Spotted towhee

Let's start with this bird. The spotted towhee. We've always pronounced it as though it rhymes with "dewy" but it turns out that it is probably rhymes with "doughy" instead. Just like I often pronounce the paint I work with "gohssh" instead of "gwash". (Tomato, Tomahto.) To add to my bewilderment, the Spotted Towhee was [...]

Cedar waxwing feathers

Something made a snack of a cedar waxwing in my backyard -- I didn't see it in progress but I found the feathers. A whole lot a smooth greyish brown ones, and several diagnostic ones, including the namesake "wax" tipped secondary flight feathers.  I'd never seen these up close before -- they're very striking. As [...]

Bird Nerd

The other night I was working late at the studio and during a cloud-gazing break I think I identified my first osprey of the season. Really. I mean it. You can't tell from this picture -- I couldn't REALLY tell from that picture, and of course I can't be sure because I had neither my good camera [...]

Oaks Bottom: Amusement Park or Wildlife Refuge?

It's both, really. Or at least, both use the name Oaks Bottom. (It's also a Lompoc pub not far from here.) I'm not sure how many of the amusement park patrons partake in the wildlife refuge -- I know that when I come down here I'm usually much more interested in the nature scene than I [...]

In which we consider Kelley Point

During our third mushroom class we were given vague tips on spring mushrooms sites. I say "vague" because mushroom hunters are extremely reticent to disclose information that could lead to the pillaging of cherished hot spots, particularly those containing morels. Kelley Point Park was among the places mentioned, so as I had some time on [...]

Birding: by heart, by sight, by ear.

My grandparents lived in a semi-forested area on the edge of a tiny town in central Oklahoma. The dining room featured a big picture window overlooking a yard that backed onto unkempt woodland. Near the window there was a pair of binoculars and a bird book. There were birdfeeders, three different bird baths out back [...]