Monthly Archives: June 2011

Fringe benefits

Hocker-hummingbird-sketch An expedition in search of dippers had me scrambling through devils-club and alder tangle, up a steep, fast-moving creek above Juneau. The dippers kept zinging upstream past me with food, so I knew the nest was even higher. Just about the point where I decided it wasn't worth six million more devils-club stabs and the risk of spraining some valuable joint, I sat  down for one more vigil. I never did see the dippers, but while I waited, this rufous hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus) nest was revealed to me–a great example of the fringe benefits of keeping still and paying attention.

The sketch is from a photo, as I had my camera but not my sketchbook…

Oystercatcher Morning

Hocker-oystercatcher-sketches

Hocker-oystercatcher2 Spent a pleasant couple of hours yesterday morning on a small island in Auke Bay, observing a pair of black oystercatchers (Haematopus bachmani) at their nest site. I especially enjoyed watching the different behaviors of the female and the male. The female was very vocal, stood and walked tall when in motion, moved around a great deal. The male crept among the rocks, keeping his head low, and sat still for many minutes at a time. The female was the one to settle on the nest, though.

The scrape nest held three eggs, just at the edge of the ryegrass zone, green with black speckles and very hard to see. It was an eloquent case for being very careful when exploring the shore this time of year–and perhaps just avoiding this type of habitat altogether and staying below the tideline…

 

UPDATE: I have just learned that the tagged bird is actually a male, so the above-described behaviors should be role-reversed… This male was banded and satellite-tagged about four years ago. He has been returning to the same nesting area ever since. 

Dipper Watching

Hocker-dipper-sketch-2 I've been assisting with research on American Dippers in the Juneau area for eight years now, and have co-authored a couple of books about them. I just never get tired of watching these great little birds–they're endlessly entertaining! Went out a couple of days ago to check on a nest site and found a pair busy establishing the next generation. Like most dippers, they've chosen fantastic real estate: the nest is tucked among some boulders behind a small but beautiful waterfall. Didn't have my sketchbook with me, so this drawing is from memory.

For more information about our books about American Dippers, see my books page.