04-19-09

Responding to reports from other teams' discovery of Brandt's Cormorant in the Palo Alto Baylands, I visited the boat dock area along the channel to try my luck. The tide was low and few Cormorants were in evidence, however the flats were teaming with Shorebirds, including Dunlin in full breeding plumage!






04-18-09
SCVAS Birdathon with Team DeDUCKtions


Our group met at Krispi Kreme at Rengstorff and Hwy 101 at 5:00. Participating in the count was Carolyn Straub, Steven McHenry, Ashutosh Sinha, Rob Pavey, Eric Goodill, Leonie Batkin, Kelly "Cricket" Dodder and myself. We stuck to the itinerary from last year for the most part with small departures based on recent news and a few tips from other birders. I had done most of the route the day before, but as expected, results were different between the two days.


Photo: Ashutosh Sinha

Smith Creek:
We managed quite well here with Wood Duck, Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, Varied Thrush, Western Tanager, three species of Vireo and Purple Finch. Northern Pygmy Owl and Winter Wren were not found.

Kincaid Road: Spectacular looks at Chipping Sparrow and Lark Sparrow, as well as our first Bullock's Oriole. Band-tailed Pigeons were roosting in the trees by the corral. Western Kingbirds would have to wait. Yellow-billed Magpie was found in the trees across the meadow.

Twin Gates: The first of many Western Kingbirds, as well as Tree Swallows. By now we were seeing Tree Swallows mixed in with the Violet-greens. Yesterday's heard Lazuli Bunting was not refound.

Chaparral turnout: This is our traditional spot for Rufous-crowned Sparrow, but it has been less productive recently. We got Wrentit here but little else. Yesterday's Hammond's Flycatcher was nowhere to be seen, nor was last year's great Warbler flock. We ended up stopping at another pullout and easily found a pair of Rufous-crowned Sparrows. A single Lazuli Bunting female appeared briefly on the fence above the road.

Grant Lake: Northern Rough-winged Swallow was added to our growing list of Swallows. Alto found was Belted Kinfisher, and a few Waterfowl. Golden Eagle and Red-shouldered Hawk were not found.

Grant Park farmouse and riparian strip: The White-throated Sparrow was quickly found in the shadows beneath the bridge that leads to the farmouse driveway. Ash-throated Flycatcher was in the orchard behind the farmhouse and the Golden Eagle appeared high over the central meadow.

Alum Rock Park: Hooded Oriole was seen in the palm trees above the entrance kiosk. The Western Screech Owl was easily found in the sycamore grove, but we could not locate the Great Horned Owl. Townsend's Warbler was foraging in the trees above the creek.

Sierra Road: At the summit we had Horned Lark, Savannah Sparrow and Rock Wren. American Pipits were not located. More Yellow-billed Magpies were found in various places along the road.

Calaveras Reservoir: Bald Eagle nest was admired for as long as we dared (about 4 minutes...). Present on the water were Ring-billed and California Gulls.

Ed Levin Park: Pacific-slope Flycatcher was heard along the entrance road. On the trail leading up to the sycamore grove we found Grasshopper Sparrow. We could also hear Rufous-crowned Sparrows but we did not see them. No unusual Goldfinches were located. Looking down on the lake we found two Caspian Terns. From the trail we heard the Varied Twitchers communicating on their radios (all the way from Alviso)! We bumped into the soon after that. Overhead we also had American White Pelicans.



Photo: Eric Goodill

Environmental Education Center (EEC): We got some of our first Shorebirds along the entrance road. Long-billed Dowitcher was foranging on the channel. On salt pond A16 we had a good collection of Gulls. Most exciting was Glaucous and Herring. In the native flower garden a sooty Fox Sparrow was foraging in the shadows.

State and Spreckles: Eurasian Collared Doves on the wires as well as calling Hooded Orioles in the palms.

Alviso Marina: No Rails were found in the marsh, but we did bump into the Wild Women Birders who gave us a good tip on California Thrasher that were apparently nesting near the Stevens Creek Reservoir boat ramp.

Sunnyvale Water Pollution Control Ponds (SWPCP): Green Heron and Black Crowned Night Heron along the channel. We could not locate Common Moorhen however. In the distance on salt pond A4 we scoped Clark's and Western Grebes and more Caspian Terns. No rails were detected in the reedbrake by the cement bench.

Shoreline Park entrance road: We made a quick venture in to search for yesterday's Cackling Goose. No Goose.

Charleston Slough: Northern Harrier, White-tailed Kite were finally found, as well as Sora. On the lake we spotted Surf Scoter and Eared Grebe. We cleaned up on our Shorebirds here with the huge gathering on the mudflats. Black-bellied and Semipalmated Plovers, Western Sandpiper, Dunlin, Marbled Godwit and Long-billed Curlew were all added. Bonus birds were two Lesser Yellowlegs on Adobe Creek. Not found were any Black Skimmers, Blue-winged Teal or Common Moorhen. Bob Hirt gave us a tip on the continuing Hooded Mergansers at Heavens Gate Cemetary.

Heavens Gate Cemetary: Two female Hooded Mergansers and a female Common Goldeneye.

Stevens Creek Reservoir Boat Ramp: A pair of California Thrashers, exactly as promised by the Wild ones!

