Wednesday, October 9, 2013
California: Day 2 and the Bay Area
Sunday was a new day with new destinations. Our group on this day was being led by a couple of members of the Sequoia Audubon Society and our target locations were spots along the San Francisco Bay area instead of the coast this time. We had talented guides, Al and Leslie, that made the most of our birding a success. We started out at Coyote Point and one of the first birds we saw was the California Towhee. This was not a new bird for me as I had seen them in Southern California once before, but have never gotten photos. Typical for towhees, they spend a lot of time scratching and foraging in the underbrush in deep shade and do not pose well for photos and the first ones we saw did just exactly that and my photos from the first spot were nothing to be proud of. It wasn't until later while we were observing other birds, that one flew up in front of me and posed in the sunshine less than 15' away. Sometimes I get lucky.
While we were near the picnic table area, one of our guides Al, was quick to spot some Golden-crowned Sparrows. This species is fairly rare in AZ, but I had seen one before, but definitely not in the plumage of showing off its golden crown.
We also had birds that were fairly common to me such as the Dark-eyed Junco. This one is the 'Oregon' type of this species and in my opinion, the most striking of all the sub-species.
'Oregon' Dark-eyed Junco
The next stop was Foster City Shell Bar where we were treated to hundreds of shore birds. Some were fairly tolerant of our group and allowed us to get fairly close views of them. A Semipalmated Plover was one that was hidden among all the Willets and Dowitchers and Godwits. This bird is pretty small and was not easy to detect among the larger birds. But when they took off, it stayed behind and allowed us to get even closer. Marbled Godwits were quite numerous as well. Both of these birds are uncommon in Arizona, but are spotted from time to time, especially in migration.
The American Avocet is a bird that is common in the right ponds in Arizona in the winter as many spend their winters there. But they were equally plentiful in the Bay Area as well.
Many terns were also resting on the mud flats until the tide came in and then they all took flight. My photo shows the differences in plumage and also in size of the 2 species that were at this location; the Elegant Tern and the Forster's Tern.
Elegant Tern on the Left - Forster's Tern on the right
So far we covered only 2 of several stops on this day and the other stops will be covered on the next blog post and it includes some more new life birds.