FALL 2011


Coyote Point Marina / Redwood Shores 09-24-11 POSTED
SFBBO Annual Fall Challenge with Team DeDUCKtions 10-01-11 POSTED
Alvaro's Adventures HMB Pelagic (I'm co-leading) 10-08-11 POSTED
Half Moon Bay environs (SUNDAY) 10-09-11 POSTED
Point Reyes (Team 1) 10-15-11 POSTED
Point Reyes (Team 2) 10-22-11 POSTED
Moss Landing / Moon Glow Dairy 10-29-11 POSTED
Merced NWR / O'Neill Dam Forebay 11-05-11 POSTED
Andrew Molera State Park 11-12-11 POSTED

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



Andrew Molera State Park 11/12/11

This was our final field trip of fall term, and while our day list was on the sllim side, our hike out to the overlook was spectacularly beautiful. We also had a great surprise, which made up for things—high overhead, in the cloudless blue sky, we spotted an adult California Condor. We could see from its large number tags that it was 99. I've tracked down some information about this particular individual, but will save that for our class tomorrow.


Photo: Sonny Mencher


Other birds of note included a very talkative Pacific Wren by the horse corral, several Blue-gray Gnatcatchers in the willows on our way out, and a lone Bonaparte's Gull feeding among the many Mew Gulls at the river mouth.

We made a quick tour of Cross Hill at the Carmel River Mouth where we added a few additional species and witnessed an incredible feeding frenzy just off the beach. We could only assume there was a "bait ball" just below the surface because Heermann's Gulls, Brown Pelicans, Brantdt's Cormorants were diving en masse. Quite an amazing spectacle!

Canada Goose
Cackling Goose
Gadwall
Mallard
Northern Shoveler
Ring-necked Duck
Surf Scoter
Bufflehead
Common Goldeneye
Ruddy Duck
Red-breasted Merganser
California Quail
Red-throated Loon
Pacific Loon
Eared Grebe
Western Grebe
Clark's Grebe
Brandt's Cormorant
Double-crested Cormorant
Pelagic Cormorant
Brown Pelican
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
White-tailed Kite
Turkey Vulture
California Condor
White-tailed Kite
Red-shoulldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Golden Eagle
American Kestrel
Peregrine Falcon
Virginia Rail
American Coot
Spotted Sandpiper
Black Turnstone
Bonaparte's Gull
Heermann's Gull
Mew Gull
Western Gull
California Gull
Common Murre
Eurasian Collared Dove
White-throated Swift
Acorn Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Black Phoebe
Say's Phoebe
Hutton's Vireo
Steller's Jay
Western Scrub-Jay
American Crow
Common Raven
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Bushtit
Brown Creeper
Bewick's Wren
House Wren
Pacific Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Wrentit
Hermit Thrush
European Starling
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Townsend's Warbler
California Towhee
Spotted Towhee
Fox Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Red-winged Blackbird
Brewer's Blackbird
House Finch
American Goldfinch






Merced NWR / O'Neill Dam Forebay 11/05/11

In the past, we have generally visited this area during winter term. On the few occasions we have gone in November it has always been productive, even if the winter Waterfowl and Raptors have not reached their peak. Today was no exception, and comfortably warm after a brief chill in the morning. Joining us for the day was Sal Salerno, a modesto-based birding instructor who enriched our visit with his knowledge of the area.

Our first task was to explore the area around the main parking lot. From here we scanned the main pond, finding most of the expected Duck species, but few Geese, American White Pelican, and White-faced Ibis. There were quite a few Shorebirds like Killddeer, Black-necked Stilt, Least Sandpipers, Long-billed Dowitchers and some camouflaged Wilson's Snipe feeding beside them. We found both White-crowned and Golden-crowned Sparrows in bood supply, as well as Savannah, Song and Lincoln's thoughout the the day. Fox Sparrow was harder to located, but we did have some near the restrooms.


