Monday, December 30, 2013

SF and Marin trip recap

  Well, the pre-Christmas trip north turned up some good birds.  Sure, I missed the WINTER WREN in Inverness (it has been seen since I left), but that didn't get me down.
   I left before first light on 12/15.  First stop, Half Moon Bay, where a GLAUCOUS GULL was hanging out.  Saw the bird, pedaled on.  I was trying to make it up to San Francisco with time to bird.
  Fortunately, I did have plenty of time to bird there.  The ride up took 5 hours, so I got to the Golden Gate Park a bit before noon.  In the Botanical Garden, it took less than 15 minutes for the GRAY CATBIRD to show up.  Two very satisfying looks.  It took me back to Virginia, where in college these were yard birds.  So nice.
   The next morning I headed over the Golden Gate Bridge (again) and made for Point Reyes Station.   Gorgeous December weather.  Sunny and 60s!!!
  My friend Fiona Firefly put me up again, which once again proved to be an incredible staging area for bird finding by bike.  Riding from PR Station, you get some nice views of Tomales Bay and all many of it's marshes.  Then, up and over one big hill and down to Abbott's Lagoon.
  I got to Abbott's at 8:30 in the morning on 12/17.  It didn't take long to figure out which of the Ag. fields to walk through in order to find the right flock of birds.  Sure enough, the PACIFIC GOLDEN PLOVERS (4) were the first new birds I spotted in the flock of over 100 KILLDEER.  With them was a MOUNTAIN PLOVER, which allowed great views as well.   Finding the LAPLAND LONGSPURS was actually the hardest bird in the group for me.  I had only ever seen one, in Alabama.  To make things difficult, but also very interesting and fun, a flock of AMERICAN PIPITS flew in and at times was all around me.  Finally, I heard the LAPLAND LONGSPURS first.  Turns out, there were about two dozen mixed in the flock.  Wow, three new birds in one flock-in December no less!!!  Lucky me.
   And even though I had already seen them this year,  several FERRUGINOUS and one ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK were in the area as well.  It was an incredible day.
  Eventually, I made it home.  No need for gory, though glorious details about riding home along Highway 1 and the Pacific Ocean.  Great riding, great birds, great weather.  I love it when that happens.
Willets below during a Cliff House Seawatch in San Francisco

Black Turnstones and Surfbirds at the Cliff House

River Otter tracks and Beat Up Sibley's at Abbott's Lagoon

One of Several Ferruginous Hawks near Abbott's Lagoon in Point Reyes

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Going On Another Trip- Point Reyes

  Today is the first day of my winter vacation from work.  I don't have to start work again until after the new year.  I spent this morning sleeping in, though I took a slow walk through the yard at noon.  3 White-throated Sparrows and an Orange-Crowned Warbler seem to be winter residents this year.  The warbler sipped from a Red-breasted Sapsucker well.  A Cooper's Hawk flew high over head.  A high pressure system is moving in and temperatures are rising.  Beautiful weather again.  Just in time for another bike trip.
  So the plan is to leave early tomorrow morning- once again, before first light.  I'll stop in to see if the GLAUCOUS GULL that Alvaro Jaramillo found the other day  is still in Half Moon Bay.  Then on to the city.  I hope to get there early enough to try for the GRAY CATBIRD that has been in Golden Gate Park for the past couple of weeks.  One night in the city and then up to Point Reyes.
  I'm looking forward to getting up to Point Reyes again.  There have been a few good birds (that I still need) seen all clustered together near Abbott's Lagoon.  I missed the PACIFIC GOLDEN PLOVERS the last trip up there, but they have been reported there recently.  The fact that there are LAPLAND LONGSPURS and now a MOUNTAIN PLOVER very nearby, gives this trip some great potential.  A WINTER WREN was seen a couple of weeks ago in Inverness, but hasn't been seen lately.  Hopefully I can find a little time to poke around for it.
  Point Reyes is so beautiful that it doesn't really matter anyway.  There will be tons of great birds regardless of whether I've seen them or not.

On a different note, I just found my camera.  Here are a couple of semi-recent random pictures from various place.

The Local Harlequin-  This bird has took up residence at Pescadero State Beach a couple of years ago.  This was taken through my scope.  That's a female surf scoter diving behind him.

Modus at the Golden Gate on the last Point Reyes trip

Burrowing Owl- Okay, it's blurry, but it was fun finding this one.   

Elk at Sunrise in Point Reyes

Modus and the Sage Thrasher I found on the SF Bay.  I know you can't really see the bird well, but I thought it was cool to get them in the same shot. 

Sage Thrasher through the scope.  This was the first one I'd ever seen in San Mateo County.