FALL 2008

Coyote Point Marina / Redwood Shores 09-13-08 POSTED
Princeton Harbor 09-20-08 POSTED
Alviso EEC 09-27-08 POSTED
Carmel Riverbed 10-04-08 POSTED
Point Reyes National Seashore (Outer Point) 10-11-08 CANCELLED
Natural Bridges State Park / UCSC Arboretum 10-18-08 POSTED
Moonglow Dairy / Moss Landing 10-25-08 POSTED
Point Reyes National Seashore 11-01-08 (Make up trip) POSTED

Note
: Trip reports for each of the above outings will be posted on this site before the next class meeting.




Point Reyes National Seashore 11-01-08


Conditions were windy, rainy and altogether unfit for humans today on Point Reyes. But Eric, Cricket and I made the trip up there by ourselves and were able to watch 20+ Lapland Longspurs at close range near the famous bathtub located between Mendoza and Nunes ranches. Their sputtering calls reminded me of distant male Cowbirds... We searched the hillsides for additional Longspur species among the group but found none. Heavy fog and wind on the outer point prevented us continuing further and made it very difficult to identify birds at all.

After we dropped Eric off at his place, Cricket and I came home, warmed up by the fire and enjoyed a nice evening inside thinking about what we're going to do with our Saturday mornings and Monday nights until January. Well, for one thing, we'll be planninghow to make Winter term as fun as Fall... Until then, have a happy holiday season, and if you're going birding, give us a call... We might just want to join you. Take care everyone.

 




Moonglow Dairy / Moss Landing 10-25-08

Recent reports of uncommon migrants up and down the coast bode well for this visit to this traditional vagrant trap. Almost immediately after parking beneath the eucalyptus grove, we found not one, but two Palm Warblers in the branches over the trail. Meanwhile, Rita had already trained her scope on one of the two Pectoral Sandpipers resting in the pond below us. As we walked out along the levy we encounted teams of Sparrows and Warblers, but the variety was not enormous. Both of the common Zontorichias were present in numbers, as well as Song, Savannah and a little later, Fox Sparrow. The highlight was seeing several Lincoln's Sparrows at close range and posing cooperatively. Yellow-rumps dominated the Warbler selection, with several Common Yellowthroats working the area too. Townsend's Warblers were found later in the upper branches of the grove. The first pond was crowded with Peeps, mainly Least Sandpiper, but also Western Sandpiper and Dunlin. A sprinkling of Dowitchers and as mentioned, two Pectoral Sandpipers. The high tide in the slough undoubtedly helped us by driving these birds into the pond where the only remaining mudflats in the area could be found. The two or three Pipits we found lacked the back streaking and pink legs that would have made them Red-throated, but no matter, we enjoyed them anyway.


Photo: Brooke Miller


Photo: Petersen

We followed the trail out along the slough, searching the fennel patches for unusual Passerines, but mostly the birds we found were expected. Somewhat of a surprise was a flock of 6 Great-tailed Grackles that flew from the cattle yards and out over the water. We also found two female-plumaged Blue-winged Teals on the far end of the pond.

The slough itself was productive with several seasonal birds being found there. Both Greater and Lesser Scaup swam close to shore, as did a juvenile Common Loon. The scaling on the back and shockingly pale bill had us going for a moment or two, until we determined the culmen was dark or its entire length. Eared, Clark's and Western Grebes were present and way over the distant marsh, we spotted an Osprey.

A walk into the grove before we moved on was good for Downy Woodpecker, Pygmy Nuthatch, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Bushtit, and Fox Sparrow. We also had some excitement as two Merlin harassed a Red-tailed Hawk as it flew into the upper branches of a nearby tree. Belted Kingsfisher and Brown Creeper were heard, but not seen. Just before we left, we had a single Eurasian Collared Dove over the yard.

On our way out of the dairy we investigated the many Blackbirds finding Red-winged, Tricolored, Brewer's Blackbirds as well as Brown-headed Cowbird, and Western Meadowlark. The female Tricoloreds were an interesting challenge, but identifiable with their complete lack of warm tones and very dark coloration.

