Friday, October 11, 2013
California: Day 2 Bay Area Continued
We continued our birding of the San Francisco Bay area by stopping at our next stop on Radio Road. This place is one large fairly shallow pond, but the amount of birds on this pond was staggering. This was my first viewing of the Black Skimmer. A small island out in the water held 18 of these birds and then up closer to our shore was a juvenile. I believe it is the only bird with the lower mandible being much longer than the upper mandible. These birds are awesome to look at.
Black Skimmer juvenile
A Forster's Tern put on quite the acrobatic display for us while we were there.
While we had been seeing hundreds of Brown Pelicans on the coast, in this spot we found 5 American White Pelicans which rounded out the US pelican species.
American White Pelican
One of our guides, Leslie, was able to pickup a lone Short-billed Dowitcher in the huge numbers of Long-billed Dowitchers. These 2 species can be tough to identify.
The next stop this day was Stulsaft Park which is a small but fabulous park very well hidden in a very residential area consisting of a lot of trees and a stream with flowing water down in the base of this small canyon. Got 2 new life birds in this area, the Oak Titmouse and Nuttall's Woodpecker, but failed to get 'good' photos of them. We did find 4 Brown Creepers in this spot and did mange to capture a passable photo of one of them. A very tough bird to photograph. Also found this small park is full of black Squirrels. Have no idea if it is a separate species or just a color variation of a common species.
A cool spider web for fun
To round out the day, we stopped at Skylawn Cemetery in the afternoon on our way back to Half Moon Bay. This place is situated at the top of the pass that separated the San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean. It is a beautiful place with stunning views down the valley towards Half Moon Bay. We had another Wrentit, another one of those new life birds that did not want to allow photos, and also a bird common to me in Arizona, a Black Phoebe that presented itself on the edge of the cemetery. But the biggest thrill was a pair of Golden Eagles. We had seen 2 the day before at a different location and quite high in the sky, but today was a bit different. One of the 2 was being harassed by a Red-tailed Hawk and this one flew almost straight over us, all the while being dive bombed by the hawk. The Red-tailed Hawk is a fairly large bird, but when it is in the same photo frame as the Golden Eagle, then one can really appreciate how magnificent these Golden Eagles really are.
Golden Eagle and Red-tailed Hawk
The cemetery was also inhabited by some resident deer that must have known they were safe from hunters in this area. Probably were also taking advantage of the fresh flowers that were edible from many of the cemetery plots. They did not seem too over concerned with us and our cameras and binoculars.
A very full day of birding with lots of nice surprises and finds. But the day finally came to an end, but the next day was to be the pelagic trip out in the Pacific Ocean for 12 hours and observing and seeing birds and anything else we could find. That will be the topic of my next blog post.