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
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.