Readers’ wildlife photos

Reader Karen Bartelt sent some photos of birds and mammals from California. Her notes:

We were compelled to try and forget Trump, so we (my husband Bob and I) took a spur of the moment trip to a Blue State, California.  One of our target animals was the elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris).  We saw these at Drakes Beach in Point Reyes National Seashore.  The last picture was actually near the Patrick Visitor Center.  This mellow male was chilling on the sand, and I shot the photo from a respectful distance.  Not so the idiot who posed his wife next to the seal, and later touched his tail (luckily, the seal wasn’t looking for trouble).  We also saw Anna’s hummingbirds (Calypte anna); interesting bicolored redwinged blackbirds (Ageiaius phoeniceus), a race that’s only found in central California; and sweet dark-eyed juncos (Junco hyemalis).  I think this photo is of what’s considered to be the “Oregon race” of the junco.
Our other target animal was the California condor, which we saw at Pinnacles National Park, and will send later.


  1. Posted April 29, 2017 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    Such interesting pictures and commentary! I am curious about the red winged blackbirds. Their epaulettes look a bit different from the ones around here, so is that why they are considered a different race?

    • jwthomas
      Posted April 29, 2017 at 9:12 am | Permalink

      Yes, the Redwings have a red shoulder patch while the tricolors have a darker red patch with a white to yellow fringe on the bottom part of the patch. But they also have different ranges, habitats and songs.

    • Karen Bartelt
      Posted April 29, 2017 at 11:26 am | Permalink

      My old Peterson guidebook calls bicolors a “race”, which may be archaic language. Newer book (Stokes) just say that these central CA males don’t have a yellow patch, and leave it at that. I agree that they are different. The tricolored blackbirds, at least in the midwest, rest with the yellow patch showing, and the red only shows up when they’re excited or sometimes when flying. These CA guys rest with the red patch showing. To me that’s a pretty big difference, but I trust that the bird taxonomists know what they’re doing. Or maybe this group will be officially split at some point.

  2. rickflick
    Posted April 29, 2017 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    Great shots. I’m in the East so have never seen some of these species. The Anna’s hummingbird has an almost black hood whereas in the book it’s more red. That’s probably due to lighting.
    The usual male redwings have a yellow band below the red. There have been only males here until this past week when the females began coming up from the South. The females are much different, resembling a large sparrow with streaky brown colors. I had a troupe of about 15 females come through my hard just today. There will soon be enough females to go around bringing contentment and happiness. 😎

    • Karen Bartelt
      Posted April 29, 2017 at 11:19 am | Permalink

      Yes, the hood can flash a wonderful magenta color. Unfortunately, all of my “pink” shot were out of focus.
      In the midwest, I’ve only seen the tricolored blackbirds. Usually, the band that’s seen is yeoolw, and when they get excited, the larger red area shows. I had no idea these birds existed, and did a double take, but the guidebooks do point this California bird out. All of the females look like big sparrows!

      • Karen Bartelt
        Posted April 29, 2017 at 11:28 am | Permalink

        I meant yellow…

  3. Mark R.
    Posted April 29, 2017 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Great photos! I hope you were able to forget about Trump for a while.

    When I lived in the bay area, I used to love going to the coast and seeing elephant seals (and other species for that matter). I also very much enjoyed the tide pools around Fort Bragg.

    • Posted April 29, 2017 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

      I think that such a trip would be wonderful under any president.

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