April 10, 2011

Stevens Creek Cruisers Stike Again

I was out with five other birders today as part of the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society's Spring Birdathon. While some birdathon teams travel from one birding hotspot to another in an effort to see as many species as possible within a 4-24 hour period, we just covered the area along Stevens Creek from McClellan Rd. to Stevens Creek Blvd. Debi Jamison organizes this team not just to raise money, but to conduct a springtime survey of birds in and around the City of Cupertino-owned land along Stevens Creek. We cover McClellan Ranch Park, Blackberry Farm Picnic Area, Blackberry Farm Golf Course, and the Stocklmeir Property.

This year we identified 51 species between 8:00 am and 2:30 pm. The most unexpected find was a Peregrine Falcon perched at the top of the redwood tree by the McClellan Ranch entrance. Not too long after the Peregrine flew off, a Merlin perched in the same spot. We also found a Cooper's Hawk and a Red-shouldered Hawk on a nest, plus a mating pair of Red-tailed Hawks. I'll add the full list at a later time.

Posted on April 10, 2011 22:35 by mcclellanranch mcclellanranch | 1 comments | Leave a comment

First gopher snake sighting

Austin Pleban found a young gopher snake yesterday afternoon. I'm guessing this small one hatched last autumn. I generally notice young gopher snakes in the fall, but last year I saw an unusually large number of young snakes. I have a hunch this had to due with the lower than average temperatures during the summer of 2010.

I'll post notes on the distinctive markings of this snake later. If anyone sees or photographs a McClellan Ranch gopher snake later, they can compare its marking with this snake's to see if they're the same.

Posted on April 10, 2011 04:26 by mcclellanranch mcclellanranch | 1 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 06, 2011

first cicadas

This afternoon I heard the first cicadas of the season. I often have a hard time seeing the insect making the noise I'm hearing. Today was like that. I couldn't see any, yet I'm pretty sure it was the small black cicada.

Posted on April 06, 2011 06:38 by mcclellanranch mcclellanranch | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 31, 2011

House Wren returns

Saw a House wren checking out a nest box along the nature trail just past the pump house. Last year was the first year I'd seen this species nest in the park, and we got two nesting pairs that moved into adjacent nest boxes.

Posted on March 31, 2011 07:37 by mcclellanranch mcclellanranch | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 30, 2011

First Hooded Oriole

I'm not sure whether this bird just arrived here or it has been here for a time ant I just noticed it today. It was in the fan palm at the north edge of the community garden.

Posted on March 30, 2011 19:56 by mcclellanranch mcclellanranch | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 29, 2011

The rain has ended for now, March 29, 2011

After a long spell of frequent and sometimes heavy rain, the last couple of days have been warm and sunny. I think of March as the season to see mining bees (family Andrenidae.) I did see some burrows being excavated at the beginning of the month, but after that I didn't see much acitivity. Whenever I checked it was too cool, overcast or rainy for these bees to be active. Today oodles of them were out flying low to the ground over their nest sites. The highest concentration was in the soil at the edge of the parking lot where Public Works keeps the grass sparse. I found one of these bees on a wild radish plant in the clutches of a pale yellow crab spider. I also saw one of the small, shiny reddish-brown bees I believe may be nest parasites of Andrenidae. I think they might be in the genus Nomada.

Violet-green Swallows were flying over the field this morning, Western Bluebirds were perched on the fence, Yellow-rumped Warblers in breeding colors favored the Valley Oak that is just budding out, and Bewick's Wrens were singing. I heard Cooper's Hawks in the trees beyond the NE corner of the community garden. I'm thinking they might be nesting in this area. I found a feather on the trail along Stevens Creek. I'm pretty sure it's from a Western Screeech Owl . I didn't hear any when I was out listening for them in February. It's good to know that at least one is still around.

Clematis lasiantha climbing over the Holly-leafed Cherry along McClellan Roadis in full bloom now. The skinny "candles" of the California Buckeyes are growing longer everyday.

Posted on March 29, 2011 23:00 by mcclellanranch mcclellanranch | 0 comments | Leave a comment