Salt marsh birding
February 5, 2023

Here's a short recount of a local birding day with friends. Due to the nature of the walk, the colors and lighting were much brighter and harsher than I'm accustomed and the interference of strong heat waves emanating from the sun-beaten ground diminished perceived sharpness. Nevertheless, the birds were out and about, including warblers, finches and so many Anna's hummingbirds. There were so many more birds than I was able to photograph; it's been a while since I had to actively ignore other birds in order to focus on photographing the one I had in frame.

The most common birds to be found were yellow-rumped warblers, with orange-crowned warblers close behind. Perhaps due to the location, they were less skittish with human presence and more concerned with patrolling their sovereign boundaries.

Both of these warblers often had me trying to re-identify them just to ensure I didn't miss out on photographing a different species. The drab olive color of the orange-crowned warblers with few distinguishable markings reminded me of autumn warbler birding, when all the birds look the same, especially when they are flock together.

The real highlight of the day was when I saw three large-beaked birds hidden behind layers of branches in the thicket. I tried to move around to get a better look, but always found myself looking directly into the sunlight for wholesomely unhelpful silhouettes. At times I wondered if they were buntings or a grosbeaks, unaided by subpar the low contrast colors of backlit photographs. The most I could determine whilst being there was that one had black scaly plumage, reminiscent of an exotic finch.

Upon my return to the computer, I found that I did actually capture usable and identifiable photographs. The birds were nutmeg mannikins, which I learned are more than likely to be escaped pets that have become locally established in the region. The group probably consisted of two adults and one juvenile.

The day continued to heat up, and as the landscape grew brighter by the hour, it became more of a spotting game than a photographing one.

A few more birds popped up before the outing had ended, including a last-minute belted kingfisher and whimbrel.

Here's the bird list (of what I could remember) from the day:

Anna's hummingbirdmallard
belted kingfishernutmeg mannikin
buffleheadorange-crowned warbler
common yellowthroatpied-billed grebe
double-crested cormorantruby-crowned kinglet
Hammond's flycatcher?savannah sparrow
house finchsong sparrow
house wrenwhimbrel
lesser goldfinchwillet
lesser scaupyellow-rumped warbler