Photo: Julio Mulero

We strolled down the trail beside the creek, finding Northern Flicker, Downy, and Nuttall's Woodpeckers, all expected. Passerines included Yellow-rumped Warblers and one Orange-crowned Warbler, Bushtit and Northern Mockingbird. As we continued along the banks of the creek, a Sandpiper flushed from just ahead of us, and fliew over our group to land behind us, again, on the creek. My first thought was that it might be a Spotted Sandpiper because we have found them here before, yet the fact it flew over us, seemed wrong, as did the vocalization. As we moved toward where the bird landed, we recalled the darkness of the underwings, and the lack of any wing stripes.... could it be...? YES! as we spotted it again, and jossled to view the bird without flushing it, the bold eye ring, dark shoulder patch and snowy white underside confirmed we had found a Solitary Sandpiper—a rarity most anywher in the state, and lifer for several people! This was also a class-fieldtrip-first! Few and far between...



Photo: Julio Mulero

Well, after that, everything was going to seem like gravy, but we couldn't wait to find more surprises. We embarked on the auto loop, stopping at all our usual birding areas. We found a small number of Horned Larks in the plowed field on the south edge of the loop, while a bit further we were treated to at least three flying American Bittern, and a number of calling Virginia Rails and Sora. Later we flushed a Green Heron along the channel, and as we admired that, someone called out Bald Eagle! The huge adult bird, with gleaming white head and tail, was sending thousands of Ducks, Geese and other birds into the air in utter panic! It criss-crossed the cloud of frenzied birds, and eventually disappeared, perhaps with a meal in its talons... We could only guess where it had gone.



Photo: Julio Mulero

Reaching the large ponds at the half-way point we began to see many Geese including Snow, Ross's and Greater White-fronted resting. White-faced Ibis were seen as well, but more easily in the cattle grazing areas near the end of the tour. There were a number of Barn and Tree Swallows foraging over the water, and as we watched them a small group of Great-tailed Grackles passed in front of us.

We ate lunch by the second platform and then toured the Meadowlark trail, finding Barn and Great Horned Owl, but little else. As we neared the end of the loop, we located a large number of Sandhill Cranes, at least 450 individuals, and a very healthy number of Cattle Egret.


Photo: Julio Mulero

After completing the loop, we headed home but stopped at the O'Neill Dam Forebay to scan for additional Ducks. Cacklling Goose, Canvasback, Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead
were located as well as three species of Grebe. We didn't stay very long, but then again, we had seen nearly a hunred species and we were ready for dinner.

Greater White-fronted Goose
Snow Goose
Ross’s Goose
Cackling Goose (minima) (OFB)
Gadwall
American Wigeon
Mallard
Cinnamon Teal
Northern Shoveler
Northern Pintail
Green-winged Teal
Canvasback
Lesser Scaup (OFB)
Bufflehead (OFB)
Ruddy Duck
Ring-necked Pheasant
Horned Grebe (OFB)
Eared Grebe (OFB)
Aechmophorus species (OFB)
Pied-billed Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
American White Pelican
American Bittern
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Cattle Egret
Green Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron
White-faced Ibis
Turkey Vulture
White-tailed Kite
Osprey (OFB)
Bald Eagle
Northern Harrier
Cooper’s Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Ferruginous Hawk (Sandy Mush Road)
American Kestrel
Merlin (Sandy Mush Road)
Virginia Rail
Sora
American Coot
Sandhill Crane
Killdeer
Black-necked Stilt
Solitary Sandpiper
Greater Yellowlegs
Least Sandpiper
Dunlin
Long-billed Dowitcher
Wilson’s Snipe
California Gull
Herring Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Barn Owl
Great Horned Owl
Belted Kingfisher
Nuttall’s Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Black Phoebe
Say's Phoebe (OFB)
Loggerhead Shrike
Yellow-billed Magpie (Sandy Mush Road)
American Crow
Common Raven (OFB)
Horned Lark
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Bushtit
Bewick’s Wren
House Wren
Marsh Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Hermit Thrush
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
American Pipit
Orange-crowned Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Spotted Towhee
Fox Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Lincoln’s Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
Tricolored Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Brewer’s Blackbird
Great-tailed Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow




Moss Landing / Moon Glow Dairy / Sunnyvale A4 (add on) 10/29/11

It was fabulously beautiful on the coast today. Sunny, warm and very birdy, especially at Moss Landing where we began. Highlights included a number of season-firsts llike Dunlin, Ruddy Turnstone, and a surprise Red Knot. Other birds in the large gathering of Waterbirds included a lone Cattle Egret.