We broke for lunch at a perfect time. The tide was now quite low, and Shorebirds were abundant along Jetty Road. Very quickly we added birds to our list including Sanderling, Semipalmated and Snowy Plovers, and Ruddy Turnstone. The Elegant Terns were actively bathing near the water pipe or flying in and out of the harbor. Many immature Terns chased behind with begging calls.

Eventually we moved to the beach were an offshore group of dark Shearwaters moved along the horizon. They were too distant to identify, but likely a great many were Sooty Shearwaters. More Elegant Terns were found, and behind one was a Parasitic Jaeger in hot pursuit. One Common Murre, and a flyby Surf Scoter were also found. Finding little else here, and the aroma of two Sea Lion carcasses compelled us to move on. We directed our attention to the Gull roost where we did quite well. Heermann's, Western, Glaucous-winged, Herring, Thayer's, Ring-billed, California and a single Bonaparte's back at the jetty made for an uncommon total of eight species, rather good for this time of year. Still to see is Mew and Glaucous, not to mention Sabine's, Glacuous, Lesser Black-backed, or maybe even Slaty-backed...

Zmudowski was fairly quiet, but produces a few new birds nonetheless. Cinnamon Teal swam quietly among the reeds, a California Thrasher sang in the coyote bushes, and hidden deep it shadows of the marsh was not one, but two American Bittern's! Not far them was another secretive bird, a Virginia Rail.

Mallard
Blue-winged Teal
Cinnamon Teal
Northern Shoveler
Northern Pintail
Green-winged Teal
Greater Scaup
Lesser Scaup
Surf Scoter
Red-breasted Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Common Loon
Pied-billed Grebe
Eared Grebe
Western Grebe
Clark's Grebe
Shearwater species
Brown Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant
Brandt's Cormorant
Pelagic Cormorant
American Bittern
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Turkey Vulture
Osprey
White-tailed Kite
Northern Harrier
Cooper's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Merlin
Virginia Rail
Common Moorhen
American Coot
Black-bellied Plover
Snowy Plover
Semipalmated Plover
Killdeer
Black-necked Stilt
American Avocet
Willet
Long-billed Curlew
Marbled Godwit
Ruddy Turnstone
Black Turnstone
Sanderling
Western Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
Pectoral Sandpiper
Dunlin
Short-billed Dowitcher
Long-billed Dowitcher
Parasitic Jaeger
Bonaparte's Gull
Heermann's Gull
Ring-billed Gull
California Gull
Herring Gull
Thayer's Gull
Western Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Elegant Tern
Forster's Tern
Common Murre
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Eurasian Collared Dove
Anna's Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Black Phoebe
Loggerhead Shrike
Western Scrub Jay
American Crow
Common Raven
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Bushtit
Pygmy Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
Bewick's Wren
Marsh Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Varied Thrush
California Thrasher
European Starling
American Pipit
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Townsend's Warbler
Palm Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
California Towhee
Savannah Sparrow
Fox Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Red-winged Blackbird
Tricolored Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Brewer's Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
House Finch
Pine Siskin
American Goldfinch

Our car made a side trip on the way home to Harkin's Slough.

Black-crowned Night Heron
Peregrine Falcon
Greater Yellowlegs
Wrentit
American Robin

Great-tailed Grackle (again)







Natural Bridges / UCSC Arboretum 10-18-08

Unlike last week, today was windless and wonderful! It was also a once-in-a-decade convergence of a previously scheduled field trip destination, and a recently reported ultra-rarity. So after about an hour of searching through the dappled light of willow tangle on the western shore of Antonelli Pond, a mere 200 yards from our usual rendez vous, our group came away with magnificent views of one of North America's rarest, and most highly prized vagrants, a Dusky Warbler! A few of us were even captured in Cindy Cummmings image which gives one an idea of how determined people were to relocate the bird.



