Kelly and I went on a Monterey Bay Pelagic Birding trip with Debi Shearwater. The trip was productive but of course we both got a little seasick. A full report of the birds and mammals we saw can be reached through my personal section: http://www.birdguy.net/personal/index.html scroll down throught the Various Personal Trips section to find Monterey Bay (November).


Thanksgiving dinner at Kelly's parents' home in Lodi was perfect complete with delicious food and conversation! We all spent the night in Lodi and the folowing day, before driving my parents home, Kelly and I, our parents and aunt Mitzi caravanned along Woodbridge road to see what we could find. This is essentially agricultural land with large areas set aside for wintering birds. Conditions were perfect. It was overcast, but there was no wind and it wasn't too cold. Almost immediately after starting on Woodbridge we began to find our birds. When we finally reached the preserve proper, were greeted by the rattling calls of several dozen Sandhill Cranes and the trumpeting call of nearby Tundra Swans flying overhead. Eventually, we would encounter close to a thousand Swans and several hundred Cranes! Not bad, I think. Surprisingly though, very few Geese were located, just a handfull of Canada and Ross' Geese. Quite a few ducks were present, such as Northern Pintail, American Wigeon, Northern Shoveler and Mallard. Non-Waterfowl logged were American Kestrel, Red-tailed Hawk, Northern Harrier, Wison's Snipe, Belted Kingfisher, Loggerhead Shrike and American Pipit.


On my way to work, I happened to see a Merlin flying toward the bay from the Palo Alto Highschool across Alma. The bird struck me immediately by its small size and determined flight, clearly too powerful to be an American Kestrel and far too small to be a Peregrine Falcon, both of which I have seen in exactly the same spot.


Today I was smart. I brought my camera during lunch hour so that if I saw the Sapsucker again, I would be able to get a shot for the website. Of course, I saw the bird as it was flying away, so no pictures this time. I managed to get a ok shot of a Bewick's Wren, though. Overhead, very high, a large hawk flew toward Palo Alto from the Menlo Park side of the creek. As I zoomed in on the bird through the view finder it appeared to be a large, monochromatic raptor with an overall dark brown color. Examining the image later on screen, reminding me of the movie "Blow Up", it seems the bird may well have been a Golden Eagle. As with the movie, however, there is a lingering doubt, that just adds to the mystery...


Along the creek today, I was admiring the many holes in neat rows that could be found on almost every tree. California Coastal Live Oak, Pepper Tree, Chinese Elm... Sure enough, as I stood and watched the architech appeared. An adult Red-breasted Sapsucker flew into view and perched, unafraid, in perfect view. Did I have my camera? No. Of course... Of all the days to forget the camera! There were also lots of Hermit Thrushes, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Golden-crowned Sparrows and a few White-crowned Sparrows in the area. I heard Ruby-crowned Kinglets every few yards along the way, and a single Red-shouldered Hawk, and a Northern Flicker called in the distance. Dark-eyed Juncos foraged along the edge of the undergrowth and a small flock of Cedar Waxwings approached so close I could see the red waxy tips on their wings without using binoculars. Finally, a California Thrasher popped out and allowed extended looks before it decided to jump back into the shrubbery.


Cricket and I drove to her Meyerholtz this afternoon to pick up her car and decided to take a short walk around the neighborhood. There were absolutely amazing numbers of Yellow-rumped Warblers present. They fed in several kinds of fruit bearing trees, on the ground and flycatching in mid-air. On our 20 minute walk, we encountered no less than 100 Yellow-rumped Warblers. As well, Cedar Waxwings were well represented with a flock of roughly 40-50 birds feeding in berry bushes and small trees.