SPRING 2011

Alum Rock Park 04-09-11 POSTED
Gilroy Hot Springs / Jamieson Road 04-16-11 POSTED
SCVAS Birdathon with Team DeDUCKtions 04-23-11 POSTED
Mitchell Canyon 04-30-11 POSTED
Sunol Regional Wilderness 05-07-11 POSTED
Del Puerto Canyon / Mines Road (Team 1) 05-14-11 POSTED
Del Puerto Canyon / Mines Road (Team 2) 05-21-11 POSTED
Cosumnes River Preserve / White Slough 05-28-11 POSTED
Año Nuevo State Park 06-02-11 POSTED

Note
: Trip reports for each of the above outings will be posted on this site before the next class meeting.



Del Puerto Canyon / Mines Road (Team 1) 05-14-11

Today's trip to this seasonal hot-spot was made even more exciting than usual because we had a visiting birder from Sweden joining us for his first-ever birding experience in the United States. Jan, a collegue of Eric's, had contacted Eric weeks earlier and asked for some advice on birding in the area. Eric was thrilled at the chance to return the favor, since he had been Jan's birding guess earlier on a similar trip to Sweden. I suggested he bring him along on the all-day tour, 3-county tour and we would see what we could find for his friend. What an opportunity! This would be Jan's first ever visit the United States, and the possible list of species... well, you can imagine how excited he was!

Beginning at the Patterson convience stop, we began with Western Kingbird, Wilson's Warbler, Brewer's and Red-winged Blackbirds, and Bullock's Oriole by the palm-lined fountain beside the snack shop. We had already managed to pick off Northern Rough-winged, and Cliff Swallows by the underpass, as well as a Swainson's Hawk along Hwy 5. The day was already great and we hadn't even met our entire group yet.

As anticipated, the first two miles of Del Puerto Canyon was not very productive—no Blue Grosbeak or Grasshopper Sparrows were found in their historic spots. However, Western Meadowlark and Loggerhead Shrike were more than enough cause for celebration. We drove on, passing a number of Western Kingbirds and paused by the first patch of Tree Tobacco above the creek. An Anna's Hummigbird was posted here but no other Hummingbirds. Still, we all got a good close look at the plant we would montior as we continued our search. Along the shoulder we saw a number of Horned Larks, and on the rocks above the creek we heard and saw our first Rock Wren. A Belted Kingfisher was also seen as it made its way up and down the waterway.

Onward, and a very birdy stretch of cottonwood. We began to hear Rufous-crowned Sparrow, but it would be another few stops before we viewed the bird. Bullock's Oriole chattered away and appeared to be nesting here. There was also the constant song of Rock Wren which we saw perhced on a bush just across from our cars. In dashed in and out of a small crevice in the rocks, which we took to be a nest. Then we heard a very distinct "tink!". A moment later we saw our first real target of the tour, a saturated purplish-navy Blue Grosbeak that had just emerged from a bath in the creek. Incredible!



Photo: Caroline Lambert

|
Sketch: Matthew Dodder

We walked the entire length of the grove and finally reached the famous "Painted (or Grafitti) Rock". As hoped the male Costa's Hummingbird was found feeding on small white flowers and then whizzing past us and coming to land on the Tree Tobacco. We admired this bird for some time. Some of us could hear the increbibly high 12,000 Hz song of the bird. Quite amazing sound really!



Photo: Caroline Lambert


Sketch: Matthew Dodder


Our next stop was "Owl Rock". Another male Costa's was found here, as well as three different male Phainopeplas, one flying just above our heads and landing not far away. We never did see a female, but one of the birds made repeated visits to a hidden area beneath a large patch of mistletoe over our cars... perhaps a nest. Also found in this area was our first Say's Phoebe, several White-throated Swifts, an Ash-throated Flycatcher and a Barn Owl perhed just outside a small cave in the rock wall.



Photo: Caroline Lambert


Photo: Caroline Lambert


Photo: Caroline Lambert


Sketch: Matthew Dodder

We made a few less productive stops along the way for a heard-only Purple Finch, and areas that just looked interesting, but generally things began to slow down a bit. We guaged this by how many lifers Jan was getting each time we opened the doors. Activity, and lifers, picked back up at the "Canyon". There we heard and saw Rufous-crowned Sparrow, and a spectacular Canyon Wren singing away in perfect view. Yet another Rock Wren was found here as well.

Frank Raines park for lunch was pleasant, but not as birdy as previous years. We had one Lawrence's Goldfinch over the restrooms, many House Wrens, but littl else. Despite lots of whistling, no Northern Pygmy Owl for our group this year. We'll try again next week.

Up the long hill, and a stop among the pines near the border between Stanislaus and Santa Clara County produced our first White-breasted Nuthatch and a group of Wild Turkeys. We had already seen California Quail on several occasions in the valley.