Photo: Cindy Cummings

But the story gets better... The Siberian species, reported by Oscar Johnson only two days earlier was still present today, attracting a crowd of at least 40 birders, all crammed into the small area. A few members of the crowd questioned whether this could possibly be the same bird that was reported 11 years earlier in the same location...? Many people in the group recalled the original bird, and if fact, I remember the reports from then, but I didn't pursue it at the time because of the enormous crowds. I've regretted that decision ever since because year after year, there were no Dusky Warblers reported pretty much anywhere. So today after eleven long years, I finally got to enjoy the bird, a lifer of course, and with our wonderful group. It's better that way, I think.

The rest of the day passed kind of in a blur. Nothing could really top that first bird. But a few things registered, like a Red-breasted Sapsucker in the dell, a few Townsend's Warblers mixed in with the multitudes of Yellow-rumps. A Fox Sparrow posing in full view at close range, a Red-breasted Nuthatch in the same tree with several Pygmies, and perhaps most noteworthy, a Palm Warbler in those famous pines west of the butterfly observation area.

The beach produced numerous Gulls, mostly Western and Heermann's, with a handful of Californias. Brandt's and Double-crested Cormorants shared the rocks with them of course, but oddly, no Pelagic Cormorants. At all... Black Turnstones, Black-bellied Plovers, Whimbrel and Black Oystercatcher were found on the rock shelves west of the beach along with Sanderling. The lagoon was strangely quiet. The Pectoral Sandpipers seemed to have moved on.

We then caravanned to the arboretum for lunch, still suffering from "post-extatic bird disorder", and found Anna's Hummingbirds pretty much everywhere. Both American and Lesser Goldfinches, numerous Zonotrichias, but nothing we hadn't already logged, were present. No matter. I'm still savoring the Dusky Warbler.

Mallard
Pied-billed Grebe
Brown Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant
Brandt's Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Black-crowned Night Heron
Turkey Vulture
White-tailed Kite
Cooper's Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Coot
Black-bellied Plover
Killdeer
Black Oystercatcher
Whimbrel
Black Turnstone
Sanderling
Heermann's Gull
California Gull
Western Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Anna's Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Red-breasted Sapsucker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Black Phoebe
Hutton's Vireo
Steller's Jay
Western Scrub Jay
American Crow
Common Raven
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Oak Titmouse
Bushtit
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Pygmy Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
Bewick's Wren
House Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Dusky Warbler
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Wrentit
Northern Mockingbird
California Thrasher
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Orange-crowned Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Townsend's Warbler
Palm Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Fox Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Red-winged Blackbird
Brewer's Blackbird
Purple Finch
House Finch
Lesser Goldfinch
American Goldfinch






Point Reyes 10-11-08

Due to wind advisories on Friday and Saturday, this trip was cancelled. This is only the second time in 10 years!






Carmel Riverbed 10-04-08

Rain the night before and during our drive did not fill me with confidence about our day, especially since the focus was primarily to be on insectivores. Specifically, I hoped this traditional vagrant trap might hold some Warbler surprises for us and at the very least help round out our cumulative list of fall migrants... Well, the riverbed was all but silent with only widely spaced episodes of common Warblers. Not that there's anything wrong with common Warblers... Townsend's, Yellow, Orange-crowned are undeniably wonderful, of course. But after a week of anticipation fuelled by in-class preparation and internet posts, I was hoping for something to call into the RBA.

Anyway, our new meeting place beside the Safeway at the Crossroads shopping area proved perfect. The bathrooms were convenient and we could refill our coffee cups if we wanted. We then found the informal trail down to the river, which was dry to a point, after which our boots really paid for themselves. Just before we turned around, the famous Great Crested Flycatcher tree, the water was almost up to our knees and some people could not continue, so we returned. About this time, the sun began to illuminate the upper branches of the trees and the majority of our Warbler sightings occurred. Small feeding flocks, which thankfully always included vocal Bushtits and Chestnut-backed Chickadees, also brought with them the colorful yellow Parulids. We saw all manner of Townsend's as well as Wilson's, and Yellow. Oddly, not a single Yellow-rumped... Other birds located during our first walk were Band-tailed Pigeon, Belted Kingfisher, Green Heron, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Mockingbird, and all four Corvids and Fox Sparrow. Back at the lot we also picked off a single Eurasian Collared Dove.


