WINTER 2007


Vic Fazio Yolo Wildlife Area/Robinson-Flannery Rds 01-27-07 POSTED
Venice Beach/Princeton Harbor 02-03-07 POSTED
Coyote Point/Redwood Shores (Panoche Valley...) 02-10-07 POSTED
Panoche Valley (Merced NWR/San Luis NWR...) 02-17-07 POSTED
Wilder Ranch/coastal Big Basin State Park 02-24-07 POSTED
Point Reyes (non-shuttle areas) 03-03-07 POSTED
Coyote Hills Regional Park/Don Edwards 03-10-07 POSTED
Ogier Ponds/Calero Reservoir 03-17-07 POSTED

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





Ogier Ponds/Calero Reservoir 03-17-07

It was the last trip of the term, and we were desperately trying to reach a cumulative total of 200 species... We had facing us the challenge of finding Cackling Goose, Green Heron, Bullock's and Hooded Oriole as well as a handful of really long shots and a few shameful misses, such as Brown-headed Cowbird! Knowing that Ogier Ponds was a freshwater area with ample marsh and riparian habitat, chances were good we would be able to add something to our list, especially in light of the daily influx of spring migrants, but hitting the required 11 additional species would be nearly impossible.

We arrived to find the area covered in a dense fog but spring songs were still loud and clear. Red-winged Blackbird, Oak Titmouse, Marsh Wren and Dark-eyed Junco were all accounted for by voice alone. As our group paralleled the model aircraft runway, numerous Sparrows appeared through he mist. Both crowned Sparrows of course, but also Song, Lincoln's and a lone Lark Sparrow were found. As we neared the marsh we realized scanning the edges for American Bittern or Green Heron would be difficult, but we managed to find some swimming birds including Pied-billed Grebe, Gadwall, Ruddy Duck, Bufflehead, and American Coot.

Continuing along the entrance road toward the deep western ponds we continued our search for "term firsts". In the process we found White-tailed Kite, American Kestrel and loads of Red-winged Blackbirds, but not a single Cowbird... Somewhat discouraged we focused on the nesting Tree Swallows. As we discussed in class, they were inhabiting old Woodpecker holes and foraging not far from home. Rather unexpectedly we heard a familiar chatter in a nearby sycamore. An Oriole! We quickly found the bird, a male singing and calling loudly in the upper branches. We admired him for a while and moved on, suddenly feeling better.

The first of the two large ponds had very few birds on it, but we did spot both Greater and Lesser Scaup, as well as a few California Gulls. Moving farther along he edge toward the second pond we found a huge congregation of Gulls. Among them were a great many California Gulls, but also a few Herring and a Glaucous-winged. Try as we might, we could not locate a Ring-bill or Western among them, but we did recover at least the Ring-bill later on.

Returning along the entrance road we continued to hear the male Oriole, and overhead passed an Osprey. The creek failed to produce the hoped for Spotted Sandpiper, but there was Common Merganser and a pair of Wood Duck, which the leader, of course, frightened away before anyone else had a chance to see them... Oh, well. There was much excitement when a Western Kingbird appeared. Another spring migrant and a term first!

We passed our parked cars again and continued along the creek trail. We found several new species here, including Red-shouldered Hawk on the nest, Downy and Nuttall's Woodpecker, White-breasted Nuthatch, several Lincoln's Sparrows and at least one more Western Kingbird. A highlight was seeing the Northern Rough-winged Swallows nesting beneath the overpass.

Next we caravanned to Calero Reservoir to try our luck there. We had a quick lunch in the lot where horses and horse people busied themselves with changing saddles and preparing for the trail. We ate our sandwiches to the distant sound of Wild Turkeys. A Cooper's Hawk perched in a live oak near the lot and Western Bluebirds were spotted on the wires along the road. We strolled past the corrals, failing again to find Cowbird, to the reservoir. Once at the water we could see a huge collection of Double-crested Cormorants and several Canada Geese. Among the Canadas were also an "Aleutian" Cackling, and a lone Greater White-fronted Goose. Common Mergansers floated by a small group of Common Goldeneye in a flotilla. We rounded out our collection of Swallows here, adding Barn and Cliff, which were also both nesting at the ranch house. At long last we had a Golden Eagle fly past us against the hill. We all got great looks at this adult bird before turning around to head out.

We broadcast for California Thrasher, which answered obligingly. Somewhat of a surprise was a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher that called several times from the coyote bush, but never appeared. Thinking the habitat was suitable, I had been broadcasting for a minute or two before the answer came back. We left that bird unseen, but were rewarded with a flyover Merlin before we finished the day up.

Greater White-fronted Goose
Cackling Goose "Aleutian"
Canada Goose
Wood Duck
Mallard
Gadwall
Green-winged Teal
Northern Pintail
Greater Scaup
Lesser Scaup
Common Goldeneye
Bufflehead
Common Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Wild Turkey
California Quail
Pied-billed Grebe
Eared Grebe
Western Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
Snowy Egret
Great Egret
Great Blue Heronz
Turkey Vultre
Osprey
White-tailed Kite
Northern Harrier
Golden EAgle
Cooper's Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Merlin
Common Moorhen
American Coot
Killdeer
Ring-billed Gull
California Gull
Herring Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
White-throated Swift
Anna's Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Northern Flicker
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Black Phoebe
Westeren Kingbird
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Western Scrub Jay
American Crow
Common Raven
Tree Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Barn Swallow
Oak Titmouse
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Bushtit
White-breasted Nuthatch
Bewick's Wren
Marsh Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (heard only)
Western Bluebird
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Northern Mockingbird
California Thrasher
European Starling
Yellow-rumped Warbler
California Towhee
Spotted Towhee
Lark Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Western Meadowlark
Red-winged Blackbird
Bullock's Oriole
House Finch
Lesser Goldfinch
House Sparrow







Coyote Hills Regional Park/Don Edwards 03-10-07

For the past few days the weather has been absolutely fabulous--brilliant, warm and clear! This rather sudden change in conditions led me to believe we might see some hints of spring on our trip to Coyote Hills. We had already seen several species of Swallow in Point Reyes the week before, as well as several nesting Raptors. This week we would concentrate on the willows by the pond, as well as the various oaks, pines and flowering eucalyptus around the famous "Hoot Hollow" for possible migrant Passerines.

