Team DeDUCKtions’ primary goal was to match the generous $3000 challenge grant offered by Leonie Batkin for SFBBO. While all the contributions are still flowing in, it appears we have been successful. The second goal was to exceed last year’s species tally, and we definitely managed to do that. The third goal, or maybe it was actually the first goal, I’m not sure, was to have a good time, and YES that we did that, no problem! The team was made up of the following people: Craig Cummings, Patty McGann, Pati Rouzer, Lori Cuesta, Kay Matthews, Leonie Batkin, Joan and Phil Leighton, Ashutosh Sinha, Eric Goodill, Grant and Karen Hoyt, Kelly and Matthew Dodder, and special guest Caitlin Robinson (world-famous Snowy Plover researcher and KQED personality!) Final tally was 127 species.
Thanks to EVERYONE who helped with this great event successful! Friendly birders on SBB whose frequent reports helped us enormously, SFBBO planners and organizers, generous financial supporters and sponsors, and the many helpful well-wishers who couldn't contribute financially... what a great day you've ALL helped make possible! THANK YOU!!
We began at 8:00 pm on Friday night with a brief Owling effort that produced a very cooperative Western Screech Owl along Old Pagemill Road. The bird called reapeatedly in the oaks near the back entrance to the quarry. We parked across from the gate and walked back a few hundred yards to where the bird was heard and were able to get it in our lights. We were not rewarded with Great Horned or Barn Owls, but we have found them here on previous occasions.
After a few hours of fitfull sleep, as Kelly and I anticipated the 6:30 am start, the team met at Twin Creek’s Sports Facility and walked into Sunnyvale Baylands Park. We located a large flock of Warblers which contained Yellow-rumped, Yellow, Townsend’s, and Orange-crowned Warblers, as well as Bushtits, and Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Elsewhere in the park we found Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Say’s Phoebe, both White-crowned and Golden-crowned Sparrows, as well as Lincoln’s and Song Sparrows. The open field produced Say’s Phoebe, Loggerhead Shrilke, Western Meadowlark, Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Canada Geese… We were off to a good start!
Photo: Patty McGann
Photo: Patty McGann
The next area we visited was CCFS (Coyote Creek Field Station) where SFBBO has its bird banding station. The entrance road brought into the station beside willows and other low trees. We found several Fox Sparrows in this area, as well as Lesser and American Goldfinch, House Wren and Bewick’s Wren. Overhead we saw quite a few Violet-green Swallows with a few Cliff Swallows mixed in. At one point we also spotted a Vaux’s Swift. At the banding station we bumped into Rita Colwell, who held a Hermit Thrush in her hand. She pointed out a few important features that would help us recognize a hatch year individual should we see on again. Well, that was the ONLY Hermit Thrush we saw, so unfortunately, it couldn’t be counted… Still, it was exciting to see that one, as well as a Fox Sparrow she was also preparing to release. The area around the station was relatively quiet, except for the occasional calls of Western Scrub Jay and one Pacific-slope Flycatcher.
Photo: Pati Rouzer (L to R: Leonie Batkin, Ashutosh Sinha, Matthew Dodder, Eric Goodill, Hermit Thrush, Rita Colwell at CCFS)
The Shorebird ponds at CCFS had some new birds to offer. We counted our first Gulls, California and Ring-billed. We managed to identify several Long-billed Dowitchers among the group of Shorebirds, as well as Greater Yellowlegs, Willet, Least Sandpiper, American Avocet and Black-necked Stilt. Suddenly, a small Falcon sped overhead toward the bay and we were able to identify it as a Merlin! Cooper’s Hawk was also found, as well as more Red-tailed Hawks.
Next we made our way to Alum Rock Park where we hoped to pick up some woodland species for the count. In retrospect, perhaps this was a planning error. We did not find Calfornia Thrasher, Rufous-crowned Sparrow or Hairy Woodpecker, three species I assumed would be easy… Oh, well. We did find White-breasted Nuthatch, Oak Titnouse, Band-tailed Pigeon, Brown Creeper and Spotted Towhee and a brilliant Wison’s Warbler. On the dry uphill hike we found several more Vaux's Swift, as well as White-throated Swift AND two Golden Eagles. The only Great Horned Owl of the day was being held by a member of the park staff, so once again, it wasn’t countable.
