Friday, January 27, 2012

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)

On January 22, 2012 I caught a glimpse of this Great Blue Heron in the arroyo from the service road just west of Erringer Road. (S)he was very skittish upon each of my approaches which made getting a decent photograph difficult. The Great Blue Heron is our most widely distributed and largest heron. It can be found in both wetland and upland habitats where it feeds on crustaceans, vertebrates, and small mammals. The Great Blue Heron is often a solitary bird except when it gathers in breeding colonies called "heronries" to build stick nests high in trees. The species has a pure white morph (the  Great White Heron) which can be mistaken for a Great Egret and is sometimes considered a distinct species.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Black-Crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)

Ok, this is probably cheating a bit as I saw these guys at the duck pond at the Rancho Simi Community Park, but the park is immediately adjacent to, and contiguous with the arroyo so I think it's reasonable to view the two as essentially one and the same habitat. Moreover, I have seen Black-Crowned Night Herons in the arroyo, but have simply not been quick enough to get footage, so the images below will serve as surrogates for the ones that got away.

Anyhoo, depicted below are both adult and juvenile Black-Crowned Night Herons. The juvenile is perched on the rock while the adults are in the trees. The Black-Crowned Night Heron is the most wide-spread Heron in the world ranging over five continents. It inhabits salt, brackish and freshwater marshes, streams and lakes where it fees on aquatic invertebrates, fish, insects, amphibians and small reptiles. It nests colonially in trees and cattails. Because the Black-Crowned Night Heron's is so widely distributed, it is a good indicator species of an ecosystem's overall health.

Monday, January 16, 2012

White-Faced Ibis (Plegadis chihi)

On the afternoon of Saturday, January 14, 2012, I ventured out along the arroyo between Rancho Simi Community Park and First Street. During the two or so hours that I was out, I spotted 6 White-Faced Ibises- 1 perched in the trees at the duck pond and 5 in the arroyo itself. I have also seen White-Faced Ibises on several occasions in the arroyo just west of Madera Road. The White-Faced Ibis is identified by its long legs and decurved bill, and its chesnut body with green, purple and pink gloss on the wings. It looks very similar to the Glossy Ibis and thus is distinguished from it primarily by range. Ibises are tactile feeder who use their long bills to forage for fish and aquatic invertebrates in shallow and fresh water. They will also forage visually in uplands and feed on terrestrial invertebrates.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Belted Kingfisher (Ceryle alcyon)

So this was a pretty cool sighting for me. This is a male Belted Kingfisher that I spotted along the Arroyo Simi from the service road just east of First Street. Apologies for the shaky footage, but this guy was quite distant from me and he kept flitting from place to place so getting good footage was difficult. Belted Kingfishers are the most abundant and widespread kingfisher in North America although this is the first one I have ever seen. Belted Kingfishers perch upon tree branches, walls and fences while they scour clear, still waters for fish. The species nests in holes along rivers, streams, lakes, estuaries,and arroyos. Kingfishers are one of the few species in which the female is more brightly colored than the male. If the kingfisher in the video below was a female, it would also have a rufous band across its across its chest and down its flanks.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

American Wigeon (Anas americana)

American Wigeons are dabbling ducks that are commonly found on western ponds and at golf courses and parks. They are a familiar sight at the Arroyo Simi. They are identified by the white crown stripe and green ear patch found on males as well as the black-tipped, bluish-gray bill found on both sexes. The video footage below captures both the male and female of the species on January 7, 2012 in the arroyo just west of Madera Road. The stills are from the duck pond at Rancho Simi Community Park on January 22, 2012.

Apologies for the pixilation on the video.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Black-Necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus)

I have seen Black-Necked Stilts on every trip I have made to the Arroyo Simi. These guys were filmed on January 7, 2012 from the service road just west of Madera Road. Stilts are members of the same family as avocets--Recurvirostridae. They generally wade in the shallows picking at the surface and using their long beaks to probe for invertebrates in the mud below. Stilts are social birds and will make a quite a ruckus when an intruder apporaches a nesting site.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Snowy Egret (Egretta thula)

The Snowy Egret is a member of the family Ardeidae which includes herons and egrets. It is identified by its stately white plumage, its black beak, and its bright yellow feet ("golden slippers"). It is considerably smaller than the Great Egret and is dispersed throughout the coastal United States in freshwater and saline habitats where it feeds on a variety of fish and aquatic invertebrates. The stills were taken on January 22, 2012 at the Rancho Simi Community Park duck pond which is immediately adjacent to the arroyo. The video was taken on January 8, 2012 just west of where the arroyo passes under Madera Road.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus)

This is a male Hooded Merganser that I saw in the Arroyo Simi on January 7, 2012 just west of Madera Road. I saw two separate Mergansers on this day. I also observed a Hooded Merganser on a previous visit in the same area, so I suspect one or more of them may be wintering in the arroyo. Hooded Merganser are considered diving ducks that favor small lakes, ponds, and coastal marshes. According to my guide, their appearance here is considered "uncommon."

This is the second male that I observed on this same visit.