The ranger was late in opening the gate again, of course, so we occupied the first few minutes outside the preserve. No matter. The air was warm and the flowering mustard was so beautiful, spread across the field like a brilliant yellow carpet. We were treated to the jubilant songs of Common Yellowthroat, American Goldfinch, and Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Other birds seen here included Western Meadowlark, Red-winged Blackbird and American Pipit. In the distance a pair of White-tailed Kites mated and appeared to be setting up a nest in a small leafless tree.

 


Common Yellowthroat male. Photo by Patty McGann


Bushtit male. Photo by Patty McGann

Once we entered the park we explored the marsh, finding a handful of Northern Shovelers, Mallards, Gadwalls and Green-winged Teal. The willows, as expected were active. American Goldfinch dominated the scene, with many males beginning to show the bright yellow breeding plumage. Ruby-crowned Kinglet and both Zontrichia Sparrows were present too. At one point we had both Nuttall's and Downy Woodpeckers in view, allowing a nice comparison of their similar patterns. Marsh Wren songs were heard constantly in the reeds by only one or two birds were actually seen. We also located Hermit Thrush, Fox Sparrow, Spotted and California Towhees here, as well as a very defensive Bewick's Wren. A bit further up the road, beyond the barricade, we got wonderful looks at 2-3 Lincoln's Sparrows.


American Goldfinch male. Photo by Patty McGann


Nuttall's Woodpecker male. Photo by Patty McGann


Downy Woodpecker male. Photo by Patty McGann


Lincoln's Sparrow. Photo by Patty McGann


We returned to the lot where we scanned the trees above the picnic tables. Yellow-rumped Warblers, some of them beginning to show patches of breeding plumage, were seen as well as a pair of Golden-crowned Kinglets, which I don't recall ever seeing here. Despite this burst of activity, birding was generally a bit slow--too early, perhaps, for some of the breeding birds that will be see next term, but we kept looking.

The flowering eucalyptus and red trumpet flowers around the visitors center attracted a few Hummingbirds, some of which were Selasphorus. Based on length and shape of bill, as well as coloration on the back, we identified both Rufous and Allen's among them. As we watched the flowers a covey of California Quail burst into flight from the enclosed garden and took shelter the underbrush.

Hoot Hollow was very quiet, except for a small group of Golden-crowned Sparrows and another Bewick's Wren. As always, we hiked up and over the hill toward the south pond where we located Greater Yellowlegs and Northern Pintail among the many Northern Shovelers, Mallards and Green-winged Teal. Despite more broadcasts of Sora and Virginia Rail, we were not able to elicit a response.

As we got closer to the bay, we spotted Savannah Sparrow and Say's Phoebe in the grassy hillsides, and the bay itself produced American Avocet, Bufflehead, Eared Grebe and some very distant American Wigeons. There were Gulls as well, but the heat shimmer made them too difficult to identify. We returned along the entrance road and spotted Common Moorhen, Pied-billed Grebe and Canada Geese in the marsh, and after a quick lunch, we caravanned to Don Edwards.

Class members Patty McGann and Pati Rouzer's photo exhibit, "Bayland Babes" was a real highlight of the day! The subject was nestlings and juvenile birds seen in the various bay front preserves. The large images were on display in the Don Edwards visitors center and Patty answered questions about the work before we left the building and birded the preserve. The habitat is much more open at this preserve, with a wooden trail leading over the tidal marsh and along the salt ponds. The tide was too low for Rail viewing, but we saw several new birds including Greater Scaup, Glaucous-winged and Bonaparte's Gulls, Black-necked Stilt and Dunlin. We also managed to find Least Sandpiper, as well as both Long-billed and Short-billed Dowitchers, identified in large part by voice.

While not a remarkable day of numbers, we did see many hints of spring including courtship displays, mating, nest building, territorial defense, and singing, so much beautiful singing....

Canada Goose
Gadwall
American Wigeon
Mallard
Northern Shoveler
Northern Pintail
Green-winged Teal
Greater Scaup
Bufflehead
Ruddy Duck
Ring-necked Pheasant
California Quail
Pied-billed Grebe
Eared Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Turkey Vulture
White-tailed Kite
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Common Moorhen
American Coot
Killdeer
Black-necked Stilt
American Avocet
Greater Yellowlegs
Willet
Least Sandpiper
Dunlin
Long-billed Dowitcher
Short-billed Dowitcher
Bonaparte's Gull
California Gull
Western Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Caspian Teern (on Dumbarton Bridge)
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Anna's Hummingbird
Rufous Hummingbird
Allen's Hummingbird
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Black Phoebe
Say's Phoebe
Western Scrub Jay
American Crow
Common Raven
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Bushtit
Bewick's Wren
Marsh Wren
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Varied Thrush
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
American Pipit
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Savannah Sparrow
Fox Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Red-winged Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Brewer's Blackbird
House Finch
Lesser Goldfinch
American Goldfinch






Point Reyes 03-03-07

Due to the popularity of the outer point during whale migration there are no cars allowed beyond South Beach. Instead visitors must board a shuttle at Drake's Beach. We've done this before, and while it is fun, we'd much rather move around independently. So this time we occupied ourselves with areas that didn't involve the shuttle.