A walk down to the harbor mouth produced a single Thayer's Gull resting among the many Westerns and Calfornias. Several Ring-billed and Heermann's were found as well. From the beach we scoped the open water and added yet another two species of Gull—Herring and Glaucous-winged. The real surprise was a Parasitic Jaeger resting on the water just outside the harbor, presumably keeping an eye on the many Elegant Terns as they moved in and out of the harbor. This bird made for an interesting study in structure as a dark Western Gull was also resting nearby.



Photo: Julio Mulero


Photo: Patty McGann

The beach provided us with more, and closer looks at Ruddy Turnstone, as well as Sanderling. Some distance down the beach we also scoped a Snowy Plover, making the long, exhausting walk on the sand unnecessary. We used the time we saved to investigate Moon Glow, however we still arrived later than ideal. As a result, we did not walk the levy, but remained above the ponds and scoped from there. Little was added on this leg of the trip, but we did find Hermit Thrush and Ruby-crowned Kinglet.



Photo: Petersen




Lunch at Phil's was especially nice because we were all able to sit together. We discussed what to do next, and it was decided that after making a quick stop at Zmudowski, we would take a shot at finding a recent rarity at the Sunnyvale Water Pollution Control Ponds. Long story short... Zmudowski produced nothing new for our group, but Salt Pond A4 in our own backyard gave us world-class looks at a rare northern bird, the famous Yellow-billed Loon! This spectular rarity had been discovered a few days earlier and scores of photographs were surfacing as this cooperative bird delighted birders from all over the bay. We found a few additional birds here such as Sora and Virginia Rail, Green Heron, Bonaparte's Gull and Common Gallinule.

After two weeks of back to back lifers for most of the group, I'm wondering what could possibly come next...?

Canada Goose
Cackling Goose
Gadwall
American Wigeon
Mallard
Cinnamon Teal
Northern Pintail
Green-winged Teal
Surf Scoter
Ruddy Duck
Common Loon
Yellow-billed Loon (A4)
Pied-billed Grebe
Horned Grebe
Eared Grebe
Western Grebe
Clark's Grebe
Brown Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant
Brandt's Cormorant
Pelagic Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Cattle Egret
Green Heron
Black-crowned Night Heron
Turkey Vulture
Northern Harrier
Cooper's Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Virginia Rail (A4)
Sora (A4)
American Coot
Common Gallinule (A4)
Black-bellied Plover
Snowy Plover
Semipalmated Plover
Killdeer
Black-necked Stilt
American Avocet
Greater Yellowlegs
Willet
Whiimbrel
Long-billed Curlew
Marbled Godwit
Ruddy Turnstone
Black Turnstone
Red Knot
Sanderling
Western Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
Dunlin
Short-billed Dowitcher
Long-billed Dowitcher
Parastic Jaeger
Bonaparte's Gull (A4)
Heermann's Gull
Ring-billed Gull
California Gull
Herring Gull
Thayer's Gull
Western Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Elegant Tern
Common Murre
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Eurasian Collared Dove
Anna's Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Fllicker
Black Phoebe
Say's Phoebe
Western Scrub Jay
American Crow
Common Raven
Swallow species (pres. Tree)
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Bushtit
Bewick's Wren
Marsh Wren
Ruby-crowned Kingliet
Western Bluebird
Hermit Thrush
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
American Pipit
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Savannah 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
Great-tailed Grackle (Hwy 1 Watsonville)
House Finch
American Goldfinch
Lesser Goldfinch
House Sparrow









Point Reyes 10/22/11 (Team 2)

The second half class toured the Point Reyes outer point today. Weather conditions were much nicer today than they were last week, sunny, warm and clar, and while we had fewer Warblers, other birds kept the day exciting.

