Thursday, 19 April 2018
The Adventures of "The Piratical Flycatchers"
as they wandered around the county in search of birds
Here's a version of the writeup that we did for the South-Bay-Birds email list (but you should really go read the PDF linked above):
Ginger and I (The Piratical Flycatchers) finished a lovely 24-hour Big Day Birdathon on Thursday April 19, starting at the bottom of Mount Umunhum Road where we heard a late-calling WESTERN SCREECH-OWL just before the dawn chorus greeted us with HERMIT THRUSH, WRENTIT and plenty of other forest regulars. Once it was light-ish, we proceeded down toward Almaden Reservoir. We stopped along the creek to listen and heard the song of a PACIFIC WREN and the call of a PACIFIC-SLOPE FLYCATCHER (photographed later). The Almaden Reservoir was covered in a lovely mist that thinned as the sun rose, showing us 8 RING-NECKED DUCKs (photographed), 1 WOOD DUCK (photo), 1 SPOTTED SANDPIPER (photo) and two flyover COMMON MERGANSERs (photo). Along the roadside we heard the first of what would be many ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHERs for the day. HOODED ORIOLEs (photographed later) were calling from the nearby palm trees and a pair of WHITE-TAILED KITEs (photo) were building a nest atop one of the Casuarina trees.
We then proceeded to Stile Ranch trailhead at Santa Teresa County Park where we were hoping to catch a glimpse of the reported Calliope Hummingbird. Alas, it was not to be seen by us or the other birders there in that hour (although it was reported later that morning), but we did get nice looks at a selasphorus, most likely ALLEN’S HUMMINGBIRD (photo). Hiking up Stile Ranch Trail we got great looks at RUFOUS-CROWNED SPARROWs (photo), LARK SPARROWs (photo), GRASSHOPPER SPARROWs (photo) and SAVANNAH SPARROWs (photo).
We stopped at Calero Reservoir and watched an OSPREY catch a fish (photos)! We also found several CLARK’S GREBEs and one EARED GREBE (photographed later at Alviso Slough).
At Joseph D. Grant County Park we found and heard several HOUSE WREN and several warblers including TOWNSEND’S WARBLER, BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER and WILSON’S WARBLER. Over Grant Lake we had flyovers of both a BALD EAGLE and a GOLDEN EAGLE (photos). There was also a flyover of 5 VAUX’S SWIFT.
We finally found our first YELLOW-BILLED MAGPIE on the drive up to Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve where we also saw more LARK SPARROWs and one HORNED LARK. The wind had started to kick up, which made it harder to bird. We had one selasphorus hummingbird zoom by as we hiked there.
Marsh Road got us a HUTTON’S VIREO, but no Lawrences Goldfinch.
At Ed Levin County Park we watched a GREAT BLUE HERON eat a very large Alligator Lizard (photos)! We watched an ALLEN’S HUMMINGBIRD do a nice diagnostic “pendulum” dance followed by a J-dive for us, but we saw no Calliope Hummingbirds here either.
The islands at the Alviso EEC were fairly empty, but an AMERICAN PIPIT (photo) we had found earlier in the week was still hanging out and a NORTHERN HARRIER flew by. State & Spreckels had a huge mixed flock of shorebirds which included 100+ DUNLIN, many in alternate plumage (photo), over 100 SEMIPALMATED PLOVERs and a couple SNOWY PLOVERs.
Alviso Marina was very windy, but I managed to photograph one of the EARED GREBEs on Pond A12. Across the railroad tracks in New Chicago Marsh there was a flock of 15 BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERs, several in alternate plumage (low-res digiscope photo; we got a better photo later at Charleston Slough, although not in alternate plumage). A MERLIN flew out over the marsh. Alas, no rails called in the Alviso Marina or at the Gold Street Bridge, although we did get our first COMMON GALLINULE in the Guadalupe River there.
The Sunnyvale Water Pollution Control Plant had a GREEN HERON in the waterway by the Bay Trail, surprising because there was a large crowd of runners and it was late in the day. Four GREAT-TAILED GRACKLE called and then appeared over the West Pond (photo).
Shoreline Lake had no Scoters that we could find. We were pleased to scope out four CANVASBACK at Pond A1. In Charleston Slough, a large mixed flock of MARBLED GODWITs and Dowitchers was close by the trail (photo). We scanned the dowitchers, which were in alternate plumage and based on the belly color and density of barring on the sides determined that they were mostly LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERs with some SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERs scattered among them. They didn’t call for us in the time we were there, which we know is a better differentiator. Two BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERs (photo) were also in the slough, one close by and the other on “Skimmer Island.”
As we were leaving Charleston Slough a PEREGRINE FALCON flew overhead and circled once (so we both got good looks!) and headed away, our last bird of the day.
I will post the photos on my pbase site at http://www.pbase.com/wilmot/birdathon_2018_spring once I’m done processing them.
Total number of bird species observed: 130
Taxonomic Order: 19 Canada Goose 1 Wood Duck 4 Cinnamon Teal 29 Northern Shoveler 7 Gadwall 3 American Wigeon 28 Mallard 13 Green-winged Teal 4 Canvasback 8 Ring-necked Duck 2 Lesser/Greater Scaup 4 Common Merganser 6 Ruddy Duck 7 California Quail 28 Wild Turkey 14 Pied-billed Grebe 2 Eared Grebe 3 Western Grebe 14 Clark's Grebe 12 Rock Pigeon 25 Band-tailed Pigeon 6 Eurasian Collared-Dove 15 Mourning Dove 5 Vaux's Swift 5 White-throated Swift 7 Anna's Hummingbird 4 Allen's Hummingbird 1 Common Gallinule 11 American Coot 80 Black-necked Stilt 8 American Avocet 15 Black-bellied Plover 2 Snowy Plover 100 Semipalmated Plover 7 Killdeer 30 Long-billed Curlew 600 Marbled Godwit 100 Dunlin 100 Least Sandpiper 129 Western Sandpiper 1 Short-billed Dowitcher 1 Long-billed Dowitcher 1 Spotted Sandpiper 2 Willet 2 Ring-billed Gull 21 California Gull 10 Caspian Tern 3 Forster's Tern 19 Double-crested Cormorant 8 Great Blue Heron 8 Great Egret 7 Snowy Egret 1 Green Heron 7 Black-crowned Night-Heron 26 Turkey Vulture 1 Osprey 3 White-tailed Kite 1 Bald Eagle 2 Northern Harrier 2 Red-shouldered Hawk 15 Red-tailed Hawk 1 Golden Eagle 1 Western Screech-Owl 3 Burrowing Owl 13 Acorn Woodpecker 3 Northern Flicker 1 American Kestrel 1 Merlin 1 Peregrine Falcon 6 Pacific-slope Flycatcher 17 Black Phoebe 7 Ash-throated Flycatcher 10 Western Kingbird 1 Hutton's Vireo 2 Warbling Vireo 12 Steller's Jay 14 California Scrub-Jay 10 Yellow-billed Magpie 23 American Crow 19 Common Raven 2 Horned Lark 5 Tree Swallow 6 Violet-green Swallow 3 Northern Rough-winged Swallow 34 Cliff Swallow 9 Barn Swallow 5 Chestnut-backed Chickadee 4 Oak Titmouse 7 Bushtit 3 White-breasted Nuthatch 3 House Wren 1 Pacific Wren 7 Marsh Wren 8 Bewick's Wren 2 Ruby-crowned Kinglet 4 Wrentit 20 Western Bluebird 4 Hermit Thrush 10 American Robin 12 Northern Mockingbird 21 European Starling 2 House Sparrow 1 American Pipit 25 House Finch 1 Purple Finch 15 Lesser Goldfinch 7 Spotted Towhee 9 Rufous-crowned Sparrow 17 California Towhee 4 Lark Sparrow 8 Savannah Sparrow 6 Grasshopper Sparrow 5 Song Sparrow 8 White-crowned Sparrow 14 Golden-crowned Sparrow 7 Dark-eyed Junco 9 Western Meadowlark 4 Hooded Oriole 4 Bullock's Oriole 29 Red-winged Blackbird 9 Brown-headed Cowbird 13 Brewer's Blackbird 4 Great-tailed Grackle 10 Orange-crowned Warbler 4 Common Yellowthroat 37 Yellow-rumped Warbler 1 Black-throated Gray Warbler 1 Townsend's Warbler 1 Wilson's Warbler 1 Black-headed Grosbeak Barry & Ginger Langdon-Lassagne The Piratical Flycatchers ~