We passed a wide patch of chaparral on the left of the road where in years past we have found Sage Sparrow. Today we found several singing California Thrashers, nesting Say's Phoebe, a few heard-only Warbling and Hutton's Vireos, and a gleaming male Yellow Warbler as well as a male Nashville Warbler.

The "Tricolored Pond" was cacophony of peculiar sounds from the colony of Tricolored Blackbirds. Alto seen here were a few Red-winged Blackbirds, an American Coot family as well as Pied-billed Grebe with chicks. We searched for Sonny Mencher's Greater Roadrunner from two weeks earlier, but certainly weren't surprised when we couldn't find it. Onward.

At the "Junction" we found 8-10 Lawrence's Goldfinches feeding in the fiddleneck beneath the line of mailboxes. A single Chipping Sparrow was singing away in the same area, and allowed lenghty inspection. There were Violet-green Swallows taking dustbaths just over the fence, and Acorn Woodpeckers were laughing in the oaks.


Photo: Caroline Lambert


Photo: Caroline Lambert

Speaking of Woodpeckers, we drove a short distance south on San Antonio Valley Road, finding the only reasonable parking spot for our cars, and walked to the huge oak by the wooden shed. There we found a Lewis's Woodpecker going in and out of a hole. We assumed it was a nest, as the birds went in with food. Further down the road we found several Wood Ducks on the pond, including some with young. There were also Canada Geese, Mallard and Killdeer here. Continuing to the bridge, we found another White-breasted Nuthatch and a Yellow Warbler.


Photo: Caroline Lambert

We made an unsucessful effot to find Sage Sparrow by the cattle grate just uphill from the first station. In fact, this species eluded us at each stop. Even at the summit further north. But it hardly dampened the day. At our final stope by the summit we managed to see a pair of Spotted Towhees in flight over the chaparral, two Blue-gray Gnatcatchers close to the road, and a pair of Wrentit deep in a bush. We said our goodbyes to the group at this point, but managed to add a heard-only Pacific-slope Flycatcher as we dropped down toward Livermore, and a few Eurasian-colllared Doves near Murrietta Wells. Sure, we could have ventured into the winery and maybe gotten Great Horned Owl and Red-shouldered Hawk for our visitor, but it was getting late and we were all pretty happy at what we saw. Possibly as many as 80 lifers for Jan, a few new-world families like Tyrant Flycatchers, Silky Flycatchers, Icterids, New World Sparrows and Hummingbirds.... Costa's Hummingbird, no less!

I want to thank everyone for making Jan feel so welcome, sharing their knowledge and helping him get the best California Birding Experience imaginable. Special thanks to Eric for introducing us to your friend, and helping shape his introduction to our state's bird life. And I want to thank Jan for sharing his contagious enthusiasm with the group, keeping us laughing and reminding us all how special the common birds really are. Honestly, I don't think any of us will ever look at a Western Meadowlark the same way again! Good birding to you, my friend.

Canada Goose
Wood Duck
Mallard
Common Merganser
Wild Turkey
California Quail
Pied-billed Grebe
Great Egret (Hwy 580)
Turkey Vulture
White-tailed Kite (Hwy 5)
Swainson's Hawk (Hwy 5)
Red-tailed Hawk
Golden Eagle
American Kestrel
American Coot
Killdeer
Rock Pigeon
Band-tailed Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Eurasian Collared Dove
Barn Owl
Burrowing Owl (Alviso)
White-throated Swift
Anna's Hummingbird
Costa's Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Lewis's Woodpecker
Aocrn Woodpecker
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Western Wood Pewee
Pacific-slope Flycatcher (heard only Mines Rd)
Black Phoebe
Say's Phoebe
Ash-throated Flycatcher
Western Kingbird
Loggerhead Shrike
Hutton's Vireo
Warbling Vireo
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
Oak Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthtach
Rock Wren
Canyon Wren
Bewick's Wren
House Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Western Bluebird
Swainson's Thrush
American Robin
Wrentit
Northern Mockingbird
California Thrasher
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing (our driveway)
Phainopepla
Nashville Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Wilson's Warbler
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Rufous-crowned Sparrow
Chipping Sparow
Lark Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco (heard only)
Black-headed Grosbeak
Blue Grosbeak
Red-winged Blackbird
Tricolored Blackbird
Western Meadowlar
Brewer's Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
Bullock's Oriole
Purple Finch (heard only)
House Finch
Lesser Goldfinch
Lawrence's Goldfinch
House Sparrow






 


Sunol Regional Wilderness 05-07-11

The weather was a little chilly at first, but clear and sunny, becoming warm by noon. We reversed our normal itinerary at the park, and explored the area beyond the corral first. In doing so, we were able to travel further before lunch before it got too hot and we were all tired. It worked out rather well, but final results varied from previous years significantly. For example, instead of a barrage Western Tanagers, we had not a single one.

Beginning on the far end of the entrance road, we quickly found all three Vireos singing near the old Red-shouldered Hawk nest. Seeing them was a different matter, but eventually we did view each of them. As we crossed the bridge we found the water very high and fast moving. Few birds were seen in the willows here, but trees just on the other side were active with Bullock's Oriole, Cassin's Vireo and Chipping Sparrow. A nice surprise was also a pair of Lark Sparrow near the corral as well a very vocal House Wren. Western Bluebirds were hard to miss here, but Lazuli Bunting was no where to be seen.


Photo: Sonny Mencher

We pressed on through the level section. Ash-throated Flycatcher, all Vireos and the ever present Orange-crowned Warbler was seen here. We finally reached the slope above the rushing Alameda Creek and wind began to pick up slightly. We found Swallows increasingly abundant over the ridge. As we dropped to water level, voices came from the rear that Lazuli Bunting was had been found. Only a few saw this first brilliant blue bird, but several more were seen later. There was also Black-headed Grosbeak singing here, and at our normal turnaround point, we got great looks at the usual Rufous-crowned Sparrows.



Photo: Sonny Mencher


Sketch: Matthew Dodder

Continuing up hill, the terrrain changed slightly. Chaparral gave way to more open grassy slopes, with much mustard flower and widely spaced oaks. As hoped, Lazuli Bunting was heard repeatedly here, and with some effort, the briliant males were seen by everyone. The chatter of Bullock's Oriole was heard as well, and an occasional bright orange bird was spotted flying between trees.



Photo: Sonny Mencher


Photo: Sonny Mencher


Sketch: Matthew Dodder

We kept climbing and saw the landscape change again, becoming a bit more closed, and dry-oak canyon. Sticky monkey flower was everywhere and the walls of the canyon were very steep and rocky. We reached an area that appeared perfect for Canyon Wren, but heard none. Overhead we spotted a Golden Eagle as well as a small Accipiter that had all the marks of Sharp-shinned Hawk.

It was here we turned around, close to a mile beyond where we have in the past, and made our way back to the parking area. Before ending the pre-lunch portion, we paused to get more satisfying looks at Chipping Sparrow which seemed to be setting up home in the oaks along the main trail.

After eating, we caravanned to the Calaveras Reservoir (CR) to pay our respects to the "royal family" of Bald Eagles. Along the way, we heard three Pacific-slope Flycatchers, each on located in the shaded hairpin turns where small drainages flowed into reservooir. From the overlook where we stopped, an adult with two dark chicks was easily seen from the road. We also added a few additional species to our day list such as Yellow-billed Magpie, Double-crested Cormorant, Ring-billed Gull, and Forster's Tern. Most enjoyable was when we were able to show a boy and his parents the Eagles through our scopes.

Most of the group left after this, but a few of us explored an area near Ed Levin. In this area we found Western Kingbrd, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Western Wood Pewee, and Rock Wren.

Mallard
Wild Turkey
California Quail
Double-crested Cormorant (CR)
Turkey Vulture
White-tailed Kite
Bald Eagle (CR)
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Golden Eagle
American Kestrel
Killdeer (CR)
Ring-billed Gull (CR)
Foster's Tern (CR)
Band-tailed Pigeon
Mourning Dove
White-throated Swift
Anna's Hummingbird
Selasphorus species
Belted Kingfisher
Acorn Woodpecker
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Olive-sided Flycatcher (EL)
Western Wood Pewee (EL)
Pacific-slope Flycatcher (CR)
Black Phoebe
Ash-throated Flycatcher
Western Kingbird (CR)
Cassin's Vireo
Hutton's Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Western Scrub Jay
Yellow-billed Magpie (CR)
American Crow
Common Raven
Violet-green Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Barn Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Oak Titmouse
Bushtit
White-breasted Nuthatch
Rock Wren (EL)
Bewick's Wren
House Wren
American Dipper (probable)
Western Bluebird
American Robin
European Starling
Orange-crowned Warbler
Townsend's Warbler
Wilson's Warbler
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Rufous-crowned Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow
Lark Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Lazuli Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Western Meadowlark (EL)
Brown-headed Cowbird
Bullock's Oriole
House Finch
Purple Finch
Lesser Goldfinch






Mitchell Canyon 04-30-11

Our annual spring visit to this beautiful canyon is always a parade of natural wonders ranging from bizarre and beautiful insects, delicate wildflowers like paintbrush and the endemic Mount Diablo Globe Lily, a few show-shopping reptiles, and of course, many colorful birds. Equally interesting to our visit is the way atmospheric conditions affect our species list for the day. Today was spectacularly beautiful—sunny and mild, but very windy. We found many birds difficult to see, but inbetween gusts we were able to hear quite a lot. As is often the case, we relied on our ears to identify some birds on the list.

Among the interesting insects were the huge Ceanothus Silk Moth, Ornate Tiger Moth and the lovely Western Swallowtail Buttefly. It was definitely a day for Lepidoptera! We also saw a few mammals, albeit deceased, but still interesting. A tiny Shrew, a Mole and a Vole.



Photo: Brooke Miller


Photo: Matthew Dodder. Note, when the posteriior wings are visible, they are bright red!


Photo: Brooke Miller

Heading up the Mitchell Canyon Fire Road we quickly detected White-tailed Kite, Orange-crowned Warbler, Warbling Vireo, Black-headed Grosbeak and Western Tanager. A few yards further and we located an Olive-sided Flycatcher on a dead snag. Western Wood Pewee was heard briefly further down hill, while high overhead we had a variety of Swallows and both species of Swift foraging for insects.



Photo: Sonny Mencher


Photo: Brooke Miller


Photo: Caroline Lambert


Photo: Brooke Miller

We continued the the first thick grove of oaks and paused for fleeting looks at a the first of several Nashville Warblers of the day. Again, breezy conditions kept many of the birds could hear clearly, quite hidden from view. Somewhat farther we reached a small sheltered meadow below the trail with coyote bush beside the creek. Here we managed the first of several views of Ash-throated Flycatcher.



Photo: Brooke Miller

At the junction with Black Point Trail we spent several minutes at one of the most productive areas. The oaks on the hillside contained several Warblers, most clearly seen was a stunning male Hermit Warbler. Also present was another Nashville, a Townsend's and a heard-only Black-throated Gray. Further up the hill, the chaparral slope contained a pair of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers. The Black Point Trail itself was unproductive, but very beautiful.



Photo: Sonny Mencher


Photo: Caroline Lambert

Upon reaching the base of White Canyon Trail, we explored the landscape more than in previous years. We reached a very wide chaparral hillside and spotted a male Calliope Hummingbird feeding on bright red paintbrush. We knew this bird was a possibility, but feared the wind would prevent our finding it. Previous reports had also placed the species much higher on the trail, so it seems we were rather lucky to find it. Additionally lucky, in that like the Rufous Hummingbird as this is a montane breeder, simply making a stop in the canyon before traveling further east into the Sierra.



Photo: Brooke Miller


Sketch: Matthew Dodder

A sudden rustle in the underbrush caught my attention and there, just barely visible in the shadow of the poison oak was a pair of Coast Horned Lizards copulating. They appeared to be about 8" in length with the female being slightly larger. Involved as they were, they were pretty much oblivious to us, and lumbered away after a few moments. Occasionally, we also caught snippets of "Bell's" Sage Sparrow here, but unfortunately, it was never seen. Nor was the California Thrasher, but a pair of Wrentits made an uncharacteristic showing.



Photo: Sonny Mencher

Continuing up hill, we reached a grove of oaks where another Hermit Warbler was found, and still another Nashville. Bullock's Oriole was nesting here, and two Hammond's Flycatchers showed us everything we needed for identification: blocky head, short bill, contrast between nape and back, long primpary projection and short tail.



Photo: Caroline Lambert

We returned to the main trail and examined the oaks by the bench. As before, these trees yielded a number of birds. Hermit Warbler was found, Nashville and our only visible Black-throated Gray. Brooke in the mean time had wondered up a bit farther and reported Lazuli Bunting. We attempted to relcoate the bird, but could not. Instead I had a near death experience with a Western Rattlesnake, specifically the Northern Pacific subspecies. Too close for comfort! And as if that wasn't enough, I ended the day with two tick bites. Man, those are annoying little bugs!




Photo: Sonny Mencher


Photo: Sonny Mencher

Mallard
California Quail
Turkey Vulture
White-tailed Kite
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Golden Eagle
American Kestrel
Rock Pigeon
Band-tailed Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Vaux's Swift
White-throated Swift
Anna's Hummingbird
Calliope Hummingbird
Selsaphorus species
Acorn Woodpecker
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Ficker
Olive-sided Flycatcher
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
Common Raven
Tree Swallow
Violete-green Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Barn Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Oak Ttmouse
Bushtit
White-breasted Nuthatch
Bewick's Wren
House 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-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Gray Warbler
Townsend's Warbler
Hermit Warbler
Wilson's Warbler
Western Tanager
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Sage Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Black-headed Grosbeak
Lazuli Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Brewer's Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
Bullock's Oriole
House finch
Lesser Goldfinch



 





SCVAS Birdathon with Team DeDUCKtions 04-23-11

Rendez vous at the CostCo parking lot in Mountain View was a few minutes before 4:00A. Our team, comprised of Kathleen Lee, Eric Goodill, Petersen, Mary Ann Allen, Ashutos Sinha, Petra Kinsman, Sonny Mencher, Vivek Khanzode, Tate and Curtis Snyder, Cricket and myself was getting a 45 minute jump on previous years, in the hope of finding a few more nocturnal species. A parking lot cleaner, loud and blinking in the early morning dark prevented us from logging our traditional first bird, the Dark-eyed Junco. No matter, we were filled with excitiement about what lay ahead. Our three-car train pulled out of the lot on the hour, and headed south. Our first bird eventually turned out to be a singing American Robin we heard at a stop light on Alum Rock Avenue.

