After hearing all the reports of Harris' Sparrow showing up this winter in the Bay Area, I decided to follow one of them up. I got the phone number of a friendly couple in Milbrae from a class member and gave them a call. This was the second year the bird had appeared in their yard and last year it remained for 5 months. They were happy to receive guests and so I awoke at 5:15am and drove to their home. We waited in their living room and the told me about the bird's routine. Within 15 minutes the bird, a handsome adult male, appeared in their back yard and fed among the many White-crowned Sparrows, Golden-crowned Sparrows and House Finches. It was right on schedule. It remained visible for several minutes allowing comparison with the other Sparrows who appeared considerably smaller. We chatted for a while and I admired their photographs of the bird and they offered me breakfast. I declined but thanked them for the opportunity to visit them and see this "lifer".


Today, as I walked during lunch on University Avenue in Palo Alto, an immature Cooper's Hawk streaked through town causing quite a stir among the many Rock Doves roosting near the new pizza place. Not only did the flock take flight, with their characteristic wing slapping, which helps alert the other birds, but a long Western Scrub Jay also sounded the first of several alarms. I find it intersting that I was completely unaware of the hawk's presence until it was right over me and would have remained so unless I had heard the other birds' distress calls.

Also, when I visited the Adult School Office just before class, I happened to notice that the Cliff Swallows have once again set up house around the square lawn. Their mud structures can be seen sticking above the windows on the tower building.


On a trip to Lodi over the weekend, Kelly and I encountered a flock of about 10 Wood Ducks at Pig's Lake near her parent's home. Other interesting birds included Gadwall, American Wigeon, a pair of Cooper's Hawks, a Wild Turkey, Tree and Barn Swallows, Hutton's Vireo and an Orange-crowned Warbler. Many other birds were seen as well, with quite a number of songs being heard in this beautiful riparian habitat.


On a scouting trip for next week's field trip to Panoche Valley with my Palo Alto Adult School Birding Class, my friend Brian Christman and I toured the area. Our 258 mile trip took us through an astounding variety of beautiful habitats with good weather, but cool conditions and at times high wind. We began in Hollister and followed Hwy 25 to Paicines where we took J-1 (Penoche and Little Penoche) all the way to I-5 via Mercy Hot Springs. Highlights of the trip included a Great Horned Owl right outside of Paicines in a mud cave on the left side of the road. We found what seemed an early Cassin's Kingbird on J-1 just a few miles west of the Little Panoche Road junction in a large grove of fruit trees. Many dozens of Lark Sparrows were seen here as well. Perhaps 100 Lawrence's Goldfinches were seen in a mixed flock with Tricolored Blackbird and House Sparrow just 100 yards west of the Panoche Inn along the road. Western Kingbird was found in this area as well. Rock Wren was heard, but not seen, at Shotgun Pass. The Long-eared Owl was easily found in the Tamarask Trees at Mercy Hot Springs. No Barn Owls were present that we could find, but an additional 50 Lawrence's Goldfinches was a nice consolation! We also heard, but did not see, an Ash-throated Flycatcher in the area. A total of three Golden Eagles was logged for the day, but no Ferruginous Hawks or other interesing raptors. Two weeks prior to today, Kelly Hayashi and I had seen Mountain Bluebird and Ferruginous Hawk along the Little Panoche Road, but none were found today. A tour up the BLM road produced little we hadn't seen already. As well, Sparrows seemed generally to be in short supply with only the most common logged. Swallow's have definately moved in for the season, with the greatest number being found at the Little Panoche Reservoir.

Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Ruddy Duck
Turkey Vulture
White-tailed Kite
Golden Eagle
Northern Harrier
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
American Coot
Mourning Dove
Rock Dove
Great Horned Owl
Long-eared Owl
White-throated Swift
Anna's Hummingbird
Acorn Woodpecker
Nuttall's Woodpecker (heard only)
Northern Flicker
Black Phoebe
Say's Phoebe
Ash-throated Flycatcher (heard only)
Western Kingbird
Cassin's Kingbird
Tree Swallow
Violet-green Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Western Scrub Jay
Yellow-billed Magpie
American Crow
Common Raven
Oak Titmouse
Rock Wren (heard only)
House Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Western Bluebird
American Robin
Wrentit (heard only)
American Pipit (heard only)
Loggerhead Shrike
Orange-crowned Warbler (heard only)
Yellow-rumped Warbler
California Towhee
Spotted Towhee (heard only)
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
White-crowend Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Red-winged Blackbird
Tricolored Blackbird
Brewer's Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Purple Finch
House Finch
Lesser Goldfinch
Lawrence's Goldfinch
House Sparrow