Not more than a minute or two have passed since Cricket and I both learned of the pair of nesting Condors in the Ventana Wilderness near Big Sur. This is the first active nest in Monterey County in more than 100 years and represents a huge event. We both have goose bumps and the magnitude of such a discovery is more than I can express. It's also so very timely because just last night we were talking about Condors in class... Let's all hope the nesting pair is successful. See a great photograph posted on Don Roberson's site: http://montereybay.com/creagrus/MTY_2006.html
There was a male Hooded Oriole was at the SCVAS headquarters, McClellan Ranch today. I heard it from the far side of the trail and then found the brilliant yellow-orange bird 45 minutes later, perched high in a sycamore. Nearby was a fan palm which I suppose he was staking out for a possible nest site as he flew in and out of it several times. I never did see the female. There was also an Orange-crowned Warbler and a pair of Townsend's Warbler along the creek trail.
Cricket and I explored Gilroy Hot Springs Road for an upcoming class trip. While it rained heavily in the morning, we were able to locate our first-of-season Wilson's Warbler foraging with a large flock of Bushtits at the dead end by the bridge on the trail leading into Henry Coe. As well we saw and heard another Orange-crowned Warbler with yes, a bright orange crown! Birding was otherwise slow, but Violet-green Swallows were numerous over the creek and an adult Golden Eagle put in an appearance over the ridge.
Before leaving the area, we made a quick stop at Coyote Lake Park where Barn, Violet-green, Tree and Northern Rough-winged Swallows were all seen foraging over the water.
Preparations for the annual SCVAS Bird-a-thon are well under way. My team will be birding on Saturday, April 15 (Tax Day) and so we will, from this point on, answer to the name of "The De-DUCK-tions". Never mind that Waterfowl are generally scarce in spring, but just like the familiar tax situation many of us find ourselves in, we can always search... (Please accept my apology for the very bad pun. It just happened...) Stay tuned for an actual plan of attack, but for the moment, my thinking is that we'll begin early at Smith Creek, come down hill to Twin Gates and Grant Park, followed by Alviso and the Charleston Slough/Palo Alto Baylands with a break for dinner and finally some Owling in the coastal foothills. More details later.
Lunch hour on Friday produced a singing Purple Finch along the San Francisquito Creek. This was at the 3-way intersection with Palo Alto, Pow and Bryant. In the top of the huge conifers a Cooper's Hawk called repeatedly. This is where the pair had set up nest last year, so maybe it will happen again this year. Yellow-rumped Warblers are now in breeding plumage and singing in full voice. Hermit Thrushes and Fox Sparrows are still present as are both of the "Crowned" Sparrows. A large group of Mallards have gathered downstream as well, with roughly 15 males and 2 females. Odds seem pretty good, that the females will find mates! The water was rushing pretty fast and as I watched the Ducks, a pair of Hooded Mergansers floated by, buffetted by the waves.
I wandered around the south bay yesterday, hoping to locate some newly arrived migrants. Orange-crowned Warblers were in evidence yesterday in several locations, Stevens Creek Park, Picchetti Winery and Sunol Regional Wilderness. At this last location, Brian and I located several Northern Rough-winged Swallows along the creek as well as a few Violet-green Swallows.
I've agreed to lead a tour of Coyote Hills Regional Park on Sunday, April 09 as part of an ongoing series "Birding the Bay Trail" organized by the San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory. Details can be found on the SFBBO website: http://www.sfbbo.org/calendar.htm I consider it a great honor to be asked by this great organization to participate in the program and I look forward to meeting some new people, both members and non-members on the tour day! A donation of $10 to SFBBO is requested for non-members.