Saturday's class outing to Mitchell Canyon produced a Calliope Hummingbird in the chaparral section of the White Canyon Trail. Also heard was "Bell's" Sage Sparrow on this very windy day.
I learned this morning that long-time friend Ted Chandik died yesterday of a heart attack.
Many of you knew Ted, and may have accompanied him on his famous "Fly by Dawn" adventures. He has been a pillar in the birding community for decades, and his passing is a great loss.
I first met him more than 30 years ago, and went with him to see California Condors in Los Padres. There were many stories of birding adventures told over the campfire that weekend, and a lot of laughter. He was a warm, colorful, joyful character.
At that time he was stationed at the Palo Alto Baylands and Palo Alto Junior Museum. I was a teenager, and his gentle manner made it possible for me to ask endless questions about everything bird related, and he kindly answered every one. I consulted with him year after year following our introduction about the plight of the Condors, how to find Black Rails and the possibility that Ivory-billed Woodpeckers still survived somewhere.
There are so many things I would still ask him if he were here.
I learned last year that he had recently completed his longtime goal to see a representative from every bird family in the world. Quite an accomplishment and it took him all over the world to do it! So people on every continent, it seems, have been touched by his gentle nature. I will miss him very much, as I'm sure
many of us will.
My guess is, he's birding right now someplace else and answering questions there too. Carry on, Ted.
This field sketch of a Semiplamated Plover was made today at the Palo Alto Baylands, where I first met Ted Chandik more than 30 years ago. The birds were begin buffeted by the fierce wind, but they still managed to find enough strength to chase each other around the mudflats. I couldn't tell if I was seeing territorial displays among males, or courtship displays. Maybe both. Ted would have known, and I'm sure he would have had something funny to say about the situation.
Team DeDUCKtions effort logged 154 species yesterday. The full story can be found in the spring tern trip reports. Several sightings warranted memory sketches: Chipping Sparrow, Hermit Warbler, Cassin's Vireo.
Today during lunch my friend Brian and I strolled the trail at the end of Geng Road. Hooded Oriole were briefly seen and heard near the school as we turned left heading up creek. Also present was a Spotted Sandpiper with its namesake alternate plumage. A week ago, it seemed it was still wearing basic... It was working the muddy shores just beyond the school.
Yesterday during lunch the Baylands had a nice assortment of Shorebirds. The mudflats by the ranger residence had 2 Whimbrel, 3 Semipalmated Plovers, at least 4 alternate-plumaged DUNLIN as well as Least, Western Sandpipers and both Dowitchers. A single Clark's Grebe was swimming in the center of the channel. Bullock's Oriole could be heard in the trees around the Duck Pond and Black-crowned Night Heron are once again nesting in the trees by the ranger residence. The marsh across from the parking lot appears to have both Black-necked Stilts and American Avocets on nests.
Lots of Bullock's Orioles chattering along San Francisquito Creek in Menlo Park today. A few Pygmy Nuthatches and one Hooded Oriole were heard as well. No sign of this winter's Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.
Finally, after 3 tries this season for an annual Bay Area rarity—the San Jose Solitary Sandpiper, which has frustrated me by moving between Lake Cunningham and the Thompson Wetlands in exactly the opposite order as my visits, we managed to coordinate our schedules and met at the Lake this morning. It's quite small compared to nearby Dowitchers, Killdeer and Dunlin. Perhaps Spotted Sandpiper size, but slimmer and more refined in build. Kind of like a darker, shorter-legged Lesser Yellowlegs actually, with greenish-gray legs... So not at all like anything, really. Quite singular, in fact!
Other interesting birds seen today while Petersen and I scouted for the Birdathon were FOS Cliff Swallows in the same area, and later as many as 5 Rufous-crowned Sparrows, and 2 Caspian Terns at Ed Levin County Park.
The day before, Cricket and I had seen a Merlin along North White Avenue between Alum Rock and Penitencia.
Cricket and I did some south bay scouting with Kitty Trejo today. First stop was Hunting Lodge on Gilroy Hot Springs Road. Not much to report there although Violet-green Swallows have moved in over the river. Both Wood Duck and Common Merganser were found along the Coyote Creek. At the far end of the road by the bridge leading to the Hot Springs per se, two Warbling Vireos were seen. Orange-crowned Warblers and House Wrens were impossible to miss. Several Purple Finches were heard singing.
Along Jamieson Road we found three Western Kingbirds near the junction with Canada Road, and joined up with Bob and Frank's SCVAS group to enjoy the pair of Lawrence's Goldfinches. Also seen in this area were Bullock's Orioles and many Tree Swallows. Two Golden Eagles were seen between Hunting Lodge and Jamieson Road.