WINTER 2005


Sunnyvale Water Pollution Control Plant 01-15-05 POSTED
Bodega Bay 01-22-05 POSTED
Lake Merced, Ocean Beach, Golden Gate Park 01-29-05 POSTED
Panoche Valley 02-05-05 POSTED
Moss Landing and Moon Glow Dairy 02-12-05 POSTED
Sacramento River, Colusa , Gray Lodge 02-19-05 POSTED
Alum Rock Park 03-05-05 POSTED
Joseph D. Grant County Park 03-12-05 POSTED

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





Joseph D. Grant County Park 03-12-05 (Santa Clara County)

Our final outing for the winter session produced many hints of spring. The weather was warm and clear at the park per se, but the ride over the hill was foggy both on the way in and out. Highlights included a Thayer's Gull on the lake, a male Bullock's Oriole that briefly posed in the large redwood by the farm house, and a total of five Swallow species. Orange-crowned Warblers were heard briefly in two locations and nest building activites were observed among European Starlings and Tree Swallows. Much singing was heard, most noticeably from Bewick's Wren, Spotted Towhee and Song Sparrow. A single House Wren was also heard briefly below the farm house, but was never seen. This is also the area a winter House was seen on previous March outings. As usual, we worked the riparian corridor near the farm house, the grassy area beneath the oaks and the lake. The latter are produced fewer Waterfowl than expected, but still a few were observed on the far side. Most of the group remained after the walk to enjoy a picnic lunch back in the main lot before returning to the valley and its gray skies.

Pied-billed Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Canad Goose
Mallard
Northern Shoveler
Gadwall
American Wigeon
Common Goldeneye
Bufflehead
Ruddy Duck
Turkey Vulture
White-tailed Kite
Northern Harrier
Cooper's Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Ring-necked Pheasant (heard only)
California Quail (heard only)
American Coot
Killdeer (heard only)
Thayer's Gull
Anna's Hummingbird
Acorn Woodpecker
Red-breasted Sapsucker
Northern Flicker
Black Phoebe
Tree Swallow
Violet-green Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Barn Swallow
Steller's Jay
Western Scrub Jay
American Crow
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Oak Titmouse
Bushtit
White-breasted Nuthatch
Bewick's Wren
House Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Western Bluebird
Hermit Thrush (heard only)
American Robin
Wrentit (heard only)
California Thrasher (heard only)
European Starling
Orange-crowned Warbler (heard only)
Yellow-rumped Warbler (both "Myrtle" and "Audubon's")
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Song Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Red-winged Blackbird
Brewer's Blackbird
Bullock's Oriole
House Finch
Lesser Goldfinch






Alum Rock Park 03-05-05 (Santa Clara County)

While technically still a winter trip, we observed several hints of the rapidly approaching spring season. Specifically, migrant species such as Northern Rough-winged and Violet-green Swallows were present in numbers and winter visitors like Golden-crowned Sparrows were in short supply. White-crowned, Fox and Lincoln's Sparrows were completely absent which was surprising. Some species however, were in song like Dark-eyed Junco and a lone California Thrasher. Still other hints of spring were seen in the form of nest building European Starlings, and Allen's Hummingbirds performing their courtship displays. Great Horned Owl and Barn Owl were sleeping in their caves (separated by several hundred yards of course, and possibly warming a clutch of eggs. Among other highlights, we saw a female Common Merganser several times along the creek as we search unsuccessfully for the Dipper, and had a great opportunity to review her fieldmarks at close range. Also, two Townsend's Warblers were seen among the many Chickadees, Titmice, Kinglets and Yellow-rumped Warblers that foraged in a particularly active tree near the upper lot. Several hoped-for species were not located at all, namely American Dipper, Rufous-crowned Sparrow or Western Screech Owl. (Cricket and I did finally locate two singing Rufous-crowned Sparrows by the entrance kiosk after the group had dispersed...) We also observed several Pine Siskin foraging in the tree tops of the upper trail beside a huge number of Lesser Goldfinch. The weather was beautiful despite the muddy trail and it was well worth the visit if just for the lengthy looks at Red-breasted Sapsucker, gleaming Allen's Hummingbird males, and large group of Cedar Waxwings. Our trip next term should be very different and we will look for some of the most colorful birds in our area such as Black-headed Grosbeak, Western Tanager, Bullock's and Hooded Orioles. Can't wait!