The itinerary was nearly identical to the week before, beginning at the Lighthouse. There were no Palm Warblers to be found anywhere, however the first grove of cypress trees produced a very cooperative Red-breasted Nuthatch. The famous "oven" had two Thrushes, both Catharus species. One of these was certainly a Hermit, while the other appeared to be Swainson's Thrush but was not confirmed. We saw nothing that looked like the ultra-rare Gray-cheeked Thrush. A few Golden-crowned Kinglets were working the lone cypress tree by residence, and there was a very furtive Yellow Warbler in the lupine. One White-winged Scote was seen in a flock of Surf Scoters. The lone Rock Wren reported the day before was easily seen at the lighthouse platform. As last week, the pair of Peregrine Falcons put on quite a show—one even dove at a Northern Flicker!—and one female Merline were seen flying away near the parking lot.

Against all odds, the Philadelphia Vireo was well seen late morning in they same "New Willows" patch beyond the Elephant Seal overlook. It was in the top (third) patch of trees and required some climbing to recover, but we did, and most folks got fabulous look at this wayward bird. We also scoped a female Long-tailed Duck in the waters below the paved trail and even refound it on the other side of the docks after lunch. Black Scoter was not located today, but we did have several Pigeon Guillemot, and one Common Murre, as well as Red-throated and Common Loon.

One of the few Warbler species we located was a Black-throated Gray Warbler in the last pine trees on the trail leading down past the residence at Chimney Rock. Beside this bird was a Townsend's. So those plus Yellow-rumped Warbler makes four species... far cry from last week's eight!

The Nunes Ranch hollow was really active. First step into the trees, we found 4-5 Varied Thrushes were located, and their haunting songs were also faintly heard a few times. Ruby-crowned Kinglet, many Tricolored Blackbirds, Great Horned Owl were also there.

An immature Greater Whtie-fronted Goose was located at the Mendoza Pond, and an additional Greater Whtie-fronted Goose was seen flying over Drake's Beach. Several Cackling Geese were seen both on the grassy hillside below Mendoza Ranch, and another flock was seen in the large field beside the RCA Tower grove. This second group contained both "Aleutian" B.h.leucopareia, and the tiny, dark B.h.minima, as well as a single large pale Canada Goose.

We stopped at Drake's Beach of course, finding little in the memorial trees. The pond however was active with newly arrived Waterfowl, notably a flock of two dozen Ring-necked Ducks.

It was quite late in the day when we arrived at the RCA Tower grove, so we finsished up here instead of visiting the oyster farm, or Tomales Bay. At the far end of the entrance road, in the pine trees beside the lot, we found a large flock of mostly Yellow-rumped Warblers. They responded well to my pishing, and among them we located a Cassin's Vireo.

Finally, Ashutosh and I made a quick stop at the Inverness store to use the facilities, when we spotted an adult Bald Eagle crossing the south end of the bay and over the ridge.

Greater White-fronted Goose
Canada Goose
Cackling Goose
Gadwall
American Wigeon
Mallard
Green-winged Teal
Ring-necked Duck
Surf Scoter
White-winged Duck
Long-tailed Duck
Red-throated Loon
Common Loon
Pied-billed Grebe
Horned Grebe
Eared Grebe
Western Grebe
Brown Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant
Brandt's Cormorant
Pelagic Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Turkey Vulture
Bald Eagle
Cooper's Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Merlin
Peregrine Falcon
Common Gallinule
American Coot
Black-bellied Plover
Killdeer
Black Oystercatcher
Sanderling
Ring-billed Gull
California Gull
Herring Gull
Western Gull
Common Murre
Pigeon Guillemot
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Eurasian Collared Dove
Great Horned Owl
Anna's Hummingbird
Northern Flicker
Black Phoebe
Say's Phoebe
Cassin's Vireo
Philadelphia Vireo
Western Scrub Jay
American Crow
Common Raven
Barn Swallow
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Bushtit
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Rock Wren
Bewick's Wren
House Wren
Pacific Wren
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Western Bluebird
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Varied Thrush
Wrentit
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Yellow Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Gray Warbler
Townsend's Warbler
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
Lesser Goldfinch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow





Point Reyes 10/15/11 (Team 1)

Unlike past years, we began at the lighthouse, knowing that any migrants that had arrived thenight before would probably be found there before venturing inland. It was misty and cool at our rendez vous, but activity was high so it seems the plan worked pretty well.

