05-31-03

I set out late up Mount Hamilton Road beyond Joseph D. Grant County Park. Crossing the road at almost every turn, I saw Bullock's Orioles, Western Kingbirds and Yellow-billed Magpies. At one point a small bird in the road caught my attention and I pulled to the side to discover it was a fallen Bullock's Oriole chick. I picked it up and examined it carefully. It seemed exhausted and probably overheated, so I placed it gingerly in the shade of a big oak and continued up hill.

Stopping next at Twin Gates, where the sky was bluer than I can possibly describe, I found a lot of activity right near the parking area. A Western Kingbird was perched and posing for pictures near the outhouse, while uphill a few yards in the large oaks there were several more chattering Bullock's Orioles, Acorn Woodpeckers, Oak Titmice and a pair of Lark Sparrows that were gathering food for their nearby nestlings.

From across the street I could hear more activity, so I decided to take a short hike down slope. I was hoping to find Chipping Sparrow, but ended only hearing it briefly and at some distance. The views are spectacular from this area though, and several Red-tailed Hawks were seen flying over the valley. I also heard Wild Turkey, Western Wood Pewee and a few Lawrences's Goldfinch. I enjoyed more nice looks at more Lark Sparrows, Western Bluebirds, and White-breasted Nuthatches as well as numerous Acorn Woodpeckers and a nesting pair of Pacific-slope Flycatchers.

The next spot was the famous Smith Creek Fire Station where a beautiful riparian corridor can be found. Many species were both heard and seen here including Lazuli Bunting, multitudes of House Wren, Black-headed Grosbeak and Cassin's Vireos as well as Ash-throated Flycatcher and Northern Rough-winged Swallow.



05-17-03

The Yellow-headed Blackbird flock was still present and quite vocal at the end of Disc Drive in Alviso on Saturday. This area is, as reported by others on South Bay Birds, is near the Jubilee Christian Church. The flock of roughly 40 individuals Kelly and I saw seemed to be made up entirely of females and immatures, but some birds appeared quite black with very yellow heads. No birds showed white wing flashes at all. One possiblitiy is that these bright birds were simply vivid females. Another explanation from Alvaro Jaramillo, who literally wrote the Blackbird handbook, is that the larger, darker immature males do not always show white on their wings.



05-11-03

Today, Cricket and I scouted out Mines Road and Del Puerto Canyon in preparation for next week's class trip to the area. The 200 mile round trip took us through some of the most strikingly beautiful landscape to be found in the greater bay area. Our companions were wide open grassy slopes, scattered oak woodland, brilliant yellow-green willow bottomlands complete with winding creek, dry chaparrel, sage and rocky red canyons. Wildflower colors were astounding with California Poppies, yellow and blue lupine and dozens of other conspicuous blooms at every turn. The birding, done roadside the entire time, was frustrating occasionally as access to the beautiful surroundings is limited. The rural road is quiet and easy to drive, but narrow with little room for parking. We managed however, to log a great number of species including local specialties (most of which are rare in the county) such as Lewis' Woodpecker, Rock and Canyon Wrens, Phainopepla, Blue Grosbeak, Sage Sparrow and Lawrence's Goldfinch. It took more work than expected to locate Lazuli Bunting, but eventually we were successful. Finding Lawrence's Goldfinch and Phainopepla was a trivial task once we arrived in proper habitat. We observed the Lewis' Woodpecker for quite a while at close range as it caught insects on the wing. Apparently it is nesting near the Junction of Mines and Del Puerto Canyon so chances are very good we'll see it next week. I also have good leads on Wood Duck, Barn Owl and possibly Costa's Hummingbird so there is much to look forward to. It should be a great trip for the group, but carpools will be necessary and those planning on attending should be prepared for a full day of birding and primitive bathroom facilities.

Green Heron
Mallard
Turkey Vulture
Northern Harrier
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Golden Eagle
American Kestrel
California Quail
American Coot
Killdeer
Rock Dove
Mourning Dove
Barn Owl
Anna's Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Lewis' Woodpecker
Acorn Woodpecker
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker (heard only)
Northern Flicker
Western Wood-Pewee
Pacific-slope Flycatcher
Black Phoebe
Ash-throated Flycatcher
Western Kingbird
Horned Lark
Tree Swallow
Violet-green Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Barn Swallow
Western Scrub Jay
Yellow-billed Magpie
American Crow
Common Raven
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Oak Titmouse
Bushtit
White-breasted Nuthatch
Rock Wren
Canyon Wren
Bewick's Wren
House Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (heard only)
Western Bluebird
Hermit Thrush (heard only)
American Robin
Wrentit (heard only)
Northern Mockingbird
California Thrasher
Cedar Waxwing
Phainopepla
European Starling
Warbling Vireo
Orange-crowned Warbler
Wilson's Warbler
Western Tanager
Black-headed Grosbeak
Blue Grosbeak
Lazuli Bunting
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Lark Sparrow
Sage Sparrow (heard only)
Grasshopper Sparrow (heard only)
Song Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Red-winged Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Brewer's Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
Bullock's Oriole
Purple Finch
House Finch
Lesser Goldfinch
Lawrence's Goldfinch
American Goldfinch (heard only)
House Sparrow



05-08-03

On my lunch hour walk along the Sanfransquito Creek today I came across a California Thrasher attending a nest. The bird had a mouth full of worms and I could see it deep in the blackberry distributing the food to its young. How many young and exactly the shape of the nest was too difficult to see, and I didn't want to disturb them more than I already had. Not far from there two Cassin's Vireos were in full voice as well as Warbling Vireo. Nestlings were everywhere it seemed and I observed two families of Chestnut-backed Chickadees, a family of Oak Titmice and an active Nuttall's Woodpecker nest. On my way back toward University Avenue there were Bewick's Wrens at almost every corner and I heard a singing Purple Finch somewhere in the distance. A small flock of Cedar Waxwings moved through the neighborhood and 5 Violet-green Swallows foraged over the creek. The pair of Cooper's Hawks I reported a few weeks ago are still in the area. I watched as the male approached the larger female with what appeared to be a food offering. I didn't see the exchange take place, but after seeing the male fly in and then losing site of him, a moment later I could see the female throught the branches eating something.