Snowy Egret
Mallard
Common Merganser
Turkey Vulture
White-tailed Kite
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Wild Turkey (heard only)
Band-tailed Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Barn Owl
Great Horned Owl
White-throated Swift
Anna's Hummingbird
Allen's Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Acorn Woodpecker
Red-breasted Sapsucker
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Black Phoebe
Violet-green Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Steller's Jay
Western Scrub Jay
American Crow
Common Raven
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Oak Titmouse
Bushtit
Bewick's Wren (heard only)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Wrentit
California Thrasher (heard only)
Cedar Waxwing
European Starling
Hutton's Vireo
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Townsend's Warbler
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Rufous-crowned Sparrow (exiting park)
Song Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
House Finch
Pine Siskin
Lesser Goldfinch






 

Gray Lodge/Sacramento River NWR 02-19-05 (Butte/Glenn Counties)

This trip was our group's first overnight event and despite the dismal forecasts, and a noisy wrestling team that made it difficult to sleep, it proved to be a great success. Most of our group stayed both Friday and Saturday evenings at the Days Inn in Yuba City, roughly 30 minutes from our destination. After some members of the group shared a wonderful Thai meal in town, we turned in early so we'd all be rested for the following day. We caravanned to the preserve, stopping once or twice along the road to admire a small flock of Tundra Swans and some jubilant Sandhill Cranes. When we finally arrived at the rendez vous at 0-800 hours the rest of our group was waiting. We then continued to parking lot 14 where a trail through the marsh awaited us. Good numbers of Waterfowl remained in the area, but of course numbers were down somewhat from last month. Most exciting was a Eurasian Wigeon in one of the large ponds, a pair of flying Wood Ducks and a Bald Eagle standing sentinal on the far side of the marsh. As well, a rufous morph Red-tailed Hawk perched along the trail, and allowed us ample time to admire his stunning coloration. A few species that typify the wetland habitat were seen as well, such as Common Moorhen, White-faced Ibis and Wilson's Snipe. We scrutinized each Loggerhead Shrike we encountered, but never located any Northerns. Our only Owl of the day, a Great Horned was seen briefly by Ken who was lucky enough to spot it as it fled through the trees. After making the full loop through the marsh we stopped to review a few Sparrows in the hedgerow, Song, Fox and both Crowns, when an American Bittern exploded from the tule a few feet away! We quickly noticed the golden-brown coloration, large size and dark olive primaries which ruled out Black-crowned Night Heron. When that excitement subsided we broke for lunch back near the cars and considered what to do next. We opted to take the auto loop and do the second marsh walk when the drizzle had stopped. The drive produced only few new species, but was quite beautiful and worth the time despite the relatively few opportunities to get out and walk. When we arrived back at lot 14 we embarked on the second half of the marsh trail and scared up another American Bittern, this one flew through along side our group and most people were able to observe it well. Say's Phoebe, Bewick's Wren, Tricolored Blackbirds, American Robin, Northern Mockingbird, Tree Swallows and both varieties of Yellow-rumped Warblers appeared in this section also. It began to rain and the sky was quite dark. We were all a bit tired and ready to go home and dry off when Anne called back to the rest of a group. She and Linda had spotted another Bittern, right out in the open! It foraged away from the cover of the reeds and captured a crayfish while we watched. For about 10 minutes, perhaps more, we admired the bird as it moved one agonizingly slow step at a time, as if in ultra slow motion... It was one of the best looks you could possibly have of this secretive species and it proved an excellent way to end our visit the the preserve. Nice work people! We rested briefly back at the motel and met at a lovely Italian restaurant in town. The food was delicious and our whole group sat at a long table and celebrated the day. It seems like the group enjoyed this event and I look forward to scheduling more overnight trips in the future. Stay tuned.