It's hard to describe the antipication one feels when the mist blows up off the ocean, blurring the edges of those mysterious cypress trees at the lighthouse, and suddenly you hear a soft chip note you don't recognize... Well, that feeling was experienced dozens of times as we stood quietly beneath the dripping branches, and one by one we found Townsend's, Yellow, Black-throated Gray and Palm Warblers overhead. In fact there were several of each species to sort through, as well as both Crowned Sparrows, Dark-eyed Junco, Bushtit, Pacific and House Wrens. In the chaparral beneath the lighthouse area there was a single Nashville Warbler, Lincoln's Sparrows, American Goldfinches, and probably a few other surprises but we began to see a slowing of activity and were compelled to move on.

The Chimney Rock area was more productive for Waterbirds than anything else. We found all three Loons, several Grebes, Pigeon Guillemot and a female Black Scoter. The trees however, were pretty much Warbler-less. Northern Flicker, Eurasian Collared Dove and fledgling Cedar Waxwing were all located, but little else. Below the residence we found a squawking Great Horned Owl, and a small collection of Yellow-rumped and Townsend's Warblers. Time for lunch!

As we ate in the shelter back at the lot, I told the group about some of our most famous (infamous) days we've seen on the Outer Point, including the shoulder-to-shoulder crunch to find a Yellow-green Vireo in a tiny fennel patch with 40 or so other eager birderes, and the 75mph airborne race to catch Yellow-throated Warbler before it got away... ah, those were the days!

So we explored Nunes and Mendoza next, with very few new birds added to our list. We continued to the RCA tower grove. Activity seemed to be picking up and we added a Hermit Warbler, Pine Siskin, and a possible Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Western Bluebirds and Say's Phoebe were easily found, and that seemed to be about all that location had to offer. We began to think about heading home, when another car with two birders rolled up and opened their window. They told us about a Philadelphia Vireo back at the Elepant Seal overlook at Chimney Rock they'd seen about an hour earlier... OK folks, change in plans!!! We got in our cars and headed back to Chimney Rock. Chances were good the birds would still be there. I mean, where else would it go during daylight, since there were NO trees near that grove? It simply had to be there! It was beginning to feel familiar.

Once at Chimney Rock, we deployed to the "New Willows" grove, a small gully just beyond the woode fence inclosing the Elephant Seal overlook, and within minutes our entire group, including me, were looking at a beautifull Philadelphia Vireo! It was a rare moment, thanks to the tip from two unidentified birders, and a lifer for everyone, including the instuctor! Well done people, and thanks to everyone for being flexible and changing directions at the end of the day. It was truly, another historical day on the Outer Point, and will take its rightful place beside the Yellow-green Vireo, and Yellow-throated Warbler!





Now it was time to get home and have a celabratory dinner. But we stopped for about 8 minutes at the Johnson Oyster Farm to grab a few low-hanging birds like Wrentit, Sanderling, Western Sandpiper, Marbled Godwit, Willet, Black Turnstone.

And
for dinner? Lamb loin chop with garlic, and herbs du Provence, steamed haricots vert, and a 1993 Ridge Petit Sirah. Now that's what I'm talking about!!

Canada Goose
Gadwall
American Wigeon
Mallard
Northern Pintail
Green-winged Teal
Surf Scoter
Black Scoter
California Quail
Red-throated Loon
Pacific Loon
Common Loon
Pied-billed Grebe
Horned Grebe
Eared Grebe
Western Grebe
Brown Pelican
American White Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant
Brandt's Cormorant
Pelagic Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Turkey Vulture
White-tailed Kite
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Peregrine Falcon
Common Gallinule
American Coot
Black-bellied Plover
Semipalmated Plover
Black Oystercatcher
Willet
Marbled Godwit
Black Turnstone
Sanderling
Western Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
Wilson's Snipe
Heermann's Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Western Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Pigeon Guillemot
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Eurasian Collared Dove
Great Horned
Vaux's Swift
Anna's Hummingbird
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Black Phoebe
Say's Phoebe
Philadelphia Vireo
Western Scrub Jay
American Crow
Common Raven
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Bushtit
Bewick's Wren
House Wren
Pacific Wren
Marsh Wren
Western Bluebird
Wrentit
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Nashville Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Gray Warbler
Townsend's Warbler
Hermit Warbler
Palm Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Califoria Towhee
Savanna 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
House Sparrow







