FALL 2001

Charleston Slough and Shoreline Lake 09-15-01 POSTED
Montebello Open Space Preserve 09-22-01 POSTED
Alviso Marina and the EEC 09-29-01 POSTED
Princeton Harbor and Pillar Point 10-20-01 POSTED
Natural Bridges State Park 10-27-01 POSTED
Merced National Wildlife Refuge 11-03-01 POSTED
Point Reyes National Seashore 11-10-01 POSTED

Note: The trip reports below are organized in reverse chronological order (more recent report first).



Point Reyes National Seashore 11-10-01

This is always one of my favorite destinations. Even without birds, the view from Chimney Rock is worth the long journey... but birds were definitely present for this abbreviated trip! We began at the Bear Valley Interpretive Center where we had beautiful views of both Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets, as well as three species of Warblers. Unfortunately, no Varied Thrushes were logged, but another group of birders failed to see them as well, so it wasn't just us... A lifer for many, the Tricolored Blackbird posed atop the large barn for us to admire and we noted the subtle differences between it and the more familiar Red-winged Blackbird perched right next to it. Weather dictated that we speed directly to our most distant stop first and work our way back. Chimney rock was pleasant when we arrived and we had great views of several swimming birds, most notably the Black Scoter and Harlequin Duck (a class first), but also Common and Pacific Loon, Eared and Horned Grebe and three species of Cormorants. We had planned to stop along the Spaletta Plateau for a chance at Pacific Golden Plover and Lapland Longspur, but rain prevented us from continuing. Hopefully, people still enjoyed our trip and the many birds we saw in a short period of time.

Red-throated Loon
Pacific Loon
Common Loon
Horned Grebe
Eared Grebe
Clark's Grebe
Brown Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant
Brandt's Cormorant
Pelagic Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Snowy Egret
Great Egret
Northern Shoveler
Mallard
Northern Pintail
Gadwall
American Wigeon
Harlequin Duck
Surf Scoter
Black Scoter
Bufflehead
Red-breasted Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Turkey Vulture
Cooper's Hawk
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk (heard only)
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
California Quail
Wild Turkey (heard only)
American Coot
Killdeer
Black Oystercatcher
American Avocet
Whimbrel
Long-billed Curlew
Marbled Godwit
Black Turnstone
Long-billed Dowitcher
Heerman's Gull
Mew Gull
Herring Gull
Western Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Mourning Dove
Rock Dove
Band-tailed Pigeon
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Black Phoebe
Say's Phoebe
Horned Lark
Steller's Jay
Western Scrub Jay
American Crow
Common Raven
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Pygmy Nuthatch (heard only)
Marsh Wren (heard only)
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Western Bluebird
American Robin
American Pipit (heard by one)
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Hutton's Vireo (heard only)
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Gray Warbler (seen by one)
Townsend's Warbler
Common Yellowthroat (heard only)
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Savannah Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Red-winged Blackbird
Tricolored Blackbird
Brewer's Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
House Finch
Pine Siskin
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow


Merced National Wildlife Refuge 11-03-01

The weather was perfect! Sunny, warm and windless. Infact, it would have been our most pleasant trip to this refuge if it hadn't been for the insanely hungry mosquitos and vicious biting red ants! Waterfowl turnout was modest compared to midwinter, but many species were still logged. Three species of Anseriformes (Geese) were identified, all of which are uncommon-to-rare in the South Bay. Good numbers of White-faced Ibis were seen foraging in the shallows. A real highlight was an American Bittern, a lifer for many, that flushed as we approached a stand of cattails. It's gold-and-olive coloration was clearly different than our familiar Black-crowned Night Heron immatures. An American Pipit allowed close examination as it perched on a wire--a very unusual place to find this ground bird. Perhaps the most unusual bird of the day was a single Western Gull. This bird is of course, a common sight along the coast and in the Bay, but it seldom crosses into the Central Valley. It is, in fact, completely unmentioned on the refuge checklist!

Pied-billed Grebe
American White Pelican
American Bittern
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
White-faced Ibis
Greater White-fronted Goose
Snow Goose
Ross' Goose
Green-winged Teal
Mallard
Northern Pintail
Cinnamon Teal
Northern Shoveler
Gadwall
Turkey Vulture
White-tailed Kite
Northern Harrier
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Virginia Rail (heard only)
Sora (heard only)
American Coot
Sandhill Crane
Black-bellied Plover
Killdeer
Black-necked Stilt
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Least Sandpiper
Dunlin
Long-billed Dowitcher
Common Snipe (flyover)
Californial Gull
Western Gull
Rock Dove
Mourning Dove
Anna's Hummingbird
Nuttall's Woodpecker (heard only)
Northern Flicker
Black Phoebe
Horned Lark (flyover)
Tree Swallow
Wester Scrub Jay
Yellow-billed Magpie (outside park)
American Crow
Marsh Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
American Robin
Northern Mockingbird
American Pipit
Loggerhead Shrike
European Starling
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Spotted Towhee (seen by one)
California Towhee
Savannah Sparrow
Fox Sparrow (heard only)
Song Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Brewer's Blackbird
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow


Natural Bridges State Park 10-27-01

Pleasant weather and a multitude of birds made our trip to this new location a real joy. We began birding even before we entered the park by logging Great Egret, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, California Towhee and two species of Sparrows along Delaware Street! Upon entering the park and scanning the tall eucalyptus trees we found Pygmy Nuthatces giving their incessant peeping calls, the first of many Yellow-rumped Warblers and a Townsend's Warbler. Further along the entrance road we encountered a flock of Cedar Waxwings and it became clear our necks were going to ache from constantly looking up... Other highlights include a Ruby-crowned Kinglet that lived up to it's name, an immature Cooper's Hawk that posed nicely, all three species of Cormorant and a retroactively identified Winter Wren (thanks Anne). I almost forgot to mention the beautiful Monarch Butterflies hanging in the trees!

Pacific Loon (off shore)
Clark's Grebe
Eared Grebe
Brown Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant
Brandt's Cormorant
Pelagic Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Mallard
Surf Scoter (off shore)
Cooper's Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
California Quail
Black-bellied Plover
Killdeer
Black Oystercatcher
Willet
Whimbrel
Black Turnstone
Sanderling
Heerman's Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Western Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Elegant Tern (off shore)
Common Murre (off shore)
Rock Dove
Mourning Dove
Anna's Hummingbird
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Black Phoebe
Steller's Jay
Western Scrub Jay
American Crow
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Bushtit
Pygmy Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
Bewick's Wren
House Wren
Winter Wren (seen by one)
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
American Robin
Wrentit (heard only)
Northern Mockingbird
Cedar Waxwing
European Starling
Orange-crowned Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Townsend's Warbler
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Fox Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Western Meadowlark (heard only)
Brewer's Blackbird
House Finch
American Goldfinch (heard only)

A side trip along the coast toward Hwy 84 produced a few birds not encountered on the group trip:

Red-throated Loon
Turkey Vulture
American Coot
Surfbird
Marbled Murrelet
Rhinocerous Auklet
Common Raven
Red-winged Blackbird


Princeton Harbor and Pillar Point 10-20-01

The weather began cool and overcast, clearing by lunch. It was a great day for rock-loving coastal Shorebirds and a few diving birds. The first stop was the boat harbor where Whimbrel appeared among a group of Willet and Marbled Godwits. We had ample opportunity to compare numerous small shorebirds such as Sanderling, Dunlin and Least Sandpiper side by side. Gull numbers were high, but some species were missed such as Ring-billed Gull. High numbers of Elegant Terns remain in the area but will likely leave soon. The rough stone levy beneath the lighthouse produced a class-trip-first Wandering Tattler, as well as Black Oystercatchers and Surfbirds. Some of us had lunch together at Barbara's Fish Grotto after the trip, a nice close to a great day!

Common Loon
Pied-billed Grebe
Eared Grebe
Aechmophorus species
Brown Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant
Brandt's Cormorant
Pelagic Cormorant
Greater Scaup
Surf Scoter
Red-breasted Merganser
Red-shouldered Hawk (along Hwy 1)
Red-tailed Hawk
Merlin (probable)
Black-bellied Plover
Semipalmated Plover
Killdeer
Black Oystercatcher
Greater Yellowlegs (heard only)
Willet
Wandering Tattler
Whimbrel
Marbled Godwit
Black Turnstone
Surfbird
Sanderling
Least Sandpiper
Dunlin
Heerman's Gull
Mew Gull
California Gull
Western Gull
Glaucou-winged Gull
Elegant Tern
Forster's Tern
Rock Dover
Mourning Dove
Anna's Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Northern Flicker
Black Phoebe
Say's Phoebe
Common Raven
Bewick's Wren (head only)
no Wrentit
European Starling
Orange-crowned Warbler
Townsend's Warbler
Common Yellowthroat (heard only)
Song Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Brewer's Blackbird
House Finch
House Sparrow

A side trip to Ano Nuevo produced a few birds not encountered on the group trip:

Red-throated Loon
Pacific Loon
Red-necked Grebe
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Mallard
Turkey Vulture
White-tailed Kite
Northern Harrier
American Kestrel
American Coot
Marbled Murrelet
Western Scrub Jay
American Crow
Bushtit
Marsh Wren
American Robin
California Towhee
Red-winged Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
Lesser Goldfinch


