A walk at Byxbee Park this afternoon produced many waterfowl, but few surprising species. Canvasbacks, Bufflehead, Greater Scaup, American Wigeon were among the more recent arrivals. A single Burrowning Owl was seen near the posts close to the entrance trail and a cooperative Lincoln's Sparrow popped up from its hiding place and provided good views. American Pipits were heard flying overhead, Say's Phoebe was present and a distant Loggerhead Shrike hunted from a fence post near the dump.


I finally decided to make the two hour trip to Lodi to track down the Demoiselle Crane that has been reported there for about a month. This distinctive, Asian crane is slightly smaller than our familiar Sandhill Cranes and has a black head and neck, white head plumes and greatly elongated tertials. The status of the bird, whether it is an escaped bird or a naturally occurring one, is still in debate. Elsewhere in the Central Valley we found Tundra Swan, Greater White-fronted Geese, Common Snipe, 2 Rough-legged Hawk, 3 different Ferrugionous Hawk, including a very unusual dark phase individual, Prairie Falcon, Loggerhead Shrike, and multitudes of Horned Lark.

Returning from the area we stopped briefly at Coyote Hills Regional Park and saw a couple of Barn Owl hunting at dusk over the field were the Rough-legged Hawk had been seen. On a lesser note, this was also the first day I had ever detected Fox Sparrow on the lawn of my appartment complex. The bird was associating with White-crowned and Golden-crowned Sparrows, as well as Dark-eyed Junco.


The Rough-legged Hawk was still present today near the kiosk at the entrance to Coyote Hills Regional Park at 4:30 this afternoon. The bird was first seen left of the road in some distant trees and then flew to a branch directly over the road. It remained there for a few minutes, allowing close observation, before flying to the field on the right side of the road. Excellent photo opportunities, but unfortunately, no camera. It is widely assumed that this is the same bird that was seen at this location last winter. The ranger at the entrance told me that they had named the bird "Henry" which is interesting, I noted, as the bird appears to be a female...


A drake Redhead has been reported at the Palo Alto Flood Control Basin along Frontage Road between Embarcadero and San Antonio in Palo Alto. If you feel inclined to track it down, this bird was seen in the vicinity of some Canvasbacks in the first large pond on the left. A little farther out on the trail, this area has also produced a number of Blue-winged Teals this past week. All three species are interesting winter visitors, well worth the effort.