WINTER 2002

Byxbee Park 01-12-02 POSTED
Arastradero Open Space Preserver 01-19-02 POSTED
Wunderlich Park 01-26-02 POSTED
Princeton Harbor and Pillar Point 02-02-02 POSTED
Joseph D. Grant County Park 02-09-02 POSTED
Coyote Hills Regional Park 02-16-02 POSTED
Merced National Wildlife Refuge 03-02-02 POSTED
Point Reyes National Seashore 03-09-02 POSTED

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



Point Reyes National Seashore 03-09-02


This was the last official trip of the term and we were treated to perfect weather and wonderful birds. After exploring the area around the Bear Valley Interpretive Center, where we found multitudes of Varied Thrush, a pair of calling Red-shouldered Hawks, a handful of Western Bluebirds and California Quail, we proceeded to Olema Marsh. There we picked up a few interesting birds including some early Tree Swallows, a pair of Ring-necked Ducks and the first of two Peregrine Falcons for the day. After logging a few other waterfowl, we continued to the Drake's Beach parking lot where we were to pick up the shuttle to Chimney Rock. Once at the Chimney Rock trail head we found a hundred or so widely distributed Surf Scoters, two species of Loon and three species of Grebe. There were also a few female Elephant Seals lounging on the beach. The highlight of the day was undeniably the Peregrine Falcon perched on the Rock at the end of the trail where we had a 30 minute opportunity to view it through the scope. Later it flew off and performed a series of awe-inspiring aerial maneuvers including a summersault that had to be seen to be believed!

Common Loon
Red-throated Loon
Pied-billed Grebe
Horned Grebe
Eared Grebe
Red-necked Grebe
Clark's Grebe
Western Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
Brandt's Cormorant
Pelagic Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Snowy Egret
Great Egret
Brant
Cinnamon Teal
Mallard
Ring-necked Duck
Surf Scoter
Common Goldeneye
Bufflehead
Red-breasted Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Turkey Vulture
Northern Harrier
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Peregrine Falcon
California Quail
American Coot
Black Oystercatcher
Willet
Marbled Godwit
Bonapart's Gull
California Gull
Herring Gull
Western Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Forster's Tern
Common Murre
MOurning Dove
Rock Dove
Anna's Hummingbird
Acorn Woodpecker
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker (heard only)
Hairy Woodpecker (heard only)
Northern Flicker
Black Phoebe
Tree Swallow
Steller's Jay (heard only)
Western Scrub Jay
American Crow
Common Raven
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Oak Titmouse
Pygmy Nuthatch
Marsh Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Western Bluebird
Hermit Thrush
Varied Thrush
American Robin
European Starling
Hutton's Vireo (heard only)
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Common Yellowthroat (heard only)
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Red-winged Blackbird
Brewer's Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Purple Finch (heard only)
House Finch
House Sparrow



Merced National Wildlife Refuge 03-02-02

Despite the fact that I arrived an hour late, due to a horrendous back up on Hwy 152 that forced us to make a two-hour detour through Penoche Valley, the trip was a huge success! Most of the group arrived before me and had already gotten started finding exciting birds. Thousands of Sandhill Cranes, Snow, Ross' and Greater White-fronted Geese we seen throughout the day and afforded perhaps the best waterfowl turn out of the many trips to this location. Highlights included two American Bittern (a single Bittern is usually enough to make a great trip, but two Bitterns is remarkable!) We saw both white and blue-phase Snow Geese, thousands of white-phase Ross' Geese and a probale blue-phase Ross' (extremely rare). The bird fits all the criteria for a full blue-phase Ross' except the bill seemed a bit heavy and appeared to have a pronounced "grin patch". We may never know for sure, I suppose, but two other birders were overheard discussing the bird in question and apparently were convinced of the identification. Other birds of interest included a pair of Blue-winged Teal that sneaked onto the list with a quick fly-over, and several "heard only" Virgina Rails and Soras. Curious was the complete lack of confirmed Tricolored Blackbirds which the checklist deems "abundant" for the area. I've never seen them within the park myself, but maybe we haven't been looking close enough...

Pied-billed Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
American White Pelican
American Bittern
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
White-faced Ibis
Greater White-fronted Goose
Snow Goose (white and blue phase)
Ross' Goose (white and probable blue phase)
Mallard
Green-winged Teal
Northern Pintail
Blue-winged Teal
Cinnamon Teal
Northern Shoveler
Gadwall
American Wigeon
Common Goldeneye
Ruddy Duck
White-tailed Kite
Northern Harrier
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Virginia Rail (seen by one, heard by all)
Sora (heard only)
Common Moorhen
American Coot
Sandhill Crane
Black-bellied Plover
Killdeer
Black-necked Stilt
American Avocet
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Long-billed Curlew
Least Sandpiper
Dunlin
Long-billed Dowitcher
Common Snipe
Ring-billed Gull
California Gull
Herring Gull
Rock Dove
Mourning Dove
Anna's Hummingbird
Northern Flicker
Black Phoebe
Tree Swallow
Western Scrub Jay
Yellow-billed Magpie
American Crow
Marsh Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
American Robin
Northern Mockingbird
American Pipit
Loggerhead Shrike
European Starling
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
House Finch
House Sparrow

One unexpected benefit of having to drive through Panoche Valley was the opportunity Kelly and I had to see the following additional species. Granted they were identified at 65mph, but they did make it on the day's list. (I can't wait to take the group to this area in a few of weeks):

Turkey Vulture
Ferruginous Hawk
Common Raven
Western Bluebird
Mountain Bluebird
Brewer's Blackbird
Lark Sparrow



Coyote Hills Regional Park 02-16-02

We had perfect weather for our trip to this location. From the beginning we had interesting species such as a pair of Loggerhead Shrike visible across the marsh and Varied Thrush among the trees in the picnic area. Other highlights included brief look at a Sora foraging at water's edge, as well as Tree Swallow, Fox Sparrow and White-throated Swift. There was a good Raptor turnout including an Osprey, which is unusual for that area. The real star however, was an immature Golden Eagle, which landed on the hillside in plain view. It preened for a few moments and then headed off over the hill. We thought we had seen the whole show, until it came around the hillside two more times and gave us incredible views of its golden nape and white tail pattern. Later, we saw the bird perched on a phone pole where we observed it again for several minutes. Words like "magnificent" and "spectacular" hardly describe the experience of seeing that bird at such close range!

Eared Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Canada Goose
Green-winged Teal
Mallard
Northern Pintail
Cinnamon Teal
Northern Shoveler
Gadwall
Canvasback
Common Goldeneye
Bufflehead
Ruddy Duck
Turkey Vulture
Osprey
White-tailed Kite
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Golden Eagle
American Kestrel
California Quail
Sora
Common Moorhen
American Coot
Killdeer
Greater Yellowlegs
Willet
Least Sandpiper
Mew Gull (probable)
Glaucous-winged Gull
Rock Dove
Mourning Dove
White-throated Swift
Anna's Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Black Phoebe
Say's Phoebe
Tree Swallow
Steller's Jay
Western Scrub Jay
Bushtit
Bewick's Wren
Marsh Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Varied Thrush
Northern Mockingbird
American Pipit (flyover)
Loggerhead Shrike
European Starling
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Savannah Sparrow
Fox Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Red-winged Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Brewer's Blackbird
House Finch
Lesser Goldfinch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow



Joseph D. Grant County Park 02-09-02

Once again, beautiful weather, although a bit chilly for the first couple of hours. Near the farm house, we had extended views of two Red-breasted Sapsuckers and a single House Wren which posed for a few moments atop a coyote bush. A real treat was the Northern Flicker show, with 10 individuals feeding on the ground offering ample opportunity to study them closely. By the lake, we observed a large group of Common Mergansers which dove and resurfaced in unison. A bit of a surprise was a small group of Tree Swallows, which we observed foraging over the lake. Raptor numbers were down, and totally absent were Wild Turkeys. We did, however, see a few Yellow-billed Magpies, Hutton's Vireo and several Finch species. A large flock of mixed Goldfinches seemed to contain no Lawrence's but did produce American and Lesser Goldfinches and Pine Siskin.

Pied-billed Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Canada Goose
Mallard
Cinnamon Teal
Canvasback (female)
Bufflehead (female)
Common Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Turkey Vulture
Northern Harrier
Red-tailed Hawk
California Quail (heard only)
American Coot
Killdeer
Rock Dove
Mourning Dove
Anna's Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Acorn Woodpecker
Red-breasted Sapsucker
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Black Phoebe
Tree Swallow
Western Scrub Jay
Yellow-billed Magpie
American Crow
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Oak Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper (heard only)
Bewick's Wren
House Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Western Bluebird
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
European Starling
Hutton's Vireo
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Fox Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Red-winged Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Brewer's Blackbird
House Finch
Pine Siskin
Lesser Goldfinch
American Goldfinch



Princeton Harbor and Pillar Point 02-02-02

In a way, the beautiful weather and warm temperatures held us back as far as birding went. Fewer birds were present in the Harbor, which often serves as shelter from offshore storms. Shorebird numbers were down a bit but we still logged Whimbrel and Black Oystercatcher. Gulls and Diving Ducks were numerous as well as Aechmophorus Grebes and two species of Loons. Useful comparisons were made between the three similar Cormorant species, especially Double-crested and Pelagic. The best bird of the day was a female Merlin which flew in from over the harbor and landed (on command) in a conifer across the street. We were able to observe it for several minutes before it was displaced by a female American Kestrel. The dramatic encounter allowed us ample opportunity to compare the two Falcons and observe the many differences at leisure. After leaving the Point a bunch of us decided to have our now traditional lunch at Barbara's Fish Trap.

Red-throated Loon
Common Loon
Eared Grebe
Western Grebe
Clark's Grebe
Brown Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant
Brandt's Cormorant
Pelagic Cormorant
Snowy Egret
Greater Scaup
Surf Scoter
Common Goldeneye
Bufflehead
Turkey Vulture
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Merlin
American Coot
American Black Oystercatcher
Willet
Whimbrel
Marbled Godwit
Sanderling
Mew Gull
California Gull
Herring Gull
Thayer's Gull
Western Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Rock Dove
Mourning Dove
Anna's Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Black Phoebe
Says's Pheobe
Western Scrub Jay
Common Raven
Chestnut-backed Chickadee (heard only)
Bushtit
Bewick's Wren
Marsh Wren (heard only)
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
European Starling
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
California Towhee
Song Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Brewer's Blackbird
House Finch



Wunderlich Park 01-26-02

As is my policy, this field trip was not cancelled until we arrived at the rendez vous and found the conditions unfavorable for birding (cold and rainy). The brave few of you that decided to risk the journey, I'm sure were disappointed, but I we had a good time anyway. Shelia, Stephanie, Kay, Katherine, Anne, Yvonne, Ken, Kelly and myself decided to have breakfast together in Woodside and chatted for a while over coffee. We all agreed that this new location would be nice some other time so I hope to put it back on the itinerary for a future visit. Before we relocated to the restaurant we managed to squeeze three species out of the parking lot, and they are listed below. One or two of our group even had lifers! Ken returned to the park after breakfast and encounted a few additional species among these were Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Fox Sparrow.

American Robin
Varied Thrush
Hermit Thrush



Arastradero Open Space Preserver 01-19-02

We had beautiful weather for our trip to this familiar location. As is often the case, our list featured an exciting array of raptors, including an uncommon Merlin. We were also treated to a duelling White-tailed Kite and Northern Harrier. Another highlight was the female Goldeneye that has recently been the subject of much discussion on South Bay Birds. We decided it was a Barrow's based on bill color and head shape which was easily assessed because of the nearby male Common Goldeneye. The real star of the day was a male Barn Owl (thanks Ken!) that was nestled in a dead stump, and sleeping peacefully in the sun. We were able to approach a little closer to observe better, but remained a polite distance. Conspicuously absent were any Turkey Vultures, but perhaps we finished up before the thermals had really started to rise.

Double-crested Cormorant (flyover)
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Mallard
Barrow's Goldeneye
Common Goldeneye
Bufflehead
Ruddy Duck
White-tailed Kite
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk (heard only)
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Merlin
Gull (species)
Rock Dove
Mourning Dove
Barn Owl
California Quail (heard only)
American Coot
Anna's Hummingbird
Acorn Woodpecker
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Black Phoebe
Violet-green Swallow
Steller's Jay
Western Scrub Jay
American Crow
Common Raven
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Oak Titmouse
Bushtit
White-breasted Nuthatch
Bewick's Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Western Bluebird
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Wrentit (heard only)
California Thrasher
Cedar Waxwing (heard only)
European Starling
Hutton's Vireo (heard only)
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Fox Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Red-winged Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
House Finch
Lesser Goldfinch



Byxbee Park 01-12-02

The first trip of the Winter Term proved a triumph! The weather was cool and foggy for the class's first trip devoted to this park and we were rewarded with good looks at some uncommon species. A Clapper Rail decided to venture out into the open and even swam across the channel for us to examine. Several more Clappers besides the two we actually saw could be heard in the marsh across the water. Other notable species included a Eurasian Wigeon, which timed its appearance perfectly to further my short lecture about their association with American Wigeon populations wintering in our area. As well, a pair of Redheads allowed lengthy examination and comparison with the similar Canvasbacks. A productive trip overall, even with the poor viewing conditions.

Pied-billed Grebe
Eared Grebe
Western Grebe
Clark's Grebe (seen at interpretive center)
American White Pelican
Brown Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Black-crowned Night Heron
Canada Goose
Green-winged Teal
Mallard
Northern Pintail
Cinnamon Teal
Northern Shoveler
Gadwall
Eurasian Wigeon
American Wigeon
Canvasback
Redhead
Greater Scaup
Surf Scoter (seen near interp. center)
Common Goldeneye
Bufflehead
Ruddy Duck
White-tailed Kite
Northern Harrier
Red-tailed Hawk
Prairie Falcon
Clapper Rail
American Coot
Black-necked Stilt
American Avocet
Greater Yellowlegs
Willet
Long-billed Curlew
Marbled Godwit
Least Sandpiper (seen at interp. center)
Dowitcher (species)
Ring-billed Gull
California Gull
Herring Gull
Western Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Rock Dove
Mourning Dove
Anna's Hummingbird
Black Phoebe
American Crow
Common Raven
Marsh Wren
American Pipit (heard only)
European Starling
Common Yellowthroat
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird (seen at interp. center)
Western Meadowlark
Brewer's Blackbird
House Finch