Some Birds, Butterflies and Even a Starfish

I like doing these birding posts. They don't require much research. Just get the picture and blog it. This post will have a little tragedy and maybe some hope. I'm going to throw some butterflies and a Starfish in for good measure.

While birding the Little River Airport on January 31st there was the second earliest Allen's Hummingbird recorded in Mendocino County.

Red-naped Sapsuckers are listed as extremely rare in Mendocino County. In the last few years they have been showing up regularly inland. I chased one that was found at Riverside Park in Ukiah in 2013. Failed to find it. One was found in early November, 2014, at the Rose Memorial Cemetery in Fort Bragg. It might be the county's first coastal record. I spent many trips to the cemetery in an attempt to find it and failed each time. I had given up until it was seen again in early February. On February 4th, I finally found it.

That same day after getting back to Mendocino on the bus I decided to see who was right in the reporting of two white geese out on the Mendocino Headlands. They were either Snow Geese or Ross's Geese. There was no obvious “grin patch”, the border at the base of the bill was straight and vertical, bill and head was smallish and petite, and another person's picture show bluish on the bill's base. Decision goes to Ross's Geese, a rare bird for Mendocino County.

February 12th was my 33rd Wedding Anniversary. My wife decided we would make a day of it by going to the Garcia River Casino and then out for dinner. Didn't have much luck at the casino but when we went outside to leave there was a Palm Warbler in the parking lot. Palm Warblers are listed as rare in Mendocino County.

The Long-tailed Duck continues at Virgin Creek Beach giving some up-close viewing opportunities. Several times I observed it flying in.

During my SOS Surveys at Virgin Creek Beach I've been reporting many dead seabirds on the beach. It seems that conditions in the Pacific Ocean are proving bad for much of it's wildlife. Two cases in point are a massive die-off of Cassin's Auklets and Sea Lions. It might be that our Cassin's Auklet here in Mendocino County is the Common Murre. I've been reporting many dead Common Murres on the beach. Some of them are fresh and still in the surf line.

On the 11th of February I witnessed one die right before my eyes.


But on the same day I saw something I hadn't seen in a long time. It was a Starfish.

If you have been following this blog for sometime you would have read a post called, What is Turning Starfish Into Goo?, back in December 2013. Is this a sign of hope? Will have to wait and see.

On the 26th of February I was going pass Lake Cleone on my way to have lunch at the Laguna Point parking lot (MacKerricher State Park) when I notice some fluttering in a little marshy area between Mill Creek Dr. and the Haul Road. It was a little grayish bird in the water. I was confused at first but realized it was a bird not normally seen while on land. It was a distressed(?) Fork-tailed Storm Petrel. They are listed as rare during spring and fall. It might be the first sighting for winter.

On the same day we had a massive flight of Aleutian Cackling Geese flying north. I estimated 930 plus geese with one flock having 450 plus birds in it. They were flying into a 20mph headwind.

The Violet-green Swallows have returned to the Little River Airport. I spotted two of them on the 1st of March, beating the last early date by two days.

Butterflies are also returning to the airport. I found the strikingly pretty Western Pine Elfin and the rather plain Brown Elfin on March1st.


Kaufman's Field Guide to Butterflies of North America said that the Western Pine Elfin flies late spring or early summer. I guess the butterflies are confused with our strange weather.




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