A dark morph Ferruginous Hawk seen on Panoche Road this past Saturday. I'm happy to say that my "memory skech" matches reasonably well with photographs taken of the same bird. The down turned wings are intended to suggest the deep Eagle-like strokes characteristic of the species, as are the very un-Buteo-like pointed wing tips. It makes for an interesting comparison to the pale bird we saw at Jepson Prairie Preserve two weeks ago!

Canyon Wren from in-class collaborative sketch:


One of two, possibly even three, Northern Waterthrushes we found at Charleston Road Marsh in Mountain View. While coloration appeared to be consistent, very pronounced differences in behavior between the individuals suggested to us that this one might have been a female. The first bird we found was very jumpy, vocal and perched high in the willows, while this one remained silent and low. The possible third bird was somewhere between these two extremes...

Eastern Phoebe at Lake Cunningham yesterday. Subtle differences in structure between this and our two familiar Phoebes made for an interesting discussion.

American Redstart yesterday at Lake Cunningham. This bird was really difficult to get an extended look at.


White-faced Ibis coming in for a landing along Hwy 162 this past Sunday on our drive to Sacramento NWR.


A memory-sketch of an adult Ferruginous Hawk at Jepson Prairie Preserve. We had several sightings of the species on Sunday, but most likely it was the same individual moving across Hwy 113 for us to find again on Robinson Road. Seeing the telltale 3-spots-of-white moving across an open grassland always makes my heart race.


We had a great day at Gray Lodge and Colusa NWR today! With a day list of 103 species AND the Russian as our sunset bird it could hardly have been any better. Falcated Duck was as beautiful and cooperative as we hoped, but when we recounted the day's sightings over wine with the group, several folks chose something else as their favorite. For me, it was an adult Ferruginous Hawk flying low over the lava fields on the northwest side of Sutter Buttes, simply stunning! Tomorrow, we continue the adventure as we make our way home, birding all the way.


The famed Falcated Duck at Colusa was present again late this afternoon, showing beautifully for two dozen or so birders on the first observation platform at Colusa. On this pond as well were a number other interesting birds including 4 drake Eurasian Wigeon, many Cackling Geese (mostly minima), Greater White-fronted including a one or two that looked like "Tule" Geese, Ring-necked Ducks and a Peregrine Falcon. Will try again tomorrow morning with my class, and if it keeps with its recent afternoon routine, we may need to return after Gray Lodge...


Saw something interesting yesterday at the Palo Alto Baylands. Two flocks of Bonaparte's Gulls, 500 individuals each, were headed toward the bay. Behind them was a straggler, being chased by a Peregrine Falcon! It stooped twice while I watched and the Gull was screaming loudly. I'm afraid to admit, I was actually rooting for the Falcon, but alas, the Gull somehow got away.

You'd think a Greater Scaup at the Palo Alto Duck Pond would be an easy subject... seeing as it's only a few yards away, and all. But this dang bird kept swimming to the opposite side of the pond, away from where I was sitting, and directly into the glare. Did I mention it was diving almost constantly, and every time I refound it, it dove again? Each time it resurfaced, it's head shape changed, and it was somewhere I didn't expect, facing the opposite direction...


Red-naped Sapsucker
female from in-class collaborative sketch:


We saw the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker at Picchetti Ranch today. Since I had made a sketch of the species recently, I decided to try something new. I was fascinated by the California Thrashers feeding on over-ripe persimmons in the thee and on the ground. There were so many species visiting this open buffet, it was hard to tell who was eating fruit and who was eating insects ATTRACTED to the fruit. In the case of the Thrasher, I think it was both.


Not a rare bird by any means, but strangely absent from much of the immediate coast. The Ring-billed Gull prefers inland areas, especially waters away from the rocky coast we have so much of here. This adult was resting on the Palo Alto Bayland mudflats today during lunch with many other adults. Quite small for a Gull, and easy bested by other Larids, today a nearby American Coot even forced it to move away! Who knew Coots could be so pushy! Anyway, I don't think I've sketched an adult before but as usual, colors were a challenge in the field.


American Avocet, sketched during lunch today. The water was high in the Palo Alto Baylands lagoon, so these waders were forced to swim... They did a very fine job of it too! This individual is likely a female due to the very long, and sharply upturned bill.


Happy New Year everyone! I'm very glad to say my first report this year involves the continuing Ruff at Crittenden Marsh. The bird, presumed to be a male by virtue of it's size, has been present for more than a week. Cricket and I observed it two days ago without a scope, and today returned to share fantastic views with an out-of-town birder from Davis. I'm including the sketch I made earlier because nothing we observed today contradicts the earlier drawing, except perhaps the bird's legs really did appear to be straw-colored.