Tried a solo bird trip to warm up for CBC next week. Went alright.
Tried a solo bird trip to warm up for CBC next week. Went alright.
Birding seems to get me in a journaling mood, I guess because I'm more interested in the number of species. This was our first outing of the winter, mostly out searching for ducks, which we found in abundance. The most notable bird for me was the female Blue-winged Teal, which Sarah picked out of a group of other female ducks by noting its white eye ring and overall shape, which I thought was some impressive birding-fu. In addition to the eye ring, the female also has a light patch at the base of the bill. Both marks set it apart from the female Green-winged Teal and the female Cinnamon Teal.
The baby kings snake was also a treat. Haven't seen one in a while. And Jesus, so many pelicans! Giant white flotillas of them. Zero diving ducks, probably due to the shallow waters we were perusing.
Haven't been diligent about journaling lately, alas. Our 3rd birding class trip was to Pt. Reyes, and luckily landed on one of the few recent dry days. Beautiful rainbows greeted us as we headed into Olema. Great day for birding, with two lifebirds for me! Rock Wren and White-winged Scoter. Very cool. Also, crazy Elephant Seals. They are large. Very large.
I've been seeing some wonderful fungal photos coming out of the SC mtns this year, so I headed over there for about a day and a half. Spent Friday afternoon puttering around a small area at the end of Gazos Creek Rd. recommended to me by a Flickr friend, where I found my first fetid adder's tongues of the year, along with many interesting fungi, and my first California Torreya! Did I mention there was a bunch of wild ginger? Cool little spot, with a glorious Hericium abietis at the end to top it all off. Also stopped by Pigeon Pt. before it all for a little birding.
Looked into camping at Costanoa, but that place is ridiculous. $40 for a campsite? So I drove up to Big Basin, where I had wanted to go the next day anyway. $35 there, but at least it went to the park service. Lots of mushies around the campsite, but I think the most remarkable thing was being awoken by the sound of owls, either Saw-when or Northern Pygmy (they sound pretty similar in the iBird recordings): high pitched and very regular.
Spent the next day hiking the Berry Creek Falls loop, which is a fantastic trail through some beautiful redwood and tanoak stands, with some wonderful waterfalls. Saw many wonderful fungi. Would love to go back.
Some former co-workers of mine planned this excellent birding the trip in the valley, and we all had a grand time tooling around, looking at birdies. SNWR is a bit weird, because the primary way of viewing the scads of wintering birds there is to drive a planned circuit and bird from your car. Great way to see A LOT of birds, though, including Bald Eagles, falcons, owls, a bazillion Snow Geese, only a tad fewer Red-tailed Hawks, and pheasants! I had a couple of new-for-me's, including a White-faced Ibis and the Greater White-fronted Goose.
Kind of a haul. I burned 3/4 of a tank of gas in my somewhat fuel-efficient 2002 Corolla, so make sure to start with a full tank. Williams is the last town on I-5 before getting there, and Granzella's is a pretty decent place to grab a sandwich.
Signed up for a birding class in the hopes of finally working on those tough groups I usually shy away from: buteos, gulls, sparrows, peeps. So far so good! We had a nice walk around the Bulb, and then to Caesar Chavez, picking up some pretty good birds. Best Bird Award probably went to the Eurasian Wigeon at the Bulb. Very pretty bird. Also, I am learning to appreciate the Gadwall. Sarah says, "it is a modernist bird. If it had a couch, it would be so beautiful you would be afraid to sit in it."
I was lazy over break and didn't update my journal. Bad me. Some notable highlights were...
We took our usual walk at Hammonasset on Christmas Day, where there were loons and scary snowmen. Some Ruddy Turnstones on the beach were a new Hammo bird for me, I think.
We had 2 new backyard birds over the break: a Fox Sparrow and a Cooper's Hawk. It amazes me that my family has lived in that house for over 20 years and we still see new birds.
Went back to Hammo for an afternoon of chilly tidepooling. Didn't see all too much. Couple hydroids, a few little crabs that I felt too cold to grab. Some nice loons. Oh, and a hunter. With decoys. Which I mistook for real ducks. I don't think he was supposed to be there.
Had a very pleasant (albeit damp) walk through Huckleberry yesterday, where the recent rains have left a profusion of fungi and lichens. Â Deathcaps remained in abundance, but were joined by a number of Lactarius, and a handful of blewits. Â Found a number of cladonia that I'm still working on IDing (I'm afraid the pixie cups are a lost cause). Â Still no waxy caps, though I did meet someone who had picked one, so they're on their way.
Went for a hike at Pt. Reyes with my brother, who's visiting for a spell. Spotted a bobcat on the road right by the entrance to the Muddy Hollow trailhead. Auspicious! Sadly the next notable thing that happened was rain, so we hid under a tree. Then it began to hail. Seriously. Hail in the Bay Area. Eventually the sun came out and we went on our way.
The ponds to the north of Estero de Limantour were especially ducky. Ring-necked, wigeons, all manner of things. We also spotted Tule Elk, and saw a handful of mushrooms, mostly slippery jacks and pine spikes.
Hit The Scoop on the way back. Egg nog ice cream!
Caught this tide at Pillar Point. Arrived around 3:30ish to hazy, overcast conditions with moderate surf, fairly turbid waters. Low was a -1.5, scheduled for 6pm, about 1 hr after sunset, so things were still fairly high. Not too much happening in the harbor aside from some buffleheads, loons, and scoters out in the harbor, some willets and a plover along the shore. I did, however, meet up with some birders who had a scope on a Long-tailed Duck! The conversation went something like this:
"What are you guys looking at?"
"Well, we think we're looking at a female Long-tailed Duck"
"A Long-tailed Duck?! No shit!"
"Ah, you're a birder!"
Female Long-tailed Duck it was, in winter plumage. New bird for me, very exciting.
The reef was beautiful, as always, and almost bereft of people, which definitely not always the case. The pool of plenty was still pretty deep when I got out there, so I spent some time examining some higher pools as the sun set, finding a cool Giant Rock-scallop, and a few slugs here and there. When the sun was good and gone, though, things really started picking up. Slugs were everywhere! Abundances were higher than I've ever seen them out there, T. maculata everywhere, with D. montereyensis right behind them in numbers. Numerous clown dorids, and some relative rarities, including Limacia and Dirona picta.
All in all a wonderful evening tidepooling. I need to go out at night more often. Had dinner at Barbara's Fish Trap, which was overpriced and kind of mediocre. Still looking for good food in that area...