First stop was along Mount Hamilton Road in the heavily oaked woodland prior to reaching Grant Park. As we paused along the road, the oaks formed a canopy over our cars and we hear Great Horned Owl in the distance, Western Screech Owl somewhere a few yards away, Barn Owl directly overhead and Common Poorwill faintly on the hillside near Hall's Lake. It was very exciting when we cast the floodlight into the sky and saw two Barn Owls circling over our heads.

From there we made our way to Smith Creek. It was still completely dark, and no additional Owls were found. As we felt our way along the creek, a few birds began to make themselves known. Wild Turkey was gobbling nearby, Black-headed Grosbeak, Warbling Vireo, Cassin's Vireo, Purple Finch, Brown Creeper were all singing. Wood Duck flew over the trees, as well as Mallard, and of course there were a number of Acorn Woodpeckers. We also hiked up above the old fire station where we located Orange-crowned Warbler and our first Wilson's Warbler, Western Tanager and Hairy Woodpecker. Over the meadow flew several groups of Band-tailed Pigeons and a White-throated Swift.

Kinkaide Road was very productive. We stopped at pond where our first Bullock's Oriole and Western Wood Pewee were found, and behind us we saw a pair of Western Kingbirds nesting in the oaks. An extended dry trill signalled a nearby Chipping Sparrow, which we finally got good looks at. We added a number of other birds including Killdeer, Brown-headed Cowbird and Red-winged Blackbird. Continuing along the road in search of Lark Sparrow we found American Kestrel, Yellow-billed Mapgie but nothing additional, but it sure was pretty.





Leaving Kinkaide Road we spotted a pair Blue-gray Gnatcatcher near the junction with Mount Hamilton Road. It seems like we usually find that species right here, generally without even leaving our cars. Next we parked at Twin Gates and hiked up the hill in search of Lazuli Bunting. No luck with that, but Lark Sparrow was found in the huge oaks close to the lot. Generally, it was cooler and more overcast than last year, and we began to sense a bit less singing, and certainly less activity than before. We hoped things would pick up soon.

We moved quickly to our traditional Warbler turnout and with some effort found Orange-crowned, Townsend's and Hermit Warbler. The Rufous-crowned Sparrows did not reveal themselves where they had on previous occasions, nor did Wrentit. We would have to wait a bit more for them.





There are several chaparral slopes that looked appropriate for Rufous-crowned Sparrow, but it wasn't until the third stop we actually found one. Once we saw it perched on a fence, singing and "peer-peering" we moved on.

Hall's Lake at Grant Park was very good to us. We closed out our Swallow collection, as well as Caspian and Forster's Terns, a number of new Waterfowl like Canada Goose, Gadwall, Ruddy Duck and Bufflehead. Pied-billed and Western Grebe were present as well as American Coot and a Black-crowned Night Heron. We scanned the trees for Bald Eagle, but had to satisfy ourselves with views of White-tailed Kite and a Golden Eagle pair. Nearly everyone had their first-of-season Ash-throated Flycatcher in the willows below the lake overlook.

Grant Park
proper gave us our Pacific-slope Flycatcher, great looks at Cassin's Vireo, more Tanagers and Orioles. It was beautiful, but we needed to move on. For some reason, we still had not found Red-shouldered Hawk. There were quite a number of Golden-crowned Sparrows and both Lesser and American Goldfinches near the farm house, and a second Pacific-slope Flycatcher. Yellow-rumped Warblers (Audubon's and Myrtle) were also found, but the most welcome sight was a Lincoln's Sparrow skulking in the underbrush.





As we drove north on White Road we assigned each car the responsibility of locating "urban birds" that are often forgotten on birdathon days. Each of the four people in our three cars was assigned Northern Mockingbird, Rock Pigeon, Eurasian Collared Dove, and House Sparrow. Three of these were located in this way, and radio communication between the cars ensured everyone got them on their personal lists. As it turned out, we also found a small flock of Cedar Waxwings, another bird we often find en route.

Our next stop was Alum Rock Park. We knew we couldn't spend a long time there, but there were at least two Owls we had recent leads on. Plus the possiblility of Olive-sided Flycatcher. Well, the best thing we found was a brilliant male Lazuli Bunting perched in a sycamore directly over our cars. After that, we saw a Great Horned Owl that was flushed out of a tall eucalyptus, but never did find the Northern Pygmy Owl or Western Screech Owl that had been reported two weeks before. On our way out, we made a detour into the neighborhoods on the north side of Penetencia just outside of the park. There, as predicted, we found a pair of Hooded Orioles nesting in the palms.

Sierra Road provided us with five Horned Larks near the cattle enclosure on the summit, and a Rock Wren just down hill from there. After recording those, we moved quickly to our next stop...

Calaveras Reservoir. It seems wholy unfeeling to spend less than a minute admiring a Bald Eagle and chick on its nest, in a spectularly beautiful lake side setting and then pack up and leave.... but it was a birdathon, and we need the bird. So once everyone had seen the magnificent family, we did a U turn and continued on.

Ed Levin Park was mercifully cool, so the hike up to the Grasshopper Sparrow was relatively easy. But that hike gets harder and harder each year, especially when you're in a hurry. The bird was beautifully cooperative posing only yards away. It was a lifer for one member of our group, so we admired it for about two minutes. Coming down from the hill we paused to identify a flaming red male Rufous Hummingbird at the blue spike flowers by the dog run. It seems entirely possible there were Allen's Hummingbirds there as well, but none of them would stop moving long enough to evaluate their marks, their tails, backs, bills. At least one female Selasphorus species, and two other apparent males defied being confined to a species.... so we had to let them go.

By the time we reached the Alviso EEC, we were pretty tired, and the plans we had made began to seem impossible to fulfill. We parked on the entrance road, suddenly picked up about ten Shorebird and Waterfowl species in the ponds. There were Northern Shovelers, Northern Pintail, Semipalmated Plover, Western and Least Sandpiper, Dunlin, Long-billed Dowitchers, Black-necked Stilts, and American Avocets. At the EEC and pond A16 we managed to find a number of Gulls of course, but very few Grebes. The channel to our right offered Common Moorhen, Marsh Wren and Common Yellowthroat. Of course we tried for Fox Sparrow in the butterfly garden, and the little covered building, but it wasn't meant to be. Probably someone will find it this week, but don't tell me. Scoping from the bluff into New Chicago Marsh we picked up the second species of Dowitcher, and some very distant Eurasian Collared Doves. Just before leaving the entrance road, we stopped to catch Sora calling in reeds by the big bend in the road. A slow crawl along Disc Drive gave us a single Burrowing Owl, just peaking over the pavement as our cars rolled by.

Sunnyvale Water Pollution Control Ponds was next. We had one goal: Green Heron. Before we found that, we scanned the reeds for any Rails, we still needed Viginia Rail. Alonbg the shores of the west pond we found Spotted Sandpiper, three Greater and one Lesser Yellowlegs. Finally, Curstis located a Green Heron in the reeds by the drainage pipe that leads over the channel. The Green Heron was on a nest! As luck would have it the reeds by the cement bench had a Virginia Rail calling and pond A4 which was visible while standing ON the beach, contained our other Achmophorusu Grebe, a Clark's! As well there were four Red-breasted Mergansers. A male and three females.

Next we raced to Charleston Slough, and hoped to continue this last afternoon trend of adding species. Black Skimmer, a high of 16, was on the small island. In the mudflats were Marbled Godwit, Willet, and huge numbers of other Shorebirds we had already seen. In the Palo Alto Flood Control Basin, visible from the trail leading toward Byxbee, we saw American White Pelican, but no Wigeon or Blue-winged Teal. Shoreline Lake was a bust. there were NO Grebes, and only four Surf Scoters.

At this point, we had some tough choices to make. Stay on the bay and potentially add Clapper Rail, Whimbrel and Long-billed Curlew at the Palo Alto Baylands, or the Glaucous Gull at the dump...? The tide didn't look right for Shorebirds and the cloud of Gulls at the dump seemed too daunting to deal with. So we opted to head into the western hills and try for a different selectio of birds.

We raced up Stevens Creek Canyon, went directly to the third bridge ONLY to find that the American Dipper did not want to be seen. We waited for about 20 minutes, while the sun fell lower and lower, and no Dipper for us. Someone had jinxed the birds.... maybe the leader, who said the Dipper was a guarantee. Oh, well. We continued up the road, seached a few spots for Pacific Wren, nothing went as hoped.

We returned to Stevens Creek Reservoir where we found a pair Common Merganser, another Spotted Sandpiper, more Double-crested Cormorants, and a few Vaux's Swifts flying among the many Violet-green, Tree, Cliff, Northern Rough-winged and Barn Swallows over the water.

A quick stop at Pichetti Ranch OSP, which was misty and cool with the incoming fog, was a nice way to end the day, with a perfect view of the sunlit valley below. No new birds were added here, or at the entrance of Stevens Creek Park.

Our wrap up dinner at Hobees in Cupertino was spend review the day and counting our list. We topped out at 155 species, one better than last year, and of course with some embarassing misses. Next year for sure!