Photo: Brooke Miller

After shedding a few layers, specifically our water-filled boots, we caravanned to the north shore of the Carmel River mouth. What a wonderful change this brought. The sun was really beginning to warm us up, and dry us off, and the lagoon was crazy with California, Western and Heermann's Gulls, Elegant Terns and Brown Pelicans. We also spotted both Sora and Virginia Rail along the tule edges, Marbled Godwit and Short-billed Dowitcher, as well as Canada Geese, Ruddy Duck and American Coot on the water. We also cast our scopes offshore where a single dramatic nature-show moment involving a distant Jaeger chasing an Elegant Tern was seen. The only question is which Jaeger. After our close experience Parasitic Jaeger experience at Coyote Point three weeks ago, it was obvious that this Jaeger was both bigger and bulkier than the previous one. Is it possible this could have been Pomarine? To my eyes it looked both heavier and slower, as well as more barrel-chested and contrasty than the Parasitic. So, yes it's possible, but it's not certain. As we surveyed the water, we also admired a group of roughly 15-17 Snowy Plovers that had almost gone unnoticed. We ate our lunch in the lot and discussed what to do next.

Linda and Boyce had recently visited another section of the river mouth, the south side, which requires another drive through a residential area. I'd read about "Cross Hill" in Roberson's book, but had not yet visited it, so I wasn't sure it would work for our group. Linda and Boyce convinced me it would be fine, so we followed their car to the area.

A short trail from a neighborhood cul-de-sac put us on a beautiful overlook of the south slough. Immediately we began to find new birds for the day. Yellow-rumped Warblers for one, but also Greater White-fronted Goose, Green-winged Teal, Common Yellowlegs and Least Sandpiper, and a Pectoral Sandpiper. We admired that bird for a while before moving on and locating a probable Sharp-shinned Hawk on a rooftop and a Belted Kingfisher.

We continued exploring the scrubby area leading up to the crucifix where we heard the distinctive wheeze of a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. Before long we had it in our scopes and later found at least one, possibly two different individuals. From the cross we were also able to confirm that a Canada-type Goose that had flown in and out of view was indeed our first Cackling Goose of the season.

Now the fun really began. A morning of frustratingly low Warbler numbers was forgotten when we looked down into the tule grass at the junction of the two in-flows. Mostly Yellow-rumped, but also Yellow, Orange-crowned Warblers, as well as Common Yellowthroat were in great supply with something like 30 Warblers visible at one time. We watched this, hypnotized by the constant activity and almost ignored the brand new Marsh Wren that also appeared. After a time, a Spizella species appeared that needed to be considered. A quick review of the salient features, like a sharply divided crown, gray collar, pale and contrasty plumage, buffy tone on an otherwise clear breast, dusky auriculars with a neat "hook" continuing up toward the nape, strong streaks on the back, pinkish bill and pale lores. Clay-colored!! One-by-one we all got looks through the scope as the bird moved deliberately through the greenery. Sometime after this, we also noticed a female Red-breasted Merganser making her way toward the ocean.

We finished up by heading to the coastal section and searching the open water. Wrentit called to us from the sage cover, and Song and White-crowned repeatedly appeared. Offshore we found a single Pigeon Guillemot and a small group of Common Murre. We wrapped up after this, headed home and reflected on how odd it was that after a week of dreaming about American Redstart or Black-and-white Warbler, the best birds of the day would be neither. They wouldn't even be Warblers, but a Sandpiper and a Sparrow. You just can't control those things, and that's what makes birding so great. That and the fact that everyone in our group is a fantastic spotter! Thanks for a great day, all of you!


Greater White-fronted Goose
Canada Goose
Cackling Goose
Mallard
Green-winged Teal
Red-breasted Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Pied-billed Grebe
Brown Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant
Brandt's Cormorant
Great Blue heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Green Heron
Black-crowned Night Heron
Turkey Vulture
Sharp-shinned Hawk (probable)
Cooper's Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Virginia Rail
Sora
American Coot
Snowy Plover
Greater Yellowlegs
Marbled Godwit
Least Sandpiper
Pectoral Sandpiper
Short-billed Dowitcher
Pomarine Jaeger (possible)
Heerman's Gull
Mew Gull
California Gull
Western Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Elegant Tern
Common Murre
Pigeon Guillemot
Rock Pigeon
Band-tailed Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Eurasian Collared Dove
Anna's Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Acorn Woodpecker
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Black Phoebe
Hutton's Vireo
Steller's Jay
Western Scrub Jay
American Crow
Common Raven
Swallow (species)
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Bushtit
Pygmy Nuthatch
Bewick's Wren
Marsh Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Wrentit
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Orange-crowned Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Townsend's Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Wilson's Warbler
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Clay-colored Sparrow
Fox Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
Brewer's Blackbird
House Finch
American Goldfinch









Alviso EEC and Marina 09-27-08

Today was lovely. Sunny, hot and full of seasonal firsts. We began along the entrance road to the Environmental Education Center where we waited for the main gate to open. The shallow pool before us had a small collection of birds for us, but little variety. Northern Shoveler and Mallard swam in the deeper sections, while Least Sandpiper foraged along the edges. Everywhere we could here the scolding cries of Killdeer and in the distance Western Meadowlark sang from somewhere in the vegetation. Several people noted the Greater Yellowlegs beside the road closer to the train tracks. From the lot we watched a Loggerhead Shrike on the chainlink fence. It called several times and moved from perch to perch. As well, an adult Peregrine Falcon surveyed the Shorebird buffet from its power tower.

We strolled along Mallard Slough encontering the first White-crowned and Lincoln's Sparrows of the season. We would continue to find White-crowns throughout the day, but saw only two Lincoln's, both along the channel. Common Yellowthroat and Marsh Wren called from the reedy cover and after some time, we also heard Sora and Virginia Rail. A little more patience was rewarded with good looks at both species. Black-crowned Night Heron, Snowy Egret, Long-billed Dowitcher and Greater Yellowlegs were also present.



Photo: Patty McGann

When the park staffmember finally opened the gate we proceeded into the main lot where we directed our attention to the deciduous trees. There our first Yellow Warbler was logged, as well as Pacific-slope Flycatcher. Eventually, Wilson's Warbler was also located. Unfortunately, we could not relocate the recently reported Willow Flycatcher, but Eric and I both heard the call more than once. I doubt this was the resident Northern Mockingbird immitating the uncommon Flycatcher, but I guess we can't be sure. The butterfly garden, as predicted produced fine looks at another FOS, a Fox Sparrow. We would see this species again at the marina.

The reed brake by the main pond contained at least two more Sora, as well as Common Moorhen. The main pond, also called A16, was relatively quiet. The large island just to our north had a large gathering of American White Pelicans, as well as a few Brown Pelicans. Double-crested Cormorants, California Gulls and one Ring-billed Gull were also resting in the sun.

Returning to the lot via the boardwalk we found a small number of Least Sandpiper foraging at close range. Careful investigation revealed a handfull of Western Sandpipers mixed in. As before, the constant cries of Killdeer rang over the area. A single Burrowing Owl sat quietly in the marsh. We made one last attempt to find the Willow Flycatcher before leaving the area. No luck there.

We then caravanned to the famous State and Spreckles intersection where we found a slightly different collection of Shorebirds. Black-necked Stilt, American Avocet, both Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, and oddly, no Willet. More Western Sandpipers were assembled here, including a few colorful juveniles that made us think about picking up the phone and alerting the RBA. Also here was a curious Nightjar-like shape which proved to be a discarded beer bottle... Well, it's worth getting a closer look, no matter how unlikely some of these birds might be. As we departed the area several of us found the resident Eurasian Collared Dove on the wires along the road.

