Sunday, May 4, 2008

Pier 94, San Francisco, CA

Another day out with the California sea blite (Suaeda california) monitoring at Pier 94 is always a good day. Today was particularly good because I spotted a couple Red-necked Phalaropes (Phalaropus lobatus) that had come to the north basin. One of the smallest seabirds found their way into the San Francisco Bay on their migration north.

There were at least two nesting birds at the site, too. An American Avocet (Recurvirostra americana) was nesting near the rip rap, which is how I spotted the first phalarope swimming in fast circles.

Later, while we were trying to complete our monitoring, we discovered an angry Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) that was very happy when we were out of her way. Those birds can live up to their "vociferus" species name! She had 4 eggs, but the nest was very low so I'm not hopeful that they'll not get washed away by the tide.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Falcon Cam in San Jose, CA

I wish more cities would highlight their wildlife in the city like this great cam that is focused on a nesting Peregrine Falcon in San Jose atop of City Hall.

Check it out:

How about a snowy plover cam in San Francisco or a least tern cam in Alameda?

You can read about the KQED story online:

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Martin Luther King, Jr. Regional Shoreline Park, Oakland, CA

I had a moment to before sunset to do some birding at the seasonal pond near Damon Slough tonight. It was very cool to see the breeding plumages of so many birds. First time for me to see a Black-bellied Plover with a black belly!

The cast of characters this evening included:
  1. Black-bellied Plover
  2. American Avocet
  3. Black-necked Stilt
  4. Long-billed Dowitcher
  5. Greater Yellowlegs
  6. Killdeer
  7. Willet
  8. Cinnamon Teal
  9. Blue-Winged Teal
  10. American Widgeon
  11. Gadwall
  12. Mallard
  13. Greater Scaup
  14. Western Grebe
  15. Great Blue Heron
  16. Canada Goose
  17. American Coot

Monday, March 24, 2008

Pleasure Point in Capitola, CA

While not technically a birding trip, I couldn't help but watch the birds while I awaited between sets of waves while surfing for two days at Pleasure Point in Capitola, CA. I saw my first BROWN PELICAN of the spring fly overhead. Out in the water, I shared the waves and kelp forest mostly with Pelagic Cormorants (with white spots of their breeding plumage showing) and Double-crested Cormorants with a few Western Grebes and Western Gulls paddling by as well. It was a lot of fun to see the sea otters (3-4 of them) and harbor seals (2-3) come in so close. I thought I saw a Northern Fulmar fly overhead, but I can't be certain because it happened so fast.

Saw a few Mallard Ducks fly out of the river area and even noticed a Greater White-Fronted Goose come down the river that was mostly filled with American Coots and various Gulls.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Wildcat Creek Trail, Richmond, CA

It's official. I'm a bird nerd. I bought my first spotting scope - albeit a cheaper one - and couldn't wait to test it out today at Wildcat Creek Trail in Richmond as part of the ongoing Richmond Bird Census. It's next to a sewage treatment plant, which oddly has more birdlife at low tide than the adjacent wetlands.

In the park and wetlands, we saw -
  • Northern Harriers
  • Redtail Hawks
  • Osprey
  • White-tailed Kite
  • Turkey Vulture
  • Mockingbird
  • Red-winged Blackbird
Over in the sewage treatment plant -

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Alameda Wildlife Refuge

This morning, I joined about a whopping 80 participants who came to the Alameda Wildlife Refuge for the last workday of the year before the California least terns come back to breed. The Friends of Alameda Wildlife Refuge ( organize work parties on the second Sunday of each month from September through March, then keep watch over the terns during their nesting season from April through August. The endangered California least tern colony is threatened with construction of a VA facility inside what was supposed to be a wildlife refuge.

Each year, about 800 California least terns fly over a thousand miles from the south to Alameda, CA, to breed. The nearest large colony is 150 miles to the south! Habitat loss has driven the terns northward looking for a refuge and now that refuge is threatened despite alternative locations nearby that are outside of the refuge. Look at Golden Gate Audubon's website for information about how you can help fight to protect this endangered species habitat and community open space.

I saw a few birds in between cleaning up the mountains of plastic rubble. There was a redtail hawk on a nearby building with its nest. In the wetlands, the American avocets had changed into their orange breeding plumage. Killdeer flew about chastising the people for being in their territory. I saw a Pacific loon among the Canada geese, scaups, and western grebes.

Afterward, I stopped by Lake Merritt - the center of my "birdiverse" - to see what changes are happening amongst the birds. The tufted duck remained near the bird islands and was spotted among the Greater and Lesser Scaups. The Western and Clarke's Grebes were dancing on the lake at times. In addition to the pied-billed grebe, I saw eared grebes and horned grebes that are beginning to shift into their amazing breeding plumage - a sure sign that spring has come. Five species of grebes calling Lake Merritt home right now. I also saw -
  • Common Goldeneyes
  • Canvasback Ducks
  • Ruddy Ducks
  • Bufflehead Ducks
  • Mallard Ducks
  • American Coots
  • Snowy Egrets
  • Great Egret
  • Black-crowned Night Herons
  • Double-crested Cormorants
  • Ring-billed Gulls
  • Western Gulls
Now if only people would stop feeding the birds! I can't even tell you how many people were feeding the pigeons and ducks. It's too bad Oakland won't post signs. Bread to a hungry bird is like popcorn to a human - just filler without much nutritional value. Plus, it ends up benefiting birds like pigeons and geese, which are overabundant in the area. The leftovers can attract rats and other pests. Please don't feed wildlife! It's a lot of fun, but the consequences are too great for birds, people, and the environment.

Instead, plant a bird-friendly backyard or restore wildlife habitat if you love birds and other wildlife. That's the best thing you can do for them!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Heron's Head Park, San Francisco, CA

After doing an interview at Pier 94 with the San Francisco Examiner, I headed over to Heron's Head Park down the road. It's a great birding location that never fails to be a good time. Before leaving Pier 94, there were a pair of American Kestrels and a pair of mocking birds flirting on the fence.

The best part of the trip was seeing the HARLEQUIN DUCK again that I saw first at Pier 94 around October, then again at Heron's Head Park during the December 27th Christmas Bird Count.

Also out at Heron's Head today included:
  1. Common Goldeneye
  2. Red-breasted Merganser
  3. Black Oystercatcher
  4. American Avocets
  5. Dunlin
  6. Black-bellied Plover
  7. Long-billed Curlew
  8. Willet
  9. Snowy Egret
  10. Greater Scaups
  11. Belted Kingfisher
  12. Least Sandpiper
  13. Spotted Sandpiper
  14. Horned Grebe
  15. Western Grebes
  16. American Widgeons
  17. Ruddy Ducks
  18. Buffleheads
  19. Surf Scoters
  20. American Coots
  21. Double-crested Cormorrants
  22. Mew Gulls