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Northern Saw-Whet Owls, Mountain Bluebirds

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  • nonesutch
    The 3 Northern Saw-Whet Owls continued today in the previously posted site on Ryer Island. Thank you Robin for posting this great finding and to the birder who
    Message 1 of 6 , Mar 4 11:08 PM
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      The 3 Northern Saw-Whet Owls continued today in the previously posted
      site on Ryer Island. Thank you Robin for posting this great finding and
      to the birder who graciously pointed them out today!

      No. 1 was in the west side of the redwood behind pear tree #6 near the
      large log, as counted from the southern T intersection; No. 2 was also
      on the west side of the row of redwoods behind pear tree #15, both of
      these were about 8 feet above the ground and 2 feet from the trunk of
      the tree. No. 3 was on the east side of the redwood row, 5 or so trees
      north of the yellow tape and only its rump was visible. Pictures of
      the two owls are in the Owls folder.

      On the return trip to Sacramento, in a field just beyond the marina
      along Miner Slough on Route 84, there were 8 male and female Mountain
      Bluebirds; a blurry photo of a male on the road is posted in the
      Thrushes folder.

      Patti Sutch
      Sacramento
    • debbie viess
      My husband David and I witnessed an amazing wildlife spectacle this past Saturday at Pt. Reyes. After a long morning in the field with BAMS (the Bay Area
      Message 2 of 6 , Mar 5 6:04 PM
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        My husband David and I witnessed an amazing wildlife
        spectacle this past Saturday at Pt. Reyes. After a
        long morning in the field with BAMS (the Bay Area
        Mycological Society), we headed out to Limantour
        beach, for a bit of sun and ocean, and, hopefully,
        wildlife viewing (I didn't count the semi-tame Axis
        and Fallow deer that blocked our paths on the Bear
        Valley trails).

        Just out of the Limantour parking lot, on a well-worn
        path to the ocean, we found ourselves alongside a
        freshwater marsh. Ahead of us was an intent couple of
        birders, spotting scope at the ready, peering fixedly
        at the edge of a tule marsh. I sidled up to one, and
        asked what were they looking at? The fellow replied,
        "An American bittern eating a SF Garter snake!"

        No way! My first thought was how weird that he could
        tell the species of snake from that distance. As it
        turned out, the fellow was Jim McGuire, Curator of
        Herpetology at the UC Berkeley Vertebrate Museum. Not
        only was he a reptile expert, but he had never before
        seen this snake in the field!

        The bittern wrestled with his colorful, reluctant prey
        at the near edge of the tules. Whenever he raised his
        head up, we got clear views of the battle, and what a
        battle it was. The brillantly striped and spotted with
        red, beautifully blue-bellied snake, wrapped itself
        around the bird's face and beak, desperately trying to
        prevent its own consumption. It put up quite the
        valiant fight, although at no time did we see the
        snake attempt to bite the bird.

        This went on for at least twenty minutes, and we drew
        an ebb and flow of curious Pt. Reyes visitors as we
        stood there, transfixed. The snake fought long and
        hard, grabbing onto adjacent vegetation and its
        tormentor as best it could. But in the end, the bird
        managed to mangle it sufficiently that it went limp
        and was, at length, swallowed.

        Fortunately, I had my digital camera, so Jim and David
        were able to get some great photos by lining up my
        little digital through Jim's spotting scope. His UC
        Berkeley herpetology class will have some exciting new
        reptile images, and my birding buddies can see images
        of a normally cryptic bittern festooned with
        technicolor snake.

        But although the snake had been subdued and swallowed,
        now the bittern had a new dilemma. This was a big
        snake, and certainly at least equal in weight to the
        bird itself. The bittern's crop was grossly extended,
        and his ability to fly in doubt, leaving him
        vulnerable to predators in turn. After our long vigil
        (and by the end, birders or not, we were all rooting
        for the snake) we left the bittern in peace to digest
        his hard-won meal.

        But the story doesn't end here. After David and I
        spent a bit of time at the beach, we returned along
        the same trail. While I was putting my boots on at the
        edge of the graveled path, David scanned the tules for
        the bittern. There it was, still. David called out to
        me that it was still hunting. I found this difficult
        to believe. That was one big snake he had just eaten!

        Instead of hunting, it turned out that the bird was
        washing off its beak, which David had noticed was
        covered in a froth. By the time I trained my binocs on
        the bittern, all I could see was a smattering of blue
        scales around his beak. The bird appeared logy (not
        unexpected with an overstuffed crop), his crop
        remained distended, and he was preening the feathers
        of his throat. Again we thought to leave it to its no
        doubt difficult digestion, and walked on to our car.

        When I sent the photos to Jim later that day, he
        responded that he was surprised to see the snake eaten
        at all, since the "SF" (actually CA) Garter snake is
        one of the few animals able to eat the highly toxic CA
        newt, and in fact is believed to store the poison and
        in turn become toxic itself. So our bittern fought
        long and hard for a meal that at best was regurgitated
        back up, or at worst, ended up sickening or killing
        the bird, too.

        Man, some days you just can't win for losing.

        Photos on the yahoogroups site:

        http://ph.groups.yahoo.com/group/CALBIRDS/photos/view/f461?b=1&m=s&o=0

        Click on photos to enlarge and for captions.

        Debbie Viess
        Oakland, CA
      • Deren Ross
        Debbie, Wow! Thanks for the great account and photo of this incredible and rare event. For those interested, Don Roberson has a great webpage on the natural
        Message 3 of 6 , Mar 5 7:30 PM
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          Debbie,

          Wow! Thanks for the great account and photo of this incredible and rare event.

          For those interested, Don Roberson has a great webpage on the natural history of this now rare snake. Here's the link: http://www.montereybay.com/creagrus/CAsnakeSFGarter.html

          Very Cool!

          Deren


          debbie viess <amanitarita@...> wrote:
          My husband David and I witnessed an amazing wildlife
          spectacle this past Saturday at Pt. Reyes. After a
          long morning in the field with BAMS (the Bay Area
          Mycological Society), we headed out to Limantour
          beach, for a bit of sun and ocean, and, hopefully,
          wildlife viewing (I didn't count the semi-tame Axis
          and Fallow deer that blocked our paths on the Bear
          Valley trails).

          Just out of the Limantour parking lot, on a well-worn
          path to the ocean, we found ourselves alongside a
          freshwater marsh. Ahead of us was an intent couple of
          birders, spotting scope at the ready, peering fixedly
          at the edge of a tule marsh. I sidled up to one, and
          asked what were they looking at? The fellow replied,
          "An American bittern eating a SF Garter snake!"

          No way! My first thought was how weird that he could
          tell the species of snake from that distance. As it
          turned out, the fellow was Jim McGuire, Curator of
          Herpetology at the UC Berkeley Vertebrate Museum. Not
          only was he a reptile expert, but he had never before
          seen this snake in the field!

          The bittern wrestled with his colorful, reluctant prey
          at the near edge of the tules. Whenever he raised his
          head up, we got clear views of the battle, and what a
          battle it was. The brillantly striped and spotted with
          red, beautifully blue-bellied snake, wrapped itself
          around the bird's face and beak, desperately trying to
          prevent its own consumption. It put up quite the
          valiant fight, although at no time did we see the
          snake attempt to bite the bird.

          This went on for at least twenty minutes, and we drew
          an ebb and flow of curious Pt. Reyes visitors as we
          stood there, transfixed. The snake fought long and
          hard, grabbing onto adjacent vegetation and its
          tormentor as best it could. But in the end, the bird
          managed to mangle it sufficiently that it went limp
          and was, at length, swallowed.

          Fortunately, I had my digital camera, so Jim and David
          were able to get some great photos by lining up my
          little digital through Jim's spotting scope. His UC
          Berkeley herpetology class will have some exciting new
          reptile images, and my birding buddies can see images
          of a normally cryptic bittern festooned with
          technicolor snake.

          But although the snake had been subdued and swallowed,
          now the bittern had a new dilemma. This was a big
          snake, and certainly at least equal in weight to the
          bird itself. The bittern's crop was grossly extended,
          and his ability to fly in doubt, leaving him
          vulnerable to predators in turn. After our long vigil
          (and by the end, birders or not, we were all rooting
          for the snake) we left the bittern in peace to digest
          his hard-won meal.

          But the story doesn't end here. After David and I
          spent a bit of time at the beach, we returned along
          the same trail. While I was putting my boots on at the
          edge of the graveled path, David scanned the tules for
          the bittern. There it was, still. David called out to
          me that it was still hunting. I found this difficult
          to believe. That was one big snake he had just eaten!

          Instead of hunting, it turned out that the bird was
          washing off its beak, which David had noticed was
          covered in a froth. By the time I trained my binocs on
          the bittern, all I could see was a smattering of blue
          scales around his beak. The bird appeared logy (not
          unexpected with an overstuffed crop), his crop
          remained distended, and he was preening the feathers
          of his throat. Again we thought to leave it to its no
          doubt difficult digestion, and walked on to our car.

          When I sent the photos to Jim later that day, he
          responded that he was surprised to see the snake eaten
          at all, since the "SF" (actually CA) Garter snake is
          one of the few animals able to eat the highly toxic CA
          newt, and in fact is believed to store the poison and
          in turn become toxic itself. So our bittern fought
          long and hard for a meal that at best was regurgitated
          back up, or at worst, ended up sickening or killing
          the bird, too.

          Man, some days you just can't win for losing.

          Photos on the yahoogroups site:

          http://ph.groups.yahoo.com/group/CALBIRDS/photos/view/f461?b=1&m=s&o=0

          Click on photos to enlarge and for captions.

          Debbie Viess
          Oakland, CA






          Deren Ross
          (Home) 530-885-9740
          (cell) 530-308-5114
          Auburn, Ca






          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • seaslug92138
          Not to rain on anyone s parade, especially Mr.Jim McGuire, The snake you saw being eaten by the bittern was not an endangered S.F. Garter Snake (T.s.
          Message 4 of 6 , Mar 6 1:25 PM
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            Not to rain on anyone's parade, especially Mr.Jim McGuire, The snake
            you saw being eaten by the bittern was not an endangered S.F. Garter
            Snake (T.s. tetrataenia). If you were birding in Point Reyes, that is
            in Marin County. The S.F. Garter Snake is only found on the S.F.
            peninsula. The other subspecies called the California Red-sided
            Garter Snake (T.s. infernalis)is more widespread and is what you all
            were seeing being eaten. I used to live in Rohnert Park and found the
            California Red-sided all over Marin and Sonoma counties. Sorry for
            being a buzzkill but thought everyone should know.

            Thomas Myers
            San Diego

            Debbie,

            Wow! Thanks for the great account and photo of this incredible and
            rare
            event.

            For those interested, Don Roberson has a great webpage on the natural
            history
            of this now rare snake. Here's the link:
            http://www.montereybay.com/creagrus/CAsnakeSFGarter.html

            Very Cool!

            Deren


            debbie viess <amanitarita@...> wrote:
            My husband David and I witnessed an amazing wildlife
            spectacle this past Saturday at Pt. Reyes. After a
            long morning in the field with BAMS (the Bay Area
            Mycological Society), we headed out to Limantour
            beach, for a bit of sun and ocean, and, hopefully,
            wildlife viewing (I didn't count the semi-tame Axis
            and Fallow deer that blocked our paths on the Bear
            Valley trails).

            Just out of the Limantour parking lot, on a well-worn
            path to the ocean, we found ourselves alongside a
            freshwater marsh. Ahead of us was an intent couple of
            birders, spotting scope at the ready, peering fixedly
            at the edge of a tule marsh. I sidled up to one, and
            asked what were they looking at? The fellow replied,
            "An American bittern eating a SF Garter snake!"

            No way! My first thought was how weird that he could
            tell the species of snake from that distance. As it
            turned out, the fellow was Jim McGuire, Curator of
            Herpetology at the UC Berkeley Vertebrate Museum. Not
            only was he a reptile expert, but he had never before
            seen this snake in the field!

            The bittern wrestled with his colorful, reluctant prey
            at the near edge of the tules. Whenever he raised his
            head up, we got clear views of the battle, and what a
            battle it was. The brillantly striped and spotted with
            red, beautifully blue-bellied snake, wrapped itself
            around the bird's face and beak, desperately trying to
            prevent its own consumption. It put up quite the
            valiant fight, although at no time did we see the
            snake attempt to bite the bird.

            This went on for at least twenty minutes, and we drew
            an ebb and flow of curious Pt. Reyes visitors as we
            stood there, transfixed. The snake fought long and
            hard, grabbing onto adjacent vegetation and its
            tormentor as best it could. But in the end, the bird
            managed to mangle it sufficiently that it went limp
            and was, at length, swallowed.

            Fortunately, I had my digital camera, so Jim and David
            were able to get some great photos by lining up my
            little digital through Jim's spotting scope. His UC
            Berkeley herpetology class will have some exciting new
            reptile images, and my birding buddies can see images
            of a normally cryptic bittern festooned with
            technicolor snake.

            But although the snake had been subdued and swallowed,
            now the bittern had a new dilemma. This was a big
            snake, and certainly at least equal in weight to the
            bird itself. The bittern's crop was grossly extended,
            and his ability to fly in doubt, leaving him
            vulnerable to predators in turn. After our long vigil
            (and by the end, birders or not, we were all rooting
            for the snake) we left the bittern in peace to digest
            his hard-won meal.

            But the story doesn't end here. After David and I
            spent a bit of time at the beach, we returned along
            the same trail. While I was putting my boots on at the
            edge of the graveled path, David scanned the tules for
            the bittern. There it was, still. David called out to
            me that it was still hunting. I found this difficult
            to believe. That was one big snake he had just eaten!

            Instead of hunting, it turned out that the bird was
            washing off its beak, which David had noticed was
            covered in a froth. By the time I trained my binocs on
            the bittern, all I could see was a smattering of blue
            scales around his beak. The bird appeared logy (not
            unexpected with an overstuffed crop), his crop
            remained distended, and he was preening the feathers
            of his throat. Again we thought to leave it to its no
            doubt difficult digestion, and walked on to our car.

            When I sent the photos to Jim later that day, he
            responded that he was surprised to see the snake eaten
            at all, since the "SF" (actually CA) Garter snake is
            one of the few animals able to eat the highly toxic CA
            newt, and in fact is believed to store the poison and
            in turn become toxic itself. So our bittern fought
            long and hard for a meal that at best was regurgitated
            back up, or at worst, ended up sickening or killing
            the bird, too.

            Man, some days you just can't win for losing.

            Photos on the yahoogroups site:

            http://ph.groups.yahoo.com/group/CALBIRDS/photos/view/f461?b=1&m=s&o=0

            Click on photos to enlarge and for captions.

            Debbie Viess
            Oakland, CA






            Deren Ross
            (Home) 530-885-9740
            (cell) 530-308-5114
            Auburn, Ca
          • Ken Burton
            Even though this is now straying off topic, I feel compelled at this point to point out that the subspecies of common garter snake in Marin is the California
            Message 5 of 6 , Mar 10 5:38 PM
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              Even though this is now straying off topic, I feel compelled at this point to point out that the subspecies of common garter snake in Marin is the California red-sided garter snake, not the San Francisco garter snake. The latter may not even be a valid subspecies (if, indeed, there is such a thing).

              Ken Burton
              McKinleyville
              ----- Original Message -----
              From: Nate Dias
              To: calbirds@yahoogroups.com
              Sent: Tuesday, March 06, 2007 1:20 PM
              Subject: Re: [CALBIRDS] Pt. Reyes American Bittern vs "SF" (CA) Garter Snake


              Shame on everyone present for not intervening
              IMMEDIATELY to save a breeding-age member of an
              endangered species! Especially a curator of
              Herpetology!

              I would have waded (carefully) into the marsh and
              saved the snake without hesitation!

              Yours disgustedly,

              Nate Dias

              __________________________________________________________
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              in 45,000 destinations on Yahoo! Travel to find your fit.
              http://farechase.yahoo.com/promo-generic-14795097




              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Ken Burton
              Sorry, everyone, for sending the previous message before reading this one. Ken Burton McKinleyville ... From: seaslug92138 To: CALBIRDS@yahoogroups.com Sent:
              Message 6 of 6 , Mar 10 5:40 PM
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                Sorry, everyone, for sending the previous message before reading this one.

                Ken Burton
                McKinleyville

                ----- Original Message -----
                From: seaslug92138
                To: CALBIRDS@yahoogroups.com
                Sent: Tuesday, March 06, 2007 1:25 PM
                Subject: Re: Re: [CALBIRDS] Pt. Reyes American Bittern vs "SF" (CA) Garter Snake


                Not to rain on anyone's parade, especially Mr.Jim McGuire, The snake
                you saw being eaten by the bittern was not an endangered S.F. Garter
                Snake (T.s. tetrataenia). If you were birding in Point Reyes, that is
                in Marin County. The S.F. Garter Snake is only found on the S.F.
                peninsula. The other subspecies called the California Red-sided
                Garter Snake (T.s. infernalis)is more widespread and is what you all
                were seeing being eaten. I used to live in Rohnert Park and found the
                California Red-sided all over Marin and Sonoma counties. Sorry for
                being a buzzkill but thought everyone should know.

                Thomas Myers
                San Diego


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