On the way back from the term-end celebration potluck, which incidentally marks the 10 year anniversary of my teaching at the Palo Alto Adult School, Cricket and I spotted a few interesting birds. Swainson's Hawks were seen in various places along the I5 stretch outside of Lodi, but we also found several Cattle Egret, Yellow-billed Magpie, Great-tailed Grackle and White-throated Swift between Traci and Dublin.
During lunch I visited the Palo Alto Baylands again. The Black-necked Stilts and American Avocets were busy warding off any and all potential threats to their young. The tiny, fluffy, longlegged chicks were foraging along the edges of the pond and looked like speckled cotton balls on toothpick. The biggest surprise was the return of the Cattle Egret to the green island in the historic slough between the duckpond and the airport. It was in full breeding plumage and easily seen against the green plants.
Today was evern better for the front. Western Tanager was signing again, and I could hear it from my office, as well as Hooded Oriole. I've got to get serious about our house list...
Our front yard has been birdy also. Western Tanager was calling today in the eucalyptus and in the redwoods.
A nice surprise, and I believe brand new for our backyard, was a calling Red-breasted Nuthatch in the redwoods outside our bedroom. My eyeglasses were elsewhere, so the small bird flying off of the trunk was nothing more than a blur. But the call was unmistakable.
A lunchtime visit to Palo Alto Baylands proved successful. I found Long-billed and Short-billed Dowitcher feeding on the mudflats, all in breeding plumage, and 12 Whimbrel. The Black-necked Stilts and American Avocets were very territorial. Nests were nearby undoubtedly.
In Murphy we found a lovely riparian grove near the public parking lot. We had noticed it the day before when we did some wine tasting with family, who were gathered for a birthday weekend in Angels Camp. As with the day before, Ash-throated Flyatcher and Western Kingbird were easily found along the road and in the valley oaks. The willow and sycamore area produced several Yellow Warblers, Nashville Warblers, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Western Tanager, Black-headed Grosbeak and Bullock's Orioles. It was loud with song and although the habitat looked good for a Warbler surprise of some kind, we were not successful in finding any. Still, seeing several Nashvilles and Yellows was excellent.
On our way home we found a few more Swainson's Hawks in the valley, but eager to find Blue Grosbeak we came home via Patterson Pass Road. By now the weather was beginning to change and rain dampened our birding. As we climbed into the turpine section from Hwy 5 we found 6 Rock Wrens, each on their own outcropping and singing loudly. Savannah Sparrow and Lark Sparrows were seen here as well, and a family of Loggerhead Shrike. No Grosbeak however... Just outside of Livermore we found three more Nashville Warblers, Orange-crowned Warbler, and Warbling Vireo in a roadside creek where willows were dense.
Cricket and I took the weeken to visit with family at a timeshare in Angels Camp. The main event was Aiko's 70th birthday, but we celebrated several birthdays as well. We did a bit of wine tasting in Murphy and explored some lovely areas on our way to and from the lodge. Most fun were several Swainson's Hawks we spotted on our drive into the eastern foothills, as well as Ash-throated Flycatcher and Western Kingbird right outside our balcony.