Friday, February 26, 2010

A tale of two cities - Saturday

Saturday was a free day before dinner so we decided to head to Point Reyes National Seashore ( We set off early to beat the winter road closures. Each weekend the access roads to the point are shut to control traffic volume and a coach service put in place, but we set off early enough that we could get to the end and away again before the planned closure. We were most of the way to the point as the grey morning dawned, however we decided that it made more sense to do some land birding as we'd be doing plenty of coastal birding later on, so we stopped short of the end at the Estero Trail.

On the way we'd added our first new species of the day, a Western Screech Owl, perched on a wire overlooking the road just after dawn. From the start of the trail we caught fleeting glimpses of a Western Meadowlark which shot off to a far field, so only a record shot of that species, our second new one of the day thus far.

In thick cover we spotted our third new species, a Bewick's Wren. A littler further down the trail Helen snapped me approaching a woodland, where maddeningly we could hear loads but see virtually nothing:

You can tell from the perspective just how big the trees were. The trail winds on down to Home Bay and over a small bridge towards Sunset Beach. Close to the bridge a pair of Western Grebes were fishing:

As we headed back up the hill we looked down onto a flock of Marbled Godwits, new species number four of the day:

This is the view of Home Bay from a little higher up:

As well as the Godwits, a number of Willets were about too:

Also ever present were Turkey Vultures, White-crowned and Song Sparrows. Less common birds included Belted Kingfisher, California Gull and American Wigeon; the ducks were the most nervous of all, taking off at the slightest hint of human presence. Sensible ducks.
Our last encounter on this trail was a small group of deer:
From the Estero Trail we headed next to the trail to Abbotts Lagoon, a relatively short walk through marsh and scrub to a freshwater lagoon. On the walk we identified Red-winged Blackbirds and Marsh Wren (fifth new species). On the lagoon itself, another new species, Surf Scoter:
Then another, number seven of the day, Eared Grebe:
Also on the water, Greater Black-backed Gull, Thayer's Gull (another new species), Ring Billed Gull and Herring Gull. On the shoreline we had fleeting glimpses of Snowy Plover (new species) and Western Sandpipers.
From Abbotts Lagoon we started our journey back to San Francisco, stopping for lunch in Inverness, where we mat an expat Londoner who runs a local supermarket and where they do excellent veggie sandwiches.
We sat outside at the back of the shop on one of two picnic tables. The second table was soon occupied by a small group of local birders who were both eating lunch and spotting the various birds in the estuary (of which there were many, including a lone Clark's Grebe (new species), Ruddy Ducks and Greater Scaups in good numbers).

The boat lying abandoned caught Helen's eye, especially with its name:

One of a pair of Ravens, both watching the humans feeding, used it as a perch. Another bird apparently interested in our food was this Brown Pelican:

At first it landed reasonably close and just watched but shortly thereafter it flew up close to the second group (they had more food) and sat patiently close by:
We thoroughly enjoyed our lunch break in Inverness and indeed meeting and chatting with the other birders.
Next-up on our way back to the city, we stopped at Bear Valley to have a look around the car park and the shorter trails there. The car park itself was very busy with birds, including Red-winged Blackbird, here a male:
and a female eating a grub:

Brewer's Blackbirds, a male:
and female:
then another new species, Acorn Woodpecker:
It's fascinating to see what they have done to the tree. We enjoyed our wander around the Bear Valley area. This is a place we want to come back to as is the whole Point Reyes National Seashore. We barely skimmed the surface of what the area has to offer.
We made a few more stops on our way back to San Francisco. Route 1 passes Bolinas Lagoon, which with the high tide turned out to be a wader roost, hence large numbers of Willets on the move. In amongst this flock, if you look carefully there are also American Avocets (new species twelve of the day):

As the flock settled down we spotted a Long-billed Curlew, new species number thirteen and our last of Saturday:

Also on the water, and enjoying the brief sunshine, a Great White Egret:

The last bird of the day was this Belted Kingfisher watching from a wire:

The forecast for Sunday was rain, lots and lots of it... we decided to head out anyway and see what we could make of the day, before we flew in the evening to Los Angeles for the second of our two cities holiday.

Labels: , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home