I'll be leading another "Team DeDUCKtions" effort for SFBBO this fall. The goal is to raise $50,000 this year, and with several great teams lined up to help, it may just be possible. But we'll need everyone's help. The date is set for Saturday, September 29, so mark your calendars, because I expect this will be another great day of birding and fundraising for the organization. Here's the plan so far:
Join me for a full day birding experience in some of Santa Clara County's birdiest spots! We'll tour the eastern hills, bay front, and base of the Santa Cruz Mountains. We'll meet at 7:00 am sharp in the top parking lot at Alum Rock Park and make stops at Ed Levin Park, Alviso, Sunnyvale Control Ponds, Shoreline Park, and possibly round out the day with stops at Stevens Creek Park and McClellan Ranch. (Entrance fees apply to some areas). Afterwards, join in on our team dinner and tally at a local restaurant. Please contact me for final details of the tour.
Kelly and I have been very busy thinking about our Costa Rica trip. Between calling the airline, emailing our agent, buying powerbars and stressing out about how many pairs of socks to bring, we managed to find a couple of birds for the 175+ challenge. On Wednesday night, as we were taking out our multitudinous recycling, Kelly spotted a white bird OVER OUR HOUSE. A quick dash back into the garage to retrieve the binoculars from the car revealed it was a White-tailed Kite! We couldn't believe it. We're not very far from the Stevens Creek trail, which leads through the riparian to Crittenden Marsh, so I guess we shouldn't have been too surprised, but it certainly wasn't what we were expecting. Just as fun was our experience the previous morning when we were awaken by a Belted Kingfisher giving its loud rattling call in the complex behind ours. There is a small duck pond, which we can see from our bedroom, but we expect it was merely passing through, probably toward Stevens Creek.
We love our house! And it seems many birds enjoy it too...
Soon we'll be busy searching for the Zeledonia in the mountains of Costa Rica. I'm especially interested in this bird as its origin is remains something of a mystery. Until recently it was called the "Wrenthrush", which is odd, because it doesn't appear to be related to either Wrens or Thrushes. Some experts place it among the Wood Warblers, while others place it in its one isolated family... I love stuff like that. It reminds me that there are still unanswered questions out there, and there remain so many opportunities to be amazed!
Keep working on the 175+ Challenge and sharing your stories with the group. Your discoveries will help us all. For example, Cherie just emailed me that she and her husband had a very close encounter with 6 California Condors south of Pfeiffer Big Sur Park! Way to go people!
I'm very glad several of you have been able to relocate the Indigo Bunting Kelly and I discovered on June 30 at Skyline Ridge. This bird is truly beautiful, and worth a dedicated trip to find. Most likely, it's possible it may count on both your Santa Clara and San Mateo County lists (if you are lucky enough to see it cross the line). I believe we saw it cross the line, but because I wasn't positive about the boundary, I did not mention it in my original post. Some observers have been able to do so.
Cricket and I had some time this morning to work on the 175+ Challenge. We were lucky to find at least two Least Terns at salt pond A2W. The Least Terns were toward the far side of the pond, but one was resting on the boardwalk. In each case, Forster's and Caspian Terns were nearby so easy comparison of flight style and size was possible. Scopes are highly recommended for this bird, as they were rather far from the Stevens Creek Trail, beyond Crittenden Marsh. We also rode our bikes along Shoreline Lake and Charleston Slough, finding several new birds for our total. American White Pelicans were present in good numbers. We also observed 5 Least Sandpipers at Charleston Slough, as well as numerous Marbled Godwits and small numbers of Long-billed Curlews. In two places were were also able to watch young Common Moorhen foraging in the open.
We also relocated the Common Loon at Shoreline Lake, and noticed a single Black Skimmer fly in and land on a small island at Shoreline Lake.
Kelly and I relocated one of the Great-tailed Grackles at the Coyote Creek Golf Course. The immature was hanging out near the club house and dumpster. As well, we spotted a female Wood Duck in the creek near the side entrance, accessed from Monterey Highway.
From there, we traveled to Ogier Ponds where we picked up adult and juvenile Tree Swallows, but nothing else for the challenge. Calero Reservoir was equally unproductive, probably because of the numerous boats and increasing wind. We had hoped to find Common Merganser here, but will have get that some other day. Oh well... A Golden Eagle flew over the road as we made our way to the next destination.
Almaden Lake was where we had hoped to find Belted Kingfisher or get a second chance of Common Merganser, but again no luck. There were many Snowy and Great Egret families, as well as Canada Geese.
We broke for lunch at an Ethiopian Restaurant called Gojo in San Jose before returning home. Yum!!!I After that we stopped by Walgreens in Palo Alto to pick up a prescription and found the building gutted by fire. Apparently the SJ Mercury office upstairs caught fire last night. So we went to Midtown in Palo Alto instead. After waiting in line for a while, and getting my prescription, we returned to the car and discovered that my key would not work in the ignition. It's kind of worn down from too much use, I guess. After several minutes colorful stream-of-language, we decided it was time to take the bus home. I would have remained in a horrible mood if it weren't for the Hooded Oriole calling loudly from the tree above my car. Some things always have the power to change my mood, no matter what. A brilliant orange bird, or Kelly's reminder that we always take the bus when we're on vacation...