Monday, October 8, 2007

Monterey Bay Birding Festival - Day 2

Saturday (Sep 22) started out as a rainy morning. Actually, it had started raining overnight. I think I woke up around 2 or 3 a.m. and could hear the raindrops softly falling on our roof. Dave got home Friday night in time for us to pick him up at the airport, and then grab a quick bite to eat on our way to our first pre-season Sharks home game at the Tank (aka HP Pavillion of San Jose).

OK, back to birding, namely the Monterey Bay Birding Festival. The drive to Watsonville was rainy, and when we arrived to check in at the Red Roof Inn, it was raining a bit harder. But, sometimes rainy days are good weather for birding - at least that's what I have heard. So I didn't let the rain hamper my thoughts or feelings for the day. I would just deal with it. Oddly enough, the rain we got was the first of the season for us, and everyone was commenting that it was a tad bit early. Usually our rainy season doesn't begin before late November. But, we'll take what we can get in the way of rain, especially since our rainy season last year was less than expected for a normal year.

The first field trip for the day was a 2-hour Beginning Birders field trip that took us to an area called Pajaro Dunes. Most of this area consists of summer beach homes surrounded by a riparian habitat as well as a sandy beach area. When we got started it was still raining, but gradually the rain slowed and then actually stopped. Because of the rain we did not get to see any raptors, but there were plenty of shore birds around. And later, we also saw some passerines. Unfortunately, I was without my camera for the day. I accidentally left it behind; I sure hope I don't do that again. This was a day that turned out so fruitful, and there I was without. Sigh.

Once the 2-hour field trip was over, we headed back to the check-in table to get ready for our second field trip. This second trip ended up being a three-hour plus trip and was well worth it. It was the best of all three trips I was on. This trip took us on the Watsonville Slough area, which included Harkins Slough and part of Struve Slough. Both of these sloughs flow into the larger Watsonville Slough. The weather turned out great, too. And there were many birds to see. And the best of all was that we saw an abundance of raptors.

My list for Saturday:
American white pelican
Brown pelican
Snowy egret
American coot
Black-bellied plover
Heerman's gull
*Violet-green swallow
Chestnut-backed chickadee
Northern mockingbird
California towhee
Song sparrow
White-crowned sparrow
Red-winged blackbird
House finch
*Cinnamon teal
Pied-billed grebe
Eared grebe
Double-crested cormorant
Great blue heron
Great egret
Green heron
Turkey vulture
*White-tailed kite
Northern harrier
*Red-shouldered hawk
Red-tailed hawk
*Peregrine falcon
*Snowy plover
*Semipalmated plover
Black-necked stilt
*Greater yellowlegs
*Red-necked phalarope
Mourning dove
Belted kingfisher
Black Phoebe
Loggerhead shrike
Western scrub jay
European starling
Brewer's blackbird

Asterisk = lifer

The biggest highlight of the day was at the end of our trip. There was an abundance of raptors in this one location. It was exciting to see a pair of peregrine falcons, but best of all was watching a white-tailed kite fluttering suspended in air -- much like a hummingbird would do at a feeder.


Ruth said...

What a great birding festival. Your lists are very impressive. I find gulls and shorebirds very confusing (along with ducks and little brown birds!) Sure must help to have a guide and a good group.

Mary C said...

Ruth - it certainly helped me quite a bit having experts there to point out the birds and amazingly be able to ID those shorebirds, etc. I, too, still have trouble identifying several similar species - especially shorebirds and gulls, and raptors and sparrows and warblers, too. But I am finding that the more I see these birds the better I get once I remember the differences between the similar species. :o)

mon@rch said...

Sounds like you had so much fun at this festival and many of these birds would be lifers of mine also!

Q said...

Wow! You did see lots of birds. Many of the ones you saw would be lifers for me too!
I like the idea of these festivals. I will see if anything is like this in my area.
Sometimes the camera gets in the way of enjoying the moment!

Mary said...

Mary! What a FANTASTIC time! I just can't wait to begin my field trips. Having a guide would definitely help me with shorebirds as I rarely see them, living inland.

Most of the birds you saw would be lifers for me.


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