Half Moon Bay environs 10/09/11

The day after my birthday, I returned to the coast for a Half Moon Bay hot spot tour with the class. Weather was overcast and cool in the morning, but warm and clear by lunch. First up was Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, where docent Sarah brought us up to date on recent bird sightings. We found a few targets here, however not as many migrant Warblers as hoped. Still, Pacific Wren, newly arrived Fox, Lincoln's and White-crowned Sparrows kept us occupied. From the overlook we scanned the waters picking up all three Cormorants, all three Loons, a few Grebes and two Alcids.

Next we prowled Airport Boulevard in search of open country birds. Top of our target list was the county-rare Loggerhead Shrike, which we found pretty much where Sarah said we would. Also here were Savannah Sparrow, Western Meadowlark, American Kestrel and Say's Phoebe.

Princeton Harbor was very productive for Shorebirds, and the base of the jetty was where most of them were gathered. Just a few yards from the beach we watched as Sanderling, Surbird, Black Oystercatcher, Wandering Tattler, Black-bellied Plover and Willet worked over the rocky outcroppings in search of food. Other birds found along the edges of the harbor were Common Yellowthroat, House Wren, our first Golden-crowned Sparrows and a surprise Red-necked Phalarope in the marsh.

For lunch, we when to the Johnon Hoiuse along Hwy 1, just across from Wavecrest. Some folks opted to head home after that, while many joined us for the Pescadero portion of the day. At the San Gregorio Beach overlook we spotted two female Common Mergansers, Glaucous-winged Gull, and a rare coastal Ring-billed Gull as well as a very lonely Least Sandpiper. Two days later a Tropical Kingbird was spotted in this area, but it wasn't present when we were scanning the area.

At Pescadero Beach, more specifically the San Mateo County Big Sit overlook, we briefly joined the team of spotters there to hear a few stories from their day. While we were there, we added quite a number of Waterfowl species, more Grebes, Belted Kingfisher and White-tailed Kite, but the highlilght was an alternate-plumaged Harlequin Duck. After a long day in the county we headed home with a great list of birds, and some season firsts.

Canada Goose
Gadwall
Mallard
Cinnamon Teal
Northern Shoveler
Green-winged Teal
Surf Scoter
Common Merganser
Red-throated Loon
Pacific Loon
Common Loon
Pied-billed Grebe
Eared Grebe
Western Grebe
Clark's Grebe
Brown Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant
Brandt's Cormorant
Pelagic Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Turkey Vulture
White-tailed Kite
Cooper's Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
American Coot
Black-bellied Plover
Killdeer
Black Oystercatcher
Willet
Wandering Tattler
Whimbrel
Marbled Godwit
Black Turnstone
Surfbird
Sanderling
Least Sandpiper
Red-necked Phalarope
Heermann's Gull
Ring-billed Gull
California Gull
Western Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Elegant Tern
Forster's Tern
Common Murre
Pigeon Guillemot
Rock Pigeon

Band-tailed Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Eurasian Collared Dove
Anna's Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Black Phoebe
Say's Phoebe
Loggerhead Shrike
Western Scrub Jay
American Crow
Common Raven
Violet-green Swallow
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Bushtit
Pygmy Nuthatch
Bewick's Wren
House Wren
Pacific Wren
Marsh Wren
Western Bluebird
Norhtern Mockingbird
California Thrasher
European Starling
Orange-crowned Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Townsend's Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Savannah Sparrow
Fox Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Red-winged Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Brewer's Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow




Alvaro's Adventures HMB Pelagic 10/08/11

I spent my birthday on San Mateo County waters with Alvaro as one of his leaders on a pelagic trip out of Half Moon Bay. Conditions were cold, windy and choppy. I believe we experienced every axis of movement from up and down, to side-to-side, as well as rolling, yawing and pitching. Several folks got seasick, but I was fine. Worst I suffered were a few bruises from being thrown against the railing as I skateboarded across the deck. I will post a complete list later, but highlights are below.

