Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Clark's Grebes

Where I live near San Francisco and San Pablo Bays, grebes are a very common sight. Generally, though, its Western Grebes that are seen in pretty good numbers. A much less common sight are Clark's Grebes like those seen in these photos. Grebes can be a challenge to photograph because they don't stay on the surface long. Like cormorants, they dive underwater for what can seem like minutes and there's no telling where they'll resurface. But there's a good chance it will be out of camera range when they do.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

BoredTeenager: Black-crowned Night Heron

So Mom & Dad have finally left me alone, but there's nothing to do around this stoopid river. I've been sitting here on this railroad bridge forever and nothing happens. I haven't seen a cute chick all day. Guess I'll flex my wings once more to show off my magnificence. Yawn. Wish I hadn't dropped my iPod into the water. That majorly sucks.I am so BORED.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Black Oystercatchers

Black Oystercatchers are fascinating. When foraging among the dark rocks at the water's edge, they blend in so perfectly, you can completely miss seeing them -- except for that SCREAMINGLY BRIGHT ORANGE-RED BILL!

It's almost as if they followed the evolutionary path worn smooth by all successful species but momentarily stepped off and declared, "I need some bling!"

Black Oystercatchers are fairly uncommon along a narrow stretch of coastal waters from Alaska south to Baja California. I'm fortunate enough to live along that narrow band.

I accidentally flushed this pair while walking along a stretch near a harbor. They took flight before I could raise my camera even halfway. But a week later, I returned, walking as slowly and silently as I could, and there they were -- in the exact same spot.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

"Tomorrow, Brylcreem - A Little Dab"

Nothing like a little breeze to get a Great Blue Heron a bit ruffled on a Sunday morning.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Thursday, August 12, 2010

"I Believe I'll Have The Crab"

This Great Blue Heron flew right over my head and landed in the water about 15 feet from me yesterday. Within 60 seconds, he had struck with that mighty bill and scored this crab.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Itsy Bitsy Chicks: Black-necked Stilts

These little guys were following mommy right down the banks foraging at the water's edge as mom screeched and chattered to let me know my help was decidedly unwelcome.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Green Heron

I would love to have been less busy these last few days, enjoying the ability to stand utterly still for moments on end like this Green Heron. Whenever I watch egrets and herons, their complete stillness and deliberate movements calm me. They conserve all their energy until the moment they strike, when opportunity presents itself. They tell us so much if we just listen.

Friday, August 6, 2010

My Thoughts On The ABA

I’d like to add one more voice to the chorus of thoughts and observations offered recently in discussions about the ABA on the Web and through the BirdChat listserv.

I come to the discussion from a different perspective. My name is Jann Dorothy. I am a decades-long recreational birding enthusiast. Some of you may know me as BirdGalAlcatraz on Twitter and Facebook. I’m not a scholar, nor a scientist. I don’t have a lengthy life list. But I may well represent the vast majority of birding enthusiasts – a sizeable number – who do not have a history with the ABA. And I believe that these people hold the key to the ABA’s future. It’s pretty simple; one just needs to do the math.

Hundreds of heartfelt and well-reasoned observations have been made public over the last few weeks from both notable and not-so- well-known voices in the birding community. This is a summary of the recurrent themes:

• The ABA has had a long and distinguished history, but also has had its share of missteps. Some people fear for the future of the organization.

• There is a deep well of pride and nostalgia for the ABA. But there is concern that in today's fast-moving world, competition from Internet venues and other recreational pursuits for the same dollar presents challenges to the idea of “membership."

• There seems to be a lack of consensus of the ABA’s mission: recurring conservation vs. recreation discussions that are inherently circular. Mission creep often hampers organizations where such discussions can become dominant.

While many have expressed ideas about what the ABA should do in the future, few have felt qualified to offer thoughts on how it should do so. That’s why the ABA is seeking a new president. And, I believe Kenn Kaufman is to be commended for offering his service to the ABA’s Search Committee and for reaching out to the community for input and ideas.

From my perspective as one who’s had a long career in management and marketing, here are a few thoughts on how the ABA might get back on track.

Re-engage and re-grow membership. First and foremost, steps need to be taken to stem the tide of membership loss and begin to build numbers again. This is the ABA’s principal source of revenue. It has to be secured or all other strategies are moot.

Leverage core strengths in targeted ways that serve membership growth. These include Birding magazine and Birder’s Exchange, as well as recognizing the importance and contributions of the ABA's professional staff.

Evaluate ways in which board service and member contributions can be broadened. Internal and external communications should be strengthened and roles re-examined.

Redefine the ABA’s strategic plan and aggressively promote a comprehensive marketing agenda. This should incorporate a vibrant marketing communications plan that integrates membership, marketing and fundraising, and effectively employs both traditional and new media technologies.

Some would like the ABA to become more like the NRA or Ducks Unlimited, primarily a political advocacy model. I happen to agree that no organization can represent birding advocacy in the way the ABA can.

However, redirecting ABA’s mission is a long term aspiration. ABA’s shorter term focus must be upon driving member growth to stabilize itself or such larger goals are unattainable.

The road ahead is not an easy one, but I concur there’s a role for the ABA to play in today’s crowded marketplace. The organization occupies a niche that effective branding and positioning can successfully exploit, and I hope the board of the ABA chooses a leader who can make that happen.


Great Egret lurking in the reeds.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Yellowlegs: Hey, Guys, You Jealous?

This Greater Yellowlegs wandered into the frame while I was taking some shots of a group of Black-necked Stilts who were resting on a shore bank. He seemed to be showing off his yellow legs amidst the bevy of red-legged stilts, though they seemed to pay him absolutely no mind.

Coming In Low

This lovely Black-necked Stilt came in flying low over the salt water inlet where I happened to be one recent morning. These elegant and graceful little shorebirds have a disconnect with their raucous, squawking vocalizations -- it doesn't seem like that much big sound could come out of such a small bird!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


This Northern Mockingbird just happened to land atop a chain link fence bordering a portion of the Bay Trail near the Point San Pedro tide station in California. Looks like he got lucky finding lunch for himself that day.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

White-breasted Nuthatch

Such a common backyard bird and a suet enthusiast, the White-breasted Nuthatch is always a delight. One of my favorite backyard denizens.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Mutt & Jeff

Egrets are among the most lithe and graceful birds there are. I get such enjoyment from watching and photographing them. Here's a Snowy Egret and Great Egret together, providing a good view of their contrast in size. I'm very fortunate to live in the San Francisco Bay Area where I can see egrets every day.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Patient Egret

Waiting until the box is opened -- there could be fish popsicles inside.