Jack Sparrows Spring Birdathon 2008 Trip Report

The Jack Sparrows, Ginger and Barry Langdon-Lassagne, completed our all-day birdathon yesterday. We enjoyed a successful Earth Day birdathon with the weather holding steady despite the forecast of occasional showers. We strove to minimize the environmental impact of our birding by planning a route that minimized our driving. We supplemented our driving by strapping our bikes to the back of our Prius and using the bikes to cover areas that we might otherwise have covered by short-hop driving. Also, we hiked extensively. And we picked up litter in the parks as we birded.

There was no single "bird of the day" for us, no great rarities, but there were many memorable bird encounters. At Picchetti Ranch a family of three HAIRY WOODPECKERs happily fed and called right in front of us. We had gorgeous looks at a Wilson's Warbler at the top of Stevens Creek Reservoir. On the reservoir itself a Spotted Sandpiper repeatedly flew across the lake and back, doing its tail-bobbing thing every time it landed. On Salt Pond A1 near Shoreline Lake, at least five BLACK SKIMMERs were snoozing on a small island. We rode bikes from Charleston Slough to Palo Alto Baylands: at the baylands we saw a WHIMBREL and a LONG-BILLED CURLEW near each other - both birds had eluded us last year. BONAPARTE'S GULLS made us happy by flying over at the baylands as well as later at Alviso. As we were biking behind the Sunnyvale Water Pollution Control Plant we got lovely views of two alternate-plumaged EARED GREBEs. After hunting at Shoreline Golf Course, Sunnyvale Baylands, Alviso Environmental Education Center and the fields behind Jubilee we were ready to give up on seeing a BURROWING OWL, but then one helpfully perched on top of a chain link fence as we cruised down Disk Drive! Stopping on the commute up to Ed Levin County Park, we heard and finally found a ROCK WREN and watched several VAUX'S SWIFTs flying among a huge flock of TREE SWALLOWS over Calaveras Road. At Ed Levin park we were pleased to discover the nest of a GREAT HORNED OWL, complete with giant fluffy owl baby, as well as the hoped-for RUFOUS CROWNED SPARROW (we saw at least five on our hike) and LAWRENCE'S GOLDFINCH. And as night was falling over Alviso, we were delighted to finally hear a WESTERN MEADOWLARK calling; this bird that had vexed us all day by not appearing in its usual locations.

Our bird total for the day was 129 species.


Driven 70 miles (averaging 43.3 mpg)

Bicycle 16.42 miles

Walking 7.5 miles, approximately

Locations covered and birds found

In transit - drove

American Crow 5:55am Lawrence Expressway

Stevens Creek Reservoir - drove

h,√ California Towhee

h,√ Spotted Towhee

h,√ Western Scrub Jay 6:05am

h,√ Bewick's Wren

h,√ House Finch

h,√ Song Sparrow


Double-crested Cormorant

h,√ Wrentit

Common Merganser

Forster's Tern

h,√ Mourning Dove

Caspian Tern

Black-crowned Night Heron 6:21am Stevens Creek Reservoir

Picchetti Ranch Open Space Preserve - drove, hiked 2+ miles

h,√ California Thrasher

h,√ Lesser Goldfinch

h,√ Acorn Woodpecker

h,√ American Robin

h,√ Anna's Hummingbird

h,√ Black-headed Grosbeak

h Western Wood-Pewee

h,√ California Quail

h,√ European Starling

h,√ White-crowned Sparrow

h,√ Dark-eyed Junco

Oak Titmouse 6:35am

h,√ Ash-throated Flycatcher (Also at Ed Levin County Park)

h,√ Nuttall's Woodpecker

h,√ Warbling Vireo

h,√ Northern Flicker

Yellow-rumped Warbler

h,√ Orange-crowned Warbler

h Downy Woodpecker 6:54am Picchetti Ranch - deeper forest

h,√ Chestnut-backed Chickadee

Steller's Jay

h Swainson's Thrush

Townsend's Warbler

Hutton's Vireo

h,√ Hairy Woodpecker 7:24am family of 3 birds !

