Monday, March 7, 2016

Checking in at the Arcata Marsh

Have I really not been to the Arcata Marsh since late July? See, this is what I mean about missing my outside time. When I woke up on Sunday morning to bright sunlight rather than the predicted rain, I grabbed my chance and drove the few minutes to this amazing habitat. The marsh was just overflowing with activity -- so many birds, and lots of happy people walking around. It was hard to decide where to look! A pond next to the road was filled with ducks, so that seemed like a good place to start:

A flotilla of Ruddy Ducks paddled nearest to my side of the pond:

A couple of female Lesser Scaup were in the mix as well:

Ruddy Ducks are such strange, dumpy birds, and this is one of the few times I've seen them up close:

Those tails are so cool and strange-looking:

Hello, funny bird. You are very cute:

A male Northern Shoveler mingled with the group as well. Why do so many ducks look so weird?

Green-winged Teal were in several of the ponds. This pair was resting in a nice sheltered spot:

Male Green-winged Teal are exceptionally fancy:

This teal trio made quite the tableau; I love the male's speckled breasts and the female's almost-hidden flash of green:

Here's the trio in another arrangement; the male in the back kept lifting up his head to make a high-pitched peeping call:

Swallows zoomed above the water's surface. (Perhaps I will be able to photograph a Violet-green Swallow sometime before the move. Their costumes are simply amazing.) A Northern Harrier flew low overhead, giving me the rare chance to admire this raptor's belly and wings:

Marsh Wrens sang out from every direction. It's such a treat to see these little birds being so bold:

In a nearby field, Western Meadowlarks flashed their brilliant yellow breasts as they foraged in the grass:

Every few minutes, the small flock of meadowlarks would burst up out of the grass to relocate to a new spot in the field. I felt a bit like I was watching a very quiet and very unpredictable fireworks show:

A tiny Ruby-crowned Kinglet foraged in some bushes next to the path and was remarkably obliging with me and my camera:

Later, I even saw the kinglet flash its bright red crown for a moment, but here it's looking typically plain and adorable:

As I was heading back to my car, the promised rain began, but I had to make a last quick stop when I met a Yellow-rumped Warbler on a moss-covered tree next to the path:

Beautiful warbler on branches that look like they will soon covered with leaves:

I suppose there really are seasons here, too, but they're certainly muted compared with what I'm used to in the east. I'm looking forward to seeing what spring in Northern California brings!


  1. Beautiful! I especially liked the Northern Harrier and the Meadowlark. I would never see such sights without you and your camera.