Brian Christman and I scouted out Stevens Creek Park in preparation for an upcoming class field trip. We arrived early afternoon, way too late of course... Visible activity was slow, but many birds were detected by voice. Most of our time was spent in the northern most entrance in the picnic area and visitors center. Among the birds we located were Sharp-shinned Hawk, Hairy Woodpecker, Pacific-slope Flycatcher, Violet-green Swallow, Warbling Vireo, Wilson's Warbler, Townsend's Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, and Bullock's Oriole. As an afterthough, we decided to go to McLellan Ranch and see if we could add a second species of Oriole. We found both Bullock's and Hooded Orioles in the trees near the SCVAS headquarters.


On the way to work I saw a Merlin in hot pursuit over El Camino Real, very close to Rengsdorff. I couldn't get a read on the bird's sex, but the strong direct flight and pointed wings, wide at the base allowed me to identify the species. Too small to be a Peregrine, of course. Another Raptor, an immature Cooper's Hawk, flew up into a tree right outside my office as I was searching for a parking place. Not a bad start to a work day.


Class starts tonight and I'm a little nervous. I've got lot's of great field trips planned, including 4 new locations: Twin Gates/Smith Creek, Fremont Peak State Park, Pinnacles National Monument and Cosumnes River Preserve. Wouldn't it be great if we got to see free-flying California Condors on a class trip? Well, anyway, news for this morning was an American Kestrel that flew over my carport. If it weren't for the bird's reflection in my hatchback as I loaded up the supplies for tonight, I wouldn't have seen it. It must have brought me luck because class was wonderful with many old friends and quite a few new faces too.


Cricket and I took advantage of the fabulous weather today and scouted out Fremont Peak Park for an upcoming spring term trip. Wow! What a gorgeous view, and definitely on next term's itinerary. Highlights of our tour included two Red-breaseted Sapsucker, Northern Flicker, Downy and Nuttall's Woodpeckers, California Quail a White-breasted Nuthatch, House Wren, numerous Yellow-rumped and Orange-crowned Warblers as well as Western Bluebirds and singing Purple Finches. All the while we discussed the possibility of seeing Golden Eagle and Rock Wren in this great area, and what do you know... we found both! A pair of Golden Eagle perched high atop a rocky cliff and one took off in a stunning aerial display while the other watched. We heard three different Rock Wrens but only got looks at one. It came to investigate us and perform its song so we had great opportunities to see it up close.


Cricket and I conducted a 10-mile inline skating tour of the Charleston Slough and Stevens Creek trail on Saturday and came across 2-3 Northern Rough-winged Swallows in the L'Avenida section of our course. We were trying to get some aerobic exercise and not to stop, but we had take a break when we found another bird of interest, a Burrowing Owl near the kiosk at the entrance to Shoreline Park. It stood quite conspicuously on a small mound before returning to its hole. There were also loads of Canvasbacks, Ruddy Ducks and a few American Wigeon still on the salt ponds.


A pair of Hooded Mergansers were sleeping peacefully along a quiet stretch of San Francisquito Creek today during lunch. I watched them for a few minutes, trying hard not to startle them, but soon they swam toward cover anyway. It was strange, they never once lifted their heads, they just paddled while appearing to be asleep. I suppose they were awake, but I wasn't important enough to acknowledge. Later in the afternoon I could hear several White-throated Swifts overhead near Emerson and Hamilton in Palo Alto. Spring is in the air!


Just after midnight Cricket and I heard a Barn Owl screech over our neighborhood somewhere. It was an unmistakable, blood chilling call! The following morning, on my way to work I saw a large group, perhaps 50, Cedar Waxwings flying over Rengsdorff like so many windblown leaves and just behind them was Merlin in hot pursuit. The Falcon was flying so fast I couldn't see any fieldmarks other than its shape and flight pattern which was direct and powerful. I also didn't see the end of the story. I'm assuming it succeeded in catching one of the Waxwings, but I had to keep my eyes on the road...