Taking time to observe without my camera, I saw a pervasive nervousness. They were not going about their business in comfort. They were attuned to everything new in their environment, stopping their feeding or play for the slightest disruption. So although it disappointed me to put my camera away, I decided I would investigate their history before I tried photographing them again.
Smith Cove Park is populated only occasionally with dog walkers, cruise ship aficionados, marina boaters and a few transient souls who stop there by way of a nearby bike route. I went there for the waters -- and for the salt air -- without expectation of wildlife. But, that was about to change -- one late April day.
As an adjunct to the Clapper Rail story, Bird Note asked if I would revisit my observations of a Clapper Rail tagging operation at Arrowhead Marsh in Oakland — a study I photographed in 2009. The marsh was close to our home in the Bay Area, and a quick hop from Oakland Airport. The proximity gave me a ready excuse to stop by with my camera whenever I shuttled Hugh to his flights.
The main diet for wintering robins is fruit-based. Berries like pyracantha, hawthorn, holly, and juniper meet digestive juices in the stomach's proventriculus at the front end, then transport their seeds through the bird's system for deposit and germination later.
I believe this interaction was a territorial display between two Northern Flickers. Their routine was on a continuous loop for about five minutes, performed on utility cables strung across our view of the city.