Those who joined us on Sunday morning for the follow-up visit to Sacramento River NWR were treated to great views of several raptors, including more Bald Eagles, a Golden Eagle, Peregrine and Prairie Falcons. Great numbers of white Geese, both Ross' and Snow were seen alongside Greater White-fronted and Canadas, but strangely no Cackling Geese. Finally, we said our good byes by the interpretive center and left the area. Cricket and I spent the evening with her parents in Lodi before we embarked on our trip down south, to bird the Salton Sea! A full report of that trips adventures will appear in the news section.

Pied-billed Grebe
Western Grebe (SacNWA)
American White Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant
American Bittern
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
White-faced Ibis
Turkey Vulture
Greater White-fronted Goose
Snow Goose
Ross’ Goose
Canada Goose (SacNWA)
Tundra Swan
Wood Duck
Gadwall
Eurasian Wigeon
American Wigeon
Mallard
Cinnamon Teal
Northern Shoveler
Northern Pintail
Green-winged Teal
Canvasback
Ring-necked Duck
Lesser Scaup
Bufflehead
Ruddy Duck
White-tailed Kite
Bald Eagle
Northern Harrier
Cooper’s Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Golden Eagle (SacNWA)
American Kestrel
Merlin (entrance road to Gray Lodge)
Peregrine Falcon (SacNWR)
Prairie Falcon
Ring-necked Pheasant (SacNWR)
Virginia Rail (heard only)
Common Moorhen
American Coot
Sandhill Crane
Black-bellied Plover
Killdeer
Black-necked Stilt
Greater Yellowlegs
Long-billed Dowitcher
Wilson’s Snipe
California Gull
Herring Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Great Horned Owl
Belted Kingfisher
Nuttall’s Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Black Phoebe
Say's Phoebe
Loggerhead Shrike
Western Scrub Jay
Yellow-billed Magpie
American Crow
Common Raven
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Bushtit
Bewick’s Wren
Marsh Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Western Bluebird
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
American Pipit
Yellow-rumped Warbler 
Common Yellowthroat
Spotted Towhee (heard only)
California Towhee
Savannah Sparrow
Fox Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Red-winged Blackbird
Tricolored Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Brewer’s Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
House Finch
Lesser Goldfinch
American Goldfinch (heard only)
House Sparrow







Moss Landing/Moon Glow Dairy 02-12-05 (Monterey County)

The weather turned out to be splendid, warm and clear! We began just inside the entrance gate to Moss Landing State Beach where we reviewed the numerous Shorebirds in the mudflats. Semipalmated and Black-bellied Plovers were located quickly, as well as Least and Western Sandpiper, a few distant Dunlin and Sanderling. Good numbers of Marbled Godwits were present as well. Anseriiforms were scarce, but logged were Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, Surf Scoter and Red-breasted Merganser. Gulls were in abundance farther up the road and several species were identified including a surprising number of Ring-bills among the more common California and Westerns. Perhaps half a dozen Herring were found and two Thayer's and as many Glaucous-winged. Before we ever reached the Gull roost we had a surprising appearance of a Sage Thrasher in the scrub a few yards beyond the first outhouse. The bird remained perched atop a bush for several minutes and allowed detailed examination of all fieldmarks. We managed to get some photographs as well, which are now posted in the gallery. Nearby we observed several Red-breasted Merganser engaging in courtship displays and discovered some Black Scoters we had missed earlier. After that excitement, we continued moving toward the rock jetty where we added White-winged Scoters and the remaining Cormorants. Surprisingly, no rock-loving Shorebirds were seen all day. Rounding the tip, we doubled back via the breach where Snow Plovers were seen huddled in the footprints of pedestrians and a Red-throated Loon flying off shore. We wrapped up the first portion of our field trip and caravanned to Moon Glow Dairy. Before we were able to exit the beach however, a lone Pacific Loon presented itself and we admired it for several minutes. We opted not to continue on the entrance road beyond the first parking area because of recent rains, but there seemed no need. Our target bird was located within a minute or two of setting up our scopes. A brilliant Vermilion Flycatcher actively fed in the willow enclosure and could not be missed. Allen's and Rufous Hummingbirds buzzed through the same area, challenging the Flycatcher for our attention. Those who observed the Vermilion back in October for our fall trip agreed, the bird has only become more brilliant and beautiful in the interim. Finally, it was lunch at Phil's where we managed to get one big table and enjoy a great lunch.

Red-throated Loon
Pacific Loon
Common Loon
Pied-billed Grebe
Horned Grebe
Eared Grebe
Western Grebe
Brown Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant
Brandt's Cormorant
Pelagic Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Canada Goose
Mallard
Greater Scaup
Black Scoter
Surf Scoter
White-winged Scoter
Common Goldeneye
Bufflehead
Red-breasted Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Turkey Vulture
Northern Harrier
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Coot
Black-bellied Plover
Snowy Plover
Semipalmated Plover
Killdeer
American Avocet
Black-necked Stilt
Greater Yellowlegs
Willet
Long-billed Curlew
Marbled Godwit
Sanderling
Western Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
Dunlin
Bonaparte's Gull
Ring-billed Gull
California Gull
Herring Gull
Thayer's Gull
Western Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Anna's Hummingbird
Allen's Hummingbird
Rufous Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Black Phoebe
Say's Phoebe
Vermilion Flycatcher

American Crow
Sage Thrasher
Loggerhead Shrike
European Starling
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Brewer's Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
House Finch








Panoche Valley 02-05-05 (San Benito and Fresno Counties)

This beautiful valley is a frequent destination for birders in winter where several uncommon species can be found. We met at Paicines instead of the Hollister Safeway as in years past. This change saved a bit of time and allowed us to get an earlier start on the trail. Within a minute of setting up our scopes at the turnout we saw an adult Bald Eagle perched high in an oak on the far shore. If you knew were to look, the bird's gleaming head could be seen without binoculars! Most of our waterfowl for the day was seen at this first stop, which is no surprise since water is scarce on this route. Among the birds located on the water were Eared Grebe, Double-crested Cormorant, Canada Goose, American Wigeon, Green-winged Teal, Canvasback and Bufflehead. Two Greater Yellowlegs and a lone Black-bellied Plovers foraged along the shore. Over the field we saw Say's Phoebe and Loggerhead Shrike, both species we would see frequently throughout the day.

Then is was on to J1 to begin our long drive. Our next stop was the Owl Cliffs (at least that's what I believe they are called) and sure enough, a Great Horned Owl was found in one of the small caves. It was lying horizontally in a rather small space and we surmised it was a female on a nest. This area also has a ranch with lush pepper trees where we found a Red-breasted Sapsucker and two Barn Owls that we only noticed when they flew out of the same tree.

We moved on after being reminded by the rancher that the property was private. I naively believed that if we stayed outside the nest it would be ok to bird the entrance... Silly me. Many spots along the canyon we drove through next seemed like excellent habitat for species like Rufous-crowned Sparrow and Rock Wren, but we saw neither. We did however, hear Rock Wren on several occasions. As we approached the summit, we passed three beautiful open areas where we located an immature Golden Eagle, a female Merlin, a flying Prairie Falcon and a distant Lewis' Woodpecker that came to perch several times within scope view. We would see Prairie Falcon twice more during the day.

As lunch hour approached, we descended into the valley proper where a major motorcycle event was taking place. About 100 vehicles and their bearded, leather-clad owners were roasting pig and talking shop. They made us feel welcome and explained that this was a yearly event honoring their three oldest members. After hanging with the guys and enjoying the music, we moved on. Not a hundred yards beyond the Paicines Inn we spotted a Kingbird on the barbed wire. As we examined it, we could see that the bird lacked white outer-tail feathers, but instead had a narrow dusky terminal band on its olive tail and bright white cheek patches offset by a darkish gray breast. It was a Cassin's Kingbird and a lifer for several members of the group!

Our efforts to find Mountain Plover were not rewarded, which was disappointing especially when we learned from two other small groups that they had been spotted just beyond where we had searched. Oh, well. We did find lots of beautiful Lark Sparrows however. We continued to watch for sand-colored birds as we approached Shotgun Pass. There we paused long enough to find two Burrowing Owls watching from their doorway. Up and over the dry hills we went, watching for Chukar, nope... but another Golden Eagle made up for that.

We arrived at Mercy Hot Springs a few minutes later and immediately spotted the narrow silhouette of a Long-eared Owl in the wispy trees as we entered the lot. After paying our $1/person fee to bird the grounds, we searched and found 11 birds. The caretaker said there are between 20-30 birds here, but who knows for sure. It is indeed an uncommon situation and a rare opportunity to view this secretive bird. They seemed alert, if not a bit skittish, and occasionally a bird would fly a short distance to another tree and we could see the beautiful brown and rust pattern in its long wings. We were careful to keep a safe distance, but with such a concentration, it was easy not to notice we were near a bird. After that incredible experience, we drove up the BLM road. Another Prairie Falcon was found perching on the hills and a small flock of Horned Larks, but little else.

Our final stop was at the reservoir near I5 but we scanned the fences and roadside for Sparrows, finding very few so we did not stop. At the overlook we saw a single female Common Merganser and great numbers of raucous Tricolored Blackbirds below us in the reeds. What a day!

Pied-billed Grebe
Eared Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Canada Goose
Green-winged Teal
Mallard
Gadwall
American Wigeon
Canvasback
Bufflehead
Common Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Turkey Vulture
White-tailed Kite
Bald Eagle
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Golden Eagle
American Kestrel
Merlin
Prairie Falcon
California Quail (heard only)
American Coot
Black-bellied Plover
Killdeer
Greater Yellowlegs
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Barn Owl
Great Horned Owl
Burrowing Owl
Long-eared Owl
Anna's Hummingbird
Lewis' Woodpecker
Acorn Woodpecker
Red-breasted Sapsucker
Nuttall's Woodpecker (heard only)
Northern Flicker
Black Phoebe
Say's Phoebe
Cassin's Kingbird
Horned Lark
Tree Swallow
Western Scrub Jay
Yellow-billed Magpie
American Crow
Common Raven
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Oak Titmouse
Bushtit
White-breasted Nuthatch
Rock Wren (heard only)
Bewick's Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Western Bluebird
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Wrentit (heard only)
Northern Mockingbird
California Thrasher (heard only)
American Pipit
Phainopepla
Loggerhead Shrike
European Starling
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Lark Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Red-winged Blackbird
Tricolored Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Brewer's Blackbird
House Finch
House Sparrow








Lake Merced/Golden Gate Park/Sutro Heights 01-29-05 (San Francisco County)

What glorious weather we had for our first trip to San Francisco County. Not only was it fog free, but there was hardly a cloud in the sky and it was warm as well (at least that's what I thought)! We met at Harding Park, just a few yards from the entrance to the renovated golf course. The area is dominated by two large lakes, bordered with thick reed brakes, Monterey Cypress and Eucalyptus trees. It is also landscaped with many exotic trees and shrubs which often attract migrant birds and occasionally a few surprising vagrants. We had a slow beginning to our day however, and found nothing unexpected, but logged a few swimming species and several species of Gull. Hermit Thrush and Fox Sparrow were seen in the large trimmings pile beyond the boathouse and we had an opportunity to compare Hutton's Vireo and Ruby-crowned Kinglet side-by-side. Several Pygmy Nuthatches were detected by voice but not seen until later in the day.

After we had worked this area thoroughly it was off to the Chain of Lakes in Golden Gate Park. There the landscape changed dramatically, becoming denser with moist underbrush and taller Redwoods as well as the aforementioned Cypress and Eucalptus. We met at South Lake to find a vibrant male Selasphorus species that appeared from all angles to be an early Rufous Hummingbird. It is a bit surprising, but not out of the question, and this bird seemed sufficiently different from the many Allen's we found. At the larger Middle Lake the previously reported trio of Hooded Mergansers paddled away quietly (one male, two female), a Belted Kingfisher (male) and a Steller's Jays (uncommon in the park) were found. A female Varied Thrush appeared and allowed us to admire her for a few moments as she perched above the Mergansers. This was a special moment for me--two of my favorite birds visible at once! The North Lake produced a pair of Downy Woodpecker high in the eucalyptus and a pair of birders who were excited to hear that the Mergansers (lifers for them) were still present. Apparently, they had come in search of the birds and didn't know exactly where to look.