I'd like to thank our incredible team members, who kept a gruelling day fun and energized. There were wonderful snacks galore, and the sharpest eyes and ears I have ever worked with. And on behalf of everyone on our team, I would like to thank our many many generous sponsors supporters who have helped to make this another great fundraiser for Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society. It was totally worth it. Thank you once again!

Canada Goose
Wood Duck
Gadwall
Mallard
Cinnamon Teal
Northern Shoveler
Northern Pintail
Green-winged Teal
Canvasback
Surf Scoter
Bufflehead
Common Merganser
Red-breasted 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
Cooper's Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Golden Eagle
America Kestrel
Peregrine Falcon
Virginia Rail
Sora
Common Moorhen
American Coot
Semiplamated Plover
Killdeer
Black-necked Stilt
American Avocet
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Willet
Spotted Sandpiper
Marbled Godwit
Western Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
Dunlin
Short-billed Dowitcher
Long-billed Dowitcher
Bonaparte's Gull
Ring-billed Gull
California Gull
Herring 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
Western Screech Owl
Great Horned Owl
Burrowing Owl
Common Poorwill
Vaux's Swift
White-throated Swift
Anna's Hummingbird
Rufous Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Acorn Woodpecker
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Western Wood Pewee
Pacific-slope Flycatcher
Black Phoebe
Say's Phoebe
Ash-throated Flycatcher
Western Kingbird
Loggerhead Shrike
Cassin's Vireo
Hutton's Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Steller's Jay
Western Scrub Jay
Yellow-billed Mapgie
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
Rock Wren
Bewick's Wren
House Wren
Marsh Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Western Bluebird
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Wrentit
Northern Mockingbird
California Thrasher
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Orange-crowned Warbler
Yellow-rumped 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
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
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow





Gilroy Hot Springs / Jamieson Roads 04-16-11

Some days just stand out for birders. Often not because of the quantity of species found, although that is truly exciting, but rather the quality of sightings. Today was such a day.

The weather was mild, cloudy at first, but clearing and becoming quite warm by lunch. Not surprising, spring is still a work in progress, unfolding little by little on a daily basis. Every report that comes through on the various lists seems to mention a new, first-of-season bird. So being just a little early still, many of the species we can find along Gilroy Hot Springs Road have still not arrived. Birds like Ash-throated Flycatcher, Olive-sided Flycatcher and Western Wood Pewee were conspicuously absent today, although most have been sighted somewhere in the county. But give it a week or two, and one wouldn't be able to mmiss them on this tour.

So instead of these later migrants, we found the early arrivals and the resident breeders. Wood Duck and Common Mergansers belong to the latter group. House Wren, occasionally an over-wintering species, is certainly in the former group. We also found Orange-crowned Warblers in modest numbers, several Bullock's Orioles and Black-headed Grosbeaks (interesting, no females), a couple of heard-only Cassin's Vireos but preciousl few Zonotrichias and NO Yellow-rumped Warblers or Lazuli Buntings. We are inbetween things it seems... Spring is definitely on its way, but it's full glory may still be a week out or so.

Before I give you the impression that we saw nothing, consider how rare it is to see a Wild Turkey wading in the creek like a heron, or heaving its great weight through the air... flying! Think about how many other sightings are worth that one extended view of a Northern Pygmy Owl being harrassed by an Anna's Humming bird, and multiply that by, I don't know how many other sightings, when you see the Owl cross the creek, and land in a tree directly above your head and glares down on you. Wow!! Now that's a good day!



Photo: Caroline Lambert


Photo: Sonny Mencher


Photo: Carol Dienger


After lunch at Hunting Hollow, we made our way to Jamieson Road. Western Kingbirds were easily found in the the fields and in the oaks beside the road. We also added three species of Icterid, Brewer's, and Red-winged Blackbird, as well as Brown-headed Cowbird. The Orioles we found here had already been logged the first half of the day. Despite a conserted effort, no Lawrence's Goldfinches, Chipping or Lark Sparrows were found.

Moving south along Hwy 152 we spotted a couple of additional species while driving. A small flock of Cedar Waxwings was flying away from us over the road, and a bizarre cloud of Least Sandpipers reeled over a muddy field. Kind of unexpected, but easy to identify due to overall color an flock dynamics. As we turned onto San Felipe Road we set our sites on two high-stakes targets. Within minutes we found both the Lawrence's Goldinches and Cassin's Kingbird foraging over the vinyard. The tall eucalyptus were a focus of their attention as it is believed the Kingbirds have a nest in it's branches. Also present in the area were Northern Harrier, White-tailed Kite, Western Kingbird and House Sparrow.



