This morning Petersen and I made a tour around New Chicago Marsh, beginning at the train tracks that cross the entrance road to the EEC. Recently arrived Least Sandpipers far outnumbered the Western Sandpipers, but Peeps have definitely begun to appear in numbers. A small group of about a dozen Red-necked Phalaropes were also feeding in the large pond in the middle of the marsh. Most exciting was a family of Snowy Plovers in the dry area between the train tracks and the State and Spreckles intersection. Two tiny chicks were being watched over by the two adults. Later, along the east-west levy that leads back to the EEC we found 3 Semipalmated Plovers, and somewhere out of site we heard a Black-bellied Plover, but not a single Killdeer was seen all morning. There were also two Greater Yellowlegs and three Lesser Yellowlegs in the pickleweed, and two Short-billed Dowitcher flew past calling. Along the entrance road we also saw the adult Peregrine Falcon perched on the power tower.


Co-led the SCVAS Farollon Islands boat trip with David Wimpfheimer, Bob Power, Bob Hirt and author, Peter White. No surprises on the tour, but wonderful, and repeated looks at thousands of breeding Common Murres, a few Tufted Puffins, Cassin's and Rhinoceros Auklets. Also seen were Sooty and Pink-footed Shearwaters, Northern Fulmar and 46 Black-footed Albatross.

Photo: Patty McGann

Photo: Patty McGann

Photo: Patty McGann

07-08-10 thru 07-15-10

Cricket and I made our first trip to the beautiful Alberta province of Canada this past week. We stayed at Kaz and Aiko's Worldmark timeshare in Canmore, one hour west of Calgary, and made daily trips to the spectacular Banff National Park and nearby areas. The scenery was incredible during our visit, and at each bend in the road, we found an even more beautiful shot, particularly when we made the climb above Lake Louise and the Sunshine Meadows. We had a short list of target species, and among them were Boreal Chickadee and White-winged Crossbill, both of which were found during the trip. Frustrating misses were Spruce Grouse and White-tailed Ptarmigan... maybe next time.

Below is a small sample of the terrain we enjoyed and a list of birds seen in our major stops. Some of the interesting birds we found were not necessarily new species, but unfamiliar subspecies. The Dark-eyed Junco, for example, was a slate-colored version of the "Oregon" form. Whether this is an intergrade between the eastern "Slate-colored" and our warmer "Oregon", or a subspecies of its own is uncertain, but it was striking. Another was the "Slate-colored" Fox Sparrow, and the "Montane" White-crowned Sparrow. We enjoyed seeing these regional specialties.

DAY 01: July 8
Inglewood Bird Sanctuary

American Wigeon (fledglings, not a common sight for Californians...)
Goldeneye sp. (fledglings, like above)
Least Flycatcher (che-bek!)
Black-capped Chickadee (only a small population in California)
Oriole sp. (heard only, we wondered if it might be Baltimore, but it was never viewed...)
Yellow Warbler (singing up a storm)
Eastern Kingbird (a very rare bird for us)

Weaselhead Natural Area
Swainson's Hawk (we found the habitat it chose surprisingly different from the central valley of California.)
Osprey (along river)
Franklin's Gull (flying from lake, along river. Wonderful!)
Veery (before wooden bridge. Hadn't seen or heard one for 20 years! Spectacular!)
Clay-colored Sparrow (by main parking area along fence. I love Spizellas.)
Savannah Sparrow (same as above)
Chipping Sparrow (in taller trees by overlook)
Spotted Sandpiper (along river. It was fun to see them "with spots")
Common Merganser (two young birds along river)
Cedar Waxwing (nesting, fun for us, but we really wanted Bohemian...)
Gray Catbird (in willows just before wooden bridge)

DAY 02: July 9
Johnson Lake
Not much was happening here, but it wa our first stop in Banff National park and we did get our first good looks at Black-billed Magpie nesting by the restrooms. Also present were several Spotted Sandpipers on the gravel bar.