Then it was off to Sutro Heights for the grand finale! The scenery changed again and open ocean, frothy surf with whitened rock prevailed. The large rocks hosted great numbers of Cormorants, both Brandt's and Pelagic, Black Oystercatcher and Willet. Surprising was the lack of Surfbirds... More of the same Gulls soared overhead and bathed in the rain pool, but new for the day were Black Turnstones walking along the edge. The tide was high, so the beach was not available for Shorebirds but we still managed to locate one Sanderling. Surf Scoters and Red-throated Loon appeared almost immediately when we started scoping the distance and eventually a lone Wandering Tattler was found sleeping on the rocks above the waterline. Hundreds of Loon, presumably Red-throated, were flying south along the horizon, but the most unusual bird, Black Scoter male and two females, appeared when we climbed to the top of the hill we looked toward the giant floating coffee can at the entrance to the bay. As we wrapped the day up and returned to the cars a few of us got wonderful looks at a pair of Brown Creeper above the trail. We will return to this beautiful area, perhaps in Spring, but I think reservations for lunch would be advisable.

Red-throated Loon
Pied-billed Grebe
Eared Grebe
Western Grebe
Clark's Grebe
Brown Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant
Brandt's Cormorant
Pelagic Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Snowy Egret
Mallard
American Wigeon
Ring-necked Duck
Black Scoter
Surf Scoter
Bufflehead
Hooded Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Coot
Black Oystercatcher
Willet
Wandering Tattler
Black Turnstone
Sanderling
Mew Gull
California Gull
Herring Gull
Thayer's Gull
Western Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Forster's Tern
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Anna's Hummingbird
Rufous Hummingbird (probable)
Allen's Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Downy Woodpecker
Black Phoebe
Steller's Jay
Western Scrub Jay
Common Raven
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Bushtit
Pygmy Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
Bewick's Wren
Marsh Wren (heard)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Varied Thrush
European Starling
Hutton's Vireo
Yellow-rumped Warbler (both forms)
Townsend's Warbler
Common Yellowthroat (heard)
Calfornia Towhee
Fox Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Red-winged Blackbird
Brewer's Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
House Finch
House Sparrow







Bodega Bay 01-22-05 (Sonoma County)

This was the first group outing to this Sonoma County location. Just north of the Point Reyes National Seashore, this has long been a winter stop for uncommon waterfowl. In January 2002, my friends Jesse Conklin (who lives in Humboldt), Kelly (who I later married) and I made the trip in search of the famous Emperor Goose. We found it and quickly realized this would be a great spot to bring the group at some point in the future. So finally, three years later, the Palo Alto Adult School Group descended on the area for a productive day of birding. We began by meeting at the traditional spot for out-of-town birders, the Tides Restaurant. There we surveyed the hazy bay, finding numerous water birds such as Common Loon, Horned and Eared Grebe, Common Goldeneye, Bufflehead, Surf Scoter, Bufflehead, Red-breasted Merganser, and literally hundreds of Brant. The latter is a species we have rarely encountered during class outings, so it was quite fun to see them in such numbers. We also spent some time analyzing the various Grebe near the dock, such as Eared, Horned, Clark’s and Western. Real challenges presented themselves in the form of Gulls, and several were identified with great scrutiny. Logged here were Western, Glaucous-winged, Mew, but several others were logged as the day progressed. At one point a Peregrine Falcon buzzed through, scattering some of the surface birds, but it captured none and remained in the area long enough for us to appreciate quite fully. The next stop was the Spud Point Marina where the wind picked up and made the dock-walk pretty exciting (and wet). A lone Ruddy Turstone was seen walking along the dock and all enjoyed views of the bird (those joining us for lunch at the Tides were treated to even better looks!) Again, Eared and Horned Grebes, Red-breasted Merganser and Brant were observed. Our first Sparrows, both White-crowned and Golden-crowned were located here as well as the first of many Yellow-rumped Warblers. We decided to move out toward the point, despite the increasing wind and pulled out at “Hole in the Head” where Forster’s Tern, Belted Kingfisher, Red-winged and Brewer’s Blackbirds were added, as well as a Sharp-shinned Hawk and two more Peregrine Falcons! Cold, cold, cold (and windy)... but we continued. Up to the Head we drove and gathered at the spectacular overlook. There we got several new species for the day such as Pelagic and Brandt’s Cormorant, Black Oystercatcher, Surfbird, Black Turnstone, and some off-shore Northern Fulmar and Common Murre that were among the many Gulls. After appreciating the view for a while we moved on out of sheer need for warmth. As we drove down the hill (with heat turned on full blast) we spotted Northern Harrier and White-tailed Kite hovering over the chaparral. Our group re-grouped at the Spud Point Marina again to examine a Red-throated Loon that had been spotted from the road. Shortly after that it was to a land bird stop among the trees. Warm sun and blue sky brightened everyone’s spirits and while we scanned the residential gardens and feeders a shining hint a spring appeared--an Allen’s Hummingbird. At first it appeared to be a lone male, but soon another Selasphorus appeared, showing no green on its back. Was this a Rufous Hummingbird? Those who saw it are convinced and the timing is a bit off for this latter species, but who knows?? Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Hermit Thrush, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, California Towhee, House Finch and Dark-eyed Junco were all added here. Then it was back to the Tides for lunch where we added not only several hundred calories of clam chowder and beer, but our only Black-crowned Night Heron and American Coot of the day. Lastly, we drove to the Bird Walk Trail at the south end of the bay for short walk that produced our last new species, Canada Goose, Lesser Scaup, Killdeer, Semipalmated Plover, some unspecified Dowitchers and Savannah Sparrow. Most exciting here was an Osprey that foraged over the water. Green-winged Teal were located far out in the water, but alas, no Long-tailed Duck. The trip was successful insofar as we covered a lot of area and saw some species uncommon down here, but wind and cold were a bit difficult. I look forward to returning to this area, perhaps next Fall when we might find some migrant Passerines or get another chance at some additional Scoters.

Red-throated Loon
Common Loon
Pied-billed Grebe
Horned Grebe
Eared Grebe
Western Grebe
Clark's Grebe
Northern Fulmar
Brown Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant
Brandt's Cormorant
Pelagic Cormorant
Great Blue Heron

Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Black-crowned Night Heron
Brant
Canada Goose
Green-winged Teal
Mallard
Northern Pintail
Northern Shoveler
Gadwall
American Wigeon
Greater Scaup
Lesser Scaup
Surf Scoter
Common Goldeneye
Bufflehead
Red-breasted Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Turkey Vulture
Osprey
White-tailed Kite
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Peregrine Falcon
American Coot
Black-bellied Plover
Semipalmated Plover
Killdeer
Black Oystercatcher
Black-necked Stilt
American Avocet
Greater Yellowlegs
Marbled Godwit
Willet
Ruddy Turnstone
Black Turnstone
Surfbird
Sanderling
Least Sandpiper
Dowitcher species
Heerman's Gull
Mew Gull
Ring-billed Gull
California Gull
Herring Gull
Thayer's Gull
Western Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Forster's Tern
Common Murre
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Anna's Hummingbird
Rufous Hummingbird (probable)
Allen's Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Nuttall's Woodpecker (heard only)
Northern Flicker (heard only)
Black Phoebe
Tree Swallow
Western Scrub Jay
American Crow
Common Raven
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Bushtit
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
American Pipit (heard only)
European Starling
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Common Yellowthroat (heard only)
California Towhee
Spotted 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 (heard only)









Sunnyvale Water Pollution Control Plant (Alviso Marina, add-on) 01-15-05 (Santa Clara County)

This was the first outing of the winter term and one of our tarket species, Eurasian Wigeon, was located. It was quite distant, but identifiable. We began the day by getting great looks at a single Burrowing Owl on the hillside above the parking area, by crossing the small bridge and looking back. After admiring the bird for a few moments we headed out to the ponds, finding Green Heron, Canada Goose, Greater Scaup, Common Moorhen, Greater Yellowlegs, Belted Kingfisher, Common Yellowthroat, Song, Fox and both Crowned Sparrows along the way. Waterfowl numbers seemed down from a few weeks ago, but most of the expected species were located including the beautiful drake Eurasian Wigeon on the creek at the far end of the north-south levy trail and small numbers of Common Goldeneyes on both the west and east ponds. Gulls included a majority Ring-billed, a few Herring and small numbers of California, Thayer's and Bonaparte's. No Westerns were seen at Sunnyvale, but they, plus a Glaucous-winged appeared at the Alviso Marina. Along the levy trail, we had numerous opportunities to view Yellow-rumped Warblers, and while most were "Audubon's" forms, several proved to be "Myrtle". The first of three Say's Phoebes was not in the area we expected, but over the west pond, apparently flying back toward the grassy hills where we would see the species again. After returning from the ponds we headed up the hill to see Western Meadowlark, two more Say's Phoebes and about a dozen Tree Swallows circling overhead. The view of the ponds on the west side of the hill produced the remainder of our Shorebirds, namely Black-necked Stilt, American Avocet and some Dowitchers (species unknown). Also found were two additional Dabbling Ducks, specifically Green-winged and Cinnamon Teal, and three or four Black-crowned Night Heron's hiding in the reeds. Looking back over the west pond, great numbers of Ruddy Duck, Canvasback and a group of 4 Ring-necked Ducks that we had missed earlier appeared. We finished up the group formal trip and a few of us continuted toward the Alviso Marina where we found the Greater Roadrunner immediately (I look forward to seeing Jean's pictures). Other new species for the day include a flock of 120 white Geese that was comprised of both Ross' and Snow, Red-breasted Merganser, Glaucous-winged and Mew Gulls, Forster's Tern, California Towhee, and Lincoln's Sparrow. After everyone separated, Cricket and I took the Disk Drive back toward Hwy 237 and located a Prairie Falcon on the long fence near the Jubilee Church. Conspicuous absences during the day were Western Bluebird and Loggerhead Shrike, but nevertheless a wonderful day with perfect weather.

Pied-billed Grebe
Horned Grebe
Eared Grebe
Clark's Grebe
Aechmophorus species
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Green Heron
Black-crowned Night Heron
Snow Goose (Alviso)
Ross' Goose (Alviso)
Canada Goose
Green-winged Teal
Mallard
Northern Pintail
Cinnamon Teal
Northern Shoveler
Gadwall
Eurasian Wigeon
American Wigeon
Canvasback
Ring-necked Duck
Greater Scaup
Surf Scoter
Common Goldeneye
Bufflehead
Red-breasted Merganser (Alviso)
Ruddy Duck
Turkey Vulture
White-tailed Kite
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk (Alviso)
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Peregrine Falcon
Prairie Falcon (Alviso)
Common Moorhen
American Coot
Killdeer
Black-necked Stilt
American Avocet
Greater Yellowlegs
Dowitcher species
Bonaparte's Gull
Mew Gull (Alviso)
Ring-billed Gull
California Gull
Herring Gull
Thayer's Gull
Western Gull (Alviso)
Glaucous-winged Gull (Alviso)
Forster's Tern (Alviso)
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove (Alviso)
Greater Roadrunner (Alviso)
Burrowing Owl
Anna's Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Black Phoebe
Say's Phoebe
Tree Swallow
American Crow
Common Raven
Bushtit
Bewick's Wren (Alviso, heard only)
Marsh Wren
Northern Mockingbird
American Pipit
European Starling
Yellow-rumped Warbler (both "Audubon's" and "Myrtle")
Common Yellowthroat
California Towhee (Alviso)
Savannah Sparrow
Fox Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow (Alviso)
Golden-crowned Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Brewer's Blackbird
House Finch
American Goldfinch (heard only)
House Sparrow