Photo: Patty McGann
Photo: Patty McGann
Photo: Patty McGann
Photo: Patty McGann
Photo: Pati Rouzer (L to R: Karen Hoyt, Lori Cuesta, Caitlin Robinson, Grant Hoyt. "Incoming Sharp-shin!")
Photo: Pati Rouzer (L to R: Lori Cuesta, Phil Leighton, Joan Leighton, Caitlin Robinson crouching, Kay Matthews,
Craig Cummings. We're receiving the SFBBO offical event t-shirts!)
Photo: Pati Rouzer (L to R: Leonie Batkin, Kelly Dodder. Oooh... Leonie is handing out official Team DeDUCKtions chocolate bars!)
Photo: Pati Rouzer (L to R: Ashutosh Sinha, Eric Goodill, Katy Matthews, Caitlin Robinson, "tall guy" Grant Hoyt, Leonie Batkin, Craig Cummings, Lori Cuesta, Karen Hoyt, Joan Leighton, Patty McGann, Phil Leighton, Matthew Dodder, Kelly Dodder)
Photo: Patty McGann (L to R: Pati Rouzer, Matthew Dodder, Caitlin Robinson, Leonie Batkin)
After a nice lunch beneath the eucalyptus trees at the Rustic Lands picnic area, we continued up Sierra Road. We stopped at the summit by the cattle enclosure, finding Yellow-billed Magpie immediately, and after a while we were able to admire several Horned Larks at close range. One bird appeared to be an immature, the others adults with rufous shoulder patches and clean dark facial patterns. Further along the road we found our only American Pipit of the day. We came down the hill, passing the entrance to Ed Levin park and spotting our ONLY Wild Turkey of the day, as we drove at 40mph to the bottom of the hill.
Photo: Pati Rouzer (L to R: Kay Matthews, Lori Cuesta, Grant Hoyt, Caitlin Robinson, Matthew Dodder,
Craig Cummings. We're looking for Horned Larks on Sierra Road)
Photo: Pati Rouzer (L to R: Lori Cuesta, Joan Leighton, Craig Cummings, Karen Hoyt, Matthew Dodder)
Photo: Patty McGann
San Jose/Sunnyvale water treatment plant had, as previously reported, a small group of Long-billed Curlew foraging on the lawn. We didn’t even stop because we were eager to get to the EEC.
We parked at the small gravel turnout next to the sign for the Don Edwards EEC and walked back along the road to the train tracks. A Red-necked Phalarope and a male juvenile Ruff were foraging in the first big beside the road. The Ruff is still as beautiful as it was last week, when Patty McGann took here fantastic photographs, although perhaps slightly less colorful than before. Still the star of the day! We watched it for several minutes before walking along the tracks. Along the way we flushed up a Burrowing Owl, picked up Western Sandpiper, but nothing else new. The “Stilt Sandpiper Pond” appeared to be pretty dead, although a small group of birders told us they had found Dunlin. We opted not to continue, because we thought we’d find them elsewhere… That decision cost us our Dunlin though… we never encountered any others the rest of the day unfortunately.
Photo: Pati Rouzer (L to R: Matthew Dodder, Kelly Dodder, Ashutosh Sinha looking through scope, Grant Hoyt partially hidden, Caitlin Robinson partially hidden, Karen Hoyt, Joan Leighton, Craign Cummings, Lori Cuesta, Patty McGann, Phil Leigton. We've just seen the Ruff!)
Photo: Patty McGann
Photo: Patty McGann
Photo: Patty McGann
Back at the EEC headquarters we investigated the Barn Owl box and sure enough saw 1, possibly two birds asleep inside. At Salt Pond A-16 we located the adult and juvenile Black Skimmer, and a Herring Gull among the many Western, California and Ring-billed Gulls. Pied-billed Grebe and Double-crested Cormorant seemed to be the only swimming birds in the area. Along the boardwalk we sorted through the large number of Larids, finding all the same species as before plus a single Mew Gull.
After some afternoon tea and ginger snaps and a short progress report we made plans for the remaining daylight hours. We oped to skip the Alviso Marina. There just wasn’t enough time to locate the birds we though might be found there. No Brown Booby or Vesper Sparrow, no Parasitic Jaeger or Pelagic Cormorant for us today…
We did stop at State and Spreckles however and refound our Ruff. Next to it were both Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs. There was also a Wilson’s Phalarope, more Least and Western Sandpipers. Some member had to leave at this point to feed their cats, dogs, birds of prey… etc. They would rejoin us in a while.
A short drive to the Jubilee Christan Church got us our only Peregrine Falcon of the day. It was perched on the ground, perhaps eating one of the nearby Rock Pigeons. We also found another 3 Burrowing Owls. All were quite visible from the back corner of the parking lot.
It was getting late. We rushed to Sunnyvale Water Pollution Control ponds. There we found Green Heron very quickly as well as Black-crowned Night Heron. We walked toward the radar station and stoppped at the reedy marsh. We found both Sora and Virgina Rail here. Some people even saw the Sora as it scurried back into the reeds for cover. Over the marsh we also found Barn Swallow. We reversed our course and scanned the the big pond, from the hill. The vast majority of Waterfowl was Ruddy Duck, with small groups of Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, American Wigeon and both Lesser and Greater Scaup among them. Our only Green-winged Teal of the day, a female, was in the marshy pond on the far side of the hill. On the large pond we also found 4 Clark’s Grebe.
Getting dark now. We hoped to explore the L’Avenida portion of the Stevens Creek trail, but a concert at Shoreline Park made both major access points, Inaccessible… Traffic was backed up for a mile and moving extremely slowly. Too slowly for birding! We opted instead to visit Charleton Slough via San Antonio Avenue. We parked at the end of Terminal Way and rushed to end of Shoreline lake. Forster’s Terns were foraging noisily over the water, and on the far shore we spotted a female Belted Kingfisher. Easily located were two Surf Scoters.
The slough itself did not produce any new birds but the Mountain View forebay afforded us good looks at both Sora and Virginia Rail, as well as a completely new bird for the day, Cinnamon Teal! Black-crowned Night Herons were flying out to of the marsh insearch of dinner, and so that’s what we did as well. We made our way back to the cars, finding or rather hearing, Wilson’s Snipe, within the marsh.
We ate dinner at Thai City on El Camino Real, in Palo Alto and did the count. We ended up with 127 species, a full 11 birds beyond our last year’s count, even with the surprising misses. NO Semipalmated Plover, Dunlin, Short-billed Dowitcher, Hairy Woodpecker, Cedar Waxwing… No American Robin. Maybe next year, OR tomorrow.
Thanks again, everyone. Until next year!
American White Pelican
Great Blue Heron
Black-crowned Night Heron
Western Screech Owl
Western Scrub Jay
A short lunch time walk form my office in Palo Alto produced my FOS Ruby-crowned Kinglet at the junction
of Bryant and Palo Alto Avenues, along San Francisquito Creek. The bird was foraging in the live oaks over the road with a small flock of Chestnut-backed Chickadees, and Bushtit.
Yesterday I got my FOS Yellow-rumped Warbler near the yacht club and duck pond at the Palo Alto Baylands. Along the small trail that leads beside the Palo Alto Airport I also had 2 Lincoln's Sparrows, several White-crowned Sparrows, and one Golden-crowned Sparrow.
Eric Goodill and I rode our bikes out from the Alviso Marina this morning in search of the Brown Booby which has been see there since last Friday. Our first effort, early evening on the day it was reported was not successful. Today we had much better results! We began by biking through the mud (it had rained the day before) to the second levy along the trail. This is the one which separates salt pond A10 and A11. To get there we started from the parking area, which borders salt pond A12, past the first levy which separates A11 and A12 and continued. We rode clockwise to the location. We searched the large flock of Gulls, mostly California and Western Gulls, as well as Double-crested Cormorants, a lone Pelagic Cormorant, and Brown and White Pelicans. On the water we saw a variety of swimming birds including both Western and Clark's Grebes, as well as Eared and Pied-billed. Many Forser's Terns were foraging over the pond, and small groups of Violet-green Swallows circled overhead. At one point we also heard a Sora in the marsh. After close to an hour with no success we made our way back to the parking area near the southernmost pond A12. We stopped to explore the first levy and within a minute Eric had located the Brown Booby which was sitting cooperatively among the Gulls. We signalled back to Roy Churchwell, who we had spoken to earlier. He and his friend were close to a mile north of us where we had initially stopped. I rode back to offer them my bicycle if one of them was especially eager to see the bird. A few minutes later they reached us and were able to see the bird for themselves. After we left them, we continued to our car and spotted the Vesper Sparrow Roy had told us about. The eyering, rufous shoulder patch, and of course the white outer-tail feathers were all seen well. Thanks for the tip Roy!
