 Male red-winged blackbird.

I made it back to the rig just in the knick of time to get Emma into her Thunder Shirt before the fireworks started.  No lightening, but lots of thunder and torrential downpours.  Along with that came a quick plummet in the temperatures.  I’d like to hope this might cause a spectacular fall out of migrant birds tomorrow, but we’ll see.  It’s supposed to get down into the upper 30’s tonight, so it looks like I’ll be wearing a coat for tomorrow’s classes.  What a change from today.  Guess I jumped the gun by packing up the heater.

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Double-crested cormorant.  These birds aren’t very common here, and the picture is fuzzy, but it shows the difference between this bird and the more common (here) neotropic cormorant.  Notice the orange lores and lower mandible.

Before I headed back to the rig, I took a quick drive around Shoveler Pond.  That’s where I found both species of Cormorant.

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                        Neotropic cormorant.  See the lack of orange and the white ‘V’ around its beak?

Now I’ve got a question for you fishermen.  I thought what this bird caught for lunch was an ordinary bullhead.

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But it seems to have a second tail or an extra long stinger type thing.  See it hanging down on the right?

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I’ve never seen a fish like this.  What do you think?  (I also thought Sherry might like this picture of the cormorants eye.)

Well, I’ve got to get busy and pack a lunch for tomorrow and its continuing onslaught of fifth graders.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

24 comments:

  1. Looks like an ordinary bullhead to me... People from Minnesota always call those an Iowa bass, but us Iowans always had to go to Minnesota to catch them.. The cormorant knows that with those long stingers, it has to go down head first... LOL

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  2. Can't say enough good about the Weber baby Q, best grill you'll ever buy.

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  3. How true - I drug out my portable heater today again and have the fireplace on. BRRR. This is Texas? In Spring?

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  4. We're NW of you... back to wool sweaters, wool sock and "real" shoes today. Darn! I was ready for warm weather! I'll never forget my first time trying to ID female redwings... must have been 50 years ago. Finally a male showed up and the "aha" moment hit. Isn't it funny how clearly we remember our first sighting (or IDing) of particular birds? So many I could tell you exactly where I was and what I saw... unfortunately, my memory isn't good enough to tell you the exact date ;-)... but I might be able to tell you what I was wearing and what highway etc we were on. Ah... the trials of getting old ....

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  5. Even south here in the Valley temperatures plunged, high 90, current 62. Enough already.

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  6. Rain and cold have arrived here, also. Don't have a clue as to the additional tail, or whatever, on the bullhead. Maybe some type of parasite such as a leech.

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  7. Wow I've seen tons of double crested but the neotropic cormorant is one I've never seen. Those are fabulous pictures. Such eyes!! Thanks for thinking of me. I admit to both being stumped by the female red wing and to putting away my fan or my heater just as the temperature soars or plummets. Can't wait to hear if you have the fall out.

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  8. I love the springtime call of male boat-tails. I think they sound like wooden castanets. And the females mustard color under appreciated. I'm hoping to catch a fallout tomorrow with these strong north winds!

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  9. So the cold weather is all your fault! I never pack away the portable electric heater, it rides in a nice corner in the Journey where it can be pulled out quickly.

    And the electric blanket is always on the bed, year round. Seems my bonnie bride gets too hot at night and turns the a/c on and the temp waaaay down. The blanket keeps me comfortable. :c)

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  10. Better stay down there. Here in NW Indiana, 2 inches of snow is predicted. Already have a 1/2 inch on the ground. the truck is crying!!!!

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  11. That is one ugly fish! The birds, however, are beautiful! Good grief--a broken table! Thank goodness for able-bodied school children. Hope all goes well tomorrow & you don't lose another leg!

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  12. The male Red Wing Blackbird is a favorite of mine but I don't think I've ever noticed the female. Sounds like you are gonna be prepared for Minniesnowda . . .are you coming this way or heading another direction?

    Cheers,
    Jo

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  13. Jim says it's a bullhead but he has no idea what that extra appendage is. Maybe some kind of deformity. Weather is still warm and beautiful here in AZ. No snow. And definitely no coats.

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  14. Could it be a "Lamprey" attached to the fish? I'm not sure these suckers live in Texas but they were on many fish we use to catch in the UP of Michigan.

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  15. The plummeting temperatures within minutes of the arrival of the front was amazing. Waiting for the winds to die down a bit more before attempting an outing to one of the birding centers here ... maybe this afternoon if we're lucky.

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  16. I was saved from having to dig our heater out of the basement - not because it isn't cold here, too, but because we could light up the fireplace. It got down to about 55 here in the Big Bend.

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  17. We are just starting to identify the birds we see. I was good at Wisconsin birds as a kid, but not CA birds as an adult. Time to start looking again.

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  18. I think he has a piece of reed in addition to the bull head.

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  19. We recently bought a Weber at Wal-mart on sale for $109...marked down $48 bucks...no more el cheapo!!!

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  20. That bird has some really fascinating eyes...The bird itself isn't that pretty, but his eyes are! Yep, time for a nice gas grill..Every one says the Weber Q is a great gas grill..We have an cheapo gas grill in the Hiker and a nice little table top Weber charcoal grill.....We hardly ever use our gas grill, but then I have MacGyver to do the grillin'..Find ya a "Ya Heydere" guy up there in Northern Minnesota who likes to grill outside...end of problem.

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  21. At the rate "spring" is going, you probably shouldn't put away that heater... esp since you're heading to Minnesnowda (hahhaaaaaaa!!).

    The Neotropic cormorant with it's stunning blue eye (and ugly fish) reminds me of a breeding male Anhinga with piercing blue eyes that we watched spear and eat fish in Everglades Nat'l Pk.

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  22. Always seems that the moment you put something away or throw it away then you need it.

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  23. Cormorants are so fast and hard to photograph, that is a winner of a shot! Love that eye especially, but neat you caught it with dinner on the way down too.

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  24. Nice Post.Thanks for Sharing this in your Blog

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