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

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