Saturday

Broken Collar Bone

A couple weeks ago I broke my collar bone in a car accident. For those, like the x-ray technician, who do not know what the clavicle is, it is the collar bone. For those that do not know what or where the pectoral muscles are they are the ones on your upper chest and you do use them to sit up (in combination with your abdominal muscles). This means that sitting up in bed hurts like crazy resulting in strange slug-like movements to extract one's self from bed in the morning.
This is my broken clavicle
My break did not have to be set-moving the bones so that they heal properly. The bones are still touching and will heal with only a bump. Some breaks require surgery with pins put in to hold the pieces of the bone in alignment. Other complications include punctured lungs and pinched nerves, blood vessels and muscle mass. Basically it's not a great bone to break, but hey, it's better than breaking a rib.

Friday

Tiny Bundt Pan

 I was given a gift card to a cooking supply store for the holidays. I have never bought an impractical kitchen item, but now I have and gosh is it adorable. I bought this pan and tried it out tonight. I'm planning on making tea cakes using a bundt cake recipe, but I thought I'd try a regular cake out first. I now know why bundt cake goes into a bundt pan- regular cake has far too many air bubbles to preserve the detailed shapes. Next time I use it all will be well and the teacake adventures will continue.

Monterey Trip

I went on a trip up to Monterey and the surrounding area. While there I was able to do some birding with my significant other. We received an e-mail notification that there was a sighting of a few rare birds in the area so we went to look for them. We were unsuccessful in seeing the Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis) and the Tundra swans (Cygnus columbianus). Despite our best efforts the rain and a large amount of cow dung dashed our hopes and our shoes. The final vagrant alert was for a pair of Hooded Mergansers (Lyphodotyes cucullatus)- aka Hoodies. The alert said that they were at El Estero Park near a car wash so we walked around the whole lake, no luck. Just as we were about to call it a day I noticed a small pond across the street fairly close to the aforementioned car wash. My birding buddy was reluctant to check, but we did anyway. Turns out the little guys were over there. Our best guess is that it is more secluded as Hoodies tend to be fairly shy. Hoodies are the smallest of the mergansers by quite a large margin. They measure about 18 inches compared to the 25 inches of the Common Merganser (Mergus merganser).
The pair we saw in the pond
We also got to see both light and dark morphs of the Northern Fulmar (Fulmar gracialis), a new bird for both of us, and a Barn Owl (Tyto alba) hunting.
A Townsend's Warbler near the aquarium
Better picture, but not mine.

Newport, CA Birding

In early December my father and I went birding at the Upper Newport Bay in California. This bay is a hotspot for migrant waterfowl as well as many year-round residents. The mix of fresh and salt water, an estuary, makes this an especially diverse ecosystem as it contains an ecotone. We saw about 45 bird species including 4 new ones for me and 1 new one for my dad.
The Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus) is a hawk found in many habitats including farmland, marshes, bogs, and swamps. They are found throughout the Northern Hemisphere in places such as the US, Canada and the UK. Their main prey, constituting 95% of their diet, is small mammals though they will take small birds and amphibians. Due to their large range the IUCN lists them as "Least Concern", but they are highly endangered in England due to illegal poaching; there are as few as 4 breeding pairs left there. A reliable way to identify they is  their white rump patch. This is especially helpful as the American subspecies is almost entirely brown.
We also saw an Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), another raptor. Ospreys are mostly fish eaters and are thus common around lakes and estuaries.

There were a large number of Northern Pintail (Anas acuta) ducks in the estuary. The males are easy to identify due to their long upright tail feathers and well defined head markings. The females are a bit harder to identify especially when grouped with other female ducks such as mallards and wigeons.
The Grey Flycatcher (Empidonax wrightii) was a new bird for my dad and me. As its name suggests it is insectivorous. This was not the easiest bird to identify as it was fairly far away and is about 6 inches long. The distinguishing mark is its two-tone beak- black on the top and orange/pink on the bottom.