Memory sketch: Today's Eastern Phoebe from San Luis NWA. The previously reported bird behaved much like a Black Phoebe, but occasionally gave it's signature "fee-bree!" call. We were also struck by the pale lemon yellow on it's belly, and conspicuously white throat. Overall, it was a dark olive-brown-gray, with faint wing bars and nearly constant tail bobbing.


I love seeing (and hearing) noisy flocks of Cedar Waxwings between fall and winter. They gather in wheezy, trilling groups of birds, sometimes numbering 30 or more in a single tree as they eat berries. And then a moment later, they fly off as a group, looking much like autumn leaves carried by the wind.

Memory sketch of Cedar Waxwing with colors added in photoshop. I found myself struggling to remember whether tan head blended into gray rump or vice versa. After completing the color-add, I was appy to discover the gradient I'd chosen was essentially correct. Chances are, it will be easier to remember next time...


While most of today's Northern Fulmars were uniformly dark grayish, a small number were quite pale, showing a contrast between their snow white heads, and pale gray mantle. It was on these more Gull-like pale birds that the dark eye shadow was especially obvious. All were considerably smaller than the nearby Gulls, and had stiff, shallow wing beats, followed by short glides on straight wings. The sat rather high in the water with their blocky heads often held forward of their breast.

After checking in on the Blue Whale carcass at Bean Hollow, and seeing at least 100 Northern Fulmars of various plumages, Cricket and I saw 7 Evening Grosbeaks from the natural garden area flying over us toward Main street Pescadero. Memory sketch of the 7 Evening Grosbeaks in Pescadero. They flew directly over us as we birded Phipp's Ranch. Recent reports of this large yellow, black and white Finch in the Bay Area suggest this may be an invasion year, perhaps because of insufficient food in their normal range. Knowing the call helped me recognize the birds in flight, as well as large white areas on the males wings.


Just returned from Menlo Park, where the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was easily found at the corner of Creek and Arbor, near Allied Arts. The bird was entirely silent, feeding in a relaxed fashion from the sap-producing holes in the ornamental trees above the 15mph sign. This sketch was done as I watched the bird, but the red was added in photoshop.



Just returned from seeing three FOS Waterfowl: 6 Hooded Mergansers at Heaven's Gate Cemetery, Cupertino; Barrow's Goldeney and Eurasian Wigeon on Pond A1 just north of Shoreline Lake, Mountain View.


Sketch of the adult male Merlin (F.c. columbarius) that was perched in our redwood tree over the weekend. Strange thing is, we've had a Merlin each winter for at least three years, we assume the same bird, and until recently I had never gotten the bird in the scope. Finally, on Sunday, a long look through the scope inspired me to record the bird in my sketchbook.


Just returned home after a field trip to Andrew Molera State Park with class. After seeing three California Condors , 9 of us made the trek down to Pismo Beach to see the Ivory Gull , the second rare scavenging species of the day. To put this bird in perspective, this is only the second appearance of this species in California. The first record was in 1996 of an immature bird in Orange County. The Ivory Gull is a circumpolar species, and breeds only in the Arctic Ocean. On it's wintering range, it seldom descends further south than the north coast of Alaska and Canada. It's an incredible discovery in Southern California and this remarkable bird was well seen by our entire group. Most interesting to me was it's shallow wingbeats—quite different from other Gulls. It even made a full circle around Cricket while she was on the phone with Tate. It's her new favorite bird! Also seen were serveral Royal Terns, but they didn't keep our attention for long, sadly. Total mileage today: 522!