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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Full circle

Almost a year ago I was considering starting a blog about local natural history.  There were lots of reasons for doing so.  One of the strongest was to share the beauty and wonder of our local plants and animals and landscapes, and to provide an introduction to lesser known species.  I was also hopeful that the blog would encourage people to look more closely at the world around them and to connect with their surroundings (to develop a sense of place).

What came as a bit of a surprise (although it shouldn't have!) is that creating the Natural History of Bodega Head has also done these things for me!  Trying to post something every day has forced me to be more attentive, to always be on the lookout for interesting sightings.  And researching the species we've encountered has taught me more than I could have imagined.

Last December I was excited to introduce everyone to American Pipits (Anthus rubescens).  It was one of my first posts, and I couldn't wait to share photos of this often-overlooked songbird.  Today I photographed American Pipits on Salmon Creek Beach and was reminded that a year has past since I started the blog.  The pipits made me pause and think about the benefits of the blog, how I wished I had started it a long time ago, and how I'm looking forward to future discoveries.

American Pipits spend the winter from the Pacific Northwest to El Salvador.  At this time of year you can see them on beaches foraging among seaweeds and driftwood.

A fact I hadn't known until tonight: The hind claw of American Pipits is unusually long (see next photo).  The Birds of North America Account (Verbeek, Hendricks, and Pyle 2012) suggests that this feature may help in walking across snow — crampons for a ground-dwelling songbird that breeds on arctic and alpine tundra!

Looking back on this past year, I'm grateful to the local plants and animals for sharing their worlds, and to you for joining me on this natural history adventure!


Anonymous said...

have you seen the pipit on the East Coast ????

Jackie Sones said...

Yes! Look for pipits in open habitats -- beaches and dunes, and fields with sparse vegetation. They are often seen in the same places as Horned Larks. Listen for their distinctive "pip-it" call.

Anonymous said...

What a year of discoveries! Thank you for sharing your beautiful photographs and insights. --E.

Anonymous said...

We LOVE the blog. It is our morning treat! Thank you for sharing your discoveries of beauty in our beloved Bodega Head/Sonoma County region. -AH, RP, LP