The marina was fairly quiet at first. We made a liesurly pass around the weeds where more Sparrows were found, but nothing new for the list. Overhead a few Barn Swallows perched on the wires suggesting the major numbers may have already moved south. We took this opportunity to have lunch and reflect on the morning. After eating, a quick survey of the corner of pond A12 and its healthy cloud of flies. Brown-headed Cowbird, Red-winged Blackbird and Black Phoebe were busy catching insects along side Least Sandpipers and a California Gull. It was entertaining to watch. We were done here after that and made our way to the next stop.

Finally, we caravanned to SWPCP where we hoped to add a few new birds. Almost immediately we found our FOS Yellow-rumped Warbler flycatching int he eucalyptus trees beside the facility. We also located Green Heron, both Clark's and Western Grebes as well as House Sparrow. It certainly wasn't a huge day for numbers, but it was certainly beautiul weather, and impressive with seasonal firsts.

Canada Goose
Mallard
Cinnamon Teal
Northern Shoveler
Northern Pintail
Ruddy Duck
Pied-billed Grebe
Western Grebe
Clark's Grebe
American White Pelican
Brown Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Green Heron
Black-crowned Night Heron
Turkey Vulture
Northern Harrier
Red-tailed Hawk
Peregrine Falcon
Virginia Rail
Sora
Common Moorhen
American Coot
Killdeer
Black-necked Stilt
American Avocet
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Western Sandpipeer
Least Sandpiper
Long-billed Dowitcher
Ring-billed Gull
California Gull
Western Gull
Forster's Tern
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Eurasian Collared Dove
Barn Owl
Burrowing Owl
Anna's Hummingbird
Downy Woodpecker
Pacific-slope Flycatcher
Black Phoebe
Loggerhead Shrike
Western Scrub Jay
American Crow
Barn Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Bushtit
Marsh Wren
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Orange-crowned Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
California Towhee
Savannah Sparrow
Fox Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Brewer's Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
House Finch
Lesser Goldfinch
House Sparrow








Princeton Harbor / Skylawn Memorial Park 09-20-08

The tide was completely out when we arrived, so good numbers of Shorebirds were gathered on the rocks by the base of the rock jetty. Before we hiked out to see them however, we focused on the willows along the entrance road. While Jennifer Rycenga would later that afternoon find a Least Flycatcher in this area, we found very little in the way of Passerine activity. Common Yellowthroat, Marsh Wren, Wrentit, Savannah Sparrow were all detected in the marsh, while the upper branches of the cypress trees produced both Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers. When we reached our turnaround point we also located Eurasian Collared Dove perched on a power pole, close enough a trio of Mourning Doves to allow nice comparison. American Goldfinch, Song and White-crowned Sparrows were located in several places during our walk, primarily in the drier areas.

Our next order of business was to scan the beach directly off the parking lot where our one Red-neck Phalarope of the day made a hasty exit, to be found again later in the muddy shallows of the marsh. Black-bellied Plover, Willet and Marbled Godwit were on the far end of the beach but would be more easily seen later. Floating on the smooth surface of the harbor were several diving birds such as Common Loon, Clark's and Eared Grebes as well as Double-crested Cormorant. It proved a bit more difficult to find the other two Cormorants than I expected, but eventually, we found them as well on the jetty and from the overlook.

The cypress trees along the trail provided a fantastic Townsend's Warbler show, with as many as six birds visible at the same time. There was also a Hutton's Vireo and a very cooperative immature Black-crowned Night Heron. We continued searching for additional species here, but it was relatively quiet.

From where we stood, the flock of Shorebirds perched on the rocks looked pretty large, so we hastened our pace to reach them before they scattered. A few unleashed dogs made the situation seem a bit more urgent, and I could imagine getting there just as the dogs scattered all our birds...

Luckily, we got there in time and found the rocks packed with several target species. Rock loving Shorebirds such as Black Turnstone, Black Oystercatcher, one Surfbird and as many as 3 Wandering Tattlers! There were also hoards of Sanderling, Willet, Whimbrel and one Marbled Godwit. The collection kept us occupied for about an hour with birds moving between perches frequently. Oddly, a single Spotted Sandpiper appeared a few times, but never gave us an unobstructed view. Just a few feet from us, several Semipalmated Plovers stood their ground allowing close examination of the juvenile's scaly pattern.


