These Whimbrel were seen at Coyote Point marina during a class field trip, and sketched from memory when I got home. I wish I could figure out how to keep the pencil from smudging so much...


I returned today, intent on sketching the Willow Flycatcher I found yesterday at the Palo Alto Baylands. I should know better than attempt field sketching an Empidonax, because the tolerances are so small. But this particular representative of the Genus, is distinctive enough to encourage me to try. Looking back in my book, I discover I sketched WIFL from the Central Valley in May of this year. The throat was brighter, and the wingbars were more obvious then... Curious. This bird was also more greenish and less olive-brown. With the buffy wingbars, I'm thinking today's bird was a first-fall.


I was happy to find two first-of-fall species during lunch. A Willow Flycatcher and a Lincoln's Sparrow were both in the southwest corner of the fennel patch beside the Ranger Station at the Palo Alto Baylands.

Red-tailed Hawk above the Ranger Station at Palo Alto Baylands yesterday.


Great Blue Heron yesterday at SF2 by the Dumbarton Bridge. There were several of them in the same view, each striking a different pose. I tried to sketch very fast and trust that it would work out.

I tried the same rapid sketch technique today with these American White Pelicans. Although I drew the Double-crested Cormorant far too large compared to the Pelicans, I liked the exercise of trying to capture a lot, with only a little. Like yesterday, this sketch was done in about 5 minutes.


Saturday's pelagic with Monterey Seabirds was wonderful. Flat gray skies in the morning, burning off and becoming sunny and warm after lunch. Some of the many highlights were 2 Common Terns, 6 Arctic Terns, 2 South Polar Skuas, the usual Black-footed Albatross, Sooty, Pink-footed, and Buller's Shearwaters plus two Short-tailed Shearwaters.


Double-crested Cormorant. The structure in flight and at rest was fun for me to draw and made me appreciate this common more. I thought it was interesting is that the pronounced scallop pattern we see on its back is only present on the "True Cormorants" within the genus Phalacrocorax, (Double-crested, Great Crested and Neotropic) while The Brandt's and Pelagic Cormorants are dubbed "Pacific Cormorants" and have an uninterrupted dark back with little pattern. There are some structural differences between the two sub divisions as well... topic for future sketch, I think.


I'll be talking about Field Sketching Thursday, November 10 at Sequoia Audubon, followed on Saturday by a sketch-oriented field trip to Coyote Point Marina. The presentation will describe why I started sketching, what I've learned, how it can help our observation skills, and how we can overcome our fears and give it a try. The Brown Pelican was made from memory after a pelagic trip with Monterey Seabirds.


Yesterday's Monterey Seabirds pelagic trip produced several highlights. Leaders included Roger Wolfe, Todd Easterla, Martijn Verdoes, Fritz Steurer, and myself. We had at least 2 Flesh-footed Shearwaters, 4+ Buller's Sheartwaters, one Short-tailed Shearwater, 1 Tufted Puffin, several Common and 2 Black Terns. We found the full complement of Jaegers and Skua. The Danish Ornithological Society was present and they all got lots of lifers on this, their first California pelagic trip.

Photo: Martijn Verdoes http://agamiblog.blogspot.com/search/label/Martijn%20Verdoes

Photo: Martijn Verdoes http://agamiblog.blogspot.com/search/label/Martijn%20Verdoes


I visited the Don Edwards SFBay National Wildlife Refuge (by the Dumbarton Bridge) during lunch. the trail leads straight away from the frontage road on the WEST bound side of the Dumbarton Bridge and follows Ravenswood Slough toward the bay. There I found one juvenile Baird's Sandpiper about 1/3 of the way out toward the bay, and one classic-looking juvenile Semipalmated Sandpiper at about the 1/2 way mark. Both birds were on the channel to the left of the trail, while at least 200 Semipalmated Plovers , about that many Least Sandpipers, a few Western Sandpiper, Long-billed Curlew, Marbled Godwit, Willet and 8 Black-bellied Plovers were foraging on the mudflats.


After meeting Petersen at Pescadero Beach to scan through the huge number of Sooty Shearwaters just off shore, we did the Gazos Creek loop before returning to Pescadero.

We figured about 6,000+ Sooty Shearwaters (6 large rafts) were in the area, but that number is probably grossly underestimated. We also found two juvenile Whimbrel below Pescadero Creek Bridge, and 2 Elegant Terns flying south.

Next we stopped at Gazos Creek Beach overlook where we found 6 Marbled Murrelets , two of which were still sporting alternate plumage. At the pump house on Gazos Creek Road we found a small mixed flock of Warblers, most of which were Wilson's Warblers, but there were to Townsend's, Warbling and Hutton's Vireos mixed in. We also had a hatch year Chipping Sparrow in this area.


I did some scouting today for the upcoming SFBBO Fall Challenge. First stop was Sunnyvale Baylands Park where three Yellow Warblers and one Orange-crowned Warbler were working the double row of cottonwood trees. In the flowering eucalyptus by the picnic tables were I found a total of 6 Black-headed Grosbeak , a female Western Tanager and a "Western" Flycatcher .

Next I went to CCFS to learn from Joyce and Josh that they had caught and released a Least Flycatcher about an hour earlier. The pictures they showed me were wonderful, but that's as close as I got to that particular bird.

At the Waterbird Pond there were many Stilts, Dowitchers and a few Greater Yellowlegs. I located at least 10 Lesser Yellowlegs among them, and a surprise was three White-faced Ibis .