Kelly and I relocated the Townsend's Solitaire near Sunol Regional Wilderness. The bird was on Greer Road, about 1/4 mile from the intersection with Calaveras Road as we drove toward the park.
At SRW itself, we found 2 Lawrences's Goldfinches, Rufous-crowned Sparrow, 2-3 Golden Eagles, Yellow-rumped, Townsend's and Orange-crowned Warblers, Warbling Vireo and many House Wrens.
Eric Goodill, Leonie Batkin, Kelly and myself did some scouting for the upcoming SCVAS Birdathon. Our goal was to locate a few good spots for Owls, especially the difficult little Owls that are so tough to find when you're racing against the clock... We met in the early evening at the Page Mill park and ride and drove up to Skyline. We stopped briefly at Montebello main entrance where the ranger was ready to lock the gate. After determining there was no legal parking anywhere after sunset we moved further up the road to Gate 5 where the habitat looked great for something. We parked in the wide turn out and listened... Nothing.
We continued up to Skyline and turned left toward Long Ridge. We parked across the street from the preserve, where the Upper Stevens Creek trail begins to descend into the woods. Again, no parking after dark and a ranger told us he would have to give us a ticket if we didn't move on. Ok, we said... We weren't hearing anything at this stop anyway.
We continued south toward Hwy 9, stopping at wide turnouts where ever we could find them. At one point, I believe near Charcoal Road, we heard Northern Saw-whet Owl very close to a turn out. Despite a 35 minute search with two very powerful torches we could not locate the bird... typical.
We drove on. At the Hwy 9 intersection we heard another Northern Saw-whet Owl, but it was too far away to even hope to see. So we turned around and returned to Page Mill Road. After picking up the other car, we caravanned to Old Page Mill Road where we heard Great Horned Owl near the old entrance to the quarry, which is of course locked and impassible. In this area we were also able to provoke a response from a Western Screech Owl which we also got great looks at as it glared down at us from the upper branches of a live oak. What a great little Owl!
We called it quits after that. Five hours out and we had detected three species of Owl, but got looks at only one. We'll have to try again this weekend for the elusive Northern Pygmy Owl. A trip earlier in the day to McClellan Ranch in Cupertino provided good looks at Barn Owl in the red barn near the community garden, so that is a definite stop next month...
If you have good Owl stops you would like to recommend for our next scouting trip, we'd love to hear from you. We could use a little help planning our Birdathon itinerary... I should add that if you would like to support our "Team DeDUCKtions" on April 21, we have an "challenge grant" from an anonymous donor who will match each dollar contributed up to a total of $5,000. There's really NO better way of making your dollars count than pledging your support now and helping the educational programs at SCVAS. Please contact SCVAS (408) 252-3747 to be a part of our team, or simply make a pledge!
Violet-green Swallows were investigating nest holes in the stucco building on the corner of Forest and Emerson today. There were about 8-10 individuals repeatedly entering crevices in the wall above the CXO office which is across the street from Empire Tap Room.