Posts Tagged ‘Pt. Reyes’

CALIFORNIA BIRDING

September 16, 2012

I just got back from leading a six-day birding trip across Central California. We hit San Francisco, Pt. Reyes, Livermore, Sierra Foothills, Monterey and Big Sur. We had 149 species before six of our birders took the extension pelagic trip with Debbie Shearwater out of Monterey Harbor.
Biggest bird, of course, was a pair of California Condors about sixty feet overhead. They turned out to be father and son. Each free-flying condor carries a wing number.


Some other highlights included such California specialties as Oak Titmouse, Nuttall’s Woodpecker, the endemic Yellow-billed Magpie, California Thrasher on Mines Road south of Livermore, Townsend’s Warbler (a wintering species), Tricolored Blackbird on Pt. Reyes Peninsula and California Towhee.
Uncommon migrants included 2 Harlequins at Pt. Reyes, a Pectoral Sandpiper at Asilomar State Beach in Pacific Grove and a Chestnut-sided Warbler at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.
Birds that are generally not found east of the Sierra Nevada included: White-headed Woodpecker, Hermit Warbler, Sooty Shearwater, Black Turnstone, Surfbird, Black Oystercatcher, Heermann’s Gull.
Other birds of limited range included Elegant Tern, Marbled Godwit and Snowy Plover.
We saw hundreds of Red-necked Phalarope:

Altogether we had two dozen shorebird species on this trip.

BEACH BIRDS AND MORE

July 6, 2012

“Wish they all could be California birds….”                  –Beach Birds

Some general information: Whenever we are within ten miles of the coast, a cool wind and/or fog is possible. The northern Pacific Ocean does NOT warm up each summer as do the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico or southern Pacific. Due to currents and upwelling the surface of the Pacific along the Northern California Coast stays very close to 55 degres year round. Clearly that moderates the weather nearby. The cold water and upwelling make for very rich fishing waters which in turn makes for very rich coastal birding. It will make for very cold birders if you come dressed for a day on the beach in Florida.
We will try to be at dinner by 630PM each night. At dinner we will go over the day’s bird sightings and update our checklist(s).

We’re putting together a trip around Northern California for some folks who live east of the Rockies.  Here’s what we’re up to:  Birders arrive at SFO on the morning of September 9.  By noon we will be birding along Ocean Beach in San Francisco.  There’ll be Brandt’s Cormorant, Surf Scoter, Common Murre, Heermann’s Gull, Black Oystercatcher, Marbled Godwit, Black Turnstone, Surfbird, Wandering Tattler.  A little uphill from the ocean: California Towhee (see picture below), Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Black Phoebe.
SEPT. 10 We will be at Pt. Reyes, one of the finest birding venues on the Pacific Coast. We will be there for the height of fall migration. Vagrants always possible. In addition we will find some of the local specialties: Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Pelagic Cormorant, Western Gull, Glaucous-winged Gull, Hutton’s Vireo, California Quail, White-tailed Kite (see picture). Western Sandpiper is also likely. se wil lbird at Pt. Reyes and nearby Bolinas Lagoon.
SEPT. 11 We will move inland from the coast. Along the way we should find Oak Titmouse, Yellow-billed Magpie (a California endemic, see picture below) and maybe even a California Thrasher. We stay this night and next in the Central Valley.
SEPT. 12 We will bird in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. This is our day to find White-headed Woodpecker, Hermit Warbler, and some fall migrants that stick to higher elevation. Perhaps a Green-tailed Towhee or Western Tanager. This will be our best chance for a Dipper as well.
SEPT. 13. We head back to the coast at Monterey. In addition to the irresistible sea otters we should find plenty of migrating shorebirds including Red-necked Phalarope, any gulls or loons we may have missed further north, and a chance for wandering sea birds like Black-legged Kittiwake and Parasitic Jaeger that sometimes come near shore. The gull is an adult Western in bright plumage.
SEPT. 14 We will bird Highway 1 along the scenic Big Sur Coast. Our target of the day: California Condor, the largest, self-powered flying animal in North America. The Condor’s return to living and breeding in the wild is a major conservation success story of our generation. We may also find Dipper, Pileated Woodpecker, Rufous-crowned Sparrow and Wrentit (America’s only member of the Babbler family).
SEPT. 15 Departure day or optional pelagic birding with Shearwater journeys out of Monterey. Those on the pelagic trip should see Ashy Storm-petrel, Sooty and Buller’s Shearwater, Black0tailed and Laysan Albatross, all three jaegers, Arctic Tern, Sabine’s Gull, Cassin’s and Rhino Auklet, Red Phalarope. Whales and dolphins are also likely on this trip.
If this sounds interesting, contact us at Partnership for International Birding.

CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’

July 30, 2011

If you’ve been birding east of Sierra most of your life, you’re missing something.  Definitely you’re missing a list of birds that are awaiting your visit to the Pacific Slope.  The Pacific-slope Flycatcher would be one.

Here is one of the Pacific-slope Flycatchers I watched carrying insects to a nest in July.  And there’s the nest on the ledge of a park service building at Pt. Reyes National Seashore.  The large object next to it is my wallet for a size comparison.

Note this bird’s broken eye-ring, short wing extension, moderately heavy beak.  Also a bit of a crest showing.

To see this bird, let PIB plan your spring visit.  At that time of year you’ll also see Allen’s Hummingbird, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Brandt’s Cormorant, Hooded Oriole, Hermit Warbler, California Thrasher.  With some luck, we may find Lawrence’s Goldfinch.

If autumn is a better time for you to travel, try this:  Wandering Tattler, Surfbird and Black Turnstone sharing the same seaside boulders.  Hundreds of Red-throated and Pacific Loons on migration.  All three scoters.  Check out the southbound raptors with Golden Gate Raptor Observatory on Hawk Hill with a stunning view of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge.  Heermann’s Gull and Elegant Tern.

Here’s a Heermann’s landing on the beach.

Here’s a Surfbird on his beloved coastal rock.

This is a seaside scene you can find any time of year:  Western Gull loafing, Pelagic Cormorant clearing debris from its water-soaked plumage before the next dive.  Other year round birds in Northern California include White-tailed Kite, western Red-shouldered Hawk, Hutton’s Vireo, Anna’s Hummingbird, California Towhee, Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Oak Titmouse and Wrentit:

The Wrentit, on the berry branch here, is the only American species in the large, Old World family of babblers.  They’re all brownish, secretive, forest birds.  Only Wrentit made it across the Siberian land bridge to Oregon and California. It is one of the most sedentary birds in North America.  It will NOT show up at a feeder in Colorado or Minnesota.

And there’s this guy, a California endemic.  Not many states in the U.S. even have an endemic species, right?  This Yellow-billed Magpie is 50% of the endemic species of California.  The other is also a Corvid, the Island Scrub-jay.  An extension to our regular California birding trip can get you BOTH of these endemics.

SO JOIN THE PIB CALIFORNIA BIRDING TRIP IN 2012. 

The tour leader is Harry Fuller who has over two decades of California field trip experience.  In less than 5o0 square miles of San Francisco’s urban habitat he has well over 300 lifetime species.