Parasic Jaeger
Pomarine Jaeger
South Polar Skua
Xantu's Murrelet
Rhinoceros Auklet
Tufted Puffin

Cassin's Auklet
Common Murrre
Black-footed Albatross
Sooty Shearwater

Pink-footed Shearwater
Flesh-footed Shearwater
Buller's Shearwater






SFBBO Annual Fall Challenge with Team DeDUCKtions 10/01/11

Weather for our adventure was a little more windy than ideal for Warblers and other treetop migrants. Still, it was pleasantly warm and clear most of the day. Sunnyvale Baylands Park, or starting place, produced a number of Yellow Warblers, Yellow-rumped Warblers, and Lincoln's Sparrows. We also had a flock of Tree, Barn, and Violet-green Swallows over the playing field, and with them were several Vaux's Swift.

Team DeDUCKtions then got a fantastic tour of the nets, and a demonstration of Songbird banding at the SFBBO Coyote Creek Field Station! We watched Erica and Josh process two Song Sparrows, a "Western" Flycatcher, a Swainson's Thrush and a Northern "Red-shafted" Flicker! We then visited the Waterbird Pond within the control area. Most interesting birds found there were two Lesser Yellowlegs, and 4 Greater White-fronted Geese, and Loggerhead Shrike. (The field station is open only to members of SFBBO. Contact www.sfbbo.org to learn more about the work they do there and how you can become a member.)



Photo: Julio Mulero


Photo: Julio Mulero


Photo: Julio Mulero


Photo: Julio Mulero (notice the length of P9, and non-emarginated P6! ID confirmed.)


Illustrations by Steve N.G. Howell. Taken from Peter Pyle's "Identification Guide to North American Birds: Part 1"

These measurements are crucial to solid identification. Banders rely on this kind of information far more than familliar field marks when they determine the species in hand. Birders on the other hand, often rely on presence or absense of rufous on the rump to help distinguish these two Thrushes, but could benefit from an awarness of the subtle differences in wing shape, primary formula and how they affect the birds' flight style or distance of migration. We owe a lot to the banding community as they provide deep knowledge of populations and seasonal status.


Photo: Julio Mulero


Photo: Julio Mulero


Photo: Julio Mulero


Photo: Vrishali Wagle


Photo: Julio Mulero


Photo: Julio Mulero


Photo: Julio Mulero


Photo: Julio Mulero


Photo: Julio Mulero

Sunnyvale Water Pollution Control Ponds produced a large number of Eared Grebes and one Lesser Scaup among the huge number of Northern Shovelers, and Ruddy Ducks. A single Sora and one Common Gallinule was heard at the Lockheed Ponds. Green Herons were hard to miss as we had three perched in the open at either end of the channel.

Thanks to EVERYONE at the Coyote Creek Field Station, especially Josh, Erica and Tom (bander AND team member), who helped make yesterday a fun and informative experience for our participants (20!). Many thanks to the members of this year's team for their enthusiasm and sharp eyes which meant we saw a number of season first birds, and the the many others who helped SFBBO with their financial support for this event and throughout the year. It was truly a wonderful day.

Full list: (76, unless I've forgotten some)
Canada Goose
Gadwall
Mallard
Northern Shoveler
Northern Pintail
Lesser Scaup
Ruddy Duck
Pied-billed Grebe
Eared Grebe
American White Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Green Heron
Turkey Vulture
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Sora
Common Gallunule
American Coot
Killdeer
Black-necked Stilt
American Avocet
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Least Sandpiper
Ring-billed Gull
California Gull
Western Gull
Forster's Tern
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Eurasian Collared Dove
Vaux's Swift
Anna's Hummingbird
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
"Western" Flycatcher (in-hand)
Black Phoebe
Loggerhead Shrike
Western Scrub Jay
American Crow
Common Raven
Tree Swallow
Violet-green Swallow
Barn Swallow
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Bushtit
Bewick's Wren
Marsh Wren
Swainson's Thrush (in-hand)
American Robin
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Yellow Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Red-winged Blackbird
Tricolored Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Brewer's Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
House Finch
Lesser Goldfinch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow








Coyote Point Marina / Redwood Shores 09/24/11

Our first class field trip of the fall provided several FOS (first-of-season) species for the group. It was sunny and warm during our walk, and just a few steps out of the parking lot we encountered an adult and juvenile White-crowned Sparrow. Not far from them, but remaing quite hidden, was a Lincoln's Sparrow giving us its distinctive buzzy chip note. As we worked our way toward the bay, we stopped to admire a male Belted Kingfisher perched on one of the masts, and the first of several Spotted Sandpipers in the harbor.