Photo: Eric Goodill
On a lunch break I walked along Matadero Creek off ofFrontage Road in Palo Alto. The first birds I saw near
the turnout were a small group of White-crowned Sparrows and a few Golden-crowned Sparrows mixed in. Seems like they weren't there yesterday... Further out along the trail I spotted a pretty large flock of
Bushtits working the fennel with 3 Yellow Warblers, and 4 Orange-crowned Warblers following close behind.
I couldn't get out early enough to find the Brown Booby this morning, but I did notice a "Western" Flycatcher in our back yard. We are near the Stevens Creek Trail in Mountain View. It hawked for insects from a tall yucca tree for quite a while before I had to leave. My guess it will be farther south tomorrow...
This morning Eric Goodill, Ashutosh Sinha and I bicycled along the Stevens Creek trail. We bumped into Peggy Don on the east channel of the creek in the area where Mike Rogers had yesterday reported the Northern Waterthrush. Peggy had seen it briefly this morning before we arrived and within a short time we all saw it again. It called loudly and was very easy to locate by sound sound alone, but harder to get a good look at. Wilson's Warbler was also present. Another birder (Arlan?) said he had relocated the MacGillivray's Warbler near the lone eucalyptus, but we didn't pursue it.
After an hour out at the creek mouth in a fruitless search for Red Knot (wrong tide...) we returned via the Charleston Marsh. We heard a loud "tink!" call near par course 17 (leg stretch) and sure enough with a bit of coaching a Northern Waterthrush came into view and moved actively among the lower branches and reeds. Of course, there's no guarantee that this is a second Waterthrush but if anyone can confirm that the "lone eucalyptus" bird was present at 11:30 am then the bird at Charleston would certainly be a different bird.
This morning we did some scouting for the Fall Challenge. The Waterfowl numbers have climbed considerably since my last visit to SWPCP two weeks ago. We saw one Greater and one Lesser Scaup, both of which were hanging out near the pump station past the radar station. A small flock of American Wigeons flew over and landed in the west pond. There are still many Red-necked Phalaropes and a few Wilson's Phalaropes present on the large pond. Small numbers of Vaux's Swifts were foraging over the marsh, and both Sora and Virginia Rail made appearances. Both Brown and White Pelicans were seen as well as three Green Herons. A single Caspian Tern flew over us at one point. We found three Yellow Warbler as well.
This morning I was pleased to find three migrants in our Mountain View back yard. My guess they were
moving toward the Stevens Creek trail, which is just a few blocks from our home. A Yellow Warbler stopped by briefly, touching the upper branches of a redwood before moving on. There was also a very vocal Western Tanager, as well as a Black-headed Grosbeak. All three birds were in our yard at about 7:15, visible from the upstairs windows, but only for a moment before they continued their journey...
We did a little reconnaissance for the upcoming fall field trips today, and then a little sweep-up for 175+ Challenge. Coyote Point was pretty active this morning, with many Shorebirds in attendance. There were Black-bellied Plovers in all phases of molt, several Whimbrel, good numbers of Black Turnstones and some remaining Elegant Terns. Nicest surprise was a Spotted Sandpiper foraging along the edges of the harbor. No Harlequin Duck was located, but we'll try again soon enough.
Redwood Shores, specifically Radio Road, was bursting with activity. Huge flocks of Marbled Godwit, Willet and Dowitchers took flight several times simply taking our breath away with their maneuvers! Mixed in among them were 4 Black Skimmers too. Duck numbers are still low, but any time now, that should change. Eventually the Hooded Mergansers will show up as well.
Later, Kelly and I made a dash to Alviso where we successfully relocated 2 of the 4 reported Stilt Sandpipers along the train tracks which lead off of the EEC entrance road. Also present were two Baird's Sandpipers. All things considered, it was a fine day to be outside and we even managed to exceed our goal. There are still some conspicuous species missing from our 175+ Challenge list, but we'll continue working on those. Any day now, I expect to read reports of Ruff in that area, but for now, the next targets for us are Pectoral Sandpiper, Red Knot, and what ever else comes to mind...