Stevens Creek Reservoir Picnic Area: From the overlook we found three Spotted Sandpipers, and more Wood Ducks. No Common Mergansers or Osprey.

Stevens Creek Canyon Road (third bridge): A pair of American Dippers displaying, singing and exchanging food gifts. It was getting darker now...

McClellan Ranch: Our last ditch effort at Red-shouldered Hawk. Nope... Time for dinner.

The final count was 148 species. Thank you everyone! Our many donors who contributed so generously to the effort, and our intrepid birding team helped make it another huge success. Thank you also to the Vairied Twitchers, Wild Women Birders, and Mr. Rock Wren himself (Bob Hirt) for help along the way, and from everyone who provided valuable information in the weeks preceeding our big day. It was an exhausting, fulfilling wonderful day!

Canada Goose
Wood Duck
Gadwall
Mallard
Cinnamon Teal
Northern Shoveler
Green-winged Teal
Surf Scoter
Bufflehead
Common Goldeneye
Hooded Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Ring-necked Pheasant
Wild Turkey
California Quail
Pied-billed Grebe
Eared Grebe
Western Grebe
Clark's Grebe
American White Pelican
Double-creseted Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Green Heron
Black-crowned Night Heron
Turkey Vulture
White-tailed Kite
Bald Eagle
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Golden Eagle
American Kestrel
Sora
American Coot
Black-belllied Plover
Semipalmated Plover
Killdeer
Black-necked Stilt
American Avocet
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Willet
Spotted Sandpiper
Long-billed Curlew
Marbled Godwit
Western Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
Dunlin
Long-billed Dowitcher
Bonaparte's Gull
Ring-billed Gull
California Gull
Herring Gull
Thayer's Gull
Western Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Glaucous Gull
Caspian Tern
Forster's Tern
Rock Pigeon
Band-tailed Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Eurasian Collared Dove
Barn Owl
Western Screech Owl
Burrowing Owl
White-throated Swift
Anna's Hummingbird
Selasphorus species
Belted Kingfishere
Acorn Woodpecker
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Pacific-slope Flycatcher
Black Phoebe
Ash-throated Flycatcher
Western Kingbird
Cassin's Vireo
Hutton's Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Steller's Jay
Western Scrub Jay
Yellow-billed Magpie
American Crow
Common Raven
Horned Lark
Tree Swallow
Violet-green Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Barn Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Oak Titmouse
Bushtit
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
Rock Wren
Bewick's Wren
House Wren
Marsh Wren
American Dipper
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Western Bluebird
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Varied Thrush
Wrentit
Northern Mockingbird
California Thrasher
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Orange-crowned Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler (both "Myrtle" and "Audubon's")
Townsend's Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Western Tanager
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Rufous-crowned Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow
Lark Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Grasshopper Sparrow
Fox Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Black-headed Grosbeak
Lazuli Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Brewer's Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
Hooded Oriole
Bullock's Oriole
Purple Finch
House Finch
Lesser Goldfinch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow







04-17-09

I made a nearly complete pre-birding tour of tomorrow's SCVAS Birdathon route for Team DeDUCKtions. I woke up a little late, and got on the road by 6:00. The route is very similar to previous years, and my first stop was Smith Creek at close to 7:00. I discovered to everybody's relief that much of the activity was still to happen. Because of this realization, I decided we could meet at 5:00 on our big day, and not miss too much... I hope I was right. Anyway, after birding for most of the day by myself, I met up with Cricket at Charleston Slough and decided it would be best to conserve our energy for the actual count and cut things a little short today. Here's what I found today. The complete tour is documented in the entry above this:

Canada Goose
Cackling Goose
Wood Duck
Gadwall
Mallard
Cinnamon Teal
Northern Shoveler
Northern Pintail
Green-winged Teal
Bufflehead
Ruddy Duck
Ring-necked Duck
Wild Turkey
California Quail
Pied-billed Grebe
Eared Grebe
Western Grebe
American White Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Green heron
Black-crowned Night Heron
Turkey Vulture
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Golden Eagle
American Kestrel
Common Moorhen
American Coot
Killdeer
Black-necked Stilt
American Avocet
Greater Yellowlegs
Willet
Western Sandpiper
Dunlin
Long-billed Dowitcher
Ring-billed Gull
California Gull
Herring Gull
Thayer's Gull
Western Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Glaucous Gull
Caspian Tern
Forster's Tern
Rock Pigeon
Band-tailed Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Eurasian Collared Dove
Barn Owl
Western Screech Owl
Burrowing Owl
Anna's Hummingbird
Selasphorus species
Belted Kingfisher
Acorn Woodpecker
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Hammond's Flycatcher
Pacific-slope Flycatcher
Black Phoebe
Ash-throated Flycatcher
Western Kingbird
Cassin's Vireo
Hutton's Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Steller's Jay
Western Scrub Jay
Yellow-billed Magpie
American Crow
Common Raven
Horned Lark
Tree Swallow
Violet-green Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Barn Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Oak Titmouse
Bushtit
Whhtie-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
Bewick's Wren
House Wren
Marsh Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Western Bluebird
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Wrentit
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
American Pipit
Cedar Waxwing
Orange-crowned Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Rufous-crowned Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Grasshopper Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Black-headed Grosbeak
Red-winged Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Brewer's Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
Hooded Oriole
Bullock's Oriole
Purple Finch
House Finch
Lesser Goldfinch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow