SPRING 2008


Stevens Creek Park 04-05-08 POSTED
Sunol Regional Wilderness 04-19-08 POSTED
SCVAS Birdathon with Team DeDUCKtions 04-26-08 POSTED
Gilroy Hot Springs 05-03-08 POSTED
Fremont Peak 05-10-08 POSTED
Mitchell Canyon 05-17-08 POSTED
Del Puerto Canyon and Mines Road 05-31-08 POSTED

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





Mitchell Canyon 05-17-08

Impressive for its beauty and abundant riparian habitat, Mitchell Canyon is a highlight destination during spring. In the past we have located good numbers of migrant Passerines here, some of which are uncommon. The past three days of extreme heat had an adverse affect on bird activity however, and while wildflowers were out in force, birds were rather scarce. To get a sense of how uncharacteristic today was, consider the fact that not a single Black Phoebe was logged... Certainly, the heat was playing a role in things, compelling many birds to remain hidden in the shade. When we returned for lunch the thermometer read 100 degrees and it seemed like the birds had the right idea.

The parking lot was being guarded by a gang of male Wild Turkeys, displaying to the nearby females, and to each other. One male began stomping his feet in some kind of advertisement, and when one bird gobbled, the others joined in immediately as if they reading sheet music. In the branches overhead we saw nesting Violet-green Swallows, Lesser Goldfinches, Western Bluebirds and heard our only Bullock's Oriole of the day.



Photo: Sonny Mencher


Photo: Sonny Mencher

As we walked into the canyon we paused repeatedly to identify birds by voice. In fact, this was absolutely necessary for much of the day, as many birds wisely chose to remain out of the blazing sun. Instead the often sung form the shadowy inner branches. House Wren, Warbling and Cassin's Vireos, Orange-crowned Warbler, Spotted Towhee and Purple Finch were all identified this way. Eventually we got looks at all of them, but it was satisfying to recognize them first by voice.

We continued up the trail, and Petersen calmly told me to "stop". His voice was so relaxed I didn't even think about why he might be telling me this. "Stop moving. Do not move. Step backwards. Look at your feet." His delivery was slightly more intense now, and I then saw why. At my feet, not more than two feet away was a young Rattle Snake. I did as I was told and watched where my feet were being placed more carefully from then on. Note to self... don't spend all my time looking in the trees. Thank you Kenneth Petersen!

A very nice surprise was a pair of Swainson's Thrushes poking around in the cooler oak woodland before the trail opened into the sun. We watched them for a few minutes, confirming that their tails indeed lacked the rusty tones of a Hermit Thrush. We then departed from the main trail in order to search for Calliope Hummingbird in the flowery slopes. Sticky monkey flower, sage, chemise, globe lily and beautiful reddish paintbrush and mariposas were all in bloom, but only one Hummingbird, Anna's, was located.

Another small detour brought us to the base of another large chemise and black sage slope. Nesting House Wrens, Black-headed Grosbeak and Lazuli Bunting were all found here. Rejoining the main trail, we got our first good looks at Cassin's Vireo, and additional Lazulis. At one point three species of Vireo, Orange-crowned Warblers, Black-headed Grosbeaks and Lazuli Buntings were all singing on top of one another. It required more than a little effort to sort through the overlapping sounds.


Photo: Sonny Mencher


Photo: Sonny Mencher

Further up trail we searched in vain for Western Tanager, only to find later near the parking area... We occasionally heard the wheezy call of Blue-gray Gnatcatcher as we made our way back down hill, and eventually got good looks at two as they flitted from tree to tree, scolding us in response to the recorded song. We left them in peace and broke for lunch, content with a modest list of birds, a rainbow of wildflowers and wonderful images of a truly glorious walk.

California Quail
Wild Turkey
Turkey Vulture
White-tailed Kite
Cooper's Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Rock Pigeon
Band-tailed Pigeon
Mourning Dove
White-throated Swift
Anna's Hummingbird
Selasphorus species
Acorn Woodpecker
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Western Wood Pewee
Pacific-slope Flycatcher
Ash-throated Flycatcher
Cassin's Vireo
Hutton's Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Steller's Jay
Western Scrub Jay
Common Raven
Violet-green Swallow
Northern Rough-winged 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
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Orange-crowned Warbler
Western Tanager
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Song Sparrow

Dark-eyed Junco
Black-headed Grosbeak
Lazuli Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
Bullock's Oriole
Purple Finch
House Finch
Lesser Goldfinch







Fremont Peak State Park 05-10-08

We began our tour of this lovely area with the unfamiliar song of the Yellow-rumped Warblers directly over our cars. This abundant wintering species is only an uncommon breeder in the bay area so its full voice is rarely heard. This time of year it not only performs its full song, but also acquires a shockingly pretty pattern of black, deep blue and yellow... quite a difference from the drab wintering birds.

We also toured the campground, finding Dark-eyed Juncos and their spotted young, Black-headed Grosbeak, Warbling and Cassin's Vireos. The first of many Townsend's Warblers was heard here as well. Many birds remained unseen today, as the trees were fully leaved and difficult to search. The deep coos of Band-tailed Pigeons were also heard, but it was a while before we found the birds by sight.


Photo: Patty McGann

Up the narrow trail toward the peak we walked, hearing a strange "kip-kip-kip" call that reminded me of either Ash-throated Flycatcher, or perhaps Red Crossbill. A moment later we found the source--an Olive-sided Flycatcher. It was doing what all Contopus Flycatchers do--sitting conspicuously on the top snag of a tree, occasionally hawking for flying insects, and then returning to the same spot. Oddly, it was joined by a single Lark Sparrow. I can't remember the last time we saw this latter species without a flock...



Photo: Patty McGann


Photo: Patty McGann

As we continued our hike up to the peak, we began to hear Western Wood Pewee, which provided a nice comparison to the Olive-sided. This bird was smaller, slimmer and less contrastingly marked. It's lower mandible was not as orangey-yellow and the bill somewhat shorter. It also had a completely different call. A moment later we heard the sweet notes of a Lazuli Bunting farther up hill. As we passed over the ridge to the other side the song became stronger and we located the brilliant blue bird in the trees nearby. The male moved downhill to the chaparral slope but later returned for a close inspection of the recorded song. The simple word "Blue" hardly captures the intensity of color we saw on the male. I wonder how one could possibly capture the extreme quality of color with mere words... There are so many options, none quite adequate: ultramarine, neon, azure, cerulean, cyanotic, pavonine, turquoise, sapphire, berylline. Extraordinary, electric blue!


Photo: Patty McGann

The air was getting quite warm by now, and we still had some distance to the top. On our way we began to hear the Rock Wren's quasi-mimetic song. Every few phrases it changed to a different sound, making it a challenge to recognize at times. Eventually, we found the bird, and several more. Clearly this habitat suits the species as we observed at least four individuals in a relatively small area.

Eric was the first to climb to the peak, followed by Ken and Barbara. We watched the troops from below as they surveyed the landscape from their lookout. Motivated by hunger, we marched down to the lot but stopped occasionally for interesting birds. We had additional looks at Lazuli Bunting, Selashorus Hummingbirds, Townsend's and Orange-crowned Warblers, and an intriguing Empidonax Flycatcher. The grayish color, squarish head with modest eye ring, short-ish tail, and relatively long primary projection led me to identify it as Hammond's. In addition to these visual features, it reacted to recorded voice of Hammond's, although it never vocalized in response. Still, I suppose there is some lingering uncertainty. Dusky cannot be completely ruled out.




Photo: Patty McGann

As we ate our lunch, Ash-throated Flycatchers and Western Wood Pewees vocalized above us and across the meadow. White-breasted Nuthatches foraged in the branches overhead and we had a Bullock's Oriole sing us briefly. The post picnic birding was a little slower, but we got fantastic looks at male and female Western Tanager in the campground. Still, the midday temperatures seemed to relax both humans and birds. We decided to head home but stopped twice along the way. The first location was an interesting near-alpine area with poor soil and a great many conifers. The dense scrub in between patches of scraggly pines brings a few birds to mind, such as Green-tailed Towhee, Hermit Warbler or even Red Crossbill. I expect all of them have at one point or another ended up in this microhabitat, but none were found today... It was pretty dead. We also paused at a steep slope with an extended patch of chaparral. Perfect habitat one might think for Black-chinned Sparrow. Again, no. But we did find California Thrasher and a very late Golden-crowned Sparrow.



Photo: Patty McGann


Photo: Patty McGann


Photo: Patty McGann


Photo: Ken Lillis


Photo: Ken Lillis

That was it for the official group trip, but a few cars joined us at the bottom of the hill before leaving the area altogether. Two Golden Eagles soared overhead, and a lush riparian area with dense willows and sycamores provided a heard-only Yellow-breasted Chat. A concentrated playback could not dig the bird out however. Still, this area seems like great habitat for future trips. Perhaps we'll bird here first, spend more time along the uphill section and add those uncommon birds to the official list.

California Quail
Turkey Vulture
White-tailed Kite (road)
Red-tailed Hawk
Golden Eagle (road)
Killdeer (road)
Band-tailed Pigeon
Mourning Dove
White-throated Swift
Anna's Hummingbird
Selasphorus Hummingbird
Acorn Woodpecker
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker (road)
Northern Flicker
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Western Wood Pewee
Hammond's Flycatcher
Pacific-slope Flycatcher
Black Phoebe
Ash-throated Flycatcher (road)
Western Kingbird (road)
Cassin's Vireo
Hutton's Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Steller's Jay
Western Scrub Jay
American Crow (road)
Common Raven (road)
Tree Swallow (road)
Violet-green Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Cliff Swallow (road)
Chestnut-backed Chickadee (road)
Oak Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Rock Wren
Bewick's Wren
House Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (road)
Western Bluebird
American Robin (road)
Wrentit
Northern Mockingbird (road)
California Thrasher (road)
European Starling
Orange-crowned Warbler
Yellow Warbler (road)
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Townsend's Warbler
Wilson's Warbler
Yellow-breasted Chat (road)
Western Tanager
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Lark Sparrow
Song Sparrow (road)
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Black-headed Grosbeak
Lazuli Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Western Meadowlark (road)
Brewer's Blackbird (road)
Brown-headed Cowbird (road)
Bullock's Oriole
Purple Finch
Lesser Goldfinch







Gilroy Hot Springs 05-03-08

This area is best birded in spring when nesting activity is high along the creek and some of our most colorful migrants have returned for the season. Today it was easy to imagine why this area attracts the birds. The water was flowing, nourishing the budding sycamores, and the willows were bright spring green. Flying insects were also present in good numbers, and it is they that support many of the breeding birds. The weather was absolutely wonderful for humans too. The air was warm and the sky was gleaming. The place was loud with the songs of Purple Finch, Black-headed Grosbeak and Warbling Vireo. You can probably tell, this is one of my favorite spring destinations...

First challenge was identifying a dull Flycatcher located high in a dead eucalyptus above the parking lot at Hunting Hollow. One might expect an Olive-sided here, and indeed we did find one on this tree later, but at this moment, the bird turned out to be a Western Wood Pewee. The lack of an "open vest" and the "freeeer..." call confirmed it. Overhead, an abundance of Violet-green Swallows called as they foraged on insects, while all around us, the busy-buzzy-trilling songs of House Wrens could be heard.

We strolled down the road spotting an occasional Common Merganser or Wood Duck as it flew down the creek. Ash-throated Flycatchers were numerous and fairly easy to spot as they perched mid level in the trees. Sparrow numbers seem to have dropped noticeably since our last class outing. Not a single Golden-crowned or White-crowned were logged today. They may still be present somewhere, but in this particular part of the county there were none to be seen. Various Woodpeckers were found including Northern Flicker, Nuttall's, Acorn and Hairy Woodpecker. It seems like we should have also found Downy, but for some reason we did not. Vireos were everywhere, and we had some world-class looks at Cassin's as a pair of them called back and forth in response to the iPod. Generally, we heard more birds than we saw... It was good practice.

Some of our target birds were not located however, namely Black-throated Gray Warbler and Western Tanager. We had seen both on previous trips, but even without them, our species list was larger. The real attraction of this area perhaps not in the huge variety of bird life, but shots at a few uncommon birds and some uncommonly pretty scenery. Our efforts to refind recently-reported Nashville and MacGillivray's Warblers and Northern Pygmy Owl were not rewarded with results. Oh well.

On the far end of Gilroy Hot Springs Road we stopped to bird the bridge and back end of Henry Coe State Park. Black Phoebe was nesting in what appeared to be an abandoned Barn Swallow nest. Also located in this area was Pacific-slope Flycatcher, several Purple Finch, and high over the ridge both Red-shouldered and Cooper's Hawks. As we explored the trail beside the river, we also came across a nest hole with House Wren frequently coming and going. Our best looks at Orange-crowned Warblers and Hutton's Vireos were also had here.

We returned to the Hunting Hollow parking lot for lunch, after which we continued along Canada Road toward the open area along Jameson Road. There we found our first Bullock's Orioles which were chattering in the willows along the creek. Also here were our first Tree Swallows of the day. We continued to find Western Kingbirds and a great many Yellow-billed Magpies. As hoped, Lazuli Bunting was heard singing on the hillside. We stopped, and soon found a brilliant male singing in an oak. Spectacular! We found one more singing on the ridge above the farm. It was farther away, and singing a little differently, but the quality of his voice was similar enough to recognize. It was the last bird we saw before we separated for the day.

Canada Goose
Wood Duck
Mallard
Common Merganser
California Quail
Green Heron
Turkey Vulture
Cooper's Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Golden Eagle
American Kestrel
Falco species
Killdeer
Rock Pigeon
Band-tailed Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Anna's Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Acorn Woodpecker
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Olive-sided Flycatcher
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
Barn Swallow
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Oak Titmouse
Bushtit
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
Bewick's Wren
House Wren
Western Bluebird
American Robin
Wrentit
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Orange-crowned Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Townsend's Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Wilson's Warbler
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Song Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Black-headed Grosbeak
Lazuli Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Brewer's Blackbird
Bullock's Oriole
Purple Finch
House Finch
Lesser Goldfinch


 




SCVAS Birdathon with Team DeDUCKtions 04-26-08

As with last year, we assembled a team of highly motivated birders for our all-day Santa Clara County adventure. Team DeDUCKtions was comprised of Mary Ann Allan, Leonie Batkin, Cynthia Berg, Juliette Bryson, Kelly Dodder, Matthew Dodder, Eric Goodill, Patty McGann, Sonny Mencher, Camille Moitozo, Kenneth Petersen, Ashutsoh Sinha, and Marilyn Waterman.

The excitement actually began on Friday night, beginning at 8:00 pm for a little owling. We met at the park-and-ride and headed up to Skyline Boulevard in the hope of finding Northern Saw-whet Owl. No luck there, but we did locate a Great Horned Owl perched on a phone pole near Gate 5 of Montebello OSP. Somewhat discouraged and eager to get some sleep, we returned to Hwy 280, retrieved the remaining cars and made a quick dash to Old Page Mill Road where we had often been successful with Western Screech Owl. Again we were not rewarded with the bird, but several members heard Barn Owl along the road. Well, by 11:00 most of us were at home and trying desperately to fall asleep, since start time was only a few hours away...

Five o-clock sharp the team was assembled at our traditional rendez vous, the Krispi Kreme parking lot at Rengstorff and Hwy 101. Dark-eyed Junco was already singing to us from the trees. A quick reorg of the cars allowed us to start driving again within minutes. Our first destination was Smith Creek, high above Grant Park in the San Jose hills. Faintly visible on the horizon was the sun, making me wonder why we hadn't gotten started even earlier.

By the time we arrived at Smith Creek, the sun was fully up and the creek was alive with song. American Robin, Black-headed Grosbeak, House Finch, and Bewick's Wren were all logged practically before we closed the car doors. The walk along the creek was pleasant and many additional birds began to appear. Pacific-slope Flycatcher and Ash-throated Flycatchers, Warbling and Cassin's Vireos, Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, Orange-crowned, Townsend's, Black-throated Gray and Hermit Warblers, Western Tanager. A lone Wild Turkey was quietly foraging in the meadow, and an unexpected Double-crested Cormorant flew overhead presumably toward the lake below us. We were off to a good start, but despite our efforts, no Northern Pygmy Owl would be found.

A brief detour to Kincaid Road produced additonal birds, but not the hoped-for Wood Duck. Instead we logged our first Western Kingbird and Bullock's Oriole, as well as Violet-green Swallow and Killdeer. We moved on. We were on a tight schedule.

Twin Gates was where we hoped to find some uncommon species that prefer open areas. We were pleased to find Lazuli Bunting here, always a crowd-pleaser, but not Lark Sparrows were present. Western Wood Pewee was calling from the trees below us bunches of Western Kingbirds an Bullock's were vocalizing in the huge oaks.

Again, many birds we had found in previous years were not located where we expected. The Rufous-crowned Sparrow for example could not be dug out from the chaparral area along Mount Hamilton Road. It hardly mattered though we got our first Wrentit here and in the trees directly beside our cars we had an amazing tree filled with excited insectivores. Townsend's, Black-throated Gray, and Hermit Warblers, Hammond's Flycatcher, Cassin's, Hutton's and Warbling Vireos... We could have stayed for a while but the clock was ticking.

As we continued downhill, some quick eyes and ears picked out Rufous-crowned Sparrow on the slopes and oddly, two Tricolored Blackbirds headed toward the lake. Hall's Lake itself was very productive with our first significant showing of Waterfowl, Golden Eagle, Belted Kingfisher, Spotted Sandpiper and many Swallows. The area surrounding the farmhouse in Grant Park proper was less active, but we did locate our first White-tailed Kite, Brown-headed Cowbird and Song Sparrow.

As everyone knows, it's often the urban birds that go uncounted on a big day, so we were careful not to forget them this time. As we made our way to Alum Rock Park, we located Northern Mockingbird and House Sparrow along White Avenue.

Perhaps the greatest error I made in planning the day was spending so much time at Alum Rock Park. We logged only two new birds here. Common Raven and Mallard... funny how we hadn't gotten these earlier, but somehow we hadn't. We had a nice lunch at the picnic tables, keeping our eyes open for anything new. Sadly, the Western Screech Owl was not visible in its traditional nest hole.

Our time along Sierra Road was very productive. Lark Sparrow appeared as we climbed up the grassy hills. And shortly after that we spotted Horned Lark on a fence post. Moments later we were seeing and hearing more Horned Larks and very surprisingly a large flock of American Pipits, many wearing full breeding colors. Our only Loggerhead Shrike was also found here.

Another detour to find the nesting Bald Eagle on Calaveras Reservoir was successful. Two motorcyclists were also resting in the shade of observation area. We let them look through our scopes at the adult in the nest, which they enjoyed quite a bit.

