Readers’ wildlife photos

Reader Joe Dickinson has some birdies for us. His notes are indented:

Here’s one final set (for now) of miscellaneous birds seen recently on my morning walks with my dog by Aptos Creek and along Rio del Mar beach.

There are always gulls around the mouth of the Creek but, for a couple of days near the end of December it looked like we were setting up for a remake of Hitchcock’s “The Birds”.  Local lore has it that the movie was inspired by an event in Santa Cruz, but it’s actually based on a book.  Hitchcock did have a vacation home in the area and consulted a local newspaper story about that event as part of his research for the film.  These appear to be mostly western gulls (Larus occidentalis) but I’m sure others are mixed in.

There also were larger than typical rafts of surf scoters (Melanitta perspicillata) just off the beach at about that same time.

I often see a belted kingfishers (Ceryle alcyon) along the creek, but they are maddeningly hard to photograph.  They seem to notice as soon as a camera is pointed in their direction and take off.  Perhaps it looks to them like a giant eye watching.  Anyway, I had better luck with this one.

This is not my best photo of an acorn woodpecker (Merlanerpes formicivorus), but it includes a nice look at the acorns stored in a well-worked granary tree (one that I discovered about six years ago, shortly after we moved to the area).

The muscovy duck (Cairina moschata) that has been hanging out with mallards in Aptos creek all winter finally showed himself in good light, up on a log he was sharing with a female common merganser (Mergus merganser).


  1. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted February 8, 2018 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    Very interesting! I especially like the muscovy duck.

  2. Posted February 8, 2018 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    Great photos Joe! Love the kingfisher!

  3. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted February 8, 2018 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    Nicely composed post

    The final duck picture is the perfect way to end it

    … can’t help but say how images of the hairstyles from the 50’s or thereabouts come to mind ….

  4. Liz
    Posted February 8, 2018 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    Wonderful pictures. I like the one of the belted kingfisher.

  5. Terry Sheldon
    Posted February 8, 2018 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Love the kingfisher! I always say that they look like a bluejay on steroids. The picture of the acorn woodpecker with his stash is pretty cool too. Thanks!

  6. Posted February 8, 2018 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    always lovely

  7. Hempenstein
    Posted February 8, 2018 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    Cool woodpecker pic. Assuming that they come back and eat the acorns, here’s my question – oaks are known for having acorns of differing degrees of bitterness. White oak acorns are sweet, and apparently prized by squirrels over acorns from the red oak family, which are exceptionally bitter from excess tannic acid. So do these woodpeckers have access to both kinds and if so do they have a preference?

  8. Mark R.
    Posted February 8, 2018 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    These are great, thanks. Love the serrated beak of the merganser; it looks very reptilian.

  9. Posted February 8, 2018 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful photos! The kingfisher and the woodpecker are my favorites.

  10. Karen E Bartelt
    Posted February 8, 2018 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    Love them all!

  11. Posted February 8, 2018 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful photos, especially the flocks of birds and the kingfisher.

  12. ploubere
    Posted February 8, 2018 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

    Nice work, cool photos. Great catch with the Kingfisher.

  13. rickflick
    Posted February 8, 2018 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    I wonder if the woodpecker thinks she’s hiding those nuts? They look like easy pickings for squirrels or other woodpeckers.

  14. Mark Joseph
    Posted February 8, 2018 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

    OK, I think I’ve figured out why they are called “Acorn Woodpeckers”…


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