Photo: Sonny Mencher


Photo: Brooke Miller

Elegant Terns repeatedly passed the jetty and even directly overhead, but no Forster's were seen the entire day. I hoped maybe we'd find a Jaeger in the area as well, but that didn't happen. Instead, we had a juvenile Peregrine Falcon shoot from behind and scatter the flock of Shorebirds. They quickly reassembled when the Falcon continued toward the harbor mouth.

Before breaking for lunch, we hiked up the hill to the overlook where we found Brandt's Cormant in great numbers, as well as a few scattered Common Murre. Surfers dotted the surface and at one point we had a large marine mammal, possibly a whale, appear just beyond a flotilla of Aechmophorus Grebes. Now, judging from the small size of the dorsal fin, and the very broad back, I'd say this was a whale, perhaps an immature, and not a much smaller dolphin or porpoise. I can't say for sure, but that's my thinking...

After my suggestion of a picnic lunch was overruled... we stopped at the Half Moon Bay Brewery for a group lunch. The message has been received--no changes in lunch plan without a three day warning... My bad.

A quick stop at the footbridge over Pillarcitos Creek put Warbling Vireo and Orange-crowned Warbler on our list, but it was too late in the day to get much else. We then made our way up to Skylawn Memorial Park where a few birds were also added. Western Bluebird, Pine Siskin, Red-winged Blackbird, and Dark-eyed Junco. Perhaps later in the season we'll have better luck with the Red Crossbills.

Mallard
Surf Scoter
Red-breasted Merganser
Common Loon
Eared Grebe
Western Grebe
Clark's Grebe
Brown Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant
Brandt's Cormorant
Pelagic Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Black-crowned Night Heron
Turkey Vulture
White-tailed Kite
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Peregrine Falcon
Black-bellied Plover
Semipalmated Plover
Killdeer
Black Oystercatcher
Willet
Wandering Tattler
Spotted Sandpiper
Whimbrel
Marbled Godwit
Black Turnstone
Sanderling
Short-billed Dowticher
Red-necked Phalarope
Heerman's Gull
California Gull
Western Gull
Elegant Tern
Common Murre
Rock Pigeon
Band-tailed Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Eurasian Collared Dove
Anna's Hummingbird
Acorn Woodpecker (SL)

Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Black Phoebe
Hutton's Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Western Scrub Jay (SL)
American Crow
Common Raven
Barn Swallow
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Pygmy Nuthatch
Bewick's Wren
Western Bluebird (SL)
American Robin (SL)
Wrentit
European Starling
Orange-crowned Warbler
Townsend's Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco (SL)
Red-winged Blackbird (SL)
Brewer's Blackbird
House Finch
Pine Siskin
American Goldfinch








Coyote Point Marina / Redwood Shores 09-13-08

The tide was still far enough from peak that we had ample opportunity to review Shorebirds on the mudflats. We found a huge majority of the Peeps to be Western Sandpipers with the number of Leasts we encountered almost countable on one hand. Willets, Marbled Godwits and Black-bellied Plovers were also abundant, with a few Semipalmated Plovers, Whimbrel, Black Oystercatchers and Black Turnstones thrown in for good measure. Elegant Terns by far outnumbered the Forster's Terns, and no hoped-for Commons were seen at all.

As we viewed the resident Harlequin Duck, which was resting cooperatively beside 2 Surf Scoters, the Elegant Terns lifted off of their sandbar with loud, emphatic cries. A moment later we spotted the reason, one of the recently reported Parasitic Jaegers was in hot pursuit. Now that was exciting! We could hear the one poor Elegant Tern crying desperately as it struggled to get away form the constant harassment of the Jaeger. Eventually, after a few twists and turns the predator stopped its chase, and dropped suddenly to pick up whatever food the Tern had disgorged. This scenario played out several more times, with two Jaegers at once pursuing an extremely unfortunate Tern! By the time we left the bay, we had had perhaps 6 sightings of Jaeger, and seen possibly as many as 3 different individuals! In several cases they were close enough to see the pattern of barring on the underwing coverts or the softly defined collar around the upper breast. And all of this from shore!