Another stop, which proved less helpful to our count than hoped, was Ed Levin Park. There were so many possibilities here, but only one, White-throated Swift was located. We broke up here; with smaller teams hiking up to the sycamores, others surveying the flowers near the dog run, others scoping the pond. No one reported great results, and fatigue was definitely setting in. We wrapped up our visit here with some scope-filling views of the Great Horned Owl nestling beside the lake.

The Alviso EEC was hugely helpful for our spirits. Immediately upon passing the gate, we logged new Shorebirds. Western and Least Sandpiper, Black-necked Stilt, American Avocet, and Short-billed Dowitcher (Long-billed was found a bit later). Northern Pintail was also spotted in the shallow ponds and on the power lines we found an adult Peregrine Falcon. When we reached the parking area, we exited the cars to find Eurasian Collared Dove perched above us. We found more of this beautiful species later as well. The salt ponds provided our best Gull assortment with Bonaparte's, California, Ring-billed, Western, Glaucous-winged AND a very late Thayer's Gull. The reeds contained several chattering Marsh Wrens.

The State and Spreckles intersection had many of the same Shorebirds we'd already logged, plus quite a few Dunlin in full breeding colors. WOW, are they beautiful this time of year! We stopped at the Jubilee Christian Church to find Burrowing Owl, Ring-necked Pheasant before moving on.

The next stop was Sunnyvale Water Pollution Control Ponds (SPWCP) where Snowy Egret, Green Heron and Black-crowned Night Heron were easily found in the channel leading beside the trail. Also located, but with some more effort was Common Moorhen, Caspian Tern.

Shoreline Lake was next, via the Charleston Slough entrance along Terminal Way. Our targets were Surf Scoter, any lingering Grebes and hopefully the recently reported Red-throated Loon. Well one out of three isn't horrible, I guess. We came away with Surf Scoter, but added Black Skimmer, Willet and Marbled Godwit as well. The Mountain View Forebay contained Sora, Long-billed Dowitcher, Green-winged Teal and Lesser Scaup.

We were really getting tired by now, and we had reached that point where we had to make some sacrifices to maximize our results. We opted to skip Palo Alto Baylands and speed to Steven's Creek Reservoir. We wanted Osprey, but got Common Merganser and Wood Duck instead. OK! Let's move.

Finally, we visited McClellan Ranch where Hooded Oriole was easily found in the palm trees, and our last bird of the day, just as the sun was beginning to fade below the hills, was a Sharp-shinned Hawk. We were careful to examine all the features to ensure we were not mistaking a male Cooper's, but it passed the test.

This year's effort was a huge success. In the end we logged 144 species, down slightly from last year, but no matter. It was still a rewarding day filled with laughter and great discoveries. Due to the generous support of our many sponsors, who helped us meet the $5000 dollar-for-dollar challenge offered by Leonie Batkin, our team will be contributing in excess of $10,000 to SCVAS. Thank you also to our 12 eager team members, who happily endured long hours without sleep, long drives with very few restroom stops, way too little sleep and periods of slow birding. You all deserve a huge thank you. Your support will help Audubon continue its wonderful education and conservation efforts. So THANK YOU once again! Now get some rest, and think about next year!

Chronologic List (prepared by Eric Goodill):
Great Horned Owl Montebello gate 5
Barn Owl Old Page Mill Road
Dark-eyed Junco Costco parking lot
Steller’s Jay Smith Creek
Spotted Towhee Smith Creek
California Towhee Smith Creek
Bewick’s Wren Smith Creek
Black-headed Grosbeak Smith Creek
Black Phoebe Smith Creek
House Wren Smith Creek
American Crow Smith Creek
California Quail Smith Creek
Wild Turkey Smith Creek
Great Blue Heron Smith Creek
Brown Creeper Smith Creek
American Robin Smith Creek
Band-tailed Pigeon Smith Creek
Cassin’s Vireo Smith Creek
Chestnut-backed Chickadee Smith Creek
Black-throated Gray Warbler Smith Creek
Wilson’s Warbler Smith Creek
Purple Finch Smith Creek
Warbling Vireo Smith Creek
Orange-crowned Warbler Smith Creek
Western Tanager Smith Creek
Hermit Warbler Smith Creek
Pacific-slope Flycatcher Smith Creek
Townsend’s Warbler Smith Creek
Nuttall’s Woodpecker Smith Creek
Red-tailed Hawk Smith Creek
Acorn Woodpecker Smith Creek
Downy Woodpecker Smith Creek
Ash-throated Flycatcher Smith Creek
Hermit Thrush Smith Creek
Hairy Woodpecker Smith Creek
Western Scrub-Jay Smith Creek
Yellow-billed Magpie Smith Creek
Golden-crowned Sparrow Smith Creek
Lesser Goldfinch Smith Creek
Double-crested Cormorant Smith Creek
Oak Titmouse Smith Creek
Anna’s Hummingbird Smith Creek
Hutton’s Vireo Smith Creek
Western Bluebird Smith Creek
Northern Flicker Smith Creek
California Thrasher Smith Creek
Northern Rough-winged Swallow Smith Creek
White-breasted Nuthatch Smith Creek
Cedar Waxwing Smith Creek
European Starling Kincaid Road
American Goldfinch Kincaid Road
Red-winged Blackbird Kincaid Road
Western Kingbird Kincaid Road
Common Yellowthroat Kincaid Road
Brewer’s Blackbird Kincaid Road
Bullock’s Oriole Kincaid Road
Killdeer Kincaid Road
Violet-green Swallow Kincaid Road
Yellow-rumped Warbler Kincaid Road
Turkey Vulture Twin Gates
Mourning Dove Twin Gates
Western Wood-Pewee Twin Gates
Tree Swallow Twin Gates
Lazuli Bunting Twin Gates
House Finch Twin Gates
Hammond’s Flycatcher Rufous-crowned Sparrow turnout
Wrentit Rufous-crowned Sparrow turnout
Tricolored Blackbird Driving
Rufous-crowned Sparrow Driving
Bufflehead Grant Lake
Golden Eagle Grant Lake
Western Grebe Grant Lake
Least Sandpiper Grant Lake
Belted Kingfisher Grant Lake
Spotted Sandpiper Grant Lake
Cinnamon Teal Grant Lake
Pied-billed Grebe Grant Lake
Great Egret Grant Lake
Canada Goose Grant Lake
Gadwall Grant Lake
American Coot Grant Lake
Ruddy Duck Grant Lake
Cooper’s Hawk Grant Lake
Red-shouldered Hawk Grant Lake
Rock Pigeon Grant Lake
Cliff Swallow Grant Lake
Savannah Sparrow Grant Lake
Barn Swallow Grant Ranch
White-tailed Kite Grant Ranch
Brown-headed Cowbird Grant Ranch
White-crowned Sparrow Grant Ranch
Song Sparrow Grant Ranch
Bushtit Grant Ranch
Northern Mockingbird Driving
House Sparrow Driving
Western Meadowlark Driving
Common Raven Alum Rock Park
Mallard Alum Rock Park
American Kestrel Driving
Lark Sparrow Sierra Road
Horned Lark Sierra Road
American Pipit Sierra Road
Loggerhead Shrike Sierra Road
Bald Eagle Calaveras Road
White-throated Swift Ed Levin
Western Sandpiper Alviso EEC
Black-necked Stilt Alviso EEC
Semipalmated Plover Alviso EEC
American Avocet Alviso EEC
Northern Harrier Alviso EEC
Short-billed Dowitcher Alviso EEC
Northern Pintail Alviso EEC
Peregrine Falcon Alviso EEC
Eurasian Collared-Dove Alviso EEC
Forster’s Tern Alviso EEC
Bonaparte’s Gull Alviso EEC
Thayer’s Gull Alviso EEC
Northern Shoveler Alviso EEC
Glaucous-winged Gull Alviso EEC
California Gull Alviso EEC
American White Pelican Alviso EEC
Ring-billed Gull Alviso EEC
Western Gull Alviso EEC
Marsh Wren Alviso EEC
Dunlin State & Sprec kles
Burrowing Owl Driving
Ring-necked Pheasant Jubilee Church
Green Heron Sunnyvale WPCP
Snowy Egret Sunnyvale WPCP
Black-crowned Night-Heron Sunnyvale WPCP
Common Moorhen Sunnyvale WPCP
Caspian Tern Sunnyvale WPCP
Clark’s Grebe Shoreline Lake
Surf Scoter Shoreline Lake
Black Skimmer Shoreline Lake
Willet Shoreline Lake
Marbled Godwit Shoreline Lake
Sora Mountain View Forebay
Long-billed Dowitcher Mountain View Forebay
Green-winged Teal Charleston Slough
Lesser Scaup Charleston Slough
Common Merganser Stevens Creek Reservoir
Wood Duck Stevens Creek Reservoir
Hooded Oriole McClellan Ranch
Sharp-shinned Hawk McClellan Ranch

Taxonomic List:

Canada Goose
Wood Duck
Gadwall
Mallard
Cinnamon Teal
Northern Shoveler
Northern Pintail
Green-winged Teal
Lesser Scaup
Surf Scoter
Bufflehead
Common Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Ring-necked Pheasant
Wild Turkey
California Quail
Pied-billed Grebe
Western Grebe
Clark's Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Green Heron
Black-crowned Night Heron
Turkey Vulture
White-tailed Kite
Bald Eagle
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Golden Eagle
American Kestrel
Peregrine Falcon
Common Moorhen
American Coot
Semipalmated Plover
Killdeer
Black-necked Stilt
American Avocet
Willet
Spotted Sandpipere
Marbled Godwit
Western Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
Dunlin
Short-billed Dowitcher
Long-billed Dowitcher
Bonaparte's Gull
Ring-billed Gull
California Gull
Thayer's Gull
Western Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Caspian Tern
Forster's Tern
Black Skimmer
Rock Pigeon
Band-tailed Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Eurasian Collared Dove
Barn Owl
Great Horned Owl
Burrowing Owl
White-throated Swift
Anna's Hummingbird
Allen's Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Acorn Woodpecker
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Western Wood Pewee
Hammond's Flycatcher
Pacific-slope Flycatcher
Black Phoebe
Ash-throated Flycatcher
Western Kingbird
Loggerhead Shrike
Cassin's Vireo
Hutton's Vireo
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
Western Bluebird
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Wrentit
Northern Mockingbird
California Thrasher
European Starling
American Pipit
Cedar Waxwing
Orange-crowned Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Gray Warbler
Townsend's Warbler
Hermit Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Wilson's Warbler
Western Tanager
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Rufous-crowned Sparrow
Lark Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Black-headed Grosbeakj
Lazuli Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Tricolored Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Brewer's Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
Hooded Oriole
Bullock's Oriole
Purple Finch
House Finch
Lesser Goldfinch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow






Sunol Regional Wilderness (and Calaveras Reservoir) 04-19-08

It seems fitting that after a week in Southeast Arizona, our first trip upon returning would be to an lush riparian area characterized by large sycamores and a shallow creek. While there were no Elegant Trogons in evidence, there was plenty of activity to keep us interested on this cool, partly cloudy morning.

The first birds heard after opening our car doors were several chattering Bullock's Orioles in the trees overhead. As we crossed the bridge several Cassin's Vireos were heard and soon found. Also vocalizing here were Warbling and Hutton's Vireos, along with Orange-crowned Warblers. The place was loud with song, but it wasn't long before additional birds were detected in the area, most notably Black-throated Gray and Nashville Warblers. We had only travelled a hundred feet or so and it was already a great start!


Photo: Patty McGann

We strolled upstream finding Ash-throated Flycatcher in the usual area as well as numerous House Wrens. The Swallow turnout was surprising in that no Trees were located, but Northern Rough-winged, Violet-green were abundant. Up toward the meadow we found our first Golden Eagle of the day, followed by another four within minutes. Unfortunately, the only Lazuli Bunting we encountered was only briefly viewed, and not by everyone. But its appearance was a nice sign of the advancing season. We'll continue looking for them on future outings.


Photo: Sonny Mencher


Photo: Patty McGann


Photo: Sonny Mencher


Photo: Patty McGann


Photo: Patty McGann


Doubling back and continuing past the bridge we had a most unexpected Chipping Sparrow, bathing in the creek. We'd been looking and listening for them in the open area behind us, so finding it in these tight quarters was a bit of a surprise. A bit of coaxing got the bird to sing and we were able to compare its flat, mechanical trill to the nearby Dark-eyed Junco's melodiuous, ringing trill.

Back at the bridge we found our first Western Tanager. A short time later we found it again, this time with a Bullock's Oriole perched beside it. Wow! That's a lot of color for a single branch... Time for lunch. A group leader from Livermore Adult School informed us that they had found a White-throated Sparrow near the visitors center, but we were not able to relocate it. Instead we had a Golden Eagle fly directly over our picnic tables as we ate.


Photo: Sonny Mencher


Photo: Sonny Mencher


Photo: Patty McGann


Photo: Patty McGann


Photo: Patty McGann


Photo: Patty McGann


Photo: Patty McGann


Photo: Sonny Mencher


The trail located at the far end of the meadow is where we went next. This wide open area gave us a good shot at addtional species, such as Lawrence's Goldfinch, Western Meadowlark or Grasshopper Sparrow, however none of them were found. Instead we spotted two Contopus Flycatchers perched high in the dead conifers on the ridge. One was clearly an Olive-sided Flycatcher due to the white patches on the rump, the other a possible Western Wood Pewee. Another dead conifer, not quite so far away, contained three Western Tanager males. As the trail climbed above the creek we began to hear Black-headed Grosbeak, which was later found. Also present here was a Downy Woodpecker and as expected, several Rufous-crowned Sparrows in the chaparral hillside.


Photo: Sonny Mencher


Photo: Patty McGann

Before closing up for the day, we paused along Calaveras Road to view the Bald Eagle nest in the tower. The nest is huge, and visible in it was an adult, presumably sitting on eggs. The othe adult was seen flying over the reservoir, but never approached the tower. Yellow-billed Magpies were walking on the hillside, and oddly, there were still no Western Meadowlarks counted.

Canada Goose
Mallard
Common Merganser
Wild Turkey
California Quail
Turkey Vulture
White-tailed Kite
Bald Eagle
Cooper's Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Golden Eagle
American Kestrel
Band-tailed Pigeon
Mourning Dove
White-throated Swift
Anna's Hummingbird
Acorn Woodpecker
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Pacific-slope Flycatcher (heard only)
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
Violent-green Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Barn Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Oak Titmouse
Bushtit
White-breasted Nuthatch
Bewick's Wren
House Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Western Bluebird
American Robin
California Thrasher
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Orange-crowned Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Gray Warbler
Western Tanager
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Rufous-crowned Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Fox Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Black-headed Grosbeak
Lazuli Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Bullock's Oriole
Purple Finch (heard only)
House Finch
Lesser Goldfinch









Stevens Creek Park and Picchetti Ranch 04-05-08

Today's trip was our first opportunity to search for spring migrants of the new term. Reports of breeding bird arrivals have taunted us for at least two weeks, and Stevens Creek helped us get in on some of that excitement. It was cool in the morning, clearing by eleven o'clock and becoming quite warm by early afternoon.

Upon our arrival, the fluttering trill of Orange-crowned Warblers could be hear nearly everywhere around us. Soon after that we began to hear the squeaky, up-and-down notes of Warbling Vireo--two songs that would become quite familiar within a short time. One of the first birds we actually saw was a California Thrasher, which sang boldly from a small tree and then moved back into cover. After that, we made our way toward the Chestnut Picnic Area, passing closely to the creek where we spotted a male and female Wood Duck. They were uncommonly cooperative, and allowed us all to admire them for a few moments before they flew up stream. The picnic area provided us our first looks at Bullock's Oriole in the eucalyptus trees. We saw the male first, but eventually saw the female as well. She was constructing a nest with grassy material and fishing line. In the upper branches of eucalyptus we could hear a variety of birds including Warbling Vireo, Yellow-rumped, Orange-crowned, Townsend's and Black-throated Gray Warblers. Eventually, we found them, but all wished we'd gotten a better look at the Black-throated Gray. From the willows by beside the restrooms we could hear another Warbling Vireo and our first Wilson's Warbler. Both birds were eventually seen by the group after a little playback and old-fashioned pishing. At one point we also heard the upward whistle of a Pacific-slope Flycatcher, but never did get a look at the bird. High overhead, almost out of view, was a Golden Eagle.



Photo: Sonny Mencher


Photo: Patty McGann


Photo: Patty McGann


Photo: Patty McGann


Photo: Patty McGann


Photo: Patty McGann


Photo: Patty McGann


Photo: Patty McGann


Photo: Sonny Mencher

We made our way down the entrance road toward the Baytree Picnic Area. Along the way heard Cassin's Vireo uphill from the road. We would find it later. After finding very little on this southern portion of the road, we backtracked and encountered our first Black-headed Grosbeak, a female. It was the "spit!" call that first alerted us to her presences, and with a little searching, we were able to see her. Both Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers were detected along the road as we continued up to Villa Maria. We saw quite a few Band-tailed Pigeons flying over the hills, in small groups of between three and ten. Without the many loud volleyball players and picnickers the orchard area was very peaceful and full of songs. Purple Finch, White-breasted Nuthatch, Lesser Goldfinch, Wrentit... most excitingly we heard and saw the Cassin's Vireo. Another "FOS"!



Photo: Patty McGann


Photo: Patty McGann


Back to the lower lot and a quick drive up the road, provided us with an entirely new habitat. The reservoir contained Double-crested Cormorant, Western Grebe, American Coot, and Common Merganser. Across the water, perched in a tree was an Osprey, perhaps the same one we had spotted earlier. It took a flight over the water and at one point dove straight into the water, emerging a moment later with a squiggling fish. Wonderful! It took us longer than anticipated to find the Spotted Sandpiper, and our looks were brief. It flushed from the beach area by the road, and flew out of the cove and toward the boat ramp. Out of sight.


Photo: Patty McGann


Photo: Patty McGann

We broke for lunch at the Picchetti Winery, sampled a little wine and sat in the shade. After lunch, a few people remained to circle the pond but no additional birds were found. It was a beautiful day, and a more than satisfying start to the spring term.


Photo: Patty McGann


Wood Duck
Mallard
Common Merganser
California Quail
Western Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Turkey Vulture
Osprey
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Golden Eagle
American Coot
Spotted Sandpiper
Band-tailed Pigeon
Mourning Dove
White-throated Swift
Anna's Hummingbird
Acorn Woodpecker
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Pacific-slope Flycatcher
Black Phoebe
Cassin's Vireo
Hutton's Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Steller's Jay
Western Scrub Jay
American Crow
Violet-green Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Barn Swallow
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Oak Titmouse
Bushtit
White-breasted Nuthatch
Bewick's Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Western Bluebird
American Robin
Hermit Thrush
Wrentit
California Thrasher
European Starling
Orange-crowned Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Gray Warbler
Townsend's Warbler
Wilson's Warbler
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Song Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Black-headed Grosbeak
Bullock's Oriole
Purple Finch
House Finch
Lesser Goldfinch