We made the journey up to Bodega Bay today on a single species quest for the very rare Emperor Goose. The bird, which normally breeds in the Arctic and winters in the Aleutian Islands, but has a small handful of Northern California records, has been present in Bodega Bay for a couple of weeks now. The repeated stories of how easy the bird was to locate proved to be too tempting for us. Lucky for us, the reports proved to be true and upon arriving at the much advertised observation area, the bird was located within three minutes and allowed lengthy comparison with the many hundreds of nearby Brant. It recalls my experience with the Common Greenshank in Humboldt in that only a moment later a Ruff appeared quite close to us. You know it's a good day when a Ruff is simply a bonus bird!


This morning on a scouting trip for an upcoming field trip, Shelia Annis, Kenneth Petersen and I visited Byxbee Park in Palo Alto. The Prairie Falcon, continues on the power line towers near the damn on the levy trail out toward Shoreline. As well, an immature Peregrine Falcon was in the area, a pair of Hooded Mergansers, and many of the expected waterfowl species. Clark's Grebes, Eared Grebes, White Pelicans were also among the swimming birds. A nice surprise was a Green-winged Teal showing the exaggerated facial pattern and long lengthwise stripe of white found on the Eurasian subspecies. The bird was along the levy trail leading out from the parking lot and about 150 yards beyond the concrete dam. It was resting beside the standard "Americans" on the banks of the creek and afforded nice comparison.

A short walk at the Palo Alto Flood Control Basin produced few surprises but a second immature Peregrine Falcon (possibly, but not necessarily the same bird seen earlier), and three male Blue-winged Teals.


After Christmas, my friend Jesse Conklin and I decided to make a trip to the Klamath area in Northern California. Our goal was to see the "Eagle spectacle" which occurs every winter, namely the gathering of several hundred Bald Eagles in a relatively small area where they feed on Tundra Swans and other waterfowl weakened by the long journey to this important wintering ground. We were frustrated, however, by the dense fog on both mornings of our visit which prevented us from seeing any of this famous Eagle behavior, but we still managed to log 44 Eagles, probably as many Rough-legged Hawks, a few Ferruginous Hawks, a Prairie Falcon, a Merlin and some locally rare Barrow's Goldeneyes. The single rarest bird encounted was a Trumpter Swan foraging among a large group of Tundra Swans. It's larger size and distictly shaped head helped us identify it among the confusing array of waterfowl which also included Snow and Ross' Geese. Another rare species was a Northern Shrike which we were fortunate to find. We were pleased with how easily we could separate this bird from the more common and notoriously similar Loggerhead Shrike. The trip was a success, in other words, despite the poor viewing conditions, and a list of species encountered is below.

December 29-31
(Klamath Falls, Lower Klamath Refuge, Tule Lake Refuge, Butte Valley Wildlife Area, HWY 97 from Weed to OR)
Aechmophorus species
Pied-billed Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Black-crowned Night-heron
Trumpeter Swan
Tundra Swan
Canada Goose ("common" and "cackling")
Greater White-fronted Goose
Ross' Goose
Snow Goose
Northern Pintail
American Wigeon
Greater Scaup
Common Goldeneye
Barrow's Goldeneye
Hooded Merganser
Common Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Northern Harrier
Red-tailed Hawk (including rufous-morph)
Ferruginous Hawk
Rough-legged Hawk (including dark-morph)
Golden Eagle
Bald Eagle
American Kestrel
Prairie Falcon
California Quail
Ring-necked Pheasant (including one taken by red-tail)
American Coot
California Gull
Rock Dove
Great Horned Owl
Northern Flicker
Pileated Woodpecker
Northern Shrike
Loggerhead Shrike
Scrub Jay
Steller's Jay
Clark's Nutcracker
Black-billed Magpie
Common Taven
Horned Lark
Mountain Chickadee
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Pygmy Nuthatch
Bewick's Wren
Marsh Wren
American Robin
European Starling
Song Sparrow
Western Meadowlark
Brown-headed Cowbird
Red-winged Blackbird
Brewer's Blackbird
House Finch
House Sparrow

December 31
(Interstate 5 from Weed to Redding, Highway 299, Arcata)
Great Egret
Turkey Vulture
White-tailed Kite
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Band-tailed Pigeon
Barn Owl
Short-eared Owl
Acorn Woodpecker
Black Phoebe
Yellow-billed Magpie
American Crow
American Dipper
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Cedar Waxwing