Walking from my car to the office this morning I heard the full song of a Yellow-rumped Warbler in the trees across the street. Sounds like he'll be moving on any day now.
Just before heading into the SCVAS board meeting yesterday, I saw my FOS Violet-green Swallows. They were circling over the meadow at McClellan Ranch and landing on the top of a bare conifer. I saw them squabbling in flight and mating too.
Another Oriole quest during lunch produced both Hooded and Bullock's Orioles in the Geng Road area of Palo Alto. The Hooded however, has moved just across the water to a neighboring list area... We won't hold it against him, he seems to have found a perfect palm tree from which to sing for both lists.
Spring is truly here! I made a quick Oriole run to Geng Road at lunch and was rewarded with 2 FOS species. A male Hooded Oriole was chattering in the eucalyptus directly above the trail head at the end of the parking lot, and a male Bullock's Oriole was in a tall eucalyptus above the golf course pond.
Driving home through the central valley we are seeing Swainson's Hawks in both light and dark morphs. I love that Buteo and it's unique, a- typical flight profile! A bonus was seeing two species of Magpie in less two hours.
On our way to Eagle Lake with the group, we suggested our caravan visit Merrillville Road. In this area Cricket and I had had luck with hawks two days earlier. Today produced Cassin's Finch, Red Crossbill, Townsend's Solitaire, Clark's Nutcracker, Golden and Bald Eagles, Rough-legged Hawk... another great day in the Eagle Lake/Honey Lake area.
We awoke at 3:45, giving us more than enough time to be ready to caravan to the lek by 5:00. Several cups of coffee and a dozen or low layers of clothing later, we were on the road with Cathy Priest and Margot Rawlins in a high clearance vehicle. We began to hear the sounds shortly after we arrived, and soon after that we were counting whitish blobs moving around in the distance. We ended up seeing 18 male Greater Sage Grouse, maybe 5-10 females, Prairie Falcon, Sage Sparrow (nevadadensis), White Headed Woodpecker, Tundra Swan, Ferruginous Hawk, Bald Eagle... A pretty good day around Honey Lake! Also Pronghorn, the only American antelope!
Cricket and I birded on our way up to the Sage Grouse lek outside of Susanville. At least 6 Swainson's Hawks in the central valley, some dark others light. As we got closer to Susanville we logged 5 Townsend's Solitaires, 5 Rough-legged Hawks, more than 100 Tundra Swans, 1 Bald Eagle, loads of Mountain Bluebirds, a few Cassin's Finches, Lark Sparrows and Mountain Chickadees. Cricket reminds me we saw three species of Nuthatch in one stretch of road: Red-breasted, Pygmy and White-breasted Nuthatches all in the same tree! She also likes the Red-breasted Sapsucker.
In my haste to send yesterday's post using my phone, I neglected to mention that the American Dipper was carrying nesting material, which it took beneath the bridge. This is the familiar location where they have nested on several occasions--the third bridge along Stevens Creek after you pass the intersection with Mount Eden Road. A huge, moss-covered rock marks the area.
Camp Castanoan is very near the intersection with Mount Eden Road as well. In addition to the dingy White-throated Sparrow on the uphill driveway we also marveled at the number of Varied Thrushes in the area. On the entrance road leading past the two white propane tanks we found perhaps 10 VATHs and heard more in the woods. A Red-breasted Sapsucker was seen several times as it visited a tree by the restrooms.
At Stevens Creek Reservoir Petersen and I found one Spotted Sandpiper, a Common Merganser, a raft of roughly a dozen Ring-necked Ducks, a Tree Swallow and a Northern Rough-winged Swallow. Two Wood Ducks flew over the road near the large parking area by the dam, and another male Wood Duck was found along the creek in the lower picnic area of Stevens Creek Park. Two Brown Creepers were seen here as well as another Red-breasted Sapsucker. Purple Finches were in full voice as was a California Thrasher. Over the course of the day several singing Orange-crowned Warblers were seen and heard.
On a mid-afternoon bike ride down Stevens Creek trail toward the bay, I found a perfect example of a "Eurasian" Green-winged Teal. The male was on in the channel, just west of the trail among standard "American" males who were puffing up and displaying to the nearby females. This birds was comparitively aloof, content to preen and keep to himself. The horizontal white stripe on the back was strongly present, and there was no hint of a vertical white mark on the side of its breast. The facial pattern of green and deep reddish-brown was strongly edged with buffy lines.