Alviso Marina and the Environmental Education Center (EEC) 09-29-01

Despite a slow start, this trip ended up being one of the best in memory! Weather was fabulous (glassy water at the Marina, reflecting clear blue skies!) and two rare fall migrants presented themselves to us for identification. The first, an immature Sabine's Gull, gave us an opportunity to test our observation skills and challenge our patience as it continued to swim away from our group while stubornly keeping its wings concealed! The keen eyes of our group picked out several important features of the bird including the yellowish legs, (thanks Sheila!). This bird, an uncommon migrant at sea, is considered very rare inland. The second bird, a Willow Flycatcher, was comparitively easy to identify, as all major fieldmarks were observed quickly and recent reports corroborate our find.

Eared Grebe
White Pelican
Brown Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Egret
Black-crowned Night Heron
Mallard
Northern Shoveler
Gadwall
Turkey Vulture
White-tailed Kite
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
California Quail (heard only)
Virginia Rail (heard only)
Sora (head only)
Common Moorhen
American Coot
Killdeer
Black-necked Stilt
American Avocet
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Willet
Least Sandpiper
Short-billed Dowitcher
Ring-billed Gull
California Gull
Herring Gull
Western Gull
Sabine's Gull
Forster's Tern
Rock Dove
Mourning Dove
Anna's Hummingbird
Downy Woodpecker
Willow Flycatcher
Pacific-slope Flycatcher
Black Phoebe
Barn Swallow
Marsh Wren
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Common Yellowthroat
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Savannah Sparrow
Fox Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Brewer's Blackbird
House Finch


Montebello Open Space Preserve 09-22-01

This new destination was moderately successful for our second field trip. We had beautiful weather, despite the dense morning fog near the bay, and warm temperatures. The view of the coastal hills was stunning, but birds were few and far between. Apparently we hit the area too late for summer birds such as Barn Swallows and Lazuli Buntings, and too early for wintering species like White-crowned Sparrows and Yellow-rumped Warbler. Oh, well... we had a pleasant walk with opportunities to view Brown Creeper at close range, compare the inconspicuous Hutton's Vireo to the more active Pacific-slope Flycatcer, and observe a pair of Wrentits as they investigated our group. The area deserves another visit, but perhaps Spring would be a better time of year.


Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Wild Turkey (heard)
California Quail
Band-tailed Pigeon
Vaux's Swift
Acorn Woodpecker
Nuttall's Woodpecker (heard)
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Pacific-slope Flycatcher
Tree Swallow
Steller's Jay
Western Scrub Jay
Common Raven
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Brown Creeper
Bewick's Wren
Wrentit
Hutton's Vireo
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Brewer's Blackbird
Purple Finch
Lesser Goldfinch


Charleston Slough and Shoreline Lake 09-15-01

Our first trip of the term was a great success! The weather behaved, starting out overcast and ending with sunny skies and warmth. People's spirits were lifted, I hope, by the pleasant walk with friends--I know mine were. Highlights included a brief look at an immature Sora feeding along the water's edge which was startled back into hiding by a pair of incoming Spotted Sandpipers. The latter species, I believe, is a class trip first! We had many opportunities to examine shorebirds and waterfowl at length, including some eclipse-plumaged ducks. Other interesting species included Semipalmated Plovers which offered an opportunity for us to compare them to the closely related Killdeer. We also had a lively discussion about two raptors perched on distant towers and our feeling was that one was possibly a Peregrine Falcon. We judged this by overall shape and size. Finally, a high number of 18 Black Skimmers arrived on their favorite island when the water level had risen in the Slough.

Pied-billed Grebe
American White Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Black-crowned Night Heron
Canada Goose
Green-winged Teal
Mallard
Northern Pintail
Cinnamon Teal
Northern Shoveler
Gadwall
American Wigeon
Surf Scoter
White-tailed Kite
Northern Harrier
Red-tailed Hawk (probable)
Peregrine Falcon (possible)
Ring-necked Pheasant
Virginia Rail (heard only)
Sora (immature)
Common Moorhen
American Coot
Black-bellied Plover
Semipalmated Plover
Killdeer
Black-necked Stilt
American Avocet
Greater Yellowlegs
Willet
Spotted Sandpiper
Marbled Godwit
Western Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
Long-billed Dowitcher
Ring-billed Gull
California Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Forster's Tern
Black Skimmer
Anna's Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Black Phoebe
Violet-green Swallow
Barn Swallow
Western Scrub Jay
Common Raven
Marsh Wren (heard only)
Northern Mockingbird (before group arrived)
Common Yellowthroat
Song Sparrow
House Finch
American Goldfinch