FALL 1999

Palo Alto Duck Pond and Yacht Club 09-19-99 POSTED
Charleston Slough and Mountain View Forebay 10-03-99 POSTED
Arastradero Open Space Preserve 10-10-99 POSTED
Joseph D. Grant County Park 10-17-99 POSTED
Pescadero 10-23-99 POSTED
Various Bayland Locations 11-06-99 POSTED
Coyote Hills Regional Park 11-14-99 POSTED
Merced National Wildlife Refuge 11-21-99 POSTED

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



Merced National Wildlife Refuge 11-21-99

This trip really focussed on winter waterfowl. Highlights included three species of geese, sandhill cranes and white-faced ibis. These birds typify the central valley in winter, and while the peak season is perhaps a month or two away, good numbers of the target birds were observed. A real surprise was an adult bald eagle soaring amid hundreds of snow, ross' and greater-white fronted geese. This uncommon winter bird quickly left the area and we were unable to relocate it. We also had good looks at a pair of roosting barn owls. The weather was clear and sunny, but windy at times and often chilly.

Pied-billed Grebe
American White Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Cattle Egret (along road prior to refuge)
White-faced Ibis
Greater White-fronted Goose
Snow Goose
Ross' Goose
Green-winged Teal
Mallard
Northern Pintail
Cinnamon Teal
Northern Shoveler
Gadwall
Bufflehead
Ruddy Duck
White-tailed Kite (along road prior to refuge)
Bald Eagle
Northern Harrier
Cooper's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Common Moorhen
American Coot
Sandhill Crane
Killdeer
Black-necked Stilt
American Avocet
Black-bellied Plover
Greater Yellowlegs
Long-billed Curlew
Least Sandpiper
Dunlin
Long-billed Dowitcher
California Gull
Rock Dove
Mourning Dove
Barn Owl
Belted Kingfisher
Black Phoebe
Tree Swallow
Yellow-billed Magpie (along road prior to refuge)
Scrub Jay
Marsh Wren
Northern Mockingbird
American Pipit
Loggerhead Shrike
European Starling
Yellow-rumped Warbler
California Towhee
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
Brewer's Blackbird
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

The previous day's scouting trip yielded some additional species we did not observe during the group field trip:

Ferruginous Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Merlin
Ring-necked Pheasant
Virginia Rail
Sora
Common Snipe
Great-horned Owl
Anna's Hummingbird
Northern Flicker ("Yellow-shafted" form)
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Horned Lark
American Crow
Bushtit
Bewick's Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Common Yellowthroat
Fox Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
Tri-colored Blackbird



Coyote Hills Regional Park 11-14-99


This was a fun trip but one with few surprises. We concentrated first on "Hoot Hollow" and then toured the marsh where we had nice looks at a Racoon peering out from among the reeds. We had excellent looks at some winter songbirds like Fox Sparrow, Yellow-rumped Warbler and Ruby-crowned Kinglet. There was also a remarkably long look at a pair of Northern Flickers that seemed to enjoy showing off their salmon-colored feathers. For those who arrived early, we even had a Cooper's Hawk sit quietly on a rock for a few minutes so we could view it in the scope. Once again, we were treated to good looks at Loggerhead Shrike in the open grassy areas.

Pied-billed Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Canada Goose
Green-winged Teal
Mallard
Northern Pintail
Northern Shoveler
Cinnamon Teal
Gadwall
Bufflehead
Ruddy Duck
Turkey Vulture
White-tailed Kite
Northern Harrier
Cooper's Hawk
Sharp-shinned Hawk (sorry...)
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Ring-necked Pheasant (heard)
California Quail
Virginia Rail (heard)
Sora (heard)
Common Moorhen
American Coot
Killdeer
Black-necked Stilt
Greater Yellowlegs
Ring-billed Gull
California Gull
Northern Flicker ("Red-shafted")
Black Phoebe
Western Scrub Jay
Bushtit
Marsh Wren
Bewick's Wren (heard)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
American Robin
Northern Mockingbird
California Thrasher
Loggerhead Shrike
European Starling
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Spotted Towhee (heard)
Fox Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Brewer's Blackbird
Red-winged Blackbird
Western Meadowlark