Photo: Sonny Mencher


Photo: Caroline Lambert



Wood Duck
Mallard
Common Merganser
Wild Turkey
California Quail
Great Egret
Wild Turkey
Turkey Vulture
Osprey
White-tailed Kite
Cooper's Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Golden Eagle
American Kestrel
American Coot
Killdeer
Least Sandpiper (along Hwy 152)
Rock Pigeon
Band-tailed Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Eurasian Collared Dove
Northern Pygmy Owl
Anna's Hummingbird
Acorn Woodpecker
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Black Phoebe
Western Kingbird
Cassin's Kingbird
Cassin's Vireo (heard only)
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
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Oak Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Bewick's Wren
House Wren
Western Bluebird
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Wrentit
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing (along Hwy 152)
Orange-crowned Warbler
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Song Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Black-headed Grosbeak
Red-winged Blackbird
Brewer's Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
Bullock's Oriole
Purple Finch
House Finch
Lesser Goldfinch
Lawrence's Goldfinch
House Sparrow






Alum Rock Park 04-09-11

As is often the case, our first destination of spring term was to the rich, varied and very beautiful Alum Rock Park. Conditions were sunny with mild temperatures, becoming a bit breezy after lunch. As soon as we arrived at the Rustic Lands picnic area, we began to encounter some of our target species. Bullock's Oriole and Black-headed Grosbeak were singing loudly, and with modest effort, both species were seen. Orange-crowned Warbler and Warbling Vireo were heard loudly as well, but also not as easily seen.

Since Al Eisner was also leading a group from Audubon to the same location, we opted to explore the willows around the footbridge before hiking up the North Rim trail as they were doing. Very quickly we managed to find a Pacific-slope Flycatcher and took care to measure it against Hammond's Flycatcher which we have also seen in previous years. The primary projection, bill length and marking, overall color occasional vocalizations all matched what we expect to find for the rliparian loving Pacific-slope. We strolled up toward the overpass, investigated the rock wall, and nearby oaks. We missed a few birds such as Rufous-crowned Sparrow, and the even less dependable Rock or Canyon Wrens, but saw a number of Swallows overhead. Again, we enjoyed the opportunity to compare them to eachother, especially in the way their flight styles differed. As we neared our starting place, a Hermit Thrush called from the underbrush, but remained unseen.



Photo: Tate and Curtis Snyder


Eventually we reached the cars and headed up the North Rim trail. Al's group mentioned later in a report to SBB that they had not seen Rufous-crowned Sparrow, but we located three. A pair beneath the cliff, and another singinging bird further up. California Thrasher was also in full voice, and uncharacteristically visible. In fact, two birds were seen flying low and landing in the same small bush. Continuing further up the hill, beyond where we often turn around, we spotted another target of the day, a pair of Hooded Orioles nesting in the tall palm trees. Further still, we had a probably Rufous Hummingbird, which paused above my head and out of my view, but visible to others in the group. All accounts describe an entirely reddish orange Hummer. A Selasphorus! High in the sky a variety of Raptors were seen, Red-tailed Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Cooper's and Sharp-shinned Hawks, as well as a stunning immature Golden Eagle. We turned around after failing to find Black-throated Gray Warbler or any grassland-loving Sparrows.

After relocating the cars to the stone bridge we had lunch. The park staff informed us of a Northern Pygmy Owl in the neighborhood, and later we read Al's report of a Western Screech Owl... We looked for the former and found nothing. Oh well. Hermith Thrush came out of hiding while we ate our lunches. The post-lunch birding was rather slow. The wind was picking up and birds are always harder to find when their buffetted around by the breeze. Additionally, it seems quite possible that spring is still not fully here. In the next few weeks, we can expect additional species like Western Tanager, Ash-throated, Olive-sided Flycatchers, and Lazuli Bunting to appear.

Mallard
California Qual
Turkey Vulture
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Golden Eagle
American Kestrel
Band-tailed Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Anna's Hummingbird
Selasphorus species
Belted Kingfisher
Nuttall's Woopecker
Downy Woodpecker
Pacific-slope Flycatcher
Black Phoebe
Warbling Vireo
Steller's Jay
Western Scrub Jay
Common Raven
Violet-green Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Barn Swallow
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Oak Titmouse
Bushtit
White-breasted Nuthatch
Bewick's Wren
House Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Western Bluebird
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Wrentit
Northern Mockingbird
California Thrasher
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Orange-crowned Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Townsend's Warbler
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Rufous-crowned Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Black-headed Grosbeak
Red-winged Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Brewer's Blackbird
Hooded Oriole
bullock's Oriole
Purple Finch
Hoiuse Finch
Lesser Goldfinch
House Sparrow


Note: The day before our trip Northern Pygmy Owl had been heard and seen in the trees near the gazebo picnic tables, just down hill from the Youth Institute. The Log Cabin further down the hill is where the Western Screech Owl has apparently taken up residence. We saw Hairy Woodpecker and Brown Creeper in these trees the day after our trip to this area.