h,√ Olive-sided Flycatcher

Black Phoebe 7:55am

h,√ Brown-headed Cowbird

Brewer's Blackbird

Band-tailed Pigeon

Cedar Waxwing (expected to hear before we saw)

Bullock's Oriole


Top of Stevens Creek Reservoir - drove, hiked 1/2 mile

Violet-green Swallow 8:15am


Wilson's Warbler !

h,√ Killdeer

American Dipper 8:36am Barry only :-(

h,√ Selasphorous Hummingbird (Also at Ed Levin County Park)

Spotted Sandpiper !

Rough-winged Swallow 9:04am

Red-tailed Hawk

h,√ American Goldfinch

McClellan Ranch Park - drove, hiked 1/2 mile

h,√ Red-winged Blackbird 9:45am

h,√ Rock Pigeon

Hooded Oriole

White-throated Swift 10:04am

h,√ Red-shouldered Hawk

Golden-crowned Sparrow

Western Bluebird (saw 4 total for the day)

Shoreline Lake and Charleston Slough - drove there, but bicycled all around (10.6 miles total)

h,√ Canada Goose 10:45am

Cliff Swallow

American Coot

Barn Swallow

h,√ Marsh Wren

Common Yellowthroat

Common Moorhen

Turkey Vulture

American Avocet

Marbled Godwit

Common Raven

Pied-billed Grebe Coast Casey Forebay

Ruddy Duck


Northern Harrier

Surf Scoter Shoreline Lake

Great Blue Heron (saw 9 total for the day)

Western Grebe

Black-necked Stilt

Snowy Egret

Greater Scaup

Black Skimmer 11:45am ! Salt Pond A1 - little island opposite Shoreline Lake

h,√ Northern Mockingbird

Great Egret

Ring-billed Gull 11:39am

Biking between Charleston Slough and Palo Alto Baylands - bicycle

Northern Shoveler Emily Renzel Wetlands

Dowitcher 11:58am

American Wigeon

Cinnamon Teal

Palo Alto Baylands - bicycle

Glaucous-winged Gull Palo Alto duck pond

Willet 12:26pm

Western Sandpiper

House Sparrow

Greater Yellowlegs

Green-winged Teal

Savannah Sparrow Palo Alto visitor center

Clark's Grebe the marina at Palo Alto baylands

Whimbrel 1:18pm !

Long-billed Curlew !

Bonaparte's Gull ! (also flyover at Alviso EEC)

Sunnyvale Baylands and Water Pollution Control Plant - hiked 1/2 mile, bicycled 5.8 miles from the baylands to the WPCP and back

Green Heron 2:43pm Sunnyvale Water Pollution Control Plant

American Pipit

California Gull

Eared Grebe !

White-tailed Kite 3:29pm Sunnyvale Baylands

Alviso - drove

Barn Owl 4:06pm Alviso EEC

Western Kingbird

Least Sandpiper

Semipalmated Plover ! State & Spreckels

Dunlin ! State & Spreckels

American Kestrel Jubilee

Burrowing Owl ! Disk Drive, Alviso

Calaveras Road - drove

Vaux's Swift Calaveras Road, Milpitas

Tree Swallow

Rock Wren ! Calaveras Road

Ed Levin County Park - drove, hiked 4 miles

Wild Turkey 5:11pm Ed Levin County Park

Great Horned Owl ! baby in nest

Lawrence's Goldfinch !

Rufous-crowned Sparrow !


h Grasshopper Sparrow

Yellow-billed Magpie

h Western Meadowlark ! Grand Blvd, Alviso

Ring-necked Pheasant 8:13pm


h heard only

identified by sight

h,√ identified first by voice, later saw

! this bird made us happy in some way