It was an absolutely perfect day--sunny with mild temperatures, just right to for us to search for hints of spring. And hints of spring we found! Raptors mating and perched on nests, aggressive males of various species defending species and many beautiful songs... The Bear Valley grove was loud in fact with the songs of European Starlings that briefly fooled us with their imitations of Pygmy Nuthatch, California Quail and Hermit Thrush. Impressive as these impersonations were, we had no trouble finding the actual species nearby. Varied Thrush were numerous and in voice. They foraged openly on the ground near the picnic tables. American Robins were also here, allowing for interesting comparisons of their different body shape and behavior. Soon after entering the grove we began to hear the high, Chickadee-like calls of the Golden-crowned Kinglets. A quick broadcast of the song provoked and immediate response from a male, which came down from the upper branches and displayed is flaming crown. Wow! Similarly aggressive was a Winter Wren, which really never stopped singing while we worked the area. The tiny Pygmy Nuthatches were also seen foraging high in the branches and later came down for a better look. In the top of the tallest eucalyptus tree a pair of amorous Red-shouldered Hawks engaged for a few moments, creating a loud and visually confusing jumble of black and white checkerboard patterns with rufous. It was unhurried and quite beautiful--not nearly as brief as most birds. At several points we also encountered Selasphorus Hummingbirds, presumably Allen's, which is somewhat more expected this time of year. They flashed their coppery-flame gorgets and dove at each other repeatedly, pausing only for brief periods at the top of a bush. The beautiful color of the throat, in my mind at least, comes directly from the sun! Mixed with the iridescent lime-green of the back and it's positively one of the most shockingly beautiful sights in the world...



Pygmy Nuthatch. Photo by Patty McGann


Red-shouldered Hawks. Photo by Patty McGann

From here we caravanned to Olema Marsh, where we located three species of Swallow over the water. Both Sora and Virginia Rail were heard in the reeds, Say's Phoebe was in the fennel, and our only Fox Sparrow of the day was found in the underbrush by the cars. The area produced some new Ducks for the day as well. We spotted several Cinnamon Teal, Mallard, Ruddy Duck, Bufflehed and a pair of Ring-necked Ducks in the ponds. Not surprisingly, Pied-billed Grebe and American Coot were there too. Marsh Wren sang loudly from the reeds, rounding out the likely Wren representatives for the day, unless we happened to come across an early House...

At the Inverness store we hoped to locate more diving birds. Greater Scaup was found right away, as were Surf Scoter, Horned, Western and Clark's Grebes, Red-throated and Common Loons. Obviously we began to see Gulls as well, Western and Glaucous-wing were the only two we were able to positively identify however. Several long strings of Double-crested Cormorants were seen flying into the bay and large flotillas of Aechmophus Grebes in the distance. If the heat shimmer had not already become so disruptive, we might have been able to pick something different in these huge groups of birds. My hope was perhaps to find a Long-tailed Duck among them. Across the water, a pair of Osprey were on the nest and occasionally flew out over the water to hunt for fish.

We moved on to the Johnson Oyster Company turnoff, finding large numbers of Ducks, most notably a Eurasian Wigeon among hundreds of Americans. Northern Pintail, Gadwall and Green-winged Teal were also there. Shorebirds we found included Willet, American Avocet, Black-necked Stilt, and Greater Yellowlegs.

We ate our lunch beneath the beautiful arching cypress canopy by the radio towers, after which we strolled to the end of the road. Few Warblers, all Yellow-rumped, were located, but in spring this area should be overrun with a variety of them. Today we were fortunate to locate a pair of Red-shouldered Hawks, an adult Peregrine Falcon and a Barn Owl, which was being chased by two American Crows. The nearby fields were active with Western Bluebirds. American Kestrel, Killdeer and Western Meadowlark.



Osprey. Photo by Patty McGann


Killdeer. Photo by Patty McGann

The next stop was Drake's Beach. The parking area was really crowded! Maybe because of people waiting to board the shuttles, or maybe simply because it was such a beautiful day... But it sure seemed like all of Marin County was here having picnics, playing Frisbee or flying kites... We dealt with it though and came away with several new birds for the day. We began by searching among the multitudes of birds off shore for anything new or unusual. Most interesting was a large flock of Brant, which was about a mile away. They swam in a tight group, and later flew off only to return again to the same area. Double-crested Cormorants swam close to shore, and slightly farther out a single Brandt's Cormorant was spotted. Aechmophorus Grebes, Surf Scoters, Common and Red-throated Loons were present as well. Gulls on Shore were mostly Western and Mew, with a few Ring-billed and Glaucous-winged, but no Californias, which surprised me. The rocks down the beach produced a group of Black Turnstones and a Semipalmated Plover. Willet were numerous and easily located, and among them was a Marbled Godwit. No Sanderlings were found--also a bit surprising! But the beach was crowded with people so perhaps the little birds moved to more peaceful surroundings.

Before leaving the area we scanned the willows for Passerines. Large numbers of Yellow-rumped Warblers were obvious, with more than one Townsend's mixed in for brilliant color's sake. We moved slowly through the gap leading to the pond and Yellow-rumps became even more abundant. A single Warbler with slightly different markings appeared among them. Its undertail coverts were strongly yellow, but otherwise it was drably colored. The conspicuous supercilium, more subtly bared wings, and tail bobbing were also different for the other birds. It was a Palm Warbler! Within a microsecond, everyone's eyes were on the bird. Cameras started to click frantically as the bird crisscrossed the trail and paused briefly on one bush after another and then disappearing. In an effort to relocate the bird, Joan began exploring slightly ahead of the group. It reappeared uphill and to her right. "Joan, stop moving!!" I yelled. I'm not sure she could see from where she stood but she froze in mid step and even held her breath as she waited for the go ahead. The cameras kept clicking...



Townsend's Warbler. Photo by Patty McGann


Palm Warbler. Photo by Patty McGann

Patty's wonderful photograph shows clearly the strong supercilium, yellow undertail coverts and the rufous crown color of the bird's alternate plumage that is beginning to appear faintly through the basic gray. It was probably the most unexpected bird of the day, and cooperative enough for more than a few photos to be taken.

After this excitement it was time for us to head toward Point Reyes Station for dinner. We broke into two tables at the cafe, the second of which had to wait an additional 45 minutes to be served! Oh, well. We were so happy after this great day of birding that it didn't seem like such a big deal...

Red-throated Loon
Common Loon
Pied-billed Grebe
Horned Grebe
Eared Grebe
Western Grebe
Clark's Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
Brandt's Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Brant
Green-winged Teal
Cinnamon Teal
Mallard
Northern Pintail
Gadwall
American Wigeon
Eurasian Wigeon
Ring-necked Duck
Greater Scaup
Lesser Scaup
Surf Scoter
Bufflehead
Ruddy Duck
Turkey Vulture
Osprey
White-tailed Kite
Northern Harrier
Cooper's Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Peregrine Falcon
Wild Turkey (San Geronimo Valley)
California Quail
Virginia Rail
Sora
Common Moorhen
American Coot
Black-bellied Plover
Semipalmated Plover
Killdeer
Black-necked Stilt
American Avocet
Greater Yellowlegs
Willet
Long-billed Curlew
Marbled Godwit
Black Turnstone
Least Sandpiper
Mew Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Western Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Mourning Dove
Barn Owl
Anna's Hummingbird
Allen's Hummingbird
Acorn Woodpecker
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Black Phoebe
Say's Phobe
Tree Swallow
Violet-green Swallow
Barn Swallow
Steller's Jay
Western Scrub Jay
American Crow
Common Raven
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Pygmy Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
Bewick's Wren
Winter Wren
Marsh Wren
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Western Bluebird
Hermit Thrush
Varied Thrush
American Robin
European Starling
Wrentit
Loggerhead Shrike
Hutton's Vireo
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Townsend's Warbler
Palm Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Savannah Sparrow
Fox Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Red-winged Blackbird
Brewer's Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
House Finch
Pine Siskin
House Sparrow






Wilder Ranch/coastal Big Basin State Park 02-24-07

This our first class trip to Wilder Ranch. Considering the weather forecast included a 40 percent chance of rain, it seemed this would make a better choice than a makeup trip to Merced... We'd be closer to home if things got really stormy, but I wanted the group to decide what it wanted. So the decision was handed with a vote and Wilder won by a landslide.

It was cloudy and cool, wth occasional sprikles, when we arrived in the lot and generally things were pretty quiet for a couple of hours. We strolled down to the farmhouse, hoping to pick up a few Passerines in the budding willows. Zontotrichia species were abundant on the lawn and within a short time I announced that this was the day our group would find a White-throated Sparrow. We looked at every darn Sparrow, finding great numbers of both White and Golden-crowned feeding in segregated groups, but nothing unusual among them. As we stood by the house we spoke with a bike ranger who informed us that the east half of the park was closed due to muddy trails. I did what I normally do and stopped in mid sentence to yell that something was flying through. In this case it was a Merlin, what buzzed past at full speed. It banked over the barn and allowed us a reasonable look before it was gone. The ranger was polite, despite my rude interruption, and continued to tell us that the coastal trail was still open. Thanks we said. And she took off on her bike.

Back to the Sparrows. It would take some time to find our target, apparently... We moved on. Says' and Black Phoebe foraged over a field and perched next to eachother at one point and across the road two Bobcats appeared. One cat was smaller, and we supposed younger, than the other. Both had reddish tones on their legs and the familiar short tail.


Black Phoebe. Photo by Ken Lillis


Bobcat. Photo by Ken Lillis

Somewhere in here Eric found a Selasphorus species Hummingbird, which would be our first of the season. But it got a way and was never specfically identified. We continued to the creek where we'd seen the Bobcats and found Ruby-crowned Kinglet displaying it's firey crown repeadly in answer to the iPod. He sure was charged up! American Goldfinch, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Oak Titmouse and Bushtit were also here, as well as Spotted Towhee and Bewick's Wren. Things started to pick up a bit and as we stood on the little bridge sorting through the many Sparrows in the underbrush, a brightly-marked black-and-white-striped White-throated Sparrow appeared! YES! We managed to get a few people on the bird, but it scooted away before everyone had seen this uncommon bird. Someone asked if this was also the day we'd see Elegant Trogon... I'd see what I could do.


Bewick's Wren. Photo by Ken Lillis

We returned to the cars, shed a layer or two and headed out to the creekmouth. The colors of the budding trees below the trail were breathtaking. Soft, rich earthy tones impossible to adequately describe. Imagine a mist tinted with rusty gold, maroon and sage and maybe you'd have a rough sense of how painted it was. With the slate-colored clouds overhead, the cool mist and the sound of the ocean... Nothing could have been more beautiful. We'll just have to go back, no doubt about it.

Walking toward the ocean we were treated to courtship displays of the Northern Harriers, a side-by-side pair of White-tailed Kites, and the powerful flight of a female Merlin. California Quail, Fox and Lincoln's Sparrows were located in the underbrush, and Boyce and Linda also spotted a female Purple Finch. Once we arrived at the bench overlook the scene entirely changed. A wide beach with freshwater flowing from the creek produced a perfect area for hundreds of Gulls to gather. The group contained a huge variety of species, Mew, Ring-billed, California, Herring, Thayer's, Western, Glaucous-winged AND Glaucous. We had a lot of fun sorting through them all, afterwhich we cast our attention offshore where Red-throated, Pacific and Common Loons were spotted. Surf Scoter, Common Murre, Western and Horned Grebes were also present as well as a sea kayaker that Phil recognize a mile away!


Northern Harrier male. Photo by Ken Lillis

A short lunch break back by the cars before we were off again, this time to the coastal section of Big Basin State Park, located along Hwy 1 at Waddell Creek. By now it was drizzling and the park was eerily quiet. We managed to call up a chorus of Virginia Rails and Soras in the reeds by the entrance though, and further in we found two Hairy Woodpeckers on a dead pine, and a Hermit Thrush. We hoped to find a Red-breasted Sapsucker since many trees were decorated with their neat holes, but none appeared. Neither were we rewarded with Vaired Thrush. But just before we left we located a Winter Wren singing by the creek crossing. That was the last bird of the day, and a lifer for some.


Hermit Thrush. Photo by Ken Lillis

Strangely, we went the entire day without seeing a Yellow-rumped Warbler. Many expected Ducks were also AWOL. We did well however with the stated goal of White-throated Sparrow, and a surprise rarity, the Glauous Gull! We will probably visit Wilder Ranch again in spring, when the willows along the creek should provide looks at Warblers and other migrant species. Until then, we will have to content ourselves with the lingering winter birds.


Canada Goose
Mallard
Surf Scoter
Bufflehead
Common Merganser
California Quail
Red-throated Loon
Pacific Loon
Common Loon
Pied-billed Grebe
Horned Grebe
Western Grebe
Brown Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant
Brandt's Cormorant
Pelagic Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Snowy Egret
Turkey Vulture
White-tailed Kite
Northern Harrier
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Merlin
Virginia Rail
Sora
American Coot
Killdeer
Black Oystercatcher
Willet
Mew Gull
Ring-billed Gull
California Gull
Herring Gull
Thayer's Gull
Western Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Glaucous Gull
Common Murre
Rock Pigeon
Anna's Hummingbird
Selasphorus species

Nuttall's Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Black Phoebe
Say's Phoebe
Steller's Jay
Western Scrub Jay
American Crow
Common Raven
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Oak Titmouse
Bushtit
Bewick's Wren
Winter Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Wrentit
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Common Yellowthroat
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Fox Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Brewer's Blackbird
Purple Finch
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow






Panoche Valley (Merced/San Luis NWRs postponed) 02-17-07

The weather improved enough this week to allow our visit to Panoche to go forward, although one week late. Cricket and I saw a small group of Cattle Egrets flying over Hwy 25 just outside of Hollister and we made a quick stop at the school just north of the 25/J1 junction, where Red-breasted Sapsucker was easily seen from the car window... We hurried off, not wanting to be late and met the group in Paicines at the reservoir overlook. There we easily found both Bald Eagles, one adult and one immature. Waterbirds were numerous and included both Eared and Horned Grebes as well as both Aechmophorus species. Greater Scaup and Canvasback were numerous on the far end, and several Common Mergansers were mixed into the group. Other birds of interest here, simply because it would be all day until we encountered so much water, were a colony of Black-crowned Night Heron, Greater Yellowlegs and Killdeer. We saw the first of many Zonotrichia Sparrows here, but nothing unexpected. Mostly, this first stop was spent enjoying the Bald Eagles and satisfying our need for waterbirds on a day that would be spent primarily in dry country.

So we set out on J1 quickly, stopping at several traditionally birdy areas. The first pullout was by the famous Owl cliff where we hoped to find something sleeping in one of the caves. Well, that didn't happen, but we swept up a variety of other birds such as American Kestrel, a singing California Thrasher, Bewick's Wren, Wrentit, a lone Lark Sparrow perched on a wire for several minutes. Most exciting was a singing Greater Roadrunner! This last bird sat in full view on a fence by the residence and gave his dove-like call repeatedly. Bob Lewis's group showed up as we were leaving and luckily many members of his group were also able to view the bird.

Next we stopped at the Golden Eagle/Prairie Falcon cliff where Golden Eagle was easily located as it flew up and over the ridge, dwarfing the nearby Sharp-shinned Hawk. Numerous White-throated Swifts were also circling the tower-like rock formation but still we found no Rock or Canyon Wrens. Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Nuttall's Woodpecker were found however, so we were still logging several new species at each stop.

Things started to slow down then, with 2 or 3 birdless stops. Despite repeated playbacks in appropriately rocky habitat, we simply could not get a response from any Rock Wrens or Rufous-crowned Sparrows. Before long, we would recover the Sparrow in the same area we had the year before...

In no particular order the following stops, perhaps out of sequence, produced more than a few new birds for the day. One particularly productive stop was in an area where the road dips a bit and a small farm provides widely spaced oak trees where we have often found Phainopepla. Today, as we pulled off the road, we spotted a few Wild Turkeys on the hillside and several loudly calling Yellow-billed Magpies. With more effort we were able to locate a Wilson's Snipe along the creek below the road and finally a pair of Phainopepla that were perched high in a tree. Oddly, another highlight here was House Sparrow, our first for the day!


Yellow-billed Magpie. Photo by Jeff Mencher

There was also a wide plateau with a firehouse and many widely spaced oaks... perfect habitat for Lewis's Woopeckeer, as well as Phainopela because of all the mistletoe. Sure enough, we saw a dark Woodpecker perched along the road and stopped to admire a lone Lewis's Woodpecker on a telephone pole. It stayped put cooperatively, affording many of us the best look we'd ever had of this uncommon species. Several people also were able to see a Ferruginous Hawk perched in a distant tree before it flew off and disappeared.


Lewis's Woodpecker. Photo by Brooke Miller

There is a narrow passage that winds between steep hillsides and a creek crossing that has been paved to allow floodwater to flow over the road. A gravel pullout accommodated all of our 8 cars comfortably and we set to the task of finding the Rufous-crown with the help of the iPod. In a very short time, we had two Rufous-crowns perched in a small leafless tree watching us curiously. They remained motionless for a short time before dashing into a brush pile a few yards away. With patience most of us were able to get good looks at the birds, which foraged among both White-crowned and Golden-crowned Sparrows.

From here we rushed a bit, passing through a grassy area where we have often found Prairie Falcon, but today we were motivated by hunger to reach the valley where we would have lunch. As we dropped in elevation, we encountered our first Savannah Sparrows along the fenceline, as well as a small group of Long-billed Curlews farther out in the field.

Lunch at the diner was fine. We sat at the outdoor tables, arriving just before the enormous Audubon group from Albany, some 20 cars I think! They reported many of the same birds we had, but our lists differed slightly.

After eating, we continued south past the junction in search of Mountain Bluebirds, which we could not locate. Neither could we locate any Chukar at Shotgun pass, despite a 45-minute search. Oh, well. I don't think they really exist. They're just made up by other birders to confuse and frustrate our group. One new bird for this area however was a Rock Wren seen by several members of the group, as well as a flyby Prairie Falcon on the east slope before the neighboring valley.

So next, of course, was Mercey Hot Springs where Larry collected our money and showed us a single pine tree that contained as many as 20 Long-eared Owls! This year's count is truly astounding! The species has recently been dependable here, but Clay Kempf's group reported 37 birds which must be a record. Our team counted a minimum of 26 which is certainly also impressive. Some of us took pictures of the spectacle, while others could simply stare and remark on the surreal experience! Barn Owl was reported by some members who explored the grove on the east end of the resort.


Long-eared Owl. Photo by Brooke Miller


Long-eared Owls. Photo by Brooke Miller


Long-eared Owl. Photo by Ken Lillis


Long-eared Owl. Photo by Ken Lillis


Long-eared Owl. Photo by Ken Lillis

Again, the Albany group rolled up after us, dragging a huge train of cars. Larry and his partner must be doing well at $5 a head... So we moved on.

The next stop was the BLM road, where Rusty Scalf pointed out a small group of Horned Larks by the gate. Continuing uphill, we hoped to find some sage-specialists, but as Rusty reported, domestic sheep had grazed heavily, reducing the amount of suitible habitat considerably. Still, with a little playback we were able to coax out 3 Sage Thrashers from a patch of saltbrush. No Sage Sparrows were located despite much effort.

It was getting late, so we sped toward I5 and the Little Panoche Reservoir. We stopped to see the faintly visible face of a Barn Owl in one of the mud caves at the famous Lark Bunting wash. A late afternoon highlight was a single Mountain Bluebird male, perched for a moment or two along the road, in perfect view of the cars. The reservoir produced great numbers of Tricolored Blackbirds, and several Green-winged Teal. After that we made our way toward home, exhausted and fulfilled. Several target birds had been located, and among them the Sage Thrasher, a species I very much wanted to see with group.


Mountain Bluebird. Photo by Ken Lillis


Sunset at Little Panoche Reservoir. Photo by Jeff Mencher

Mallard
Gadwall
Green-winged Teal
American Wigeon
Northern Shoveler
Cinnamon Teal
Canvasback
Ring-necked Duck
Greater Scaup
Common Goldeneye
Bufflehead
Common Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Wild Turkey
California Quail
Pied-billed Grebe
Horned Grebe
Eared Grebe
Clark's Grebe
Western Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
Black-crowned Night Heron
Cattle Egret (Hwy 25 outside Hollister)
Snowy Egret
Great Egret
Great Blue Heron
Turkey Vulture
Northern Harrier
Golden Eagle
Bald Eagle
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Ferruginous Hawk
American Kestrel
Prairie Falcon
American Coot
Killdeer
Willet
Greater Yellowlegs
Long-billed Curlew
Least Sandpiper
Wilson's Snipe
Ring-billed Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Greater Roadrunner
Barn Owl
Long-eared Owl
White-throated Swift
Anna's Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Lewis's Woodpecker
Acorn Woodpecker
Red-breasted Sapsucker
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Black Phoebe
Say's Phoebe
Loggerhead Shrike
Hutton's Vireo
Steller's Jay
Western Scrub Jay
Yellow-billed Magpie
American Crow
Common Raven
Horned Lark
Tree Swallow
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Oak Titmouse
Bushtit
White-breasted Nuthatch
Rock Wren
Bewick's Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Western Bluebird
Mountain Bluebird
American Robin
Hermit Thrush
Wrentit
Northern Mockingbird
Sage Thrasher
California Thrasher
European Starling
American Pipit
Phainopepla
Orange-crowned Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Rufous-crowned Sparrow
Lark Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Fox Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Red-winged Blackbird
Tricolored Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Brewer's Blackbird
House Finch
Lesser Goldfinch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow







Coyote Point Museum/Redwood Shores (Panoche Valley postponed due to rain) 02-10-07

As the headline suggests, our trip to Panoche Valley was postponed because of dismal weather. Anyone who has been there during or after a day of rain knows that conditions are not conducive to birding. So, in the interest of safety and birdability, we stayed local and got home early enough for lunch by the fire.

As soon as our little group arrived at Coyote Point we could hear several Varied Thrushes calling from around the museum. We saw at least six of them on the upper lawn and in several other places. Hermit Thrush were also easily coaxed out of the underbrush around the Captain's House. We saw only one Woodpecker, a Nuttall's Woodpecker in this same area. Sparrows were numerous, mostly Golden-crowned and White-crowned, with a dozen Fox Sparrows spread around the area. Pygmy Nuthatches were very vocal near othe harbor overlook, and provided good looks as well.

As we made our way to the water, we stopped to examine a group of Sparrows around the parking lot. One Fox Sparrow appeared to be a partial albino, with patches of white on its back and wings. Oddly, we also found a House Finch with a nearly complete white head... This group also contained an Orange-crowned Warbler.

In the trees beside the golf course, leading toward the PGE substation, we encountered more Varied Thrush and Fox Sparrows, as well as a Townsend's Warbler. The marsh on the far end contained Cinnamon Teal, Hooded Merganser and Greater Yellowlegs among the many Mallards, Great and Snowy Egret. It was in this area where we also found our first Song and Savannah Sparrows.

A big highlight of the day was the male Harlequin Duck which was found with some work on the inside of the concrete slabs by the harbor mouth. Black Turnstone, Least and Western Sandpipers were numerous here, and we also found two Black Oystercatchers. Black-bellied Plover, Dunlin, Marbled Godwit, Long-billed Curlew and Whimbrel were foraging in the mudflats side by side. Two Forster's Terns and Mew Gulls were resting nearby and of course there were many other Gulls seen, especially Glaucous-winged Gulls. Horned and Eared Grebes, Surf Scoter and Bufflehead were present as well.

On our way back to the cars, a female MERLIN made a brief appearance, but quickly got away before everyone got a chance to see her.

Redwood Shores was rather quiet when we arrived. We did find three Blue-winged Teals in the main pond, as well as both other Teals, Gadwalls, Northern Pintails and American Wigeons. Several Hooded Merganser and Common Goldeneye were swimming in the channel by the dog run.

The Davit Lane pond had a few birds for us as well, a male Redhead was easily seen as it paddled just a few yards off shore, as was a male Red-breasted Merganser. The rest of the group contained Ruddy Ducks and Mallards.

At Nob Hill, we were able to pick the adult male Eurasian Wigeon in the pond behind the parking lot. The gathering of Ducks was impressive, but we didn't locate anything else unusual. American Pipit and Killdeer were seen along the edges of the water.

Pied-billed Grebe
Horned Grebe
Eared Grebe
Western Grebe
Clark's Grebe
Brown Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Turkey Vulture
Canada Goose
Gadwall
Eurasian Wigeon
American Wigeon
Mallard
Blue-winged Teal
Cinnamon Teal
Northern Shoverler
Northern Pintail
Green-winged Teal
Canvasback
Redhead
Greater Scaup
Surf Scoter
Harlequin Duck

Bufflehead
Common Goldeneye
Hooded Merganser
Red-breasted Merganser
Ruddy Duck
White-tailed Kite
Northern Harrier
Cooper's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Merlin
American Coot
Black-bellied Plover
Killdeer
Black Oystercatcher
Black-necked Stilt
American Avocet
Greater Yellowlegs
Willet
Whimbrel
Long-billed Curlew
Marbled Godwit
Black Turnstone
Western Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
Dunlin
Short-billed Dowitcher
Long-billed Dowitcher
Mew Gull
Ring-billed Gull
California Gull
Herring Gull
Western Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Forster's Tern
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Anna's Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Black Phoebe
Western Scrub Jay
American Crow
Common Raven
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Bushtit
Pygmy Nuthatch
Bewick's Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Varied Thrush
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
American Pipit
Orange-crowned Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Townsend's Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
California Towhee
Savannah Sparrow
Fox Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Red-winged Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Brewer's Blackbird
House Finch
House Sparrow








Venice Beach/Princeton Harbor 02-03-07

Today we practiced a our Gull-identification skills on the massive flock at Venice Beach in Half Moon Bay. Actually, by the time our group had assembled at the overlook, the majority of birds had left to scavenge at the dump on the coastal ridge. This is shocking because, even with that exodus, the assembly was enormous! We scoured the group for rarities, but found nothing unexpected. No Glaucous or Slaty-back... Satisfaction came with recognizing several age groups among the common birds. First winter Western and Glaucous-winged were relatively easy to identify, while California and Herring were more difficult. Adult birds were generally straight forward, as long as they were the extremes of their big-small, dark-light extremes, but second and third-cycle were more difficult. We tried, and in many cases, succeeded, in identifying them. Most challenging was the Thayer's Gulls, which were sprinkled among the others and difficult to isolate. It was a massive undertaking, not helped by the constant moving among the group. Anyway, a happy (non-Gull) discovery was the male Wood Duck that has been reported on and off at the creek mouth and who has not acquired beautiful fresh plumage, quite a bit more shiny than the last time we saw him! Nothing confusing or subtle about him. Off shore there were also a few Diving Ducks including a White-winged Scoter swimming near the more numerous Surfs.


Enormous flock of Slaty-backed Gulls at Venice Beach, Half Moon Bay, CA... Ok, maybe not. Photo Ken Lillis


How many Gull species do you see here? Photo Ken Lillis


Wood Duck. Photo Ken Lillis


Immature Red-tailed Hawk. Photo Ken Lillis

We left the beach late morning to try our luck at the harbor, where we hoped to find the Long-tailed Ducks. Sure enough, after a brief search from the end of the commercial we were able to view two Long-tails. They were a little too far to tell gender for sure, but I believe it was one male and one female. We located a couple of Black Oystercatchers and a Black Turnstone on the jetty as well as Double-crested and Brandt's Cormorant. Greater Scaup and Common Goldeneye were fairly numerous, but Buffleheads were by far the most common. We had close looks at Common Loon and a great comparison between Eared and Horned Grebes. A very nice surprise was a Common Murre paddling among the boats in the harbor, quite visible with binoculars.

From there we caravanned to the Pillar Point parking area where several people saw the California Thrasher by the entrance. By now we were also seeing quite a few Sparrows, mostly Golden and White-crowneds, but also Song and Fox. Common Yellowthroat and Marsh Wren were skulking around in the undergrowth of the marsh as well, and both responded to coaxing. As we made our way to the rock jetty we stopped to examine the cypress trees which were strangely silent. Not a single Yellow-rump was seen here, but a Varied Thrush made a dramatic appearance and called several times. Continuing to the ocean we had two Peregrine Falcons calling overhead as they harrassed an immature Red-tailed Hawk. There was little or no activity at the beach so we busied our selves with finding the last of three Cormorants, a Pelagic, which was perched on one of the buoys. Those who didn't see the Varied Thrush on the way out (like me) were able to see in as we returned to our cars, after which we had lunch together at the Half Moon Bay Brewery.


Willet. Photo Ken Lillis


Varied Thrush. Photo Ken Lillis

It wasn't a day of rarities or high numbers by any means, but we all got a good work out recognizing the molt pattern of Gulls and using precise topographic terms to refer to different feather groups. Who needs a Slaty-backed or Glaucous Gull, when you can identify and appreciate the subtle beautiful pattern of a first-cycle Glaucous-wing's median coverts...?

Common Loon
Pied-billed Grebe
Horned Grebe
Eared Grebe
Western Grebe
Clark's Grebe
Brown Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant
Brandt's Cormorant
Pelagic Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Turkey Vulture
Wood Duck
Gadwall
Mallard
Cinnamon Teal
Greater Scaup
Surf Scoter
White-winged Scoter
Long-tailed Duck
Bufflehead
Common Goldeneye
Ruddy Duck
Northern Harrier
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Peregrine Falcon
American Coot
Killdeer
Black Oystercatcher
Wilet
Black Turnstone
Sanderling
Mew Gull
California Gull
Herring Gull
Thayer's Gull
Western Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Common Murre
Rock Pigeon
Anna's Hummingbird
Black Phoebe
Say's Phoebe
Western Scrub Jay
Common Raven
Bewick's Wren
Marsh Wren
American Robin
Varied Thrush
California Thrasher
European Starling
Common Yellowthroat
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee

Fox Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Red-winged Blackbird
Brewer's Blackbird
House Finch





Vic Fazio Yolo Wildlife Area 01-27-07

This was the first time our group had visited this preserve together and after last month's successful scouting trip, my expectations were high for American Bittern, wintering Waterfowl, and perhaps even Tundra Swans. Well, the Swans were not present today, and Anseriiform numbers were generally lower than ideal, but weather was wonderful and many great birds were located, including the hoped-for American Bittern.

On our drive into the area, our car had a Great-tailed Grackle among the many roadside Blackbirds, and before the whole group arrived at the ranger station, Ashutosh spotted a Eurasian Collared Dove flying overhead. When everyone was finally assembled at the Chiles Road ranger station we worked the trees and nearby pond for a while. Sparrows, mostly White-crowned and Golden-crowned were abundant, but there were also Song and Lincoln's present. A pair of Hermit Thrushed appeared behind the trailer and was well seen. Of course there were also loads of Yellow-rumped Warblers foraging actively in the trees. Severeal Yellow-billed Magpies seemed to be guarding the office building while a Northern Mockingbird oversaw the garden.


Lincoln's Sparrow. Photo Patty McGann

Eventually, we moved to the preserve proper, where we found numerous Cinnamon Teal and Northern Shovelers along the loop road. One pair of Blue-winged Teal was present among them, as well as a few Bufflehead. The first of many Wilson's Snipe was seen here, crouching along the water's edge. Northern Harrier and Red-tailed Hawk were spotted as they passed over the marsh, scattering great numbers of Blackbirds and Ducks as they went.

We then consolidated cars and set out on the loop. Our first stop was beside a large flooded field. On our previous trip, this section was filled with Shorebirds of various kinds and great numbers of Ducks. Today there were fewer, but still a nice variety. Dunlin, Long-billed Dowitcher and Killdeer were found easily. Most exciting were a trio of Horned Larks that nervously flew back and forth over the marsh in tight formation before settling ont he path close to our group. An American Bittern passed in front of us and everyone got great looks at it as it landed within view and stalked around the edge of the field. Later it landed even closer, right along the road before disapearing into the tall grass.


Horned Lark. Photo Patty McGann


Horned Lark. Photo Patty McGann


American Bittern. Photo Patty McGann

We moved again to a large pool with deeper water. There we were able to find American Wigeon, Northern Pintail and Common Goldeneye. Several Herring Gulls took turns feeding on a carcass. Our only Prairie Falcon of the day appeared over the levy. Luckily we were able to see the black axillaries, otherwise it would have been hard to identify because of the distance.


Marsh Wren. Photo Patty McGann

The check-in station was a good place for us to broadcast for Rails, which responded immediately to the iPod. Sora and Virginia were present, and a split second glimpse of one bird as it jumped up and back into the reeds was our only look. Dark brown color and not-so-tiny size suggests this was a Virginia Rail. As we stood there watching patiently, a ranger explained where and where-not we could walk. He told us that if we wanted, we could walk right into the area where we were hearing the Rails to get a look. He demonstrated, by stomping through the reeds and most likely pushing the birds farther away from view. I'm not sure this was helpful demonstration, but at least he was pleasant and wasn't carrying a rifle...

We made our way to the nature trail, finding first a small group of Egrets which also contained our only White-faced Ibis of the day. Pausing to admire them, we also noticed great numbers of Wilson's Snipe that repeatedly flushed from the underbrush. There might have been 20 Snipe in this area, perhaps even more! The nature trail led us through a weedy section where huge numbers of Savanna Sparrows and Western Meadowlarks were seen. Along the riparian section our only Spotted Towhee and Great Horned Owl were encounterd. As the trail led back to the cars we scanned the pond finding Least Sandpiper, more Long-billed Dowitchers and several Greater Yellowlegs. As we approached the lot, Ken was seated near a small grove of trees. He reported seeing many of the same birds but that he had also seen a Downy Woodpecker, which we were able to relocate in a few seconds with the help of a short broadcast. Pure magic!


Greater Yellowlegs. Photo Patty McGann

So we left the Vic Fazio soon after that and stopped along the south side of the Putah Creek bridge on Mace Bouldeveard... No Ovenbird to report despite a thorough search. Oh, well. We moved on to Robinson Road. Our only Canada Geese and California Gull were seen along Hwy 113 as we made our way to the rendez vous. More than likely, the two pale Buteos we spotted as we zoomed to our destination were Ferruginous. No matter, we were able to find a Ferruginous Hawk perched in a tree along Robinson before long. The bird was puzzling at first because it appeared to have a wide sub terminal band and lacked any rufous tones. But careful examination of the other features, such as the pale iris and white belly, dark flanks and "eagle's gape" suggested juvenile Ferruginous. Most exciting was a female Rough-legged Hawk that flew over the road, displaying every field mark necessary to make a positve identification! Unfortunately, no Mountain Plovers were located, but enough other good stuff was found so I'm not complaining.


Pied-billed Grebe
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
Gadwall
American Wigeon
Mallard
Blue-winged Teal
Cinnamon Teal
Northern Shoveler
Northern Pintail
Green-winged Teal
Bufflehead
Common Goldeneye
White-tailed Kite
Northern Harrier
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Ferruginous Hawk
Rough-legged Hawk
American Kestrel
Prairie Falcon
Ring-necked Pheasant
Virginia Rail
Sora (heard only)
Common Moorhen
American Coot
Killdeer
Black-necked Stilt
Greater Yellowlegs
Willet
Long-billed Curlew
Least Sandpiper
Dunlin
Long-billed Dowitcher
Wilson's Snipe
Bonaparte's Gull
Ring-billed Gull
California Gull
Herring Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Eurasian Collared Dove
Great Horned Owl
Anna's Hummingbird
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Black Phoebe
Say's Phoebe
Loggerhead Shrike
Western Scrub Jay
Yellow-billed Magpie
American Crow
Horned Lark
Tree Swallow
Bushtit
Marsh Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
American Pipit
Cedar Waxwing
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Spotted Towhee
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Great-tailed Grackle
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow