Monday, July 12, 2010

PostHeaderIcon Update goodie bag!

Sorry for the hiatus. I've been working feverishly on various different posts on the island's common ravens and often I've found myself getting precisely nowhere. In the next day or two, however, I expect that to change.

In the interim, here's a brief island update:

PIGUs (Pigeon guillemots) !!

In the above video, they show their considerable cuteness, vocalizing to one another at a frequency which threatens to break glass. Watch the video to the end and convince yourself that those birds could possibly be making those sounds. They seem less like real birds than bathtub squeaky toys.

Breeding brandt's cormorants! Sorry for the fuzzy picture. This nest is far away from my camera lens, but you can still see the mottled white plumage displayed by the young hopeful.

The bird of note on Alcatraz this season may very well be the holiest gull to the Mormon faith. Really.

The California gull's favored breeding habitat in the south San Francisco bay is being destroyed in a process intended to restore tidal salt marshes in the interior bay. The refugee gulls, robbed of their year-to-year territories have fled. Many have settled on Alcatraz. The number of California gull nests on Alcatraz in 2010 is significantly higher than in 2009.

Future summers may see a decline in their numbers and they will certainly never know parity with our larger, dominant western gulls and with that in mind, let's designate 2010, The Year of the California Gull!

Break out your yellow leggings and paint a black ring around your nose! 'Tis the season!

The snowy egrets? If only there were any news. They continue to grow and continue to tickle us with their elegant plumage and bizarre vocalizations.

And let's not forget our WEGUs.

It's amazing how little time it takes to go from all of this cuteness:

To all of this:

And it only gets worse from here. Here I have to plagiarize or at least paraphrase from the unbelievably awesome Los Farallones blog. The gulls are cute for three weeks out of the year before they arc sharply towards a stocky, ugly form housing a violent and desperate personality. Each of the cutest baby WEGUs is a bid to become such an objectionable animal. Take it for what it's worth.

But it's hard not to feel triumphant for them when they finally flap their wings.

The ravens are next. Stay tuned.


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