Some birds that had been there the day before, but for one reason or another chose not to appear (oh, well...) were the following:

White Pelican
Brown Pelican
Common Goldeneye
Redhead
Red-breasted Merganser
Dunlin
American Avocet
Forster's Tern
Bonaparte's Gull
Merlin



Various Bayland Locations 11-06-99


We began by meeting at Byxbee Park in Palo Alto where the target species was Burrowing Owl and other open country birds. We saw 4-5 of the owls as well as many pipits, meadowlarks and a single merlin. We got many good looks at the increasingly colorful winter ducks. The "best bird" unfortunately came and went before most people had arrived--a Rough-legged Hawk which flew over Byxbee toward the Palo Alto Airport before escaping the marauding ravens. From Byxbee, we went to the Palo Alto Flood Control Basin where we looked for Redheads and Blue-winged Teal followed by Charleston Slough to find the Black Skimmers.

A short outing like this, to a relatively small area so close to home, reminds me once again you don't always to go far to see some wonderful birds...

Pied-billed Grebe
Eared Grebe
Western Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
White Pelican
Brown Pelican
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Green-winged Teal
Blue-winged Teal (not everyone saw...)
Mallard
Northern Pintail
Cinnamon Teal
Northern Shoveller
Gadwall
Eurasian Wigeon (hybrid)
American Wigeon
Canvasback
Redhead
Greater Scaup
Lesser Scaup
Hooded Merganser (2 females)
Ruddy Duck
Turkey Vulture
Red-tailed Hawk
Rough-legged Hawk (!)
White-tailed Kite (in the same tree with a shrike!)
Northern Harrier (male, female and imms.)
American Kestrel
Merlin ("on the line" and outta there...)
Sora (not everyone saw...)
Common Moorhen
American Coot
Killdeer
Black-bellied Plover
Black-necked Stilt
American Avocet
Greater Yellowlegs
Willet
Long-billed Curlew
Dowitcher (species)
Bonaparte's Gull
California Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Western Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Black Skimmer (we counted only 8 of the usual 11 birds)
Rock Dove
Mourning Dove
Anna's Hummingbird
Burrowing Owl
Black Phoebe
Western Scrub Jay
Marsh Wren
Common Raven
Bushtit
American Pipit
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Loggerhead Shrike
European Starling
California Towhee
Song Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Western Meadowlark
Brewer's Blackbird
Red-winged Blackbird
House Finch
House Sparrow



Pescadero 10-23-99


The weather was very pleasant, but bird activity was quite slow with none of the anticipated warblers. At Phipp's Ranch we had the following species with the highlight being a wonderful view of the red-shouldered hawk:

Turkey Vulture
White-tailed Kite
Red-tailed Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
California Quail
Rock Dove
Mourning Dove
Black Phoebe
Common Raven
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Bushtit
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Brewer's Blackbird
Red-winged Blackbird
White-crowned Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
American Goldfinch (flyover)
House Finch
House Sparrow

Following our visit to the Ranch, we proceeded to Pescadero Beach and had slightly better luck. We scanned the open water and the offshore rocks and later walked to Pescadero Creek where we investigated the salt marsh:

Western Grebe
Common Loon
Red-throated Loon
Common Loon
Brown Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant
Brandt's Cormorant
Pelagic Cormorant
Surf Scoter
Great Blue Heron
Snowy Egret
Mallard
Pintail
Gadwall
American Wigeon
Cinnamon Teal
Western Gull
California Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Heerman's Gull
Greater Yellowlegs
Turkey Vulture
Northern Harrier
Black Oystercatcher
Marbled Godwit
Willet
Surfbird
Black Turnstone



Joseph D. Grant County Park 10-17-99


Wide open grassy hills and valleys with open oak and sycamore forest made for an exciting array of foothill birds. An adult golden eagle was a real treat! This was an entirely different bird than the previous day's scouting trip. Several turkeys fed openly for a while allowing good looks at their coppery plumage. A lone red-breasted sapsucker was an unexpected surprise as well. There were hardly any shorebirds, which is to be expected, but good numbers of ducks on the pond, including some diving ducks. As always, many birds advertized their presence only through characteristic vocalizations.

Pied-Billed Grebe
Eared Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Green-winged Teal
Mallard
Northern Pintail
Northern Shoveller
Gadwall
American Wigeon
Ring-necked Duck
Ruddy Duck
Turkey Vulture
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Golden Eagle (being harrassed by a red-tail that was almost half its size!)
Wild Turkey (a group of 9 birds)
California Quail
American Coot
Killdeer
Greater Yellowlegs
Dowitcher (species)
Belted Kingfisher
Acorn Woodpecker
Red-breasted Sapsucker
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Northern Flicker "red-shafted" form
Black Phoebe
Steller's Jay
Western Scrub Jay
Yellow-billed Magpie
American Crow
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Oak Titmouse
Bushtit
White-breasted Nuthatch
Bewick's Wren
Western Bluebird
Wrentit
Yellow-rumped Warbler
California Towhee
Spotted Towhee
White-crowned Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco "Oregon" form
Red-winged Blackbird
Brewers Blackbird
House Finch
Lesser Goldfinch
American Goldfinch ("potato chip")




Arastradero Open Space Preserve 10-10-99

Obviously this dry, open oak foothill habitat yielded no shorebirds or ducks. Instead, we saw many terrestrial birds, but as would be expected, many of them remained hidden, revealing their presence only through vocalizations. Highlights were four kinds of woodpeckers (great looks at a northern flicker) and five raptors. We heard a pair of kites give their threat vocalization as a red-tail approached too close. The "best" bird was probably the single green heron which was seen at the pond near the "least expected" bird of the day, a sora!

Pied-billed Grebe (winter plumage, completely without bill stripe now)
Green Heron (!)
White-tailed Kite
Northern Harrier (imm. female)
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
California Quail
Sora (surprise!)
Common Moorhen
American Coot
Rock Dove
Mourning Dove
Anna's Hummingbird
Acorn Woodpecker (we saw the colony's food locker also)
Nutthall's Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker ("Red-shafted" form)
Black Phoebe
Say's Phoebe
Western Scrub Jay
Steller's Jay
Common Raven
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
White-breasted Nuthatch
Bewick's Wren
Western Bluebird
Wrentit (heard only)
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling (in spotted, winter plumage)
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon's form)
California Towhee
Spotted Towhee
Fox Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
Brewer's Blackbird



Charleston Slough and Mountain View Forebay 10-03-99

The trip concentrated on birds of the fresh water reed brake which drains into the bay. We had very good looks at some secretive birds like common moorhen, sora and Virginia rail! Many dabbling ducks were present in mixed-species groups along with 50 or more enormous white pelicans. The search for green heron was unsuccessful but overall it was a very good trip. In the next month or two we will see the duck population grow to include several species of diving ducks in the large open water areas.

Pied-billed Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant (both the black adult and lighter imm.)
Mallard
Gadwall
Northern Pintail
American Wigeon
Northern Shoveller
Green-winged Teal
Cinnamon Teal
Ruddy Duck
American Coot
Common Moorhen
American White Pelican
Brown Pelican
Western Gull
California Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Black-crowned Night-heron (both the adult and brown/gray streaked imm.)
Sora (lucky!)
Virgina Rail (lucky!)
Black-bellied Plover (in winter "drabs")
Killdeer (we even saw the reddish rump patch)
Marbled Godwit
Long-billed Curlew
Willet
Greater Yellowlegs
Dowitcher (species)
Least Sandpiper
Turkey Vulture
Northern Harrier
Black Phoebe
Common Raven
Bushtit
Red-winged Blackbird
Brewer's Blackbird



Palo Alto Duck Pond and Yacht Club 09-19-99

The trip concentrated on swimming birds and shorebirds.

Canada Goose
Mallard
Gadwall
Northern Pintail
American Wigeon
Wood Duck
Northern Shoveller
Green-winged Teal
Ruddy Duck
American Coot
Western Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Franklin's Gull (a first winter bird!)
Great Egret
Black-necked Stilt
American Avocet
Killdeer
Marbled Godwit
Long-billed Curlew
Whimbrel
Willet
Dowitcher (species)
Least Sandpiper
Northern Harrier (imm.)
Turkey Vulture
Rock Dove
Red-winged Blackbird
Brewer's Blackbird
House Sparrow