GD Part III: Arcata

There is a lot to love about Arcata.

The small-town feel, lush surrounding forests, beautiful ocean views.

Arcata Mural

While I birded, Tomas explored nearby redwood forests by mountain bike. Arcata Community Forest is kind of like Portland’s Forest Park, but with fewer people and more hills. Bonus.

Mountain bike

When not birding or biking we ate yummy bagels at Los Bagels and drank beer at the local brewery. I also spent time admiring nature murals around town.

Taking a picture

Mural

One free afternoon I wandered around until I ended up at Woodley Island Marina on Humboldt Bay. Like you do. Here I got good looks of a few waterbirds.

Common Loon

Common Loon in breeding plumage. Oooooh, ahhhhh

Western Grebe

Western Grebe (Western Gull photo bomb)

Eared Grebe

Eared Grebe

And I finally had some quality alone time with shorebirds. Like the Marbled Godwit!

Marbled Godwit

What took me so long? It’s GODWIT Days. Here’s another!

Marbled Godwit

And here’s one next to a Willet!

Godwit and a willet

Honestly, I hadn’t seen a Willet since my Florida trip, so long ago that I forgot what they looked like. This trip was a good refresher.

Willet

Another (rougher looking) Willet

And here’s a Godwit with an upside down bill and a hat! Oh, no, wait. That’s a Whimbrel. New bird!

Whimbrel

Not a Godwit

I also saw Caspian Tern on the shore and a couple hunting from the air. Terns are always entertaining.

Caspian Tern

Later in the day, Tomas and I decided to return to the Arcata Marsh together. Quite a few good birds were on the scene.

Snowy Egret (look at that foot!)

Snowy Egret (look at that foot!)

Great Egret

Great Egret

Long-billed Dowitcher

Long-billed Dowitcher

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

Green-winged Teal

Green-winged Teal

Ruddy Duck

Ruddy Duck, nice bill!

Just before we left, we came across this crazy looking bird.

Black-crowned Night Heron

A closer look at the chunky, red-eyed bird.

Black-crowned Night Heron

A juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron! We noticed adults perched nearby obscured by bushes. Good bird finds at the marsh!

Two out of four evenings on this trip, Tomas and I spent staring at old barns.

barn

Because that’s how couples spend romantic evenings together, right? Yes, yes it is. And rumor on  V St. Loop was that Barn Owls like to join the party. The first night we stared at the wrong barn, but the second night we got it right. Two hours before sunset we were in place and ready.

Where is the owl?

Where is the owl?

While we waited, a variety of birds entertained us.

Barn Swallow

Barn Swallows swarmed the abandoned houses

A pair of Greater Yellowlegs happen to be in a field nearby

A pair of Greater Yellowlegs happened to be in a nearby field

Brewer's Blackbird (female)

Brewer’s Blackbird (female)

The Brewer’s Blackbirds were the best distractions.

Brewer's Blackbird

Brewer’s Blackbird

I hadn’t noticed before, but they scrunch themselves in a puffy ball and kind of wind themselves up before they “sing” a short tchup or chuk. Wish I’d taken a video. (Here’s someone else’s video of one in a parking lot.)

The other bird that was fun to watch was the White-tailed Kite.

White-tailed Kite

White-tailed Kite

White-tailed Kite

My pictures don’t do it justice. I think local student Hanalee Hayes’s drawing is way better.

Kidlet Art

I had only seen one before on a recent trip to Tillamook, and now I’d seen three in a matter of days (four if you count this drawing). Winning at birding.

Things quieted down, and the sun set.

V-street Sunset

Moments later in the darkness an owl flew from the barn. Right on schedule. First Barn Owl of the year! Second in my life! So awesome! And totally worth the wait.

Barn Owl

It immediately set out hunting, caught something (presumed rodent), and returned to the barn. Not long after, it left again and flew over the field in front of us, and to our surprise, shrieked it’s hissing call, “cssssshhH!” Amazing.

We watched until it was so dark our eyes could barely focus as it flew off over hills far away. So good.

There is much to love about Arcata.

Tweets and chirps,

Audrey

Dawson Creek Park

Today I graduated from the waterfowl ID for beginners class at Audubon. Life beyond mallards is good.

I’m still a novice birder, but some tricks are beginning to stick like, where’s the white on the duck? How big is the bill in relation to the head? Is the duck dabbling or diving? What habitat is the bird in? I asked myself these questions as we birded in the rain at Dawson Creek Park.

Watching Wood Ducks on a log

Watching Wood Ducks on a log

What a beautiful couple

What a beautiful couple

Green-winged Teal- note the white vertical line on the shoulder.

Green-winged Teal- note the vertical white line on the shoulder.

Mutt Ducks, what they lack in pedigree, they make up for in personality.

Mutt Ducks, what they lack in pedigree, they make up for in personality.

American Wigeon- dainty blue-gray black-tipped bill, buffy stripe on top of head; horizontal line at the folded wing (visible here, but not always); white and black rump.

American Wigeon- dainty blue-gray black-tipped bill, buffy stripe on top of head; horizontal line at the folded wing (visible here, but not always); white and black rump. Female lacks the white stripe on forehead, but shares the dainty bluish bill.

We also saw not-ducks!

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

fluffed up Brewer's Blackbird (Beer Bird?)- new bird! male, distinctive yellow eye, long thin black bill

Brewer’s Blackbird (Beer Bird?)- new bird! male, distinctive yellow eye, long thin black bill

Female Brewer's Blackbird; unmarked, drab gray-brown, dark eye.

Female Brewer’s Blackbird; unmarked, drab gray-brown, dark eye.

Red-winged Blackbirds have become my photo-buddies.

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird

A special treat on this trip was a visit to the resident Acorn Woodpecker granary tree. And with the tree came Acorn Woodpeckers! Another new bird! And what a fun, curious bird with such a complex social structure.

Acorn Woodpecker

Acorn Woodpecker

Acorn Woodpecker

I could watch them all day.

But there are more birds to bird!

Audrey

P.S. Birder-lingo I learned today: Dip– to miss out on finding a bird you were looking for; as in, we dipped at seeing a Northern Shoveler today.