Photo: Caroline Lambert


Photo: Julio Mulero


An all dark-faced Cormorant fishing in the harbor posed an ID challenge for us. While Brandt's and Pelagic are normally easy to distinguish, this bird was an exception. It simply was as obvious as we've come to expect. The lack of any color on the face, long slender neck and head, and hint of greenish iridescence convinced me it was a Pelagic Cormorant. But I remain somewhat uncomfortable with that decision... Why was this individual so difficult to nail down? And why wouldn't it disappear and make things easy?? Instead it stayed there, in full view, apparently mocking us... Oh, well. We moved on, and later an very obvious Pelagic, complete with broom-handle neck and head, flew out of the channel 20 minutes later, perhaps the same bird, perhaps noit. But it helped dispel the lingering uncertainty and the shame.

At the bay shore, and with a view of the sandbar, we found a group of Elegant Tern resting in the sun. We studied them and were the anticipated group of Willet, Marbled Godwit, Black-bellied Plover and a single Black Oystercatcher. Missing however were Black Turnstone and other recently reported rock-loving species such as Surfbird and Wanderng Tattler. There was a pair of Clark's Grebes and three more Spotted Sanpipers at the harbor mouth, but no Harlequin Duck as we have occasionally found. Perhaps it was just on the other side of the concrete slabs. As we walked toward the freshwater marsh, we came across Savannah Sparrows, one American Goldfinch and several Yellow-rumped Warblers making their way through the fennel patch.



Photo: Caroline Lambert

The marsh was productive with Black-necked Stilt, Snowy Egret, and most exciting were two sleeping Wilson's Snipe. I had just finished saying that in a month or so, this small pond would be a very good place to see that wintering species.... Along the edges we also heard and saw Common Yellowthroat and a female Yellow Warbler.

Walking throughy the picnic area and up the hill toward the museum, we began to hear the piping Morse Code call of Pygmy Nuthatches. Finally, and with great effort, we were able to get great looks at 6 of the little birds as they fed on the ground and in a small redwood tree a few yards away. Band-tailed Pigeons were found a the overlook and over the water we saw several Elegant Terns diving for fish.




Photo: Julio Mulero


Since bird activity was a little slower than antipated, we opted to move to Redwood Shores and explore the Radio Road Ponds a little earlier than planned. There were many Ducks and Shorebirds present, including all three Teal species, and a pair of American Wigeons. Most Ducks were in their eclipse plumage, making them a little more difficult to identify. Ring-billed, California and Glaucous-winged Gulls were added to the list, as were Greater Yellowlegs, and both Dowitchers. Small numbers of juvenile Short-billed Dowitchers allowed us to study their unique intra-teretial patterns.




Photo: Julio Mulero


Photo: Caroline Lambert


We ended early afternoon, with lifers for some members and FOSs for everyone!


Canada Goose
Gadwall
American Wigeon
Mallard
Blue-winged Teal
Cinnamon Teal
Northern Shoveler
Northern Pintail
Green-winged Teal
Clark's Grebe
Brown Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant
Pelagic Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Turkey Vulture
Red-tailed Hawk
American Coot
Black-bellied Plover
Killdeer
Black Oystercatcher
Black-necked Stilt
American Avocet
Greater Yellowlegs
Willet
Spotted Sandpiper
Whimbrel
Long-billed Curlew
Marbled Godwit
Least Sandpiper
Short-billed Dowitcher
Long-billed Dowitcher
Wilson's Snipe
Ring-billed Gull
California Gull
Western Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Elegant Tern
Rock Pigeon
Band-tailed Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Eurasian Collared Dove
Anna's Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Black Phoebe
Western Scrub Jay
American Crow
Common Raven
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Bushtit
Pygmy Nuthatch
Bewick's Wren
American Robin
European Starling
Yellow Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
California Towhee
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Brewer's Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow