SPRING 2010


Alum Rock Park 04-03-10 POSTED
Gilroy Hot Springs 04-17-10 POSTED
SCVAS Birdathon with Team DeDUCKtions 04-24-10 POSTED
Mitchell Canyon 05-01-10 POSTED
Sunol Regional Wilderness 05-08-10 POSTED
Mines Road / Del Puerto Canyon (Group 1) 05-15-10 POSTED
Mines Road / Del Puerto Canyon (Group 2) 05-22-10 POSTED
Mokelumne River Preserve / White Slough 05-29-10 POSTED

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



Mokelumne River Preserve / White Slough 05-29-10

As always, our final trip of the term was a great success! We began at the Mokelumne River Preserve. Nearly 6 months since our last visit to the area, we were very curious how the collection of species would differ. Generally speaking, we found many fewer Warblers than expected, but Flycatchers were numerous, and Sparrows were all but absent. Waterfowl was essentially the same. No Lewis's Woodpeckers were found, which was a bit surprising, but we can now say with some confidence they are winter visitants here.

The river was high, and flowing fast. Over it we had an abundance of Swallows, mainly Tree and Cliff with a few Northern Rough-winged mixed in. We got brief looks at Wood Duck, Common Merganser and Canada Geese overhead. Later we came across a pair of Wood Duck young foraging in a sheltered pond. A nice surprise, and one that brought with it some temporary confusion, was a Pacific-slope Flycatcher and a Willow Flycatcher in the same bush. Some urgent consultation with the field guide confirmed, Pacific-slopes, even as young birds show a prominent eye ring. Willow is fully expected in this area, nevertheless, Empidonax and confusion are synonyms.




Photo: Sonny Mencher

Rather quickly, we encountered Hummingbirds feeding in the blackberry patches. Of course our target was Black-chinned Hummingbird, and we found them in relative abundance. Anna's was also present, which allowed us to compare tail projection and foraging behavior


Photo: Sonny Mencher


It was becoming warm, and there were great numbers of Turkey Vultures in the sky. Frequent scanning upward produced a few other species. Red-shouldered hawk, Osprey, Swainson's Hawk and Bald Eagle. At one point we saw the Swainson's and Bald Eagle together, which made for some drama.



Photo: Phil Leighton


Photo: Phil Leighton


Photo: Phil Leighton


Spotted Sandpiper and American Dipper were seen by some members of the group. This latter species had not been seen in the preserve since January, and was presumed gone. We continued toward the dam, finding Black-headed Grosbeak and Lazuli Bunting in the flooded section. The rocky slope by the hatchery had a pair of Rock Wren, which foraged just beyond the fence in full view for some time.



Photo: Sonny Mencher


Photo: Phil Leighton


Photo: Sonny Mencher


As we made our way back to the parking area, we flushed two Barn Owls out of a huge oak tree and watched them fly around our heads and land across the meadow. After that excitement, it was off to the Hayshi's for our celebration potluck! The southwest banquet was enjoyed in the back yard as Black-chinned and Anna's Hummingbirds visited the feeders and wild sage. Thanks to everyone who brought amazing food!

Finally, it was off to White Slough for our last remaining target--Blue Grosbeak. It took a while. It was quite hot at this time, and only getting hotter. We walked along the ponds where we added Gadwall, Forster's Tern, Marsh Wren, and Common Yellowthroat to our list. A small group of White-faced Ibis flew over the water as well. The weedy patch beside the trail contained several Ash-throated Flycatchers, and Western Kingbirds, as well as Song Sparrow, but not our target. It wasn't until we reached the trees on the far side of the pond that we were successful. A brilliant male was first spotted by Tate, and a little playback brought it forward for the entire group to enjoy. There was also a second male, somewhat younger, and a female. A moment later we heard and saw a spectacular Lazuli Bunting and a Bullock's Oriole all in one scope view! Just SO much color...

Thanks to everyone for another great spring!


Photo: Sonny Mencher


Photo: Sonny Mencher


Canada Goose
Wood Duck
Gadwall
Mallard
Common Merganser
Wild Turkey
California Quail
Pied-billed Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
White-faced Ibis
Turkey Vulture
Bald Eagle
Northern Harrier
Red-shouldered Hawk
Swainson's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Killdeer
Spotted Sandpiper
Forster's Tern
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Barn Owl
White-throated Swift
Black-chinned Hummingbird
Anna's Hummingbird
Acorn Woodpecker
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Willow Flycatcher
Pacific-slope Flycatcher
Black Phoebe
Ash-throated Flycatcher
Western Kingbird
Warbling Vireo
Western Scrub Jay
Yellow-billed Magpie
American Crow
Common Raven
Tree Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Barn Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Oak Titmouse
Bushtit
White-breasted Nuthatch
Rock Wren
Bewick's Wren
House Wren
Marsh Wren
American Dipper
Western Bluebird
American Robin
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Orange-crowned Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Song Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Black-headed Grosbeak
Blue Grosbeak
Lazuli Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Brewer's Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
Bullock's Oriole
House Finch
Lesser Goldfinch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow





Mines Road / Del Puerto Canyon (Group 2) 05-22-10

ALAMEDA COUNTY:
Beginning at Murrietta's Well we found 4 Great Horned Owl, a small group of Band-tailed Pigeons and the usual Eurasian Collared Doves. Across the vinyard we spotted White-tailed Kite.


Photo: Sonny Mencher

We then headed up Mines Road, but stopped at the bridge shortly after the Del Valle junction. Several Yellow Warblers were present here, as well as Clff and Northern Rough-winged Swallows, Western Tanager, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Bullock's Oriole. A female Wild Turkey was moving along the creek below us and had 9 small chicks with her. We were impressed that these small birds could actually fly quite well, although not very far. Terribly cute...



Photo: Sonny Mencher

At about mp 5.5 we stopped to search for Phainopepla in the oaks below the road. We found several flying between the trees and over the road. Rufous-crowned Sparrow was also singing here and popped out for a look at our group. Other birds found on the way up the hill were Golden Eagle, Western Tanager, Warbling Vireo, Black-headed Grosbeak. Over by Ruth's Store we found several Yellow Warblers and a somewhat unexpected Townsend's Warbler, along with brilliant male Bullock's Orioles.

SANTA CLARA COUNTY:
The summit was rather quiet when we first arrived, but faint songs eventually began to emanate from the hillside. "Bell's" Sage Sparrow was a nice treat but a little far away to get a good look. A probable Dusky Flycatcher was working the gully below us. We got brief looks at it in good light. We all noticed its very grayish plumage, rounded head, eye ring slightly wider toward the back, long tail that was not bobbed like a Gray. Primary projection much shorter than Hammond's and very unlike it in general structure.

We had several Lazuli Bunting during the day, the first of which was a brilliant male near the cattle guard just before the Junction with DPC Road. South of the junction we found 2 or 3 Lewis's Woodpecker, nesting Lark Sparrow and Wood Duck.

Returning to the Junction, we headed down Del Puerto Canyon toward the Frank Raines campground. Purple Finch was heard from the car as we drove past the old Wood Duck pond just beyond the Junction along DPC Road. We stopped at the next small pond on the left to see the Tricolored Blackbird colony, along with a few Red-winged Blackbirds, American Coots and Pied-billed Grebes. The young Grebes were still wearing stripes.

STANISLAUS COUNTY:
As hoped, last week's Northern Pygmy Owl at the Frank Raines campground was heard and seen again in the trees just uphill from the restrooms. It perched above us and glared at us intensely. Like last week, some members of our group heard a second bird along the road, but we did no see it.



Photo: Sonny Mencher

Green Herons were seen in a couple of places beside the creek. Owl Rock was really active when we arrived in late afternoon. Olive-sided Flycatcher and Say's Phoebe were there and calling. Black Phoebe was nesting along the creek. Rock Wren, Great Horned Owl, White-throated Swifts....



Photo: Sonny Mencher

Graffiti Rock was our Costa's Hummingbird stop. We waited for about 15 minutes for the bird to arrive and then a spectacular male perched in the snaggy tree above the water in perfect light! A family of 3 Rock Wrens was busy working along the creek, as well as two female Lazuli Bunting.



Photo: Sonny Mencher

Wood Duck
Mallard
Wild Turkey
California Quail
Pied-billed Grebe
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Green Heron
Turkey Vulture
White-tailed Kite
Cooper's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Golden Eagle
American Kestrel
American Coot
Killdeer
Band-tailed Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Eurasian Collared Dove
Great Horned Owl
Northern Pygmy Owl
White-throated Swift
Anna's Hummingbird
Costa's Hummingbird
Lewis's Woodpecker
Acorn Woodpecker
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Dusky Flycatcher (probable)
Black Phoebe
Say's Phoebe
Ash-throated Flycatcher
Western Kingbird
Loggerhead Shrike
Warbling Vireo
Steller's Jay
Western Scrub Jay
Yellow-billed Magpie
American Crow
Common Raven
Horned Lark (Patterson Pass)
Violet-green Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Clliff Swallow
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Oak Titmouse
Bushtit
White-breasted Nuthatch
Rock Wren
Bewick's Wren
House Wren
Western Bluebird
Swainson's Thrush (heard at summit)
Wrentit
Northern Mockingbird
California Thrasher
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Phainopepla
Orange-crowned Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Townsend's Warbler
Western Tanager
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Rufous-crowned Sparrow
Lark Sparrow
Sage Sparrow
Black-headed Grosbeak
Lazuli Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Tricolored Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Brewer's Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
Bullock's Oriole
House Finch
Lesser Goldfinch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow






Mines Road / Del Puerto Canyon (Group 1) 05-15-10

ALAMEDA COUNTY:
We began at Murietta's Well where we found two Great Horned Owls in the eucalyptus above the farmhouse. Also present here were several Eurasian Collared Doves along the creek and a tree full of Band-tailed Pigeons on the far side of the vineyard.

The bridge just beyond the junction with Del Valle was unproductive for the most part. We continued up hill toward the summit, where we found a particularly productive monkey-flower and oak hillside that provided us with at least 6 Phainopeplas, all males. Wilson's Warbler, Warbling Vireo, Rufous-crowned Sparrow and Lazuli Bunting were also present as well as Ash-throated Flycatcher.

SANTA CLARA COUNTY:
The summit brought us face to face wth two brilliant male Lazuli Bunting, and Orange-crowned Warbler. Black-headed Grosbeak and California Thrasher were heard but not seen. Best bird at the cattle guard near the new firehouse was a Chipping Sparrow and three Western Tanagers in a large tree beside the new fire station. We were also successful at finding 2-3 Lewis's Woodpecker south of the junction along San Antonio Valley Road.

Heading down Del Puerto Canyon Road, we stopped at the left hand pond to see the colony of Tricolored Blackbirds, but also got Red-winged Blackbird, Green Heron, Belted Kingfisher, juvenile Pied-billed Grebe and juvenile American Coots. It was getting quite hot by early afternoon, and we made very few additional stops.

STANISLAUS COUNTY:
Frank Raines campground was thrilling because as we walked the road and explored the willows we heard a Northern Pygmy Owl somewhere near the restrooms. After some crisscrossing of the parking area and playing field we heard the bird change locations, and finally located the calling bird in the trees beside the field along the stone wall along the road. We watched it call for 10 minutes or so, and many photos were taken. We also had a second Pygmy Owl calling further up the road, but it was not seen. Wild Turkey strolled across the parking area.



Photo: Eric Goodill

At Owl Rock we had nesting Red-tailed Hawk, Say's Phoebe, Rock Wren, but now Owls. A little ways down the road at Graffiti Rock we found our target Costa's Hummingbird, as well as another pair of Rock Wren.
Western Kingbird and many Ash-throated Flycatcher were easily seen throughout the day.

ALAMEDA COUNTY:
After most folks split off to head home, our car made a tour of West Patterson Pass (from Hwy 580). We found a total of 4 Blue Grosbeak, beginning with one immature male in the deep gully where others had reported Western Tanager. Then two birds standing on the road and flying to the fence. BURROWING OWL was standing on a post as well. Four Loggerhead Shrike were found along the road in various places. At exactly 6.3 miles up from the gas station on Hwy 580 we had a brilliant adult male Blue Grosbeak, Black-headed Grosbeak and a surprise MacGillivray's Warbler in the underbrush beside the road. As we made our way toward Livermore, we spotted an additional Phainopepla.

Mallard
Wild Turkey
California Quail
Pied-billed Grebe
Green Heron
Turkey Vulture
Cooper's Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Golden Eagle
American Kestrel
American Coot
Killdeer
Rock Pigeon
Band-tailed Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Eurasian Collared Dove
Great Horned Owl
Northern Pygmy Owl
Anna's Hummingbird
Costa's Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Lewis's Woodpecker
Acorn Woodpecker
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Pacific-slope Flycatcher
Black Phoebe
Say's Phoebe
Ash-throated Flycatcher
Western Kingbird
Warbling Vireo
Western Scrub Jay
Steller's Jay
Yellow-billed Magpie
American Crow
Common Raven
Violet-green Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Barn Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Oak Titmouse
Bushtit
White-breasted Nuthatch
Rock Wren
Bewick's Wren
House Wren
Western Bluebird
American Robin
Wrentit
Northern Mockingbird
California Thrasher
European Starling
Phainopepla
Orange-crowned Warbler
Wilson's Warbler
Western Tanager
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Rufus-crowned Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow
Lark Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Black-headed Grosbeak
Lazuli Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Tricolored Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Brewer's Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
Bullock's Oriole
House Finch
Lesser Goldfinch
House Sparrow

After Trip (Patterson Pass)
Blue Grosbeak
MacGillivray's Warbler






Sunol Regional Wilderness 05-08-10

As always, this location served us well, with fantastic looks at a few spring targets, including a few first-of-season species. Weather was great, although the wind picked up late morning. Highlights included a female Wood Duck and three ducklings found by Sheila who explored creek beyond our turnaround, west of the foot bridge by the visitors center. A short Pygmy-Owl impersonation got at least three Cassin's Vireos singing and scolding in this same area, and nearby we also founb Yellow, Nashville, Orange-crowned, and Wilson's Warblers. We observed a peculiar behavior from the Warbling Vireos on the footbridge, who were disassembling another Vireo nest and taking the material upstream. The two Warbling Vs were working together, partners in crime.

On the south end of the park, we took the horse trail over the bridge and into the meadows. We got great looks at Pacific-slope Flycatcher in the canopy, and Olive-sided Flycatcher was perched above the bridge on a dead snag, Warbling Vireos, and Bullock's Orioles were squabbling in the oaks overhead, and the corral area afforded us great looks at a few singing Chipping Sparrows.


Photo: Brooke Miller

It was along the stretch that parallels the gray pine slope that we began seeing the most astonishing wave of Western Tanagers move through. It began by seeing a single tree that was filled with about 10 males. They, like all the others to follow, moved north along the canyon and out of sight. Next it was replaced by another, and another group of brilliant male, all stopping for a moment, and then moving on. We watched the parade of Tanagers for about 20 minutes as tree after tree served as a brief perch and the wave continued. An extremely conservative estimate of the number of Tanager males we saw in this area would be 50, but I suspect we were seeing far more! We did not even try to count the females, but they were present too.

We were unable to find the Rufous-crowned Sparrows in the chaparral hillside downhill from the river crossing. Our walk coincided with a loud dog-walking group, making it difficult to hear. We did get fleeting glimpses of two Lazuli Buntings in this area, as well as another Olive-sided Flycatcher.

Finally, on our return to the visitors center for lunch, some members spotted Lark Sparrow in the meadow between the two parking lots. We added California Quailk, and Yellow-billed Magpie as we ate lunch in
the shade. Not a single Black-headed Grosbeak or Western Wood Pewee today... We also noticed many fewer Bullock's Orioles than in years past, but many more Band-tailed Pigeons and of course record-breaking numbers of Western Tanagers! On the way home, we spotted a Loggerhead Shrikenear the nursery on Calaveras Road outside of Sunol and more Yellow-billed Magpies.

Malllard
Wood Duck (seen by 1)
Wild Turkey
California Quail
Turkey Vulture
White-tailed Kite
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Golden Eagle
American Kestrel
Band-tailed Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Anna's Hummingbird
Selasphorus species
Acorn Woodpecker
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Pacific-slope Flycatcher
Black Phoebe
Ash-throated Flycatcher
Western Bluebird
Loggerhead Shrike (Calaveras Road)
Cassin's Vireo
Hutton's Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Western Scrub Jay
Steller's 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
White-breasted Nuthatch
Bewick's Wren
House Wren
Western Bluebird
Wrentit
European Starling
Orange-crowned Warbler
Nashville Warbler (heard)
Yellow Warbler
Wilson's Warbler
Western Tanager
Spotted Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
Lark Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Lazuli Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Brewer's Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
Bullock's Oriole
Purple Finch
House Finch
Lesser Goldfinch






Mitchell Canyon 05-01-10

There were several birding groups present here today, along with a long train of horses. It was a little breezy, which may have affected our lower-than-usual selection of birds. Still, we had a wonderful visit, despite the missed species such as Olive-sided Flycatcher, Bullock's Oriole, or Lazuli Bunting... Cassin's Vireo was heard by the Leightons, but otherwise was missed. You just can't complain on an eight-Warbler day!

We didn't hike in as far as we have in the past because we got side tracked by one or two singing MacGillivray's Warbler and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher about 100 yards up the White Canyon Trail. Despite a good effort, we could not coax this wonderful skulking species out into the open, but we all heard the distinctive song. Also in this area was found a Costa's Hummingbird, unfortunately again, by sound alone, unless that tiny Hummingbird fleeing the area was the same Costa's. The unmistakable, thin and tinny whistled song was never connected to a perched bird, but he was there, somewhere... Meanwhile, we left a few folks at the bench by the main trail, and they too found a MacGillivray's, by sight!



Photo: Sonny Mencher

The large oak at the junction of the two trails was literally filled with several Warbling Vireos, Warblers, including Black-throated Gray, Hermit, Townsend's, Nashville, Orange-crowned, and Wilson's. What a treat that was! We were also lucky with Hammond's Flycatchers which were located in several spots along the main Mitchell Canyon Fire Trail, near enough to the more numerous Pacific-slope Flycatchers for easy comparison. Ash-throated Flycatchers were conspicuous during our walk, as were House Wrens. Over the quarry we spotted a number of Violet-green, Cliff and Northern Rough-winged Swallows foraging alongside White-throated Swifts. Only two Western Tanagers were seen by our group, and they were in the parking lot before everyone had arrived.

One soaring Golden Eagle was seen near our turnaround point a few, along with Red-shouldered Hawk a hundred yards beyond the White Canyon junction. A very satisifying day, remarkable for its complete lack of water birds, and prevalence of Warblers and other insectivores. Not surprising, in light of the terrain.

California Quail
Turkey Vulture
Cooper's Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Golden Eagle
American Kestrel
Band-tailed Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Great Horned Owl
White-throated Swift
Anna's Hummingbird
Costa's Hummingbird
Selasphorus species
Acorn Woodpecker
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Downy Woodpeckeer
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Western Wood Pewee
Hammond's 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
Common Raven
Violet-green Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Oak Titmouse
Bushtit
Whtie-breasted Nuthatch
Pygmy Nuthatch
Bewick's Wren
House Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Western Bluebird
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Wrentit
Northern Mockingbird
California Thrasher
European Starling
Orange-crowned Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Black-throated Gray Warbler
Townsend's Warbler
Hermit Warbler
MacGillivray's Warbler
Wilson's Warbler
Western Tanager
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Song Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Black-headed Grosbeak
Red-winged Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
House Finch
Lesser Goldfinch







SCVAS Birdathon with Team DeDUCKtions 04-24-10

After a 16+ hour day of birding for the SCVAS 2010 birdathon, our team, Team DeDUCKtions, consisting of Kitty Trejo, Tate and Curtis Snyder, Eric Goodill, Joan and Phil Leighton, Petra Kinsman, Petersen, Cricket and myself finished with 154 species.

We met as usual at the CostCo parking lot on Rengstorff at 4:00 am and caravanned up to Smith Creek.

Along the way we picked up GREAT HORNED OWL and TREE SWALLOW (foraging and calling before dawn) at Grant Lake. We tried for Common Poorwill and Western Screech Owl to no avail.

Smith Creek was very productive with highlights being VARIED THRUSH, PACIFIC-SLOPE and HAMMOND'S FLYCATCHER, CASSIN'S and WARBLING VIREOS. The dawn chorus was spectacular and lots of movement as the sun rose. We missed a few hoped-for species her, most notably Winter Wren we had seen here before. The meadow and oaks around the fire station produced HERMIT, BLACK-THOATED GRAY and NASHVILLE WARBLERS, as well as PYGMY NUTHATCH fly over WOOD DUCK.

Kincaid Road was very good to us with WESTERN KINGBIRD, ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER, LARK and CHIPPING SPARROWS. BULLOCK'S ORIOLES were now seen every few minutes, making it one of the most numerous birds we encountered on our travels.

Headed down to Twin Gates we found nothing new. We had hoped for Lazuli Buntin, and thought we heard it, but only distantly and not clearly enough to count. So no new birds until we reached our traditional turnout for RUFOUS-CROWNED SPARROW. We managed to find a male and female LAWRENCE'S GOLDFINCH here as well,

Reaching Grant Lake for the second time, this time in full light, we got the expected Waterfowl and BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON. Golden Eagle eluded us but not for lack of searching. Lots of CANADA GEESE and AMERICAN COOTS however. The TREE SWALLOWS and HOUSE WRENS were hard to miss.

Grant Park itself was our next stop, but produced little of note. The White-throated Sparrow of last year was just that.... LAST year. A larger group of CEDAR WAXWINGS flew through though.

We had originally planned to stop at Alum Rock but were doing well with many of the birds we expected to find there, so decided to skip it and head up to Sierra Road. There we managed a ROCK WREN, several HORNED LARKS and a very large group of AMERICAN PIPITS. In retrospect, we probably should have stopped at Alum Rock as we never did find Olive-sided Flycatcher...

Calaveras Reservoir gave us lovely looks at the pair of BALD EAGLES on their nest. We identified a place we thought might be good for Blue Grosbeak, and even stopped for a look and listen. No luck there. But a gentleman asked us if we'd like to see "his" Golden Eagle. We declined, confident we would find one at Ed Levin. Bad decision...

At Ed Levin we found a RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD but not other interesting Hummers at the purple flowers. Up hill we found a pair of GRASSHOPPER SPARROWS. No Golden Eagle, as suggested above.

At the VTA entrance off of Hwy 237 we found a single BURROWING OWL along the entrance road.

The Alviso EEC was very kind to us with loads of Gulls and Shorebirds. The only birds that came as slightly unexpected were a MEW GULL, and a pair of BLUE-WINGED TEAL. We learned the following day about the Long-eared Owl that was quietly awaiting discovery near the visitors center. Doh!

State and Spreckles was unproductive for Shorebirds or Gulls, but we actually came for the EURASIAN COLLARED DOVE, and found it over the road.

The Alviso Marina was quite good with both GREATER and LESSER SCAUP on the main pond, as well as the remainder of our Gulls, most notable was GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL. Also seen were WILLET, DUNLIN, SANDERLING, WESTERN and LEAST SANDPIPERS, all quite colorful!

Again a change of plans. Our intention was to go to Shoreline Lake and Charleston Slough, but as time was dwindling, we headed up to the third bridge on Stevens Canyon Road to find AMERICAN DIPPER. We saw a pair attending a nest.

Next was the Stevens Creek Reservoir where we found 4 more WOOD DUCK and at least 2 SPOTTED SANDPIPERS.

Pichetti Ranch was very slow, but we found CALIFORNIA THRASHER and 2 VAUX'S SWIFTS.

Gates of Heaven Cemetary was completely birdless, so no Hooded Mergansers for us this year...

Our final stop was back at Charleston Slough where we managed a number of interesting Shorebirds, including BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER in full breeding plumage, SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS, MARBLED GODWIT, BLACK SKIMMER, GREEN-WINGED TEAL, AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN, and PEREGRINE FALCON

We finished birding at about 8:30 pm with a female NORTHERN HARRIER as our last bird at Palo Alto Baylands. The low light made it difficult to tell a Duck from a Godwit so we decided to have our wrap up dinner at Hobbee's at Town and Country.

Thank you to all our supporters who gave so generously and motivated us to continue despite fatigue. Your contributions make an enormous difference to SCVAS.

Canada Goose
Wood Duck
Gadwall
American Wigeon
Mallard
Blue-winged Teal
Cinnamon Teal
Northern Shoveler
Northern Pintail
Green-winged Teal
Greater Scaup
Lesser Scaup
Surf Scoter
Bufflehead
Common Goldeneye
Ruddy Duck
Ring-necked Pheasant
Wild Turkey
California Quail
Pied-billed Grebe
Horned Grebe
Eared Grebe
Western Grebe
Clark's Grebe
American White Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Turkey Vulture
White-tailed Kite
Bald Eagle
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Peregrine Falcon
Sora
Common Moorhen
American Coot
Black-bellied Plover
Semipalmated Plover
Killdeer
Black-necked Stilt
American Avocet
Spotted Sandpiper
Greater Yellowlegs
Willet
Marbled Godwit
Sanderling
Western Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
Dunlin
Short-billed Dowitcher
Long-billed Dowitcher
Bonaparte's Gull
Mew Gull
Ring-billed Gull
California Gull
Herring Gull
Western Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Caspian Tern
Forster's Tern
Black Skimmer
Rock Pigeon
Band-tailed Pigeon
Eurasian Collared-Dove
Mourning Dove
Great Horned Owl
Burrowing Owl
Vaux's Swift
Anna's Hummingbird
Rufous Hummingbird
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
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
Cliff Swallow
Barn Swallow
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Oak Titmouse
Bushtit
White-breasted Nuthatch
Pygmy Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
Rock Wren
Bewick's Wren
House Wren
Marsh Wren
American Dipper
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Western Bluebird
American Robin
Varied Thrush
Wrentit
Northern Mockingbird
California Thrasher
European Starling
American Pipit
Cedar Waxwing
Orange-crowned Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon's)
Black-throated Gray Warbler
Townsend's Warbler
Hermit Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Wilson's Warbler
Western Tanager
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Rufous-crowned Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow
Lark Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Grasshopper Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Black-headed Grosbeak
Red-winged Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Brewer's Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
Hooded Oriole
Bullock's Oriole
House Finch
Lesser Goldfinch
Lawrence's Goldfinch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow








Gilroy Hot Springs 04-17-10

Spring breeding season is well underway, although perhaps a little later than we expected... We have for several years visited Gilroy Hot Springs in the hopes of locating some first-of-season migrants and we were certainly rewarded today. A few birds escaped detection, but not for lack of looking, but the beautiful, clear weather and warm conditions made for a wonderful day. If this weather holds, I think we can expect an excellerated pace to the arrival of breeding birds the next few days.

We began, as always, at Hunting Hollow on the back side of Henry Coe State Park. As luck would have it, a bicycle race was also scheduled for today, making the drive into the area a bit dodgy. Almost immediately after arriving, some of our target birds were heard and seen by members of the group. Pacific-slope Flycatcher was calling from the somewhere in the canopy up hill from us, and Ash-throated Flycatcher was briefly seen and heard. Warbling Vireo and Orange-crowned Warblers were clearly heard, but took some effort to locate by sight. Still, things were of to a good start and we hadn't even strayed from the parking lot yet!

As we strolled down the shaded road beside Coyote Creek we were treated to the boystrous songs of numerous House Wrens. Brown Creepers were found on several of the gnarled older trees and responded well to recordings. We kept a watchful eye on the treetops for any Contopus species, but they were not to be found today. A pair of Wood Ducks rose from the water and made a large loop around the area before disappearing upstream.

We walked for about a mile, passing through warm sunlit stretches and cool shaded patches. We heard Black-headed Grosbeaks almost continuously, and eventually got great looks through the scope at several males and females. Overhead, several Swallows were spotted, including Tree, Violet-green and Northern Rough-winged.



Photo: Petersen

As we reached an especially pretty section of the road, an area where scruby hillside looked over some isolated sycamores along the stony bank of the creek, we heard a distantly familiar sound. It was a thin, musical song. Could it possibly be one of our target species? Indeed, after a few hits from the iPod, we were able to see a vibrant Lazuli Bunting approach for a closer look. We were the intruders in this male's territory, and he wasn't going to be pushed around. He went from tree to tree, singing and calling defiantly. We let him win the contest, and then continued our walk, but only after admiring him for several minutes. He continued to sing after we left, and when we returned he could still be heard. Let's hope he finds a mate who appreciates his perfect song! The biggest surprise during our walk was an out-of-place young male Hooded Oriole! Not a single palm in the area...

Returning to the lot we had lunch, after which we relocated our cars to the far end of the road near the bridge. The area sounded essentially the same as where we had been earlier, with the addition of Hutton's Vireo song, Western Tanager briefly heard by several members of the group, a Wilson's Warbler and a single Cassin's Vireo heard in the distance by two. We saw very little in this area however, which was somewhat surprising. It seemed as if a few of our target species had not yet arrived in the area, at least not in the numbers we had come to expect, which made several of us wonder if migration was running a little later than previous years...

From there, we caravanned to Jamieson Road. There our first and only Yellow-billed Magpies, Bullock's Orioles, Western Kingbirds, Lark Sparrows and Barn Swallows were found. An adult Golden Eagle circled the area, and a Belted Kingfisher rose from the creek and flew up the creek as we arrived. The Yellow-rumped Warblers we saw along our route, and there were very few indeed, were in full breeding colors. At least three additional Lazuli Buntings were found further up the road. This truly beautiful area has always been a good area to look for the more open-area species, however, we missed Western Meadowlark. We ended the day at the dead end overlook, and watched as a Bobcat stalked ground squirrel in the field by the barn.

Canada Goose
Wood Duck
Gadwall
Mallard
Common Merganser
California Quail
Turkey Vulture
Osprey (seen by one car)
Accipiter species
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Golden Eagle
American Kestrel
Killdeer
Rock Pigeon
Band-tailed Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Anna's Hummingbird
Selasphorus species (heard)
Belted Kingfisher
Acorn Woodpecker
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker (heard)
Northern Flicker
Pacific-slope Flycatcher
Black Phoebe
Ash-throated Flycatcher
Western Kingbird
Hutton's Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Cassin's Vireo (heard)
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
Whtie-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
Bewick's Wren
House Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Western Bluebird
American Robin
Wrentit
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Orange-crowned Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Western Tanager (heard)
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Lark Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Black-headed Grosbeak
Lazuli Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Brewer's Blackbird
Hooded Oriole
Bullock's Oriole
Purple Finch
House Finch
Lesser Goldfinch







Alum Rock Park 04-03-10

Our first trip of the spring term was met with cooler than expected temperatures, but no rain. Overcast skies kept most insectivores hidden but several first-of-season sightings were made nevertheless. It's still early in the season and an exciting time to see birds on their way out of the area along side incoming migrant breeders.

