Thursday, August 30, 2012
Okay, so yesterday, August 29, I was hiking Cape Lookout with a friend and we saw a Turkey Vulture fly by us, quite close, several times. I did not get a photo. It had a white ruff around its head. At least, that's what it looked like. The head was partly red (a small part), partly just bald, and partly white... very obvious, visible white. Today, at Baskett Slough, on a side trip from my feed run to Dallas, I (and a different friend) saw another one. This time it was on the ground and I got a photo. What's going on here? This guy has white on more than his head. You can see his companion on the left is a normal looking Turkey Vulture.
A group of Dowitchers at Baskett Slough were closer and easier to photograph. Three in the group of thirty plus were brown instead of gray. I assumed they were juveniles. But now, looking at this guy among the gray, presumably non-breeding plumaged adults, I'm not so sure. Is this an adult in worn breeding plumage? And, if so, why is she (a female, right? because of long bill) dressed this way when everyone else is in gray?
Any tips, replies, helpful comments welcome.
From Baskett Slough we went north to McKee Rd. just off Hwy 99 and saw the 5 Pectoral Sandpipers found by Carol Karlen and Paul Sullivan the day before. That's a great shorebird pond with lots of Least and Westerns and one Yellowlegs although they were too far for my camera to get a picture. One book said Pectorals graze the grassy banks of muddy waterholes, which is exactly what these were doing. A Killdeer wandered around near them providing a welcome size comparison: the Pectorals were about midway in size between the Killdeer and the Western. I love shorebirds that are not the same size as Western Sandpipers. That gives me a fighting chance of identifying them.