Whoops—I almost forgot to post this selection of bird photos from three different readers:
Joe Dickinson sent this picture of a black-crowed night heron (Nycticorax nycticorax), taken near the mouth of Aptos Creek, CA (Rio del Mar Beach) in the last couple of days:
From Stephen Barnard we get a female mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) in flight:
as well as a red-tailed hawk (Buteo amaicensis):
And from reader Ed Kroc photos of sandpipers and some information:
First are some photos at the Cluxewe River estuary on northern Vancouver Island of the upper west coast’s favourite sandpiper, the Western Sandpiper (Calidris mauri). You can see the half-webbing of the feet in the first picture.
I don’t understand the physics well enough to exactly model it, but I hypothesize that this half-webbing makes it easier for these birds to run with the tides where they spend most of their time feeding. Too much webbing would make it difficult to run fast, but too little and they would lose control on the wet sand. Some kind of compromise position would seem to confer a selective advantage. The Semipalmated (meaning “half-webbed”!) Sandpiper shares this trait, as well as the feeding behaviour. The other BC piper I’ve observed is the Least Sandpiper which actually lacks any substantial webbing; however, these smallest pipers tend to feed further upshore, not quite on the cusp of the surf.
The last picture gives a sense of their wonderful camouflage. If it wasn’t for the water crashing underfoot, they would blend in perfectly with the rocks, the driftwood, and the kelp. This particular contradiction* contained twenty-two individuals of three separate species – the Western (C. mauri), Semipalmated (C. pusilla), and a single Least Sandpiper (C. minutilla) – all visible in the photo.
*A “contradiction” is one of the many fanciful names for a group of pipers.