The chatter of Bullock's Orioles in the eucalyptus trees above the Rustic Lands parking area gave us hope for the rest of the day. Within moments we had a glorious male in our sights, but it took several hours before we were able to glimpse our one female of the day. Also vocal at this first stop were several House Wrens busy establishing territory above and below the road. We were lucky enough to see one House Wren carrying nest material, but the nest itself seemed to be on the opposite side of the tree. Both Orange-crowned and Wilson's Warblers were singing repeatedly, and we spotted both along the creek. The Orange-crowned was particularly cooperative, remaining perched for quite some time and allowing scope views. We managed to spot a female Black-headed Grosbeak in a distant eucalyptus, but we weren't truly satisfied until after lunch when we finally saw a male. Odd, we could hear them singing most of the day...

Probably the most welcome discovery of the day was a Western Kingbird perched on the metal tower high above the road. We managed brief scope views of it, but it meant we would not need to climb all the way up the hill to add the bird to our list. Thanks Alfred! We did venture upslope for a bit however, because we had not been successful finding Rufous-crowned Sparrow near the overpass by the rock wall. Two hundred yards up, we heard the distinctive song and shortly after that we had two birds, presumably a mated pair, in full view by our group. Wow! I love that bird. Nearby we also found California Thrasher and Wrentit. Both male and female Wrentits could be identified simply by voice.

We returned to the lot after our short hike up hill, and relocated our cars by the upper stone bridge. A stroll through the mineral springs toward last year's Western Screech Owl proved unsuccessful, at least for that bird. I'm sure he could see us though... We noticed a general quiet to the area and surmised that the continued cool conditions were affecting the insect, and therefore bird, activity. Still, we heard an unfamiliar "teep!" call from a small tree. After a moment of staring into the foliage, we saw some movement and small portions of a bird. Lemony yellow belly, wing bars, eye ring... orangey-yellow lower mandible. All these bits and pieces were finally assembled and we could see our first-of-season Pacific-slope Flycatcher making short flights to capture insects. Of course, I was hoping for a grayer bird with a tighter eye ring, short black bill and long primary projection...

A quick lunch at the tables by the visitors center, and we were off again. Those that remained for the second portion hiked up the hill on the north side of the road through more Rufous-crowned habitat. We stopped at the first cluster of oaks and found a pair White-breasted Nuthatches, and a nest-building Bushtit. Shortly after that, we had obscured looks at our only female Bullock's Oriole and a male Black-headed Grosbeak. The tree these two birds were feeding in was also supporting several mid-molt Golden-crowned Sparrows, and a Wilson's Warbler. Good tree! We continued for a while longer, finding more of the same birds, but a noticeable slowing of activity. It was too early for Lazuli Buntings, but in a couple of weeks, perhaps they'll be singing for us.

As luck would have it, two target birds were heard-only additions to the list. Petra reported hearing Canyon Wren along the entrance road in an area unsuited for stopping. This species has been reported in the park before, but generally near the rock wall. As well Warbling Vireo was heard by Marion at Rustic Lands, and by Cricket and I as we drove out of the park. I'm certain we will have at least the Warbling Vireo as a group soon. Until then...

Mallard
Wild Turkey
California Quail (heard)
Double-crested Cormorant
Turkey Vulture
Osprey
Cooper's Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Golden Eagle
American Kestrel
Rock Pigeon
Band-tailed Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Anna's Hummingbird
Rufous Hummingbird
Elegant Trogon
Belted Kingfisher
Acorn Woodpecker
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Pacific-slope Flycatcher
Black Phoebe
Western Kingbird
Warbling Vireo (heard)
Steller's Jay
Western Scrub Jay
American Crow
Common Raven
Tree Swallow
Violet-green Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Oak Titmouse
Bushtit
White-breasted Nuthatch
Canyon Wren (heard)
Bewick's Wren
House Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet|
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Wrentit
California Thrasher
European Starling
Orange-crowned Warbler
Townsend's Warbler
Wilson's Warbler
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Rufous-crowned Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Black-headed Grosbeak
Bullock's Oriole