But I have to say that I've enjoyed the local wildlife here in NoCal quite a bit so far. Just since Jan 1, I've already tallied about 140 bird species in my county alone - I haven't even made a coastal trip or a trip to higher than 1500' altitude. There are so many habitats close by that I can spend much more time 'in the field'.
One of my local favorites so far has to be the Surf Scoter, a winter resident along the west coast.
|Surf Scoter (male), Shoreline Lake, Mountain View, CA|
The photographed Scoter above is a male seen on Shoreline Lake. As I understand it, Shoreline is a reliable location for Surf Scoters in the winter, and this year there are at least 15-20 on a daily basis.
The multi-colored bill is striking and unique - Eiders and Puffins are perhaps the only other species that compete. The bill - short, hard, and with a unique wave, is thought to have evolved to pull shellfish that have wedged themselves into rocks and other tight places.
Female Surf Scoters are much less flashy - generally a grey with a few white-ish accents, and a similar shaped bill with a touch of yellow on the end.
|Surf Scoter (Female), Shoreline Lake, Mountain View, CA|
Surf Scoters breed in northern Canada and the Arctic - so I expect that they will depart sometime after late March.