Las Gallinas, May 2007
By May, all of the winter migrants have left the Las Gallinas Sanitary Ponds in Marin County, California. The remaining permanent or summer residents include canada geese, mallards, barn and cliff swallows, red-winged blackbirds, finches, and sparrows. Egrets and herons come and go, but at this time most of them are in breeding rookeries a few miles away.
A new addition to Las Gallinas this year is the apartment complex for cliff swallows, and the swallows have moved in by the hundreds! The complex is under the bridge at the entrance to the open ponds, next to the parking lot. This complex consists of a series of 4x4s and 2x6s fastened to the underside of the bridge, providing for plenty of building lots for the swallows right next to their building material---mud. I visited on May 11 and used my Canon 1D mk II with a Canon 500mm f/4 lens. Because it's very dark under the bridge, I used flash for some of the shots.
Above, swallows gathering mud along the creek under the bridge.
Below, a swallow with a mouth full of mud, preparing to apply it to the doorway of the nest.
The mud has to go on just so---
Below, a wider view of several nests taken with the 100-400 mm zoom at 330 mm and a much higher ISO (1600 vs 400 for all of the above):
I also took a few shots of the other residents of the ponds---
And a couple of the youngsters---
Canada geese goslings have amazingly small wings or amazingly big feet or both!
Below, Mrs. Mallard out with her brood: