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Thursday, September 1, 2016
On Monday, August 29, I drove up to the Everett waterfront to look for Caspian Terns. As it turned out, I didn't see any terns right away, but there were dozens of little shorebirds near the boat launch, and among the Western Sandpipers and Least Sandpipers there were some Semipalmated Plovers, one I needed for Monday. I probably could have found some Caspian Terns, but having gotten my Monday bird, I headed for home. That brought me to 189 species for Monday.
On Tuesday, August 30, I drove to the Edmonds waterfront to look for Heermann's Gull. I looked several places and didn't find any, but then I went up to Sunset Avenue, north of the ferry terminal, and in the distance I could see a bunch of gulls on the beach. I got out my scope and at least two of the gulls were Heermann's Gulls, which are easy to identify as they are sooty gray with white heads and red-orange bills. That brought me to 193 species for Tuesday. It also completed Heermann's Gull for me - I saw them on all seven days of the week this year.
On Wednesday, August 31, I drove up to Everett again, and this time I did see a lot of Caspian Terns in the distance. There weren't any of the shorebirds I had seen on Monday, though. That brought me to 203 species for Wednesday.
Today I had a lot of things to do, and I didn't feel like driving the half hour to Everett again, so I ended my streak by staying home. I got through eight months of seeing a new bird for each day of the week, until today, other than the three weeks I took off for medical reasons. It was a great thing to do. I enjoyed it and I learned a lot about the local seasonality of various species. I enjoyed the planning and the strategy, and I enjoyed getting out birding practically every single day. I'll continue to keep my daily lists, but I don't plan to be nearly as obsessive about getting out every day. It will be better for my Achilles tendon/heel problem, I think, if I don’t do so much driving.
Here is my weekly report card.
After Fri Sat Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu
4 wks 51 47 55 53 44 55 52
8 wks 57 60 73 67 69 79 68
12 wks 90 87 82 81 96 100 95
16 wks 100 105 106 114 111 111 107
20 wks 122 114 120 125 133 140 136
24 wks 141 138 145 150 155 162 152
28 wks 180 169 180 158 159 169 159
29 wks 182 172 181 160 160 170 161
30 wks 183 173 182 161 161 171 163
31 wks 184 193 203 188 192 202 186
32 weeks 213 206 204 189 193 202 186
I have 304 species for the year now, and I've seen (or heard, in a few cases) 111 species on each of the seven days of the week. I have four lifers, all seen on my recent Arizona trip.
I'll continue to write reports when I have pictures to share or new year-birds to report. I'm planning a trip to Central California at the end of September, and that ought to get me some more year-birds and provide the opportunity for some pictures.
Thursday, September 29, 2016
I’m in Sacramento, CA now, staying with my friend, Fred. The only new day-bird I got in the last few weeks was on Saturday, September 10, when I added Pileated Woodpecker to my Saturday list. I was sitting on my front porch reading when I heard one calling, and then it flew across our property, giving me an excellent look at it. That brought Saturday to 207 species. I haven’t felt like birding since my streak ended at the end of August, so I’ve been having a vacation from it.
I do have one picture I want to share, from back on September 5, though, when I drove over Snoqualmie Pass with my cousin, Bruse. Up on Stampede Pass I got this picture I like of a Golden-crowned Kinglet.
Yesterday I arrived here in Sacramento and saw a Northern Mockingbird, which was new for my Wednesday list, bringing that list to 203 species.
Today Fred and I visited a couple of our favorite birding places and I added some Thursday birds. We started at the Vic Fazio NWR also known as the Yolo Bypass reserve. The first species I added to Thursday was Black-necked Stilt. Here is a picture of one.
Here’s a picture of an immature Black-necked Stilt. Note that the black on the back of the neck is kind of gray, and the black on the head is less defined than in the adult bird above.
There were a number of White-faced Ibis there, too, another good one for Thursday.
We looked for American Bittern but never saw one. At one stop, Fred spotted a Red-shouldered Hawk overhead, another great California bird I needed for Thursday. I added Great Egret to Thursday, to complete that species. I’ve seen that one on all seven days of the week now, this year.
I got Black Phoebe, another good California bird we don’t have at home, and then heard and saw some Western Meadowlarks, to complete that species as well. At one stop there were a lot of the very invasive Water Hyacinths taking over one channel. I got this picture of a pretty Water Hyacinth flower with a honeybee next to it.
There were shorebirds in the newly flooded fields, and I added Long-billed Dowitcher to my Thursday list.
On our way out of Fazio, we saw a couple of WHITE-TAILED KITES, a year-bird and one of the target species I had today. Here is a distant picture of one of them.
We stopped at Subway and I got a tuna sandwich, which I ate on the way to Cosumnes Preserve, which is south of Sacramento. We soon saw one of my key target species for the day there, SANDHILL CRANE, another year-bird. Here is a picture of one of them.
Here is a picture that shows a mature Sandhill Crane and an immature one, hatched this year. The immature one doesn’t have red on its face yet.
There were reports of a shorebird I wanted to see for my Thursday list there, and we soon saw 3 or 4 Pectoral Sandpipers. Here are a couple of pictures of one of them.
On our way back to Highway 99, we saw a small bird in a tree. I wasn’t sure what sparrow species it was, and my camera came in handy to determine it was a Savannah Sparrow. It wasn’t one I needed for Thursday, but here is the picture.
A little farther on I saw a small egret in a field with some cattle. I called out to Fred to stop and back up, and it turned out to have an orange bill, which made it a CATTLE EGRET, and excellent one for my year list. We don’t see them very often around Sacramento. There turned out to be 6 or 7 of them, and here is a picture of one of them flying.
Here is a picture of a Cattle Egret and a cow.
We watched one them pecking at the head of one of the cows, and it looked like it was picking off insects (ticks?) from the cow.
That finished our birding in that area, but we stopped at a site that I have visited a number of times in the past and got the hoped-for BURROWING OWL there.
I tried to get closer for a better picture, but it scurried into its burrow (a plastic pipe that has been put there for the owls).
We had some time, so when we got back to Sacramento we went to the dog park in Carmichael, so Fred’s Golden Retriever, Tugboat, could get a little freedom. There was also the hope that there might be some Yellow-billed Magpies around, and there was indeed one there when we arrived. Here is a picture of my first Thursday Yellow-billed magpie this year.
Back at Fred’s house, I sat out in the back yard, despite the mid-80’s heat, which is warmer than I like. Eventually I was rewarded with a sighting of an Oak Titmouse, an excellent California bird for my Thursday list.
So, it was an excellent day of birding for me. I added 14 birds to my Thursday list, to bring me to an even 200 on Thursday. Four of those were also year-birds, to bring me to 308 species for the year to date.
It’s Thursday, so I’m due to put up my scorecard, showing my totals for each day of the week, but since I only really added significantly to my Thursday list since the last time I showed a report card, I’m going to skip it this week and do it next week instead.
I’ll be in California for another ten days or so, and I’ll send out reports as needed. I have other things to do on this trip in addition to birding, so the reports won’t be every day, I’m sure.
Friday, September 30, 2016
Today I drove from Sacramento to my sister’s house in Saratoga, CA, which is near San Jose. Before I left Sacramento I visited Ancil Hoffman Park to pick up a couple of California birds for my Friday list. There were several Yellow-billed Magpies on the drive in to the park, and eventually I saw several groups of Wild Turkeys as well. That completed Wild Turkey for me for Friday. I looked around a little to try to find California Towhee or Oak Titmouse, but didn’t see either one of those. There were Western Scrub-Jays (the name of the scrub-jay species in California was changed just this year to California Scrub-Jay, but it always takes me a while to adjust to new names), Acorn Woodpeckers, and Northern Flickers, but I already had all of those for Friday. I also already had Black Phoebe, but here is a mediocre picture of one anyway, since I don’t see them in Washington State.
On my way to the freeway I saw a Northern Mockingbird in a residential neighborhood, so that one went on to my Friday list. Then as I got onto the freeway there was a Red-shouldered Hawk on a light fixture overhead. That was a great California bird for Friday.
My next stop was Cosumnes River College to get Burrowing Owl again. This time there were two of them out in front of the same nest burrow where I saw one yesterday.
Next I drove to the Cosumnes River Preserve to try for the three good birds we saw there yesterday. The first one today was Sandhill Crane, a much larger number of them than we saw yesterday, although these were farther away and the light was terrible for pictures. The Cattle Egrets were still in the same field with the cattle, but again the light was wrong for pictures and the birds were also farther away today. Those were still both great birds for my Friday list, though.
On the way to the preserve headquarters I saw a female American Kestrel on a wire and it stuck around for pictures. Here is my best one.
The bird I was looking for was Pectoral Sandpiper, and the same three birds were in the same place as yesterday. They are presumably migrating through this area, but they have stuck around all week so far, according to reports I have seen. They aren’t seen at all in the Sacramento area most years, so people have been eager to report them.
With all those great birds under my belt, I hit the freeways for Saratoga. The traffic was heavy, especially going the opposite way than I was going. It was a Friday afternoon, and even though it was only 1:00 to 2:00, it looked like everyone was evacuating the Bay Area, with solid lanes of cars most places. The freeways here in the Bay Area are almost as bad as the ones in the Los Angeles/Orange County area, it seems to me. Seattle isn’t a picnic, but I rarely am on the freeways at rush hour, so it makes this kind of traffic seem like a lot to me (not that 1:30 in the afternoon is exactly rush hour).
Here at my sister’s house I added Oak Titmouse to my Friday list, at the feeder in her back yard. That made 9 Friday birds for me today, to bring me to 222, my highest day of the week. No new year-birds today, so I’m still at 308 for the year.