Kelly and I made a last minute effort to find the rare, south western Crested Caracara that has been reported along the southern end of Swanton Road just north of Davenport in Santa Cruz county today. We were unsuccessful in finding that bird, although it had been sited earlier in the day and also after we left. Oh, well... A side trip to Harkins Slough near Aptos off of Hwy 1 produced some nice consolation birds, however. There was a partial albino Least Sandpiper, as many as 5 Pectoral Sandpipers, perhaps 8-10 Lesser Yellowlegs and a Common Snipe (which is now more accurately called Wilson's Snipe as it has been give full species status and considered separate from the Common Snipe of Eurasia). To top it all off, there was an immature Peregrine Falcon chasing the many hundreds of Short-billed Dowitchers and causing a general frenzy without actually capturing anything. Great fun!


A lunch hour walk along San Francisquito Creek, just three blocks from University Avenue in Palo Alto, produced some interesting birds. Most notably was a Black-headed Grosbeak, which called loudly but remained unseen. This species will disappear entirely from our area as it gets later in the season; already they are scarce. As well, I saw two California Thrashers, and Bewick's Wren which may not be seasonal, but are still a challenge to find. There was a Yellow-rumped Warbler, which probably just arrived to spend winter with us and a Pacific-slope Flycatcher. This last bird was especially interesting to me because at this time of year, most flycatchers do not sing, making identification very difficult. This one however, was singing loudly and clearly as if he had no concept of how late in the season it was. Quite soon he will leave the area to spend his winter far to the south.


My friend Brian Christman and I made the journey up to Point Reyes today in hopes of catching some of the famed "outer point fallout". Each fall about this time, if the weather conditions are correct, hundreds of migrant song birds are blown into the cypress trees near the lighthouse. Many of these migrants are eastern Warblers that are quite rare in California. Some rare but regular species include Blackpoll, Chestnut-sided, Black and White, and Tennessee Warblers as well as American Redstart and Ovenbird. On this particular trip, only Blackpoll was encountered because the high winds kept the birds "down". But our quest was not without reward, we logged the rare Buff-breasted Sandpiper that had been reported the previous week, as well as other uncommon Shorebirds and two Peregrine Falcons. The whole list is included below:

Pacific Loon
Pied-billed Grebe
Western Grebe
Clark's Grebe
American White Pelican
Brown Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant
Brandt's Cormorant
Pelagic Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Black-crowned Night Heron
Snowy Egret
Great Egret
Wood Duck
Cinnamon Teal
Northern Shoveler
Surf Scoter
Turkey Vulture
White-tailed Kite
Northern Harrier
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Peregrine Falcon
California Quail
Wild Turkey
Virginia Rail (heard only)
American Coot
Black-bellied Plover
Snowy Plover
Semipalmated Plover
Black Oystercatcher
Greater Yellowlegs
Western Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
Baird's Sandpiper
Buff-breasted Sandpiper
Heerman's Gull
Mew Gull
Ring-billed Gull
California Gull
Herring Gull
Western Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Caspian Tern
Elegant Tern
Common Murre
Pigeon Guillemot
Mourning Dove
Rock Dove
Band-tailed Pigeon
Barn Owl (partial...)
Great Horned Owl
Anna's Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Acorn Woodpecker
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Pacific-slope Flycatcher
Black Phoebe
Tree Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Barn Swallow
Steller's Jay
Western Scrub Jay
American Crow
Common Raven
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Pygmy Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
Bewick's Wren
Marsh Wren
Yellow-rumped Warbler (heard only)
Townsend's Warbler
Hermit Warbler (possible)
Blackpoll Warbler
Wilson's Warbler
California Towhee
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Red-winged Blackbird
Tricolored Blackbird
Brewer's Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Brown-headed Cowbird
House Finch
Lesser Goldfinch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow


I birded the Alviso area today and a brief stop at the intersection of State Street and Sprekles Street produced the Stilt Sandpiper and Ruff, which appeared to be an adult female (Reeve). Both birds were easily found and allowed extended views. The Reeve had a rather short, slightly drooped, black bill with much white at the base. The upperparts were warm grayish with much less scaling than seen on immatures. The legs were fairly bright orange. It appeared longer-legged and more slender than the nearby Dowitchers. It had quite a bit of buffiness on its breast.The Stilt Sandpiper was a more pale gray and somewhat streaked on the upperparts and flanks, again, longer-legged and more slender than the Dowitchers with a delicate, slightly dropped bill and an obvious white supercilium. Its legs were pale greenish. As well, the intersection had great numbers of Wilson's Phalaropes, spin-feeding in the shallows. Near the entrance gate to the EEC, an adult Peregrine Falcon perched on the power towers.