Photo: Brooke Miller


Photo: Brooke Miller


Photo: Brooke Miller

The freshwater pond did not produce many species for us, and in fact activity was quite slow all around by they time we finished with the bay. Common Yellowthroat was located here, as well as one fly-over Eurasian Collared Dove. We logged Western Meadowlark, Northern Mockingbird and Brown-headed Cowbird as we crossed the meadow and made our way back toward the eucalyptus. When we were beneath the larger trees we began to find more Passerines, including Orange-crowned and Yellow Warblers, Western Tanager, Black-headed Grosbeak and Olive-sided Flycatcher. All the Tanagers appeared to have wingbars... so no Summers for us today. Once or twice we distinctly heard a Western Meadowlark above us. That was weird. European Starlings messing with us again... Generally speaking, the woods were quiet and the smell of barbecue hurried us along... We just had one more area to check before lunch.

Around the museum, Nuttall's Woodpecker and Pygmy Nuthatch were found, as well as a small group of Band-tailed Pigeons roosting in the conifers. The trees above our head had occasional birds fly in, including another two Western Tanagers, and a Warbling Vireo. The upper meadow behind the museum, where Ron Thorn had earlier found Grasshopper Sparrow, produced Western Wood Pewee (heard on the periphery), Pacific-slope Flycatcher (presumably, because this time of year when they aren't calling you just can't be sure) and California Towhee. There was also another Western Tanager, possibly our forth of the morning, and another Warbling Vireo.

We ate lunch under the eucalyptus to the sound of huge passenger planes, and Pygmy Nutatches overhead. Perhaps another Western Meadowlark... And after eating we caravanned to Redwood Shores and Radio Road. There a huge collection of resting Shorebirds awaited us there--mostly the same species we'd seen earlier, but with some notable differences. No Peeps, brand new winter-plumaged American Avocets and easily identified juvenile Short-billed Dowitchers. A few Black Skimmers reclined on one of the islands and swimming all around were new Anseriiforms for the day. Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler, Gadwall and Green-winged Teal were quickly logged, and after a scan of th shore a single Cinnamon Teal. Somewhat of a surprise was a pair of American Wigeon gliding along the far side. Our first and only American White Pelicans, and Barn Swallows were found here as well as Ruddy Duck and Pied-billed Grebe.

So today was interesting for a variety of reasons, mostly because we had a nice mixture of entering and exiting species. Newly arrived Waterfowl, a nice variety of Shorebirds, and sadly, some of our colorful breeding Songbirds that will soon be taking their leave.

Canada Goose
Gadwall (RS)
American Wigeon (RS)
Mallard
Cinnamon Teal (RS)
Northern Shoveler (RS)
Northern Pintail (RS)
Green-winged Teal (RS)
Surf Scoter
Ruddy Duck (RS)
Pied-billed Grebe (RS)
Eared Grebe
Clark's Grebe
American White Pelican (RS)
Brown Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant
Brandt's Cormorant
Pelagic Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Black-crowned Night Heron
Turkey Vulture
American Coot
Black-bellied Plover
Semipalmated Plover
Killdeer
Black Oystercatcher
Black-necked Stilt
American Avocet (RS)
Willet
Spotted Sandpiper
Whimbrel
Marbled Godwit
Black Turnstone
Western Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
Short-billed Dowitcher
Red-necked Phalarope
Parasitic Jaeger
Ring-billed Gull (RS)
California Gull
Western Gull
Elegant Tern
Forster's Tern
Black Skimmer (RS)
Rock Pigeon (RS)
Band-tailed Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Eurasian Collared Dove
Anna's Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Western Wood Pewee
Pacific-slope Flycatcher
Black Phoebe
Warbling Vireo
American Crow
Barn Swallow (RS)
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Bushtit
Pygmy Nuthatch
American Robin
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Orange-crowned Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Western Tanager
California Towhee
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow (RS)
Dark-eyed Junco
Black-headed Grosbeak
Western Meadowlark
Brewer's Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
House Finch