After hearing all the reports of Harris' Sparrow
showing up this winter in the Bay Area, I decided to follow
one of them up. I got the phone number of a friendly couple
in Milbrae from a class member and gave them a call. This
was the second year the bird had appeared in their yard
and last year it remained for 5 months. They were happy
to receive guests and so I awoke at 5:15am and drove to
their home. We waited in their living room and the told
me about the bird's routine. Within 15 minutes the bird,
a handsome adult male, appeared in their back yard and fed
among the many White-crowned Sparrows, Golden-crowned
Sparrows and House Finches. It was right on schedule.
It remained visible for several minutes allowing comparison
with the other Sparrows who appeared considerably smaller.
We chatted for a while and I admired their photographs of
the bird and they offered me breakfast. I declined but thanked
them for the opportunity to visit them and see this "lifer".
Today, as I walked during lunch on University Avenue in
Palo Alto, an immature Cooper's Hawk streaked through
town causing quite a stir among the many Rock Doves
roosting near the new pizza place. Not only did the flock
take flight, with their characteristic wing slapping, which
helps alert the other birds, but a long Western Scrub
Jay also sounded the first of several alarms. I find
it intersting that I was completely unaware of the hawk's
presence until it was right over me and would have remained
so unless I had heard the other birds' distress calls.
Also, when I visited the Adult School Office just before
class, I happened to notice that the Cliff Swallows
have once again set up house around the square lawn. Their
mud structures can be seen sticking above the windows on
the tower building.
On a trip to Lodi over the weekend, Kelly and I encountered
a flock of about 10 Wood Ducks at Pig's Lake near
her parent's home. Other interesting birds included Gadwall,
American Wigeon, a pair of Cooper's Hawks,
a Wild Turkey, Tree and Barn Swallows,
Hutton's Vireo and an Orange-crowned Warbler.
Many other birds were seen as well, with quite a number
of songs being heard in this beautiful riparian habitat.
On a scouting trip for next week's field trip to Panoche
Valley with my Palo Alto Adult School Birding Class, my
friend Brian Christman and I toured the area. Our 258 mile
trip took us through an astounding variety of beautiful
habitats with good weather, but cool conditions and at times
high wind. We began in Hollister and followed Hwy 25 to
Paicines where we took J-1 (Penoche and Little Penoche)
all the way to I-5 via Mercy Hot Springs. Highlights of
the trip included a Great Horned Owl right outside
of Paicines in a mud cave on the left side of the road.
We found what seemed an early Cassin's Kingbird on
J-1 just a few miles west of the Little Panoche Road junction
in a large grove of fruit trees. Many dozens of Lark
Sparrows were seen here as well. Perhaps 100 Lawrence's
Goldfinches were seen in a mixed flock with Tricolored
Blackbird and House Sparrow just 100 yards west
of the Panoche Inn along the road. Western Kingbird
was found in this area as well. Rock Wren was heard,
but not seen, at Shotgun Pass. The Long-eared Owl
was easily found in the Tamarask Trees at Mercy Hot Springs.
No Barn Owls were present that we could find, but an additional
50 Lawrence's Goldfinches was a nice consolation!
We also heard, but did not see, an Ash-throated Flycatcher
in the area. A total of three Golden Eagles was logged
for the day, but no Ferruginous Hawks or other interesing
raptors. Two weeks prior to today, Kelly Hayashi and I had
seen Mountain Bluebird and Ferruginous Hawk
along the Little Panoche Road, but none were found today.
A tour up the BLM road produced little we hadn't seen already.
As well, Sparrows seemed generally to be in short supply
with only the most common logged. Swallow's have definately
moved in for the season, with the greatest number being
found at the Little Panoche Reservoir.
Great Blue Heron
Great Horned Owl
Nuttall's Woodpecker (heard only)
Ash-throated Flycatcher (heard only)
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Western Scrub Jay
Rock Wren (heard only)
Wrentit (heard only)
American Pipit (heard only)
Orange-crowned Warbler (heard only)
Spotted Towhee (heard only)