FALL 2002

Crittenden Marsh 09-14-02 POSTED
Arastradero Open Space Preserve 09-21-02 POSTED
Charleston Slough 09-28-02 POSTED
Joseph D. Grant County Park 10-05-02 POSTED
Stevens Creek Reservoir/Picchetti Ranch OSP 10-12-02 POSTED
Princeton Harbor and Pillar Point 10-19-02 POSTED
Natural Bridges State Park 10-26-02 POSTED
San Luis National Wildlife Area 11-02-02 POSTED

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



San Luis National Wildlife Area 11-02-02


Wow, what a great trip! We enjoyed glorious weather and great birds despite the relatively low water level and lack of wetland habitat. We began hearing Sandhill Cranes almost immediately upon arriving, but we were not able to view them until we began the auto loop and a couple dozen of them flew in and landed in a large field. By the end of the day, we had logged more than 100 Cranes and heard their wonderful calls many times. Wilson's Snipe were detected by voice in a couple of locations and we had very good views at one spot where several individuals flushed and gave their distinct "scape!" call followed by their zig-zagging flight. The disappointment at not finding a single Goose or Ibis was easily outweighed by the discovery of two rare birds: a distant Short-eared Owl that foraged over the field with its unique moth-like flight, and a spectacular Rough-legged Hawk. (I'm sure everyone could hear the excitement in my voice as I yelled "Rough-leg! Rough-leg!!" in the radio and stopped suddenly in the road.) Everyone got good looks at this uncommon-to-rare winter raptor with its white tail and black carpals. We also observed extreme examples of both light and dark-phase Red-tailed Hawk and I seem to remember a Northern Harrier or two... We will likely return to this area during winter when we can expect to find some species missed this time.

Pied-billed Grebe
Horned Grebe
American White Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Black-crowned Night Heron
Green-winged Teal
Mallard
Northern Pintail
Cinnamon Teal
Northern Shoveler
Gadwall
American Wigeon
Ruddy Duck
Turkey Vulture
White-tailed Kite
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Rough-legged Hawk
American Kestrel
California Quail
Virginia Rail (heard only)
Sora (heard only)
Common Moorhen (heard only)
American Coot
Sandhill Crane
Killdeer
Black-necked Stilt
Greater Yellowlegs
Long-billed Curlew (along Hwy 165)
Least Sandpiper
Dunlin
Long-billed Dowitcher
Wilson's Snipe
California Gull
Rock Dove
Mourning Dove
Barn Owl (feathers)
Short-eared Owl
Belted Kingfisher
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Black Phoebe
Tree Swallow
Western Scrub Jay
Yellow-billed Magpie
American Crow
Bushtit
Bewick's Wren
Marsh Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Northern Mockingbird (heard only)
American Pipit
Loggerhead Shrike
European Starling
Yellow-rumped Warbler
California Towhee
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
Tricolored Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Brewer's Blackbird
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow



Natural Bridges State Park 10-26-02

This is truly a special place! The combination of dense riparian woodland, scrubby chaparral, open grassy areas, wide, sandy beach, rocky coastal shores and open water is truly unique among our field trips destinations. The weather was pleasant, a bit cool in the morning, especially on the beach, and overcast. The indirect light, we observed, had a interesting effect on many of the birds; the colors seemed enhanced by ambient light. The wooded area produced some "term birds", namely Pygmy Nuthatches which were in abundance, and the strikingly beautiful Townsend's Warbler. After a morning rush of Nuthatches, Warblers and Sparrows, the activity slowed until we reached the beach where we logged the Black Oystercatchers we missed the previous week, all three Cormorants, three Grebes and three Gulls. At one point we heard Hermit Thrush singing near the interpretive center as well as close looks at Ruby-crowned Kinglet. We were also treated to many hanging tendrils of sleeping Monarch Butterflies in the dell area. Unfortunately, the most noteworthy bird was seen by only three of us, an unseasonable Blue-gray Gnatcatcher along the road by the entrace of the park.

Eared Grebe
Western Grebe
Clark's Grebe
Brown Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant
Brandt's Cormorant
Pelagic Cormorant
Snowy Egret
Surf Scoter
Ruddy Duck
Cooper's Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Californlia Quail (heard only)
American Coot
Black-bellied Plover
Killdeer
Black Oystercatcher
Whimbrel
Black Turnstone
Heerman's Gull
Ring-billed Gull
California Gull
Western Gull
Rock Dove
Mourning Dove
Great Horned Owl (feathers)
Anna's Hummingbird
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Black Phoebe
Steller's Jay
Western Scrub Jay
American Crow
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Bushtit
Pygmy Nuthatch
Bewick's Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Hermit Thrush (heard only)
American Robin
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Townsend's Warbler
California Towhee
Golden-crowned Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
Western Meadowlark (heard only)
Brewer's Blackbird
House Finch
Pine Siskin (heard only)
American Goldfinch (heard only)



Princeton Harbor and Pillar Point 10-19-02

For this, our only coastal trip of the term, the weather was pleasant; overcast conditions prevailed until about 11:00 when it cleared and became sunny and warm. There was early excitement when the plaintiff calls of immature Elegant Terns were heard in the harbor and a small flock of this Mexican species approached at close range. Some in our group were even able to catch a glimpse of the subtle pinkish wash on the undersides of the adult birds. As always, this location also produced the rock-loving shorebirds that are seldom seen within the bay, specifically, Wandering Tattler, Black Turnstone, and Surfbird. A surprising miss was Black Oystercatcher, but perhaps the high tide and heavy surf at the point kept them away. A winter visit to this same location will likely produce greater numbers of Anserforms such as Greater Scaup, Bufflehead and Common Goldeneye perhaps even Red-breasted Merganser, but on this day we had only one: Surf Scoter. All three species of Cormorants were logged as well as nice side-by-side Gull comparisons and good numbers of Whimbrel. Many people chose to participate in the now-traditional lunch at Barbar's Fish Trap where an additional two species were found.

Common Loon
Western Grebe
Clark's Grebe
Brown Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant
Brandt's Cormorant
Pelagic Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Black-crowned Night Heron
Surf Scoter
Turkey Vulture (from Barbara's)
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Black-bellied Plover
Killdeer (heard only)
Greater Yellowlegs
Willet
Wandering Tattler
Whimbrel
Marbled Godwit
Black Turnstone
Surfbird
Sanderling
Western Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
Dunlin
Heerman's Gull
Mew Gull
Ring-billed Gull
California Gull
Western Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Elegant Tern
Rock Dove
Mourning Dove
Anna's Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Northern Flicker
Black Phoebe
American Crow
Common Raven
Chestnut-backed Chickadee (from Barbara's)
Bewick's Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (heard only)
Wrentit (heard only)
European Starling
Yellow-rumped Warbler (heard only)
Common Yellowthroat
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Western Meadowlark (before group arrived)
Brewer's Blackbird
American Goldfinch



Stevens Creek Reservoir and Picchetti Ranch OSP 10-12-02

This brand new, two-part trip was thoroughly enjoyable. The weather was perfectly pleasant, sunny and warm. We began by gathering at the parking area above the boat launch where we logged a few water birds. The reservoir however, was not as productive as anticipated with only one species of Duck being observed. The best bird of the day was found here, two Spotted Sandpipers bobbing their tails as they foraged along the shore. As well we had a Black-crowned Night Heron sleeping above us in the branches of a Live Oak and a Belted Kingfisher. From there we carpooled to Picchetti OSP where the parking area exploded with new species for the day. Band-tailed Pigeons made wide circles overhead, four species of Sparrows, including Fox, were seen at close range and a vivid male Yellow-rumped Warbler were all found within minutes. Other species of note included a magnificent immature Cooper's Hawk which afforded an opportunity to see just how subtle Accipiter identification can be! We finished by having a delightful group picnic on the winery grounds and sampling their wines. I especially liked the Zinfandel. I can't wait to take our group here again, perhaps in spring when we can expect some really colorful species like Western Tanager, Bullock's and Hooded Oriole, Black-headed Grosbeak and Lazuli Bunting.

Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Black-crowned Night Heron
Mallard
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk (heard only)
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
California Quail
American Coot
Killdeer
Spotted Sandpiper
Rock Dove
Band-tailed Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Anna's Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Acorn Woodpecker
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Black Phoebe
Says's Phoebe
Steller's Jay
Western Scrub Jay
American Crow
Common Raven
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Oak Titmouse
Bushtit
Brown Creeper
Bewick's Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Hermit Thrush
Wrentit
California Thrasher
European Starling
Hutton's Vireo
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Fox Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Brewer's Blackbird
House Finch
Lesser Goldfinch



Joseph D. Grant County Park 10-05-02

I always look forward to this trip. This magical park, only 45 minutes from Palo Alto, seems another world away, and always holds surprises for us. The weather was almost too nice, clear and warm in the morning becoming hot by 11:00. On this particular visit we were challenged with several winter Sparrow species to identify. At least two Lincoln's Sparrows allowed us to compare them with the nearby Savannah and Song Sparrows. Another noteworthy Emberizid was a drab, first winter Lark Sparrow. I was ready to write this individual off, but retroactively identified it with certainty after referring to several books at home. (Sometimes that happens...) We also found our first winter Warbler, the Yellow-rumped and our first Hermit Thrush of the season. Other highlights included a heard-only Sora at the lake, a small group of Ring-necked Ducks in eclipse plumage, two large groups of Wild Turkeys, Say's Phoebe, and a Green Heron. It was also a great day for mammals with two herds of Wild Boar, a pair of Mule Deer and a Bobcat!

Pied-billed Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Green Heron
Mallard
Northern Shoveler
Gadwall
American Wigeon
Ring-necked Duck
Ruddy Duck
Turkey Vulture
White-tailed Kite
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Accipiter species (presumed Cooper's)
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel (on Mt. Hamilton Road)
Wild Turkey
California Quail
Sora (heard only)
American Coot
Killdeer
Greater Yellowlegs
Forster's Tern
Rock Dove
Band-tailed Pigeon (on Mt. Hamilton Road)
Mourning Dove
Anna's Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Acorn Woodpecker
Red-breasted Sapsucker (seen by one)
Nuttall's Woodpecker (heard only)
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Black Phoebe
Say's Phoebe
Steller's Jay
Western Scrub Jay
Yellow-billed Magpie (seen by one)
American Crow (on Mt. Hamilton Road)
Common Raven
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Oak Titmouse
Bushtit
White-breasted Nuthatch (heard only)
Bewick's Wren (heard only)
Marsh Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Western Bluebird
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
California Thrasher (heard only)
European Starling
Hutton's Vireo (heard only)
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Lark Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow (heard only)
Lincoln's Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Red-winged Blackbird
Western Meadowlark (heard only)
Brewer's Blackbird
House Finch
Lesser Goldfinch



Charleston Slough 09-28-02

Suddenly the weather has changed and our trip was overcast and cool, clearing somewhat by noon. It's definitely fall, in other words! The pace was relaxed with some expected species missed. Good numbers of wintering waterfowl were logged, including Northern Shoveler and Northern Pintail. Other Anatidae were in short supply however, especially Diving Ducks, but we were able to find a small group of Greater Scaup and a few Ruddy Ducks. As always, Shorebirds were conspicuous but again, perhaps it is too early in the season for the huge rafts of shorebirds we can expect as more wintering birds arrive next month. Highlights of the day would have to be the seemingly endless numbers of American White Pelicans moving from pool to pool, the Ring-necked Pheasant which flew right in front of us while we observed from the platform, and of course the Black Skimmers (I got a little carried away, I know...). The new observation deck (decorated with childrens' wildlife drawings) allowed us to view the birds comfortably while they relaxed on their island. We also noted a very young bird among them. This is exciting evidence of possible local breeding!

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
Greater Scaup
Surf Scoter
Ruddy Duck
Turkey Vulture
White-tailed Kite
Northern Harrier (seen by one)
Red-tailed Hawk
Ring-necked Pheasant
Common Moorhen
American Coot
Killdeer (heard only)
Black-necked Stilt
American Avocet
Greater Yellowlegs
Willet
Long-billed Curlew
Marbled Godwit
Least Sandpiper
Short-billed Dowitcher
Ring-billed Gull
California Gull
Forster's Tern
Black Skimmer
Rock Dove
Mourning Dove
Anna's Hummingbird
Black Phoebe
Violet-green Swallow
Common Raven
Bushtit
Bewick's Wren (heard only)
Marsh Wren (heard only)
Yellow Warbler
California Towhee
Savannah Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
Brewer's Blackbird
Lesser Goldfinch
American Goldfinch (seen by one)
House Sparrow



Arastradero Open Space Preserve 09-21-02

The weather today was stupendous! Sunny, warm and beautiful! Our big group logged a modest list of woodland birds, very different from last week's trip to Crittenden. As a consequence of being in the closed habitat we were, we had to practice using our ears quite a bit as several species remained unseen such as both Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers, Meadowlark and Red-winged Blackbird. Most birds, however, allowed extended observation such as Brown Creeper, White-breasted and even the secretive Spotted Towhee. Highlights included several California Thrasher, a Red-sholdered Hawk being harrassed by an American Kestrel (which in turn was bombarded by a Brewer's Blackbird) and to top it all off, we saw a glorious adult Golden Eagle which flew right overhead. Any trip with a Golden Eagle is immediately considered a success! I don't care how common they may be...

Pied-billed Grebe
White-tailed Kite
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Golden Eagle
American Kestrel
Falcon species (assumed Peregrine)
California Quail
American Coot
Killdeer (heard only)
Rock Dove
Mourning Dove
Anna's Hummingbird
Acorn Woodpecker
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker (heard only)
Hairy Woodpecker (heard only)
Black Phoebe
Steller's Jay
Western Scrub Jay
Common Raven
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Oak Titmouse
Bushtit
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
Bewick's Wren
Western Bluebird
Wrentit
California Thrasher
European Starling
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Song Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird (heard only)
Western Meadowlark (heard only)
Brewer's Blackbird
Purple Finch
House Finch
Lesser Goldfinch

A side trip to Byxbee Park after our group trip produced some additional species not typical of woodland areas. These include many species we may expect to encounter at Charleston Slough next week:

American White Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Mallard
Northern Pintail
Cinnamon Teal
Northern Shoveler
Gadwall
American Wigeon
Canvasback
Lesser Scaup
Ruddy Duck
Northern Harrier
Black-necked Stilt
American Avocet
Greater Yellowlegs
Willet
Long-billed Curlew
Marbled Godwit
Ring-billed Gull
California Gull
Western Gull
Forster's Tern
American Pipit
Common Yellowthroat
Savannah Sparrow
House Sparrow

As well, a scouting trip to Charleston Slough yesterday suggested our upcomming visit will be very exciting and productive. Several species not yet encountered this term were seen such as:

Black-crowned Night Heron
Canada Goose
Surf Scoter (Shoreline Lake)
Cooper's Hawk
Ring-necked Pheasant
Sora
Common Moorhen
Black-bellied Plover
Lesser Yellowlegs
Whimbrel
Western Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
Dowitcher species
Glaucous-winged Gull
Black Skimmer
American Crow
Marsh Wren
Yellow Warbler



Crittenden Marsh 09-14-02

This was our first trip of the term and our first visit to this location. The weather was overcast until about 10:00 when it became sunny and warm. Shorebirds were in good numbers during the low tide on the mudflats with many opportunities to compare similar species such as Western and Least Sandpipers, Whimbrel and Long-billed Curlew as well as Semipalmated Plover and Killdeer. The Burrowing Owl area was productive with two birds being seen easily. (The nearby construction was an unexpected and disturbing sight, however. I fear this locally uncommon habitat is already too small for the birds. Hopefully the work will not encroach any further on this species' fragile community.) As hoped for, an adult Peregrine Falcon appeared high atop one of the power lines as well as an immature Red-tailed Hawk and a Northern Harrier hunting over the marsh. The best birds of the day would have to be the Sora and Virginia Rails though. Joan and Anne discovered these secretive birds near the bridge and we all got to enjoy rare, extended looks at these wonderful birds.

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
Northern Shoveler
Gadwall
American Wigeon
Lesser Scaup
Ruddy Duck
Turkey Vulture
Northern Harrier
Cooper's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Peregrine Falcon
Ring-necked Pheasant
Virginia Rail
Sora
American Coot
Black-bellied Plover
Semipalmated Plover
Killdeer
Black-necked Stilt
American Avocet
Greater Yellowlegs
Whimbrel
Long-billed Curlew
Marbled Godwit
Western Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
California Gull
Forster's Tern
Rock Dove
Mourning Dove
Burrowing Owl
Anna's Hummingbird
Black Phoebe
Barn Swallow
Western Scrub Jay
American Crow
Common Raven
Bushtit
Marsh Wren
Loggerhead Shrike
European Starling
Common Yellowthroat
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
Brewer's Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow