SPRING 2007


Stevens Creek Park/Picchetti Winery 04-14-07 POSTED
SCVAS Birdathon with "Team DeDUCKtions"! 04-21-07 POSTED
Sunol Regional Wilderness 04-28-07 POSTED
Mitchell Canyon 05-05-07 POSTED
Del Puerto Canyon/Mines Road 05-19-07 POSTED
Pinnacles National Monument 05-26-07 POSTED
Gilroy Hot Springs 06-03-07 SUNDAY POSTED
San Mateo County Coast (Puffin quest!) 06-09-07 POSTED

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





San Mateo County Coast (Puffin quest!) 06-09-07

The wild call of the coast proved too loud to ignore, and our collective birding mind agreed on how to respond. The many recent reports of Horned Puffins, a rare species south of Alaska, would lead us to Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, just north of Princeton Harbor where we would search for the source of the all the noise. We hoped also to contribute to the one-day, web-wide effort to count every individual occurring within the California coastal waters. 

Once our small group was in position, we quickly located a single Horned Puffin loafing off shore, easily seen just beyond the rocks and froth. Perhaps it was the same bird I had seen a week earlier, as it's dark-smudged face seemed to indicate, but with the many reports it was hard to be sure. We noted the extent of the smudging, just incase we saw another bird later... There were many cheers from our group at this point, as this bird represented a first for many. We took our eyes off the target for a moment to celebrate. There were also multitudes of Common Murre crisscrossing the horizon in strings of 10-20 birds at a time. Occasionally we also caught the white wing flashes of otherwise solidly-dark Pigeon Gullemots as they fluttered past in ones and twos. And of course we admired the white, egg-shaped patches on the Pelagic Cormorants as they flew past. We kept coming back to the Puffin however, it's ungainly bill and goggle-eyed expression oddly beautiful. Then a second Horned Puffin was spotted far off to the left, and then a moment later a third beside it. All three birds showed the smudgy darkness on the front of the face, but all three were also visible at one time, so we were confident in the accuracy of our count. Also exciting was a group of three Rhinoceros Auklets that flew south beyond the surf. They got away before most of us got a look.

We then caravanned to Pillar Point to look down on the water. After an awkward moment or two while the guide tried to figure out where the trail actually was, we had a forth Horned Puffin, a full adult, in our scopes. It wasn't easy to get everyone on the bird, but once viewed, it was unmistakable! It's face was pure white and its bill bright red and yellow. We kept scanning the water, struggling to focus on something other than the beautiful wide ocean view. Before long, a fifth and sixth Horned Puffin were located in separate areas of the huge bay. Again, we confirmed we were indeed looking at three individuals, and that they were not the same birds seen further north. These were much more mature birds, and one a full adult! We also got another chance at Rhinoceros Auklet, as three individuals, perhaps the same ones as before, flew in and landed within view. They were far, but the combination of their size, overall slate coloration and stout, dull yellow bill made identification possible.

At Pigeon Point we failed to locate any Puffins, but a single Ancient Murrelet was briefly seen beyond the rocks. The big excitement here was the large number of Pigeon Gulllemots. They whistled loudly and frequently, showing off their brilliant red mouths and matching crimson feet. More than once, we saw pairs mating loudly and with great flashes of those beautiful red mouths and feet. Very exciting! I suddenly lost my favorite hat (a gift from Jody and Eric) in a gust of wind, and I thought maybe our luck would change. But the gift shop employee was kind enough to hop the fence to retrieve it. Kelly then bought me a tether with a clip at both ends, so that it could be fastened to my collar...

From there we made a quick tour of Gazos Creek Road. We were not successful in viewing many birds, but we could sure hear them. Band-tailed Pigeon, Wilson's Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Northern Parula, MacGillivray's Warbler, Warbling Vireo, Winter Wren, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Black-headed Grosbeak, Purple Finch... they were all there. For all those who attended, the birds we say yesterday will count toward your 175, so that's a pretty good start, considering one of them is "rare outside of Alaska".

For those who were not at the final meeting, I'm attaching both the quiz and the challenge. Have fun and stay in touch! There's no reason we have to stop talking between terms.

Red-throated Loon
Pacific Loon
Common Loon
Aechmophorus species
Brown Pelican
Brandt's Cormorant
Pelagic Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Surf Scoter
Turkey Vulture
Red-tailed Hawk
California Quail
Black Oystercatcher
Heerman's Gull
California Gull
Western Gull
Caspian Tern
Common Murre
Pigeon Guillemot
Ancient Murrelet
Rhinoceros Auklet
Horned Puffin
Rock Pigeon
Band-tailed Pigeon
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Western Wood Pewee
Pacific-slope Flycatcher
Black Phoebe
Violet-green Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Barn Swallow
Winter Wren
Bewick's Wren
California Thrasher
American Robin
Swainson's Thrush
Wrentit
Bushtit
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Oak Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Steller's Jay
Western Scrub Jay
Common Raven
European Starling
Hutton's Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Purple Finch
House Finch
American Goldfinch
Orange-crowned Warbler
Northern Parula (heard only)
Yellow Warbler
MacGillivray's Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Wilson's Warbler
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Song Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Black-headed Grosbeak
Red-winged Blackbird
Brewer's Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird









Gilroy Hot Springs 06-03-07

I've had some technical difficulties with my computer and Dreamweaver, so I have not been able to post reports as usual. This page is being a updated more than a month after the Gilroy trip, so it contains only a list of species. Hopefuly things will go more smoothly now that the site is up again.

Mallard
Wild Turkey
California Quail
Green Heron
Turkey Vulture
Cooper's Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Killdeer
Band-tailed Pigeon
Mourning Dove
White-throated Swift
Anna's Hummingbird
Acorn Woodpecker
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Western Wood Pewee
Pacific-slope Flycatcher
Black Phoebe
Ash-throated Flycatcher
Western Kingbird
Cassin's Vireo
Hutton's Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Steller's Jay
Western Scrub Jay
Yellow-billed Magpie
American Crow
Common Raven
Tree Swallow
Violet-green Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Oak Titmouse
Bushtit
White-breasted Nuthatch
Bewick's Wren
House Wren
Western Bluebird
American Robin
European Starling
Orange-crowned Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Black-throated Gray Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Western Tanager
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Rufous-crowned Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Black-headed Grosbeak
Lazuli Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Brewer's Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
Bullock's Oriole
Purple Finch
House Finch
Lesser Goldfinch







Pinnacles National Monument 05-26-07

Close to home, the skies were slate gray and appeared to threaten rain. In fact, we saw a few sprinkles on our way through Gilroy, but soon after that, the sky opened up and the sun began to warm things up. 

After we had all arrived, one of the rangers came toward us with ten parking receipts taped to his fingers--one on each. He had a happy smile, and seemed eager to answer questions. He was somewhat different than ranger we'd met on the west side... Anyway, our smaller-than-usual group explored the picnic area uphill from the Bear Gulch parking lot. Activity was high, with Western Kingbirds and Ash-throated Flycatchers appearing quickly. They dashed out from their outposts, catching insects and calling repeatedly. We also observed multitudes of Acorn Woodpecker who had both nest holes and granaries nearby. Conspicuous also, were numerous House Wrens. Two small Hummingbirds appeared, showing obvious rufous on their tails, and while we could not be certain, we assumed them to be Allen's. A bit farther up the trail, the trees hung over us making a nice canopy where we located Black-headed Grosbeak, which we had been, hearing since we arrived, several Warbling Vireos, a White-breasted Nuthatch and a Swainson's Thrush. Even through the thick canopy above us, we could hear the twittering calls of White-throated Swifts and Violet-green Swallows as they echoed against the nearby cliffs. And as we hiked up toward the lake we eventually heard Pacific-slope Flycatcher and the beautiful song of Canyon Wren.

While the caves were closed to hikers because of the nesting Townsend's Big-eared Bat colony, we were able to enjoy the narrow canyon and huge rocks briefly. The temperature was noticeably cooler than the trail below us and the sunlight filtered through the leaves, creating a beautiful dappled light against the stone.

Eventually we returned the way we'd come and regrouped before heading up the Condor trail. Along the way we encountered a group of Rufous-crowned Sparrows exactly where we'd seen them the year before. At least one of the birds appeared to be a juvenile, with faint streaks on its breast and a less pronounced facial pattern. They were reasonably cooperative and vocalized frequently. We tried for other dry-habitat Sparrows, such as Sage and Black-chinned, but they did not appear. Stopping frequently to catch our breath and enjoy the precious patches of shade along the trail. Hutton's Vireo was easily found in the oaks during one such stop.

As has been recently the case, the majority of the Pinnacles Condors have been day-tripping to Big Sur, to mix with the coastal birds. This isn't a new phenomenon, but it seems to occur on a more regular basis these days... I took this more as a challenge than a statement of fact. We'd find the birds, I thought.

As we neared the Condor Gulch, and the full majesty of the peaks above us could be appreciated, our excitement was high. Would we see a Condor flying among the Turkey Vultures? It was hot now, and we were all tired. More than usual, it seemed. We watched eagerly at first, then anxiously as no Condors appeared. The Vultures were numerous, of course, and occasionally one looked like it might turn out to be something else... But it didn't happen. The fierce cries of two Peregrine Falcons bounced off the cliffs, and we saw them soar over us. I thought it might turn out like last year, and we'd see a Condor being chased.... Nope. Despite a concerted effort and what seemed like a very long time, neither the Condors nor the Sage Sparrows ever showed near the lookout. We waited a bit more, and finally headed downhill, disappointed, but not defeated. Well, maybe I felt defeated. I kept looking back, just in case. Another Turkey Vulture.

The reports were true after all I conceded. The Condors were spending time somewhere else.

We had our lunch in the shade of the trees looking up occasionally, just in case. After we make a quick tour of the riparian woodland below the visitors center. Black-headed Grosbeak and Warbling Vireo were identified. Canyon Wren made a very close approach and sang to us. I guess a day without seeing Condor isn't so bad when you've got Canyon Wren performing just a few feet away.

We said our goodbyes to the group and one by one, our cars each made their way home, at different paces. Some members stopped at the Paicines Reservoir to see the immature Bald Eagle, as we did a bit later. We were relaxed and tired as we drove, but still looked up at the sky. Interesting... Two black forms appeared. After we'd admitted we would not be seeing Condors today, two birds appeared over the ridge by the entrance. Cricket and I stopped to admire them. They made wide, slow circles over the rolling hills and we could see their whitish underwing pattern. A ranger, who was running very quickly to the restroom, shouted to us that there might be some Condors over the hill. "Got' em. Thanks," we said. She shut the outhouse door behind her.

It's strange. I'd basically given up hope on seeing the birds. Twenty years ago, and then again today. But we did. Patience, and perhaps a little more faith... There's a lot in those to two ideas it seems. We got back into our cars and passed the kiosk where the friendly ranger from the morning, the one with all ten fingers covered with tape and receipts, held his now un-taped hands up and smiled. 

Turkey Vulture
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Peregrine Falcon
California Quail
Mourning Dove
Rock Pigeon
White-throated Swift
Anna's Hummingbird
Selasphorus species
Acorn Woodpecker
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Western Wood Pewee
Pacific-slope Flycatcher
Black Phoebe
Ash-throated Flycatcher
Western Kingbird
Loggerhead Shrike (entrance road)
Hutton's Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Steller's Jay
Western Scrub Jay
Yellow-billed Magpie (entrance road)
Common Raven
Violet-green Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Oak Titmouse
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Bushtit
White-breasted Nuthatch
Bewick's Wren
House Wren
Canyon Wren
Western Bluebird
American Robin
Swainson's Thrush
California Thrasher
European Starling
Orange-crowned Warbler
Black-headed Grosbeak
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Rufous-crowned Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Western Meadowlark (entrance road)
Brown-headed Cowbird
Red-winged Blackbird (entrance road)
Brewer's Blackbird
Purple Finch
House Finch
Lesser Goldfinch






Del Puerto Canyon/Mines Road 05-19-07

This trip is generally the highlight of any spring birding trip in the bay area. Today was no exception! The ominous low cloud cover along the bay, which caused a few anxious moments as I realized I hadn't brought a jacket, disappeared immediately after we passed the summit of Alamont Pass, leaving us with beautiful clear skies for the remainder of the day.

We filled up our tanks in Patterson, where several of us spotted Western Kingbird on its nest, and a pair of Hooded Orioles by the fountain behind the mini mart. It was an exciting start! We then made our way to the rendez vous on the west side of Hwy 5 where we hoped for more success. Reports of fire damage in the canyon proved to be true however, and little if any cover remained for one of our target bird, Grasshopper Sparrow. We missed of course, but several other birds like Western Meadowlark, Red-winged Blackbird and Brown-headed Cowbird were easily located. A bit further up the road, just beyond the cattle guard, we pulled off to search for Blue Grosbeak. I was not optimistic because the weedy patch they depend on for cover was severely damaged by the fire. The first of several Loggerhead Shrikes was seen along the barbed wire fence, and we heard an occasional Horned Lark overhead as well as the distant songs of Western Meadowlarks. But it was much quieter than we had hoped, and a far cry from previous years. I feared we would miss another target bird... After repeated efforts to call forth a Blue Grosbeak from the distressingly thin patch of cover, I heard a faint "chink!". I told everyone to be silent so we could be sure. "Chink!" it called again. "Yes! That's it!" Somewhere out there, in what seemed like an entirely insufficient patch of thistle, there was a Blue Grosbeak responding to our recorded song. A few moments later, we had the bird in sight, perched on the fence as it had each previous year, only now, it seemed we were truly lucky to find it considering how the habitat had suffered. We also heard and saw the cinnamon female calling from nearby and for the next few minutes we admired the birds as they perched in the open singing and calling back at us. Both birds are beautiful of course. The female with her subtle and uniform tawny color and the male with his deep purplish blue... Fantastic!

Emboldened by this first success, we moved on. We stopped briefly to admire a Burrowing Owl sitting on the slope beside the road and then at the wide bend overlooking the homestead by the creek. There we spotted Bullock's Oriole, singing Lark Sparrow and Killdeer. We searched the Tree Tobacco in the hope of finding Costa's Hummingbird earlier in on the tour than usual, but none were present. Anna's was seen however, and a very shy California Thrasher. Way over the ridge, we also spotted the first of several Golden Eagles for the day.

The riparian near Graffiti rock was very productive with nesting Loggerhead Shrike on the rocky face beside the road and a Greater Roadrunner with catch visible on the ridge. Since we were still not terribly far from the central valley, it should be no surprise that one Hawk, flying above the hills with the Turkey Vultures proved to be a Swainson's Hawk, clearly showing its longer, more pointed wings and dark flight feathers. At Graffiti Rock proper we tried again to find Costa's Hummingbird. This time we were successful. We heard the bird very quickly after getting out of our cars, and eventually spotted a male perching in full view. Its raspberry-colored gorget glimmered in the sunlight... Also present were a pair of Rufous-crowned Sparrows that came down the slope to get a better look at our group.

Just around at the corner, at Owl Canyon, we failed to locate any Owls in the small caves, but I have no doubt they were there... just hiding deep in the shadows. A pair of Ash-throated Flycatchers was there however, calling repeatedly, as well as another Rufous-crowned Sparrow and a Golden Eagle over the ridge. We moved on.

When we stopped in an area that appeared to suit Phainopepla because of the widely spaced oaks festooned with mistletoe, we heard a Rock Wren somewhere uphill. After several minutes of searching, we located the bird singing in the top of a small tree. We were greeted by a birder traveling in the opposite direction who had seen several of our target birds earlier in the day. We said goodbye and were on our way.

There is a portion of the road that passes over the creek and has fairly steep walls. We have a history of success with Canyon Wren and continued that trend today. It took only a few broadcasts of the song to generate a response, but seeing the bird proved more difficult. Finally it was located in a small tree before it moved to an exposed perch on the rocks. It sang for us again and flitted about the cliff walls before moving on. Yet more Rufous-crowned Sparrows were seen here--it was a good day for that species!

At noon we stopped at Frank Raines Regional Park to eat lunch at the shaded picnic tables. Just a few yards from where we sat a pair of Phainopepla perched openly and we heard the male call several times. They moved on rather quickly, but Oak Titmouse, Western Scrub Jay and White-breasted Nuthatch remained as we ate or meals. Further up the road we searched for the recently reported Yellow-breasted Chat, but to no avail. Lawrence's Goldfinches were in attendance however, and since they were not seen later at the traditional firehouse stop, we were fortunate to find a few here.

We were still in Stanislaus County when we stopped at a patch of dry scrub. I had a hunch that this dense cover might hold a surprise or two. I hope perhaps we might locate a California Thrasher, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher or maybe even a Black-chinned Sparrow. The nicest surprise of the day was probably when two Sage Sparrows popped into view in response to the iPod. Not what I expected, but certainly will be next time through.

Somehow I totally forgot to check the pond where we had expected to study the Tricolored Blackbird colony... Oh, well, there was another promising location we could examine later. In any case, the pond we did stop at, the one just before the Junction, produced singing Western Wood Pewee, Purple finch and American Coot. There were not Wood Ducks, however, which wasn't too surprising because of the uncommonly dry conditions.

The Hummingbird feeders at the saloon were not up has they have been in the past, so we stopped only long enough to use the restrooms and buy some popsicles... it was pretty hot by now, and were all parched. The next order of business was to locate the Lewis' Woodpeckers, which was easily done. They were nesting beside the road in a large oak less than a mile south of the junction on San Antonio Valley Road. The acorn-riddled post and small utility building mark the general area. We watched the birds for several minutes as they sallied out from the upper branches of trees and caught insects in mid air. Their flight is completely unlike that of other Woodpeckers. Their wing beats are deep and rowing, and they show little or now undulating as they fly from tree to tree. They also tended to perch horizontally and exposed, much like a huge Starling. Several people noticed a Yellow Warbler dash into the lower branches and disappear. We saw them visit the nest hole several times, and even heard the hissing calls of the nestlings. Additionally, we saw several Western Bluebirds in this area.

From here we went to the firehouse where surprisingly little was discovered. Since we had already logged the Sage Sparrow, and there were several stops along Mines Road that were of interest, we cut the firehouse short and skipped the cattle guard altogether. Near the summit, where the chaparral has produced Black-chinneds in the past we tried again. No luck with that, but Bewick's Wren, Black-headed Grosbeak, Spotted Towhee and Lawrence's Goldfinches were all detected, some by voice alone.

Down the hill, to the bridge where we often begin our tour, we searched for anything we hadn't yet found. Cliff Swallows were numerous, as were Barns Swallows. Yellow-billed Magpies were very easily seen here, as were California Quail. A Swaison's Thrush skulked among the weeks in the dry creek, and most surprising was a Willow Flycatcher in this same area. Willows crowd the dry creek and this little Empidonax gave us every opportunity to examine it. Olive coloration, wide yellowish lower mandible, blunt tail, short primary projection, nearly absent eye ring, and most importantly, the call "fitz bew!".

Finally, we visited Murrietta Wells. On the road there we spotted a group of Wild Turkeys before the intersection with Del Valle. Our last birds of the day were seen at the winery. Yellow-rumped Warbler and Common Yellowthroat were foraging in the willows. We were also successful at finding the Eurasian Collared Doves. Two birds were seen mating, which means perhaps in a while we will find more of these Doves in the area! Our last birds, the two that signaled it was time to start the drive home were the pair of Western Tanagers. Identifying the male who was brilliant yellow and red, of course, was easy. But recognizing the female, who appeared first, was a little more challenging. Today was quite possibly our most successful visit to the area, with a high percentage of our target species being found and many opportunities to practice our abilities with habitat and song recognition.

Mallard
Wild Turkey
California Quail
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Green Heron
Turkey Vulture
Swainson's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Golden Eagle
American Kestrel
American Coot
Killdeer
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Eurasian Collared Dove
Greater Roadrunner
Burrowing Owl
Anna's Hummingbird
Costa's Hummingbird
Lewis' Woodpeckier
Acorn Woodpecker
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Western Wood Pewee
Willow Flycatcher
Black Phoebe
Ash-throated Flycatcher
Western Kingbird
Loggerhead Shrike
Hutton's Vireo
Wester Scrub Jay
Yellow-billed Magpie
American Crow
Common Raven
Horned Lark
Violet-green Swallow
Nortern Rough-winged Swallow
Barn Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Oak Titmouse
Bushtit
White-breasted Nuthatch
Rock Wren
Canyon Wren
Bewick's Wren
House Wren
Western Bluebird
Swainson's Thrush
American Robin
Wrenitit
Northern Mockingbird
California Thrasher
European Starling
Phainopepla
Yellow Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Western Tanager
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Rufous-crowned Sparrow
Lark Sparrow
Sage Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Black-headed Grosbeak
Blue Grosbeak
Red-winged Blackbird
Tricolored Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Brewer's Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
Hooded Oriole
Bullock's Oriole
Purple Finch
House Finch
Lesser Goldfinch
Lawrence's Goldfinch
House Sparrow







Mitchell Canyon 05-05-07

For future reference, it only takes about an hour and ten minutes to reach this canyon from Palo Alto. So for those of you who based your start time on my estimate of a 2-hour drive, well, you dedication has been duely noted... The day was characterized by mild temperatures, clear skies and wind, so many of the hoped-for species were not located, at least not easily, because they were, held down by the breeze. In the absense of any surprise discoveries, we contented ourselves with a modest list of fasirly common species, and a fabulously beautiful walk, more than 5.5 miles, through a unique habitat. Not only were many species of Butterfly seen, but also many flowers, including the Globe Lily and Mariposa Lily.

As suggested, birds were generally quieter than expected, and seemed to remain hidden from view. In any event, we began by admiring the small group of Wild Turkey along the entrance road, and in the parking area. More than half of the individuals were displaying males. They fluffed up and walked stiffly among the females, most of which seeme to ignore the males' attention. We then hiked up the main trail, with dozens of horses walking with us as part of a trailhorse event. One particularly feisty animal, a horse named Elmo, didn't appear to like our group OR his rider, and was compelled only with great difficulty, to pass our group... We tried to repeat last year's encounter with MacGillivray's Warbler in the first few hundred yards of the trail but were not rewarded. We played the iPod several times, and while we could not coax the bird out into the open, we did hear it in the distance. We were successful at seeing Wilson's Warbler in this area, as well as the first of many Lazuli Buntings and a single female Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.

Further up the trail we stopped in several places that would have been appropriate for MacGillivray's, but as before, none were seen. Ash-throated Flycatchers were conspicuous along the trail, calling often and allowing good looks for everyone. Also heard and seen repeatedly during our walk were Orange-crowned Warblers. Many Swallows, almost all Violet-greens, were circling overhead. A few Cliff Swallows were located as well, and higher up, several White-throated Swifts were seen. Down low, we spotted a Bobcat patrolling the area across the creek.

We passed through the canopy of oaks, and the trail widened at the creek crossing. Still more Lazuli Buntings were found, and by now their song was becoming familiar. We spotted a dark bird perched on the dead branches of a pine, and this, combined with the whitish tufts on the lower portion of the back, made identification easy, even without a good look through a telescope. It was an Olive-sided Flycatcher--a bird we had hoped to see here!

Still further we located added Hutton's Vireo to our list. We had already seen Warbling Vireo several times, and were certainly getting used to their "Rosita, Rosita, Ro-seet!" song. The Hutton's song is far less complex, but highly variable, so recognizing it isn't always easy. We were later able to locate two different Cassin's Vireos whose song has the classic question-and-answer format. Fantastic looks at this striking bird were had by all.

Most exciting encounter of the day would probably be a pair of Western Tanager. The male was called spotted before it was heard, and then called out into the open with the help of the recorded song. He flew into the branches directly over our group and allowed us all to see his fabulous breeding colors! The female was near as well, but obviously more difficult to spot among the leaves.

After reaching the Nashville grove (an area that seems just perfect for that Warbler because of the alders open understory and dense undergrowth) we turned around to make our way back to the cars. We ate our lunch in the shade of the oaks, with the occasional sound of Western Tanager and Bullock's Orioles calling as they worked their way throught the tangle of branches overhead.

Wild Turkey
California Quail
Turkey Vulture
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Mourning Dove
White-throated Swift
Anna's Hummingbird
Acorn Woodpecker
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northn Flicker
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Pacific-slope Flycatcher
Black Phoebe
Ash-throated Flycatcher
Cassin's Vireo
Hutton's Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Steller's Jay
Western Scrub Jay
American Crow
Violet-green Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Oak Titmouse
Bushtit
White-breasted Nuthatch
Bewick's Wren
House Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Western Bluebird
Swainson's Thrush
American Robin
Wrentit
European Starling
Orange-crowned Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Townsend's Warbler
MacGillivray's Warbler
Wilson's Warbler
Western Tanager
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Song Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Black-headed Grosbeak
Lazuli Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
Bullock's Oriole
Purple Finch
House Finch
Lesser Goldfinch







Sunol Regional Wilderness 04-28-07

Since Stevens Creek was rainy for our first outing of spring two weeks ago, and only a small portion of our group attended the SCVAS birdathon last week, today's trip was our real first opportunity to log some colorful spring migrants! The weather was gloriously sunny and warm, in fact becoming quite hot by midday. We began in the picnic area where House Wrens were busy attending a nest in a sycamore cavity. European Starlings were also similarly occupied. Black-headed Grosbeak, Warbling Vireo and Orange-crowned Warblers were all detected by sound, but it wasn't until later that we actually saw the birds. Very exciting was a Lawrence's Goldfinch male perched in the open and uncharacteristically stationary... We later found three more in the grass by the horse trailer parking area. In fact, between last week and today, I can't say I remember ever seeing so many members of this species. It's been as good a year for them as it has been for Varied Thrush, it seems.

We then crossed the footbridge, turned northwest and explored the fully leafed riparian woods for Warblers. With more difficulty than expected we were able to locate Orange-crowned, a Yellow and a single Yellow-rumped Warbler. At least two Nashville Warblers were heard, but never seen in the upper branches near the visitors center. Strolling along the creek's banks we hoped to find Cassin's Vireo, but were not rewarded with the bird. Instead, we heard and saw several Warbling Vireos, as well as Hutton's Vireo, a species we missed the previous week. Toward the gate where we eventually turned around we heard the sweet songs of several Lazuli Buntings. We located the electric-blue males singing in the tops of several trees. What a fabulous sight that was!

In the other direction, past the footbridge, we began to hear two new birds, Ash-throated Flycatcher and Chipping Sparrow. The first was located easily when it moved from one prominent perch to another. The Sparrow, however, put up much more of a fight. We were at a disadvantage because the distinctive song was too high for many members of our group to hear. Pinpointing the origin of the insect-like trill was very difficult, but eventually we succeeded and everyone got a look at the bird. It was also in this area we saw yet another pair of Lawrence's Goldfinches!

Back through the picnic area, where we heard and then spotted a Western Tanager as it flew overhead, we made our way toward the south end of the park. Lawrence's Goldfinches were seen again in the trees by the bridge and on the meadow. Despite a significant effort, no Empidonax or Contopus Flycatchers were seen or hear all day. This was a shock, as this habitat, both the lush riparian, and pine dotted hillsides, seemed perfect areas for them. We'll have to search hard next week, I suppose, where we have had luck in the past. Similar negative results were had with the Rufous-crowned Sparrows, but as a consolation, we got very familiar with the sound of Lazuli Buntings and had many opportunities to admire their brilliant color. Yellow-billed Magpie appeared as we approached the lunch stop.

After a pleasant lunch at the shaded picnic tables, many members drove over Calaveras Road to check in on the nesting Bald Eagles. We scoped the bulky power line nest, which is easily seen from the road, and were excited to see at least two grayish downy chicks and an adult. They looked quite young, perhaps just a few days, and a very rare breeding record for Santa Clara County. [When I looked at my nestling book, it shows Bald Eagle nestlings as grayish, while the Golden Eagle nestlings are white. Interesting also is that the two species are really not that closely related. Bald Eagles are members of a water-loving group called Fish Eagles or Sea Eagles, while Golden Eagles are drier country birds called Aguila or Steppe Eagles...]

Anyway, we also tried for Lori's Northern Pygmy Owl here, but instead of finding it, we generated a mob scene which included Oak Titmouse, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, House Wren and White-breasted Nuthatch, all looking for the Northern iPod Owl they had heard. On the reservoir below, we spotted several waterbirds, including Canada Goose, Forster's Tern and a Larus species, most likely Ring-billed or California Gull.

After that excitement, several members joined us at Ed Levin Park where we hoped to find the recently reported Calliope Hummingbirds near the purple flowers beside the dog run. It appears they have moved on... We could hear Grasshopper Sparrows in the grassy field, where we also observed Red-winged Blackbird attending nests. An exhausting hike up the hillside in the blazing heat to reach the sycamore grove produced great looks at Grasshopper Sparrow. One was bathing and drinking from a small puddle fed by the spring, which also accounts for the lovely trees there. I got really dehydrated hiking up there and when we finally reached the cars again, water never tasted so good.

Canada Goose
Mallard
Wild Turkey
California Quail
Pied-billed Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Snowy Egret
Green Heron
Turkey Vulture
Osprey
Bald Eagle
Cooper's Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Golden Eagle
American Kestrel
American Coot
Killdeer
Larus species
Forster's Tern
Band-tailed Pigeon
Mourning Dove
White-throated Swift
Anna's Hummingbird
Selasphorus species
Acorn Woodpecker
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Black Phoebe
Ash-throated Flycatcher
Western Kingbird
Hutton's Vireo
Steller's Jay
Western Scrub Jay
Yellow-billed Magpie
American Crow
Common Raven
Tree Swallow
Violet-green Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Barn Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Oak Titmouse
Bushtit
White-breasted Nuthatch
Bewick's Wren
House Wren
Western Bluebird
American Robin
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Orange-crowned Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Western Tanager
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Grasshopper Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Black-headed Grosbeak
Lazuli Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Brown-headed Cowbird
Bullock's Oriole
House Finch
Lesser Goldfinch
Lawrence's Goldfinch






SCVAS Birdathon with "Team DeDUCKtions" 04-21-07

We staged our tour date one week later than last year in the hope of getting more spring migrants, and in an effort to get a few more Owls, a portion of our group went out on Friday night for a couple of hours. For that evening exploration we met at the park-and-ride near the intersection of Page Mill and Hwy 280 at 8:00 pm. We headed up the hill in three cars and tried our luck at various locations we had preselected. Unlike our scouting mission two weeks earlier however, we did not detect any Owls along Skyline. It may well have been that we began too early in the evening, or perhaps the weather somehow discouraged their vocalizing. Or it could be that the Northern Saw-whet Owls we heard were exploring other portions of their territory... In any case, it wasn't long before we realized what we believed was a guaranteed bird for the count was not going to end up on our final list... As we made our way home for a few hours of sleep, we visited Old Page Mill Road where we were able to hear and see a beautiful Western Screeh Owl in an oak near the old quarry gate. We observed it for a few minutes as it called and glared down on us. In the distance we also heard Great Horned Owl. So maybe our Owling effort wasn't a waste of time after all...

We were in bed by 11:00, but not very successful at sleeping. I tossed and turned, excited and worried about the day ahead. Cricket felt horribly ill from the winding drive up and down the hill and didn't sleep well either. It seemed like I had just closed my eyes when the alarm went off at 3:45 am. It was just enough time to shower, have 4 cups of coffee and a powerbar. It was also enough time to determine that Cricket was not feeling well enough to attend the first part of our tour. She would be joining us in the afternoon when her stomach settled.


04:45 am at Krispi Kreme and we're all awake.... sort of.

My brave team mates, all alert and smiling, met me in the Krispi Kreme parking lot at the intersection of Rengtorff and Hwy 101 at 4:45 am. Eric Goodill (electronic record keeper), Leonie Batkin (paper record keeper), Ashutosh Sinha (Nashville Warbler champion), Jeff Mencher (photographer and proud grandfather), Carol Dienger (world birder and guide), Pati Rouzer (SFBBO board member and brownie maker extraordinaire), Brian Christman (my best man, and Pygmy Owl enthusiast), Carolyn Straub (newest member of our team), Kelly "Cricket" (my wife who had to miss the Pygmy Owl...) and I hoped to reach Smith Creek before sunrise to maximize our enjoyment of the morning chorus.

Smith Creek
We drove up Mount Hamilton Road in complete darkness, passing Grant Park and the lake, both of which we would visit later, to the trail head at Smith Creek. It was relatively easy without the all cyclists which usually head up the hill after sunrise. We kept our eyes open for any Owls that might fly over our cars, but none were seen. Only a Raccoon. We arrived at the firestation at Smith Creek while it was still very dark, and several birds were heard even before we were fully out of our cars such as Wild Turkey, American Robin, Dark-eyed Junco and Black-headed Grosbeak. After gathering all must have items together, including walkie-talkies, iPod, speakers, and torches, we hit the trail. Within a very short time we heard the toot call of a Northern Pygmy-Owl in a nearby tree. It was past the metal gate in an oak just when the trail descends to the creek--much closer to the road than it had been when Ashutosh and I saw it on an earlier visit. We got the torches on it quickly and we all got great looks at this feisty little predator. It was a lifer for several members of the group. We admired him for a few minutes, and he glared down on us fiercely and continued to call even after we moved away. Our count got of to a rapid start, with several target Passerines counted within minutes. House Wren, Orange-crowned, Yellow and Townsend's Warblers were among the birds found. California and Spotted Towhees were easily located also. Black-headed Grosbeaks were hard to miss and their songs could be heard the entire time we were there. We also found Brown Creeper, Purple Finch, and a lingering Ruby-crowned Kinglet. A nice discovery was a Hammond's Flycatcher, seen and heard in the trees overlooking the meadow. We also spent a few minutes in the upper area, beyond the facility. There we encountered our first Western Bluebirds, another Yellow Warbler, a Wilson's Warbler, and a major target, a Nashville Warbler. Also seen in this area were at least two Lincoln's Sparrows in the brush pile. Finally, back by the bridge near our cars we spotted several White-crowned Sparrows. Beyond the many singing birds we also had flyover Band-tailed Pigeion, Mallard, Wood Duck and Common Merganser, the latter of which meant we might just have less pressure on us late in the day, when we were scheduled to visit Stevens Creek Reservoir and McClellan Ranch.

Kincade Road
A short distance up the road we briefly toured Kincade Road. On the way we logged Blue-gray Gnatcatcher through the windows of our cars. On Kincade we hoped to refind the Wood Duck in the small pond, but none were present and it wasn't urgent, since we had seen two flyover at the creek. Instead we found the first of many Western Kingbirds of the day, Bullock's Oriole and both Red-winged and Brewer's Blackbirds near the cattle enclosure. Killdeers were guarding their young and called loudly. It's a beautiful road, and all the mistletoe made us consider Phainopela, but that was just a dream...


Along Kincade Road and we just saw our first Orioles of the day!

Twin Gates
We arrived here in time to find a large group of cyclists preparing to head up to the observatory. There was a bit of a wait at the outhouse... The large oaks upslope provided good looks at several Lawrences's Goldfinches, more Bullock's Orioles and Black-headed Grosbeak. With a bit more patience we were able to locate Western Wood Pewee and a single Lark Sparrow. Yellow-rumped Warblers were in full breeding plumage, which was striking, and overhead we searched through the Swallows for anything new. We were, of course, already running behind schedule... We left and drove down hill toward one of the wide turnouts located near exposed earth and chaparral.

Mount Hamilton Road pullouts

This is the same spot we located Rufous-crowne Sparrow on two previous birdathons. We managed to coax out one of them again, and the chaparral on the slopes also produced a singing Calfiornia Thrasher. Time to move on.

Grant Lake

Our Swallow collection enlarged here, where we found Cliff, Barn and Tree. Northern Rough-winged and Violet green were also present over the meadow, while the others preferred the lake. We found a few Waterbirds as expected. Double-crested Cormorant, Pied-billed Grebe, Forster's Terns, American Coot, Gadwall, Northern Shoveler, Bufflehead, and Ruddy Duck. Many Song Sparrows were hiding in the bushes and Wrentit was heard up the hill a bit. Way overhead, quite far but still identifiable, was a Golden Eagle.

Grant Park

As we pulled up near the restrooms by the small bridge over the creek, we heard the Pacific-slope Flycatcher in the trees. Soon we found it, as well as Ash-throated Flycatcher. There were more Lawrence's Golfinches by the farmhouse. Seems like a really good year for them! Near the farmhouse also, we spotted a Sharp-shinned Hawk perching in a tree across the meadow. It later took flight and flew overhead, allowing us to confirm all the field marks we needed to identify. Oddly, no Cooper's Hawks were encountered all day... Little else was located in the park that we hadn't already seen.


Eric and Leonie securing sector 12, the area around the farmhouse...


...while the other troops proceed cautiously to the Lawrence's Goldfinch hidout.

Alum Rock Park

The itinerary I had settled on was over-ambitious, as anyone could have guessed. So we opted to skip a couple of stops, the first of which was Alum Rock Park. There we had hoped to find Western Tanager or Olive-sided Flycatcher, but the time required to search for those two birds would negatively impact our results elsewhere. The drive to Sierra Road however, produced some often neglected urban species. Northern Mockingbird was seen on the way down Mount Hamilton Road, while Rock Pigeon and House Sparrow were seen along North White Avenue.

Sierra Road

The same reasoning used in the above change of plans was not used here. We took the detour up Sierra, a long route which would eventually lead us to Ed Levin. Just out of town we spotted another Lark Sparrow in a tree by the road. It sang for us and remained long enough for everyone to see well. At the summit we found our target species, Horned Lark. It was a single bird near the cattle enclosure and stock pond. As well there were several Savannah Sparrows in the grass, but no sign of the Grasshopper Sparrows. Several more Horned Larks were seen further up the road, where we conducted a brief search for Rock Wren, and apparently, some members of our group also noted White-throated Swift here.

Calaveras Reservoir

Another detour took us past numerous cyclists to the overlook where the nesting Bald Eagle could be seen. I don't usually like to make single-species quests, but we made an exception in this case. It's quite wonderful to see this bird sitting on its nest, in plain view! The problem was turning our cars around after we were done admiring...

Ed Levin Park

This was our lunch stop, and one of the most productive portions of the trip. Warbling Vireo was located in the trees along the entrance road and we took a moment to scan the lake for anything new. We ate overlooking the pond, which had 2 loud Caspian Terns criss-crossing over it. Double-crested Cormorant were found again here as well as more Forster's Terns. Then it was time to move on. We gobbled down a few of Pati's delicious espresso brownies for an energy booste. WOW! We hiked up the hill toward the sycamore grove where we quickly heard the insect like songs of Grasshopper Sparrows in the tall grass. Eventually we got good close looks at one bird as it perched on a twig and sang for us. Lazuli Bunting was then seen in the top of one sycamore, its blue head simply electric in the overcast light. Rufous-crowned Sparrows were seen very well here too, but unfortunately, despite a lenghty search, no Blue Grosbeak, male or female... Before leaving the park we stopped at the hang glider's parking area, to search for Allen's or Rufous Hummingbirds. We heard a saw a female Selasphorus, and heard a male, but neither would pause long enough for a firm identification. Together, they remain "Selasphorus species" on our final list...


We just found Grasshopper Sparrow, Rufous-crowned Sparrow AND Lazuli Bunting!

Alviso

Immediately upon turning onto Zankar, the bird list started to explode with new birds! As we passed the sewage treatment plant, we observed a dozen or so Bonaparte's Gulls, in fancy plumage, flying overhead. We continued past the plant and next drove into the EEC where a male Ring-necked Pheasant was casually crossing the tracks. There we began logging loads of Shorebirds, including Black-necked Stilt, American Avocet, Least and Western Sandpipers. The Dunlin were in spectacular alternate plumage, as were all the other Sandpipers. Gulls in the pond included Western, Glaucous-winged, Herring, Thayer's, Ring-billed and California, but we also saw additonal Forster's Terns and quite a few Ducks. Most satisfying was finding both species of Scaup. Overhead, many Swallows foraged, but not the hoped for Vaux's Swift until much later. The Barn Owl was in the nest box, but only seen by one sharp-eyed observer who evidently has better than average low-light visibility, Carol. Common Yellowthroat, both species of Dowitcher and Cinnamon Teal were in the channel, along with Common Moorhen. On our way out, we paused by the train tracks to find the Burrowing Owl on its mound. We then left the EEC and briefly stopped at State and Spreckles where little new was found, but several Semipalmated Plovers were nice anyway. Then it was off to the Marina. We found Clark's Grebe in the main pond, and both Sora and Virginia Rail were heard in the reeds. Biggest surprise here was a Fox Sparrow, which Ashutosh discovered along the edges of the marsh. Heading back to Hwy 237 Brian spotted another Burrowing Owl along North First Street by the golf course.

SWPCP

We really hoped the Sunnyvale Water Polution Control Ponds would provide us with a Green Heron for the day, but alas, it was not meant to be. Instead we found several Black-crowned Night Herons, another Common Moorhen but little else we needed. We got nice looks at Northern Rough-winged Swallows perched on the fence, which allowed us an uncommon view.

Shoreline Park

Having already found a few needed bird we hadn't expected before this, we opted to skip Shoreline Park. We had seen Burrowing Owl two stops earlier, as well as American Wigeon. We figured we could find more by going to Charleston Slough at the end of Terminal Way and scanning one side of the lake, and then looping back to the observation deck.

Charleston Slough

We never did find the Canvasbacks that Dotty and her group reported to us. It was now raining and the Wild Women were all bundled up. They said they still had to go to Ed Levin, but it was now after 5:00 and we wondered if they would make it there in time to see anything. I hope they did. Anyway, we crossed paths on our way out to the ponds. We spotted both Eared and Horned Grebe on the lake, as well as Surf Scoter and Western Grebe. To our left, flying among the many Swallows over the main pond was our only Vaux's Swift of the day. I love Swifts, and I shouted loudly to our group to watch for the little gray bird overhead. There was also a White-throated Swift in this cloud, but most people found the tiny Vaux's. We also scanned the Slough where many Shorebirds were arriving to forage on the mud flats. Dunlin, Marbled Godwit, Least and Western Sandipipers, Dowitchers were all present. Most rewarding was a Whimbrel. There were Black-bellied Plovers in glorious alternate plumage as well, and many people commented how nice it was to see Black-bellied Plovers with actual black bellies!

Matadero Creek

Again, a casualty of an overly-aggressive schedule. We skipped it, and therefore undoubtedly missed something good...

Palo Alto Baylands

The Duck Pond was our first stop. It was raining quite hard by now, so we drove right up to the Heronry and made short work of the area. No Cattle Egret... Also not a surprise. I'd hate to spoil my perfect record of NOT seeing this bird there. Still, the crazy gurgling sounds of the Snowy Egrets and Black-crowned Night Herons nesting in the trees is worth a visit. Truly bizarre! We considered counting some of the strange barnyard hybrid Waterfowl, but figured our sponsors would call us on it, so we decided not to risk it. We were also rewarded with top quality views of Clapper Rail on the boardwalk leading out to the bay from Lucy Stern Interpretive Center. The bird walked ahead of us in the pickleweed and then paused beneath the wooden walkway and called loudly. This was during another period of rain, so a few people missed the show.

Steven's Creek Park

The sun was dropping rapidly. In fact, we couldn't see the sun for all the drizzle and clouds. At least the rain had slowed to a tolerable drizzle. We drove past the north entrance and continued to the picnic area overlooking the reservoir. There we hoped to relocate the Common Loon of the previous week, but did not succeed. Instead we found four, count 'em, four Spotted Sandpipers along the shore. Since the females are occasionally polyandrous, I wonder how many females are included in this number and how many male-attended nests might be in the area... Anyway, we were very happy with that, seeing we knew finding just one would be a challenge. It's also a good thing we had already succeeded in finding Common Merganser because the only swimming birds we encountered were Double-crested Cormorants and a few widely spaced American Coots.

McClellan Ranch

Our last stop was made out of sheer desperation. Could we possibly get any new birds with the declining light and drippy weather. Well, we did. As soon as we exited our cars we heard the characteristic chatter of Hooded Oriole in the oaks above the red Audubon headquarters. We also managed, with a little help from two torches, to spot a Barn Owl in the red barn... We failed unfortunately to hear or see any Belted Kingfishers during our tour, but this was especially surprising here. We strolled the entire creek trail with no luck, but it was still a successful day and very appropriate that our last 2 birds would be seen at SCVAS.


Exhausted but happy. L to R: Brian Christman, Jeff Mencher, Eric Goodill, me (in back), Cricket (in front), Carolyn Straub, Leonie Batkin, Carol Dienger, Ashutosh Sinha. Pati Rouzer (taking the picture...)

Dinner at Hobee's
Despite everyone's exhaustion, Eric Goodill and Leonie Batkin, aka "records", and the rest of the group did the final reconciliation over dinner. Our total birds, including species we saw and those we only heard, which I'm happy to say was relatively few, was 152 species. A full 12 birds beyond what we found last year. It included about 17 species we did not encounter last year, such as Northern Pygmy Owl, Nashville Warbler It also revealed some painful misses--species we think we should have been able to find, but did not... Some of these are lingering species, others we know will be more easily found later in the season. In any case, we missed 'em.

Canvasback
American White Pelican
Green Heron
Osprey
Cooper's Hawk (ouch!)
Long-billed Curlew
Northern Saw-whet Owl
Downy Woodpecker
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Loggerhead Shrike
Cassin's Vireo
Hutton's Vireo (double ouch!!)
Swainson's Thrush
Varied Thrush
American Pipit
Black-throated Gray Warbler
Western Tanager
Pine Siskin

It will take some time to tally up our contributions, but it looks like we are very close to receiving all of our $5000 challenge grant, making our contribution to the SCVAS education and conservation efforts a true victory!

Thanks to everyone on our team of cheerful birders, but more importantly to the many people who helped make this effort a success with their generous pledges of support. Your contributions are greatly appreciated by everyone on our team, and of course, by the Audubon chapter. The funds you have helped us collect will allow the education and conservation programs our community counts on to flourish in the coming year.
We couldn't do it without you! Thank you again!

Canada Goose
Wood Duck
Gadwall
American Wigeon
Mallard
Cinnamon Teal
Northern Shoveler
Northern Pintail
Green-winged Teal
Greater Scaup
Lesser Scaup
Surf Scoter
Bufflehead
Common Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Ring-necked Pheasant
Wild Turkey
California Quail
Pied-billed Grebe
Horned Grebe
Eared Grebe
Western Grebe
Clark's Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snow Egret
Black-crowned Night Heron
Turkey Vulture
White-tailed Kite
Bald Eagle
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Golden Eagle
American Kestrel
Peregrine Falcon
Clapper Rail
Virginia Rail
Sora
Common Moorhen
American Coot
Black-bellied Plover
Semipalmated Plover
Killdeer
Black-necked Stilt
American Avocet
Greater Yellowlegs
Willet
Spotted Sandpiper
Whimbrel
Marbled Godwit
Western Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
Dunlin
Short-billed Dowitcher
Long-billled Dowitcher
Bonaparte's Gull
Ring-billed Gull
California Gull
Herring Gull
Thayer's Gull

Western Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Caspian Tern
Forster's Tern
Rock Pigeon
Band-tailed Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Barn Owl
Western Screech Owl
Great Horned Owl
Northern Pygmy Owl
Burrowing Owl
Vaux's Swift
White-throated Swift
Anna's Hummingbird
Selasphorus species
Acorn Woodpecker
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Wesetern Wood Pewee
Hammond's Flycatcher
Pacific-slope Flycatcher
Black Phoebe
Ash-throated Flycatcher
Western Kingbird
Warbling Vireo
Steller's Jay
Western Scrub Jay
Yellow-billed Magpie
American Crow
Common Raven
Horned Lark
Tree Swallow
Violet-green Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Barn Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Oak Titmouse
Bushtit
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
Bewick's Wren
House Wren
Marsh Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Western Bluebird
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Wrentit
Northern Mockingbird
California Thrasher
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Orange-crowned Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Townsend's Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Wilson's Warbler
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Rufous-crowned Sparrow
Lark Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Grasshopper Sparrow
Fox Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Black-headed Grosbeak
Lazuli Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Brewer's Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
Hooded Oriole
Bullock's Oriole
Purple Finch
House Finch
Lesser Goldfinch
Lawrence's Goldfinch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow








Steven Creek Park/Picchetti Winery 04-14-07

The weather was too much with us... For the first 30 minutes of our walk, the gray sky looked as if it might hold, but then that changed. Within an hour of arriving at the park, it began to drizzle lightly, then more heavily, eventually turning into a very full rain. As a result, and as expected, birds were less vocal and remained somewhat hidden during our tour. We managed, however, to locate several target species, many of which by sound alone. We closed things down an hour early, skipping the picnic we had planned for Pichetti Winery.

Immediately after the group gathered at 8:00, our first Ash-throated Flycatcher of the season appeared on a nearby tree, calling several times before it moved on. We also heard the familiar songs of Orange-crowned Warbler from many directions, a jubilant Black-headed Grosbeak performing tirelessly, and somewhat further away, we heard the chatter of Bullock's Orioles. At the far end of the parking lot we detected the halting chet-chet-chet notes of a male Wilson's Warbler, and later were able to find the bird in a small oak.

The lower picnic area had many of these same birds, plus the repetitive Hutton's Vireo and a loudly calling Red-shouldered Hawk. We finally got a good look at several Black-headed Grosbeaks and a male Bullock's Oriole. A walk through the woods leading to the open area beyond failed to produce the Olive-sided Flycatchers we often see atop the upper leafless branches, but we did locate a Pacific-slope Flycatcher along the creek. We also tried taping for Northern Pygmy Owl, as the habitat seemed appropriate, and elicited an quick response (from Mike Mammoser) who was birding on the trail above... He had us going for a minute, and later said the same about us.

We then trudged on to the redwood picnic area where we found a pair of Western Wood Pewees near the creek and a Brown Creeper by voice in the dense woodland. Things began to get really wet in the upper picnic area, where we found a few Wild Turkeys foraging among the tables, and breeding-plumaged Yellow-rumped Warblers. This latter species was found in both its "Audubon's" and "Myrtle" form.

As it showed now signs of warming up or drying out, some people chose to leave at this point, while others reconvened at the reservoir. There we searched for the Common Loon that Bob Power's team had located a few hours earlier. No luck there, but we did spot a female Common Merganser as well as a Spotted Sandpiper. It bobbed its tail as it walked along the shore in its usual manner, before taking off with its stiff winged flight. A tame Canada Goose provided us with the opportunity to study the wing feather groups up-close and personal. Good thing I had my daytime laser for the presentation... Several species of Swallow were located over the water, Violet-green, Northern Rough-winged, Barn and Cliff. Oddly, no Tree Swallows were located.

Cricket and I ended up stopping at the winery after we said our goodbyes at the reservoir. We picked up a 2005 Sangiovese and a Pavone, both quite nice and among their less expensive bottles. The only other birds seen here were Eric Goodill, Jody McGeen, a pair of Smiths, two calling Peafowl, and a singing California Thrasher.

Canada Goose
Mallard
Common Merganser
Wild Turkey
California Quail
Pied-billed Grebe
Clark's Grebe

Double-crested Cormorant
Black-crowned Night Heron
Turkey Vulture
Cooper's Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
American Kestrel
Killdeer
Spotted Sandpiper
Caspian Tern
Band-tailed Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Anna's Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Acorn Woodpecker
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Western Wood Pewee
Pacific-slope Flycatcher
Black Phoebe
Ash-throated Flycatcher
Hutton's Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Steller's Jay
Western Scrub Jay
American Crow
Common Raven
Violet-green Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Barn Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Oak Titmouse
Bushtit
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
Bewick's Wren
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Wrentit
California Thrasher (Picchetti)
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Orange-crowned Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Townsend's Warbler
Wilson's Warbler
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Song Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Black-headed Grosbeak
Red-winged Blackbird
Brewer's Blackbird (Picchetti)
Bullock's Oriole
Purple Finch
House Finch
Lesser Goldfinch