The Merlin appeared again this morning. It was perched at the top of a very tall redwood visible from our driveway. An American Crow chased it away as I pulled out of the garage.
Conditions made using the scope difficult, but it was lively by the bay today. The famous Byxby Park Lark Bunting was stationed at its trail side haunts today despite the stiff wind. The Cattle Egret also made a airborne appearance before it landed in the marsh near the dam. There were several Bonaparte's Gulls, and many American Pipits to be seen during a lunch hour visit.
Today as Cricket and I took a morning walk, we heard a Hairy Woodpecker in the tall pine trees down the street. She was able to get a brief look at the bird, but I could only hear it.
As I opened our garage door this morning, I heard two American Crows squabbling somewhere over our house in Mountain View. I looked toward the redwood trees across the street and they were mobbing a Merlin in flight. The Merlin descended into the driveway, dragging the two Crows with it at nearly eye level for the length of the property. It then banked up sharply, shaking off the two larger birds. They must have felt they had done their job because they then turned back toward the redwoods. I hadn't had any coffee yet, but I woke up pretty fast after that! Great way to start the day.
The Lark Bunting was not cooperative for my lunch hour walk yesterday, but TODAY at 2:30 it was EXACTLY where Bob Juhl had originally reported it on Sunday. As others have observed, the Lark Bunting is very tame, and remains on the trail long after all the White-crowned Sparrows have flushed. Joggers, cyclists, and yes,
birders do not seem to phase this bulky Sparrow, which is faithful to the "wind wave sculpture" area of the park.
To reach the area, take the trail up hill from the parking lot and turn right at the top. Follow the chain link fence line counter-clockwise. The first large dip in the trail is where it has been seen by other observers, directly across from the dangling wires of the "wind sculpture".
I didn't see as much black in the wings as Kris Olsen mentioned, but I did observe a fairly weak lateral throat stripe, overall light brownish coloration, as well as thin steaks on breast and flanks. I didn't see any black at the base of the bill or anywhere on the face. Even the supercilium and malar were nondescript. All of these features suggested female to me.
Other birds in the area were a Loggerhead Shrike, numerous American Pipits and hoards of Canada Geese. The channel is filling with incoming Waterfowl including American Wigeon, Cavasback and a few Lesser Scaup.
After 11 mornings of silence the Western Screech-Owl has returned to our backyard. It barked several times beginning at 6:30 today and I was able to get a brief look at it. It was perched on the same branch as before, in a tree just beyond the glow of the porch light.
The Cattle Egret was still in position as of 7:30 this morning in the marsh between the Palo Alto Airport and the Duck Pond in the Palo Alto Baylands. A "Western" Flycatcher was in the fennel, along with many Yellow Warblers, Yellow-rumps, 2 Common Yellowthroats, 1 Orange-crowned Warbler, loads of White-crowned, a few Golden-crowned and Song, two Lincoln's Sparrows. Hoards of Lesser Goldfinches and a few Americans as well.