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Unidentified Flying Dinosaur

At last! Trebuchet requested mystery birds, and I finally got one of the bastards to hold still long enough for a good shot. We’d have had this long ago if crows, robins, seagulls, red-tailed hawks, cormorants, bald eagles, and blue herons counted, but if they’re easy enough for a clueless git like myself to identify, they don’t quite count as UFDs.

I’ve been on the lookout for unknown birds ever since Trebuchet’s request, and I’ve seen a few, but the fuckers never hold still. I’ll be like, “Ooo, mystery bird!” and swing my camera round, and the bird’s all like, “Ha ha ha fuck you! You’ll never photograph meeeee!!!” as it flies into places my camera can’t reach. This one at Seward Park tried the same nonsense, but it went and hid in a tree with lots of gaps in it.

UFD I

It’s got speckles! That’s so cool. I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen one of these round here before, but then, I’ve usually got my eye on rocks and landforms and flowers and insects and other such things that are easier to take photos of.

UFD II

I spotted this little dude on the ground under the fir (?) tree first, and I got super-excited. But of course, it flew up into the branches before I could bring the camera to bear. I might have startled Ryan and Ryan a bit with the vehemence of my cursing. And I’m all trying to shoot it through this tiny little gap in the greenery, and my camera’s going, “Oh, neat! You want a macro of the needles!” And I’m going, “NO I DO NOT WANT A MACRO OF THE DAMNED NEEDLES YOU DUMBSHIT! I WANT THE FUCKING BIRD!!” I finally persuaded it to understand, terrified all the while that the bird would catch on to the fact I could see it and would head for a location up near the crown, or perhaps across Anderson Bay. After a few hasty shots through the tiny gap, I decided to risk it all and ducked beneath the branches, circling round to where I had a clear, unobstructed view of the UFD – only to discover the bastard was backlit.

Thank the programmers for photo editing software. Otherwise, all you’d get is an amorphous black blob.

UFD III

Right. So there you are. Our very first Unidentified Flying Dinosaur. Woot! I shall be terrorizing the avian community all summer in the attempt to get you more, my darlings. Because I love you, and I want you to be happy.

Comments

  1. sailor1031 says

    rq is totally correct. common, with small regional differences, throughout the USA.

  2. Richard Simons says

    It’s a woodpecker that’s decided that hammering on trees is not a good idea and spends more time on the ground feeding on ants etc. Its pale rump is a good field identification mark.

  3. says

    Ha, that sounds like me when I’m tryin to take pictures of birds. I usually end up momentarily harboring a deep hatred for my camera and its macro setting. Though I strangely have more issues taking pictures of bugs. Camera just doesn’t get it.

  4. Trebuchet says

    Dang, you give me a bird and I’m beaten to it! Flicker, all right. One of my favorites. rq is clearly more of an expert than I am; I wouldn’t have hazarded the gender.

    The orange under-wings in flight are also a good identifier, as well as being quite lovely.

    • rq says

      I only attempted gender due to the fact that there isn’t any red visible on the head, and also our author did not mention any cool flashes of red (which, I have no doubt, she would have mentioned, had they been present/visible). And over my end of the continent, it wasn’t raccoons that were Satan’s Spawn, but squirrels… Nasty little rodents. :P
      Also, currently, I have a distinct timezone advantage over anyone in North America. :) Maybe next time I won’t jump on an ‘unidentified’ post as soon as it’s up. (Then again, anything posted late at night Dana-time will only get to me after everyone else has gotten to it. I think.)

      • Trebuchet says

        I actually wouldn’t mind feeding the squirrels here at my 2nd home near Port Townsend — Douglas Squirrels are about 1/2 the size and about 1/8 the aggressiveness of the imported Eastern Grays. We’ve had them approach the feeder a couple of times but we’re a couple of hundred yards from the woods and they don’t like to venture that far. Fortunately the grays stay in town.

        My wife started feeding gray squirrels peanuts on the deck at our main house and quickly discovered something that can compete with them — Stellar Jays! They’d take two whole peanuts at a time, one half-swallowed and on in the bill.

        Did I mention I hate raccoons? We had one give birth in our floor a couple of years ago. The babies were both cute and incredibly loud when the “friendly trapper” got them out.

        • rq says

          I have problems with squirrels (yes, the greys, which were mostly black) since a family moved into our insulation one year and the babies came crawling down the stairs – placing them in the backyard tree freaked them out all the more since they had no idea what it was and what to do with it. AND they hog all the birdseed. (Except when a bluejay was around – those things are nearly as rude, probably our variant on your Stellar Jay, but much nicer to look at.)
          Raccoons – they’re ok, never had such a close encounter, but it’s porcupines (especially during mating season) who get REALLY annoying. Mostly because of the noise. I’m sure it’s all candle-light and romance to them, but my poor human ears confused the sound with something dying. Loudly and horribly.

  5. JohnW says

    They’re pretty common around Seattle – I see them regularly in my (Greenwood) backyard, and they’re all over Carkeek Park and Golden Gardens. The Western (Red-shafted) subspecies has underwings which are more dark red than orange, but this varies across the country – Eastern (Yellow-shafted) flickers have, well, yellow underwings.

  6. Dana Hunter says

    I can see I’m going to have to work much harder to find difficult to identify UFDs. How much trouble will I get in if I start carrying around anesthetic gas, do you think? ;-P

    More mystery birds on the way!

    • JohnW says

      If it’s any consolation, I had no clue what they were until I moved to the US. And because I usually saw them on the ground, it was a while before I found them in the bird book – didn’t occur to me to look for “woodpeckers”.

  7. Trebuchet says

    You can always do LBB’s. That’s birder-ese for “Little Brown Birds”. They tend to look the same unless you get a really good look.

    We unfortunately had to give up our feeders a couple of years ago because of the constant raids from Satan’s Spawn, aka raccoons.

  8. Crudely Wrott says

    I thought I recognized that specked breast and the slightly down-curved bill. Bravo to the other keen spotters!

    This bird was one of my favorites in my home state (the square one on top of the other square one) due to its distinctive flight pattern as it flew through the willows and cottonwoods growing along streams. It will flap its wings rapidly for a few beats to gain speed and altitude and then fold its wings tightly to its sides and coast, resulting in a roller coaster flight path. When the wings are flapping the spotter is treated to the rapid flashing of bright color.

    I have yet to see one yet in my new state (the Carolina on top of the other Carolina) but I would recognize the flight characteristics immediately.

    Nice catch, Dana. Too bad the light and your camera were so pissy. Still, you compensated with determination and stealth. Failing that, you just boldly stepped up and got the shot. That’s great style.

  9. Trebuchet says

    …(the square one on top of the other square one)…

    I’m from the one on top of yours, originally, but my mother was a native of yours. We’re thinking of visiting there this summer, it’s been quite a few years. We’d be going to the northern part, I don’t much care for the south of it.

    • Crudely Wrott says

      Let me recommend the Wind River Mountains to you, Trebuchet. While admittedly biased, they used to be my back yard, this range contains the state’s highest peaks, glaciers, lots of fast water and trout as long as your arm. Excellent access is available in Lander, Dubois and generally throughout the upper Wind River valley. (Psst! Petrified Forest can be seen near Dubois if you can hike a few miles.)

      The Big Horn Range is also a gas. Of course, you should stop in Thermopolis for a dip in the hot springs, and please treat yourself to a visit to the Buffalo Bill Cody Museum in Cody. It is amazing.