Fenland Loop Trail

White-winged Crossbill (about halfway around loop, in tall conifers. LIFER!)
Tennessee Warbler (we don't get many singing birds in CA so it took a while to recognize.)
Dark-eyed Junco (not a big deal, but the "Rocky Mountain" J. h. hyemalis coloration was exciting for us Californians. We see mosly "Oregons")

Vermillion Lakes
American Redstart (at least two males in willows on far side of last lake)
Least Flycatcher (same area)
Osprey (over water)

Cave and Basin Marsh
Lincoln's Sparrow (singing birds on territory, again, not an everyday thing in the San Francisco Bay)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Sunshine Meadows Gondola Base
Tennessee Warbler (the song becoming very familiar now.)

Muleshoe Picnic Area
Northern Flicker (nesting)

DAY 03: July 10
Sunshine Meadows

White-winged Crossbill (flying and singing near over the Standish Viewpoint)
White-crowned Sparrow (Z. l. leucophrys? was all over the place)
Chipping Sparrows (I love Spizellas...)
Fox Sparrow ("Slate-colored" P. i. schistacea is not what we see in the S.F. Bay Area)
American Pipit (with nestlings in the Twin Cairns area... cool!)
Brewer's Sparrow (another Spizella, singing beautifully in the Twin Cairns area)
Gray Jay (Sunshine Village, we'd hiked the entire loop, only to find our target bird right near the bus...)
Boreal Chickadee (same as above, but also a LIFER!)
Pine Grosbeak (same as above)
Evening Grosbeak (same as above)

DAY 04: July 11
Icefields Parkway

Gray Jay (frequent along drive)
Clark's Nuthcracker (frequent along drive)
Tennessee Warbler (every place we stopped we found several singing males)
Chipping Sparrow (also very common)
Savanna Sparrow
Spotted Sandpiper (every lake)
Bald Eagle (along road as we made our way back to Canmore...)

DAY 05: July 12
Lake Louise HUGE hike to both teahouses (in the snow and rain at Lake Agnes). Very soar afterward!
Clark's Nuthracker (at lake shore)
Gray Jay (at lake shore, I could have sworn I also heard a Steller's Jay, which is very familiar to us....)
Varied Thrush (at lake shore)
Hermit Thrush (everywhere)
Chipping Sparrow (everywhere)

DAY 06: July 1
Kootenay Park
(rained all day, so very little birding)
The area was replete with burned areas. We happened upon several Orchid species, mostly Habenarias.

DAY 07: July 14
Kananaskis Country

Pine Grosbeak (Fortress Junction gas station, and Black {Prince Cirque entrance road along Spray Trail)
Boreal Chickadee (at nest Boulton Creek Interpretive Trail)
Moose (Pocaterra Hut meadow)
American Marten (Boulton Creek Interpretive Trail)

DAY 08: July 15
Weaselhead and then home
We made a quick stop at this lovely part of Calgary. We added a new species for the trip, Gray Catbird which sang briefly and gave its mewing calls from the willow patch by the bridge.

Full species list:
Common Loon
Canada Goose
American Wigeon
Lesser Scaup
Common Goldeneye
Barrow's Goldeneye
Common Merganser
Bald Eagle
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Swainson's Hawk
American Kestrel
Greater Yellowlegs
Pectoral Sandpiper
Franklin's Gull
Rock Pigeon
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Least Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
Tree Swallow
Violet-green Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Barn Swallow
Gray Jay
Clark's Nutcracker
Black-billed Magpie
American Crow
Common Raven
Black-capped Chickadee
Mountain Chickadee
Boreal Chickadee
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
House Wren
Winter Wren
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Swainson's Thrush
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Varied Thrush
Gray Catbird
American Pipit
Cedar Waxwing
European Starling
Cassin's Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Tennessee Warbler
Orange-crowned Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Townsend's Warbler
American Redstart
Common Yellowthroat
Wilson's Warbler
Chipping Sparrow
Clay-colored Sparrow
Brewer's Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Fox Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Red-winged Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Brewer's Blackbird
Baltimore Oriole
Cassin's Finch
Red Crossbill
White-winged Crossbill
Pine Siskin
American Goldfinch
Evening Grosbeak
House Sparrow