03-31-01

Last weekend while we were skating along the Stevens Creek Trail I spotted a "Eurasian" Green-winged Teal. This bird was associating with some of our standard "American" Green-winged Teal as might be expected, but its diagnostic lengthwise stripe of white gave it away. Elsewhere in Shoreline Park a pair of nesting Burrowing Owls were easily seen near the golfcourse along the main entrance road.

Yesterday, on a walk along San Francisquito Creek by my office I was able to see a few interesting spring arrivals. Violet-green Swallows, Barn Swallows, Townsend's Warbler and many Yellow-rumped Warblers in full breeding plumage. This last species is usually seen in the winter and therefore much drabber than now.

The Mourning Doves have set up house right above my car downstairs on an impossibly small ledge where the flimsy stick nest somehow stays in place. No chicks yet, but the adults have been there for a week now, and I can't wait to see what happens next. I imagine once the eggs have hatched, the pair will be trading off feeding the young and it should be fun to watch.

One door down from my appartment, all seems to be well with the House Sparrow family that has taken up residence in a small vent above a neigbor's door. I see lot's of activity with the male and female both coming and going but no sounds of babies yet.

Just a few moments ago I heard a Barn Owl give its harsh screech over my complex. I've seen this species occasionally fly over the road, but I've not gotten a better look than I did at the San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory last month when I was able to photograph one in broad daylight.


03-03-01

Spring seems to be all around us! The winter birds are decreasing in numbers and every day, new resident species are singing in full voice. Among the more interesting songs I've heard in the past week was that of a California Thrasher by my apartment complex. Seeing a Thrasher is always exciting to me, but the appearance of this bird represents the first time in six years I have ever detected the species on the property. It's song resembles that of a somewhat less musical, less practiced Mockingbird. Bewick's Wrens as well, have been setting up territory in the vacinity of the dumpster by my carport, and Mourning Doves have been investigating possible nest spots above my doorway. Elsewhere, White-tailed Kites could be seen mating at Arastradero OSP and at Princeton Harbor, three species were seen on a recent field trip and two, the Common Loon and the Red-throated Loon appeared in full breeding plumage which is a very uncommon site in our area. American Avocets are also adopting their orange head and neck plumage.

The Ruff continues to be seen at the east end of the Dumbarton Bridge in the first pond after leaving the toll plaza. After paying the toll, pull immediately off to the right and park in a small gravel/mud sholder and survey the many shorebirds for the rare Eurasian shorebird in the first pond. The bird appears like a stocky, short-billed Yellowlegs with more gold-tones and extensive scaling on the back. In the same pond there were several hundred Bonaparte's Gulls as well. The Rough-legged Hawk which has been seen on numerous occasions near the entrance kiosk at Coyote Hills Regional Park, could not be refound this weekend, but was present the previous Saturday along with an immature Peregrine Falcon.

On a serious note, the extremely rare Black-backed Wagtail from Asia persists Cargill Salt Company property. I was able to view it briefly, but now realize I made a serious error in judgement by doing so. I was severely repremanded after I made a post to both South Bay Birds and CalBird because the Wagtail is now and indeed always has been on private property. I was aware the surrounding areas were privately owned but believed in error I had found a public entry to a accesible area. I had heard rumors the bird could be observed without trespassing, but this does not appear to be the case. Upon examining maps in detail and reading previous posts regarding the bird's location it is clear the entire area is private and should not be entered without written permission. I was mistaken and acted with poor judgement when I accessed an overlook that "seemed" safe. I did not have enough information. Despite my efforts to be responsible and consciencious, I both trespassed and alarmed many birders who have justifiably expressed their concern.

For this poor behaviour I wish to apologize to the entire birding community and the Cargill Salt Company. I urge people to avoid the same mistake I have made. I hope my actions will not convince others to pursue this bird or any other that cannot be viewed from public land.