I stopped at Palo Alto recycling today and noticed a large group of Canada Geese on the hillside at Byxbee Park. A quick scan of the group revealed 6 Cackling Geese among them. The tide was quite high as well so I decided to make a detour to Palo Alto Baylands where in the flooded marsh a Clapper Rail was easily found at Rail Alley. Finally, I made a quick stop at the duck pond where the Orange-crowned Warbler was foraging in the flowering tree direcly above the blue outhouse.
Kelly and I recently bought a home in Mountain View with a small deck out the back door, which is visible from the kitchen window. While making lunch today we were thrilled to see two Varied Thrushes feeding on the ground beneath the pair of orange trees. They busily overturned leaves and poked around in the moist soil, probably finding insects that were attracted to the fallen fruit. Not rare birds of course, but so wonderful to have in our tiny back yard!
Between household errands today, Cricket and I were able to make a brief stop at Radio Road in Redwood Shores. Among the usual Waterfowl we spotted two male Blue-winged Teal (one seemed to be coming out of eclipse), and a beautiful male Hooded Merganser.
A second quick stop at the pond behind Nob Hill Grocery produced 2 Palm Warblers in the fennel midway along the fence between the homes and the pond.
After I dropped Cricket back at the house I made a quick stop at Alviso. Most interesting during my brief visit was a male Eurasian Wigeon in saltpond A18. Walking out from the EEC, I continued to the right when I reached the water and stopped at the picnic table. From there I was able to scope a large number of American Wigeons and stopped on a beautiful red-headed male Eurasian. I watched it for a while and eventually lost track of it among the bazillions of other birds. I also startled a Varied Thrush as I returned to my car through the Butterfly Garden. It perched for a moment beneath the Barn Owl nest box and then dropped out of site. Fox Sparrows were abundant in the underbrush here too.
They let me out of the office for a few minutes at lunch and I used the time to visit Palo Alto Baylands. An Orange-crowned Warbler was foraging in the trees between the Duck Pond and the Ranger Station. I also stopped at the end of Geng Road, where Dean Manley and Jeff Mencher were watching the 2 Greater White-fronted and 2 Snow Geese. A Green Heron was also present sitting quietly in the reeds. Back to work...
Brian Christman and I stopped at the Spring Valley entrance of Ed Levin Park and were able to relocate the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in a very short time. The bird was more easily seen today than last time, and foraged openly in the tamarisk trees. It seemed to me that its facial markings and back spotting was more crisply defined than before, but it could have been the lack of wind and the bird's relaxed behavior today.
Next up was the Black-and-white Warbler along Penitencia Creek. We parked at Kyle Street, crossed Penitencia and found the bird foraging in the sycamores 20 yards west of the wooden bridge. As noted, it's an active bird that flits about considerably, often working the branches like a Nuthatch. Another birder named Billie joined us and all three of us were able to spot the bird again as it approached closely and allowed us good looks from every angle. What a great looking bird!
I also stopped by Byxbee Park at the end of Embarcadero Road in Palo Alto late afternoon (about 4:45). Several people were already in position when I arrived and said the Short-eared Owl had made a brief appearance before returning to the dump. It finally reappeared, and as others have reported, it tended to forage over the marsh below the hillocks. I watched it long distance before I spotted the second Short-eared Owl coming up from behind much closer. It made it's way overhead toward the Baylands Interpretive Center. I really enjoy the way they fly, like giant moths... Anyway, as I walked back to my car, 2 Clapper Rails foraged in the muddy channel by the restrooms. Several of us watched the birds as they fed out in the open.
Cricket and I met up with Leonie Batkin at Venice Beach to search for yesterday's Slaty-backed Gull. We searched for more than two hours to no avail. We did however relocate the "Dusky" Canada Goose, as well as the 1st cycle Glaucous Gull. Dan Singer was present as well and confirmed the Gull for us, which was helpful as it is considerably darker than other GLGUs I have seen before. The bird looks very much like a crisply-marked 1st winter Glaucous-wing, but with paler primaries and a pink bill "dipped in ink".
At Princeton Harbor, we walked out the commercial pier and saw all three Long-tailed Ducks close together as they swam among the boats. As others have mentioned, there was one male, and two females. At least one Ruddy Turnstone was present on the jetty.
Skylawn Cemetary, at the intersection of Hwy 92 and Skyline, produced dozens of Townsend's and Yellow-rumped Warblers. Also present were at least 6 Hermit Warblers foraging on the ground. Lovely to watch! We also relocated a "Slate-colored" Dark-eyed Junco as Kris Olsen had reported, and a small flock of Red Crossbills. Actually, we only saw one Crossbill, but several others were heard in the trees nearby.
I made a run down to Ogier Ponds this morning to see what I could find for the new year. Highlights included a large flock containing close to 70 Cackling Geese flying southeast overhead, 1 Ring-necked Duck , 6 Canvasbacks, 4 Hooded Mergansers, 2 Common Mergansers, 1 Wilson's Snipe, 3 Say's Phoebes, 1 Loggerhead Shrike, and 6 Lincoln's Sparrows. The portion of the trail that leads beneath the bridge (at the far end of the model airplane field) was especially busy with Sparrows, but nothing unusual seemed to be present.
Later I visited the Coyote Creek Golfcourse where Al Eisner, myself and another birder were able to relocate the Solitary Sandpiper in the small pond at the end of the foot trail leading north off of the entrance road. As mentioned, the bird was foraging around the small pond with muddy banks.