Monday, June 27, 2011

California-Point Reyes

Before heading west I check out a couple of local Audubon groups websites and found out that one was planning a field trip to Point Reyes National Seashore.  I contacted the trip leader and asked if I could tag along and was excited to hear that I got a thumbs up.  Our first stop at Drake's Beach didn't yield too much, although, it was my best look at a Wilson's Warbler of the trip.  Although, The sighting wasn't much more than a quick glimpse.  A juvenile Great-horned Owl was much more cooperative and we all got some great looks.

Our next stop was further out the point at the former Coast Guard Rescue Boat Launch, where we walked around behind the rangers housing and down to the beach.  The walk down to beach had great overlooks into the deeper ocean where we excited found Pigeon Guillemots.  Other nice sights were Western Bluebirds, Common Loon, Western Grebe, Brown Pelicans, and another Great Horned Owl.

Pigeon Guillemot- Life Bird!!!

Great-horned Owl

Common Loon

California Quail- first good look

One of our last stops with the group was behind the rangers regional office, a few trees lined the drive and surrounded the building but beyond was open grasslands all the way to the sea.  Highlights at this stop included, Bushtits, White-tailed Kite, Western Meadowlark, Black Pheobe, and California Quail!!

We wrapped up the day with a quick hike at the Bear Creek Visitor Center on the San Andreas Fault Trail.  The same woodland birds I had been seeing around the area were here as well.  Good looks at both Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers were a nice mix from all the open habiat specialist we had been seeing.  Before dividing up I got information from some of the birders that Common Murre nested out at the light house were we had not made it because of the wind that assaulted us all day.  Common Murre being a potential life bird for me I made a quick pitstop in town to gas up and made the hour drive back out to the lighthouse.  It was definitely worth the time and gas! 

Once I got out to the light house I walked the mile out to the light house observation tower, the wind was mild on the way to the platform but once there the breeze must have been close to 50 mph.  Eyes tearing I stared through my binoculars over the edge and coupld barely see blobs flying out from the rocks.  Even with these bad looks I could still tell, I had Common Murre!! 

Common Murre

"close-up" of the Common Murre

Then rubbing my eyes I made a discovery, they were everywhere coating the rocks.  A smile on my face I headed back to the car and out of the wind.

Eyes tearing but still a great time

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

California 2011

Well, I made a trip out to California for a work conference and headed to the Bay area 6 days early to do a little birding.  I had huge intentions of blogging my way around, especially since I was flying solo for this trip.  Some how I still didn't have enough time or energy to blog enroute and instead here I am weeks later at least posting a few pictures.

I flew out on a Tuesday and didn't spend much time birding as the weather wasn't great.  By mid afternoon the next day the skies had cleared and took a walk along the beach behind my hotel in Half Moon Bay.  This was a great little area and I wish I had planned some more time.  Best bird (and life bird) for my time here was a MacGillvray's Warbler that made a quick showing but didn't have time for a photo. 

Here is a few of the western species that did make a decent appearance.

California Towhee- behavior reminds me of our eastern Cardinal

Chestnut-backed Chickadee

Route 1 somewhere between Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay

Red-winged Blackbird- some California birds only have red on the wing

White-crowned Sparrow- in coastal areas as common as Song Sparrows

Spotted Towhee

Whimbrel- one of the few shorebirds from the trip
I had actually headed down to Santa Cruz to visit the natural history museum (not worth the drive).  The first few photos were from the lawn and the drive back to Half Moon Bay.  If I ever head back to CA I will definitely spend more time in this area.