Jennifer Lee of the New York Times reported the following story on December 23, 2003. It does not speak well of the Bush administration's attitudes toward the environment. It seems to confirm once again that George Bush is not a friend of conservation. If this story upsets you, I encourage you to write to George Bush and let him know. His email address and contact information can be found on the White House website: http://www.whitehouse.gov

"WASHINGTON, Dec. 23-- The Bush administration announced on Tuesday that the Tongass National Forest in Alaska, the largest in the country, would be exempted from a Clinton-era rule, potentially opening up more than half of the 17 million-acre forest for more development and as many as 50 logging projects. The decision stems from the settlement of a lawsuit between Alaska and the federal government over the so-called roadless rule, which prohibited the building of roads in 58.5 million acres of undeveloped national forest across the country."


Brian and I took advantage of the high tide today and visited the Palo Alto Baylands where a brief walk along the board walk produced some stunning views of Clapper Rail. Some images have been placed in the gallery section but please don't expect Elliot Porter results...


Today I got validation for my 12-02-03 report of Golden Eagle along San Francisquitor Creek. I saw a large dark raptor flying northeast high over the creek. I immediately hoped that it would turn out to be and Eagle and indeed it did. I got good looks at the bird, which turned out to be an adult, because I had brought my glasses with me, hoping to find yesterday's Sparrow. No Sparrow, but any day with an Eagle is a good day!


I couldn't participate in the Palo Alto count today because of work, but I was able to take a short lunchtime walk along San Franciscquito Creek. At 1:15 I located a White-throated Sparrow at the junction of Poe St. and Bryant St. along Palo Alto Avenue. The bird was foraging with a small flock of Golden-crowned Sparrows beneath the huge eucalyptus and palm trees. This is likely the same WTSP that I found a week ago, since that was only 50 yards away, but this time it was on the Santa Clara County side of the Creek.

Additionally, I'm sure Regions 1 and 2 have already gotten this species for the Palo Alto Count, but if not, I observed a Peregrine Falcon at 5:00pm flying west over University Avenue in downtown Palo Alto.


Kelly and I refound the Sage Thrasher at the Sunnyvale Water Pollution Control Plant (aka Donald M. Somers Water Pollution Control Plant for those looking at the Birding at the Bottom of the Bay, chapter 3). It was located the day before by Mike Rogers and Mike Mammoser. The bird was easily seen at about noon, but not where we first looked. As directed by other birders, we followed the trail to the top of the hill and waited patiently, but only found the bird when we backtracked down slope from there, to the first "Sensitive Area" sign after the fork. There's lots of appropriate cover in this general "upper trail" area, so keep an eye out as the trail begins to climb. During our seach Loggerhead Shrike were conspicuous, as were Savannah Sparrow, Says' Phoebe and Western Meadowlark.

As well we observed two Eurasian Wigeons (an adult male and an imm. male) in the large pond below the Thrasher area. Numerous Redheads were also found among the many Canvasbacks. A group of 30 or so Bonaparte's Gulls were see foraging over the channel also. The area was really birdy and very exciting.

On a rather embarrasing note, a bird we both felt was a Long-tailed Duck at Shoreline Park in Salt pond 1A was more likely the aberrant "White-headed" Ruddy Duck that has been observed by a handful of birders over the past few days. I hate to admit it, but I think I was just overeager and misidentified the bird. (In a previous winter two Long-tailed Ducks were found in this same location, so it isn't out of the realm of possiblity.) Of some comfort though is the fact that other birders have also been confused by this bizarre (and quite distant!) bird...


A member of the class has informed me that two Tundra Swans have been spending the past few days on Searsville Lake in Jasper Ridge. The area is private Stanford land and birders must be accompanied by a docent, but he birds represent a very rare record for San Mateo County. A previous record dates back to 1955! Perhaps they will stick around long enough for the Christmas Count.


My company's Christmas party was held at Seascape in Aptos last night. Before checking into the resort, Cricket and I decided to bird Harkin's Slough. The exotic Pink-backed Pelican was not located, but we did find a small group of Great-tailed Grackles foraging along the shore. We observed many White Pelicans, various Dabbling Ducks and Gulls, but nothing unexpected. The real fun however, actually began the following morning, today. Just outside of our balcony window, a great flurry of activity was occuring in a single tree. Hermit Warbler, Townsend's Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Bewick's Wren, Hermit Thrush, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Hutton's Vireo, Purple Finch, Steller's Jay, Western Srub Jay, Bushtit, Song Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, could all be found in the branches of a huge cypress tree. At the foot of the great tree, Fox Sparrow, Golden-crowned Sparrow, California and Spotted Towhees were also working! Nearby Wrentit, Northern Flicker, Common Yellowthroat were seen and heard. All of this while we were still in our robes.

Down on the beach another nice colleciton of birds werer found. Surf Scoter, Black-bellied Plover, Sanderling, Brown Pelican, California, Glaucous-winged and Western Gulls. It was quite a morning!

On our way up the coast, we stopped at Phipp's Ranch in Pescadero and found a Red-breasted Sapsucker and an unseasonable male Bullock's Oriole in the berry picking area. A brilliant shock of color for a cloudy day.


On my lunch hour walk along San Francisquito Creek I found a White-throated Sparrow foraging among a group of a dozen Golden-crowned Sparrows. The bird was visible from the intersection of Emerson Street and the creek across from the Roble Vista appartments. This is an uncommon to rare Sparrow for our area and this individual, like most that appear in the winter months was of the "tan-striped" variety. As usual, Dark-eyed Juncos, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Yellow-rumped Warblers and Hermit Thrushes seemed to be everywhere.