Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Birding Festival - part 4 - Saturday's events

Saturday's events were another coastal field trip and then a couple of workshops in the afternoon back in Watsonville. Our coastal trip was to be Waddell Beach and Rancho del Oso located north of Davenport (which is north of Santa Cruz, CA). Now as a reminder we were traveling back home for the night and getting up around 5 a.m. each morning and driving in the dark. We drove all the way down to Watsonville to "check in." Then we are told we will meet our leader at Waddell Beach at the parking lot across the road from Rancho del Oso at 7:30. These two spots are located north and west of where we live. So that was another 45-minute drive north whereas I would have preferred to save a little time and mileage. Oh well. This birding festival is only in its fourth year. I do believe they have more organizational matters they need to learn and work on. This festival does cover a lot of geographical area, but I do think there should be various check-in areas so "locals" don't have to drive all the way to Watsonville and then drive back north again.

The photo below is what greeted us at 7:30 on Saturday morning at Waddell Beach. It was so different from Friday morning's beautiful sun shiny views. Cold, gray, and foggy. We were supposed to see or hope to see shearwaters, petrels, and/or marbled murrelets. But as you can see visibility was to be desired. The black "dots" you see out in the water are not birds of any sort, they are surfers, crazy surfers.

[Click on the images for a larger view]

I turned around away from the waves and wind and looked east and this is what I caught a glimpse of - the sun trying to burn its way through the fog/marine layer. This was also looking toward the area called Rancho del Oso where we were headed next.

Rancho del Oso is located on the coast (CA Hwy 1) as the western portion of Big Basin Redwoods State Park. This riparian area includes chapparel, coastal scrub oak and Monterey pines with Waddell Creek winding through. Birds we could expect to see were wrentits, band-tailed pigeons, CA thrashers, chickadees, titmice, nuthatches and woodpeckers.

There were several birds we did get to see at quite a distance, and a few others in such thick bushes it was difficult to get any pictures. I finally got to see a wrentit (lifer) and was surprised at the bird's size. I was expecting something the size of a chickadee, but this bird was as large or larger than a house finch. Below is a tree "dressed" in Spanish moss. I thought it was quite pretty and graceful looking. I guess it's not a parasite per se, it's considered an epiphyte. I would consider it more symbiotic where it needs to live on oak trees (and other trees) in a humid locale. I was surprised to learn that it is part of the Bromeliad family.
As we were hiking up a portion of what is known as the Skyline Trail I was able to stop and admire what was below. As you can see in this photo there are agricultural fields all around on the flatter parts. The Pacific Coast is ideal for many vegetables grown here in California.

Here is a shot of looking down at the trail. This photo shows that it was still foggy while we were hiking. Some other birds we saw on this field trip were Black Phoebe, band-tailed pigeons, chestnut-backed chickadees, oak titmice, scrub and Stellar's jays, and a few woodpeckers.

The afternoon was back in Watsonville for a couple of workshops we signed up for. Both were given by Jon Dunn who has been an editor for all 5 editions of "Field Guide to the Birds of North America" published by National Geographic Society. The first workshop was "Honing your birding skills - identifying large shorebirds." The second workshop was "Honing your birding skills - identifying small shorebirds." Mr. Dunn had a slide presentation for each workshop with excellent photos he has taken of various shorebirds. I personally feel that more advanced birders probably enjoyed the presentations more than I. I felt much of what he presented was "over my head." I also feel that it would have been good to have some type of handout to point out the differences between similar looking species. Each workshop was only 90 minutes long, so we were home bound by 5 p.m.


Linda inErie said...

I suppose it isn't easy putting on a bird festival but hopefully each year they'll learn from the one before and change things for the better. It looks beautiful there and your pictures are wonderful, especially of the spanish moss. I didn't know it grew in California. The surfers are a kind of bird, though, ha.

Leedra said...

I went to a birding festival in Fl in April. We also met at different locations, which sometimes as a non local was bad. But they did give each person that information at registration so we knew in advance when we met at the headquarters or somewhere else.

These festivals are so much fun.

Red said...

There are improvements to be made... but that comes with experience... and hopefully a creative thinker with organizational skills :) (and no i'm not applying for the job!)

I can't believe you got to post already and are now ahead of me... sigh :( I don't have time tonight either and I don't even have the time now at work to read and comment... oops.

Thanks for that info on the Spanish Moss... I was wondering, but hadn't gotten as far as looking it up. Okay, back to work :(

Mary C said...

Hi Linda - I think the present organizers will realize they need a professional to set this festival up in the future in order for it to be successful. I never realized before that Spanish moss grew here, but the conditions are certainly right -- oak trees and humid, temperate climate.

I agree, Leedra. These festivals can really be a lot of fun, and a real learning experience, too. You can also get to know other folks who have the same interests (nature photography and birds, etc).

OK, Red -- LOL! I'm sure our faithful readers will enjoy your posts when you get them posted. You can always link your posts from mine, too, since I posted earlier than you.

Red said...

Saturday part one is done :)

The link is already below, but just in case... click here.

Kathiesbirds said...

That fog photo is awesome even if it wasn't so good for birding. Sorry that guy was so technical. Sometimes it is hard to get these scientists to remember what it's like to enjoy the birds for what they are and you are a person who does that! Keep on looking and enjoying. The pleasure they give you is more important than the technical details! I admire your desire to learn and improve, though, and I am sure you will continue. I am still learning myself and get frustrated when I can't ID a bird. Think of it this way: More bird guides. More reading. More observing. More Fun!

Mary C said...

I'm a few days late here, but thank you Red. I hope everyone else has taken the time to visit your site as well. You've done well, putting in a lot of time with both your photos and your post.

Hi Kathie - it always seems to amaze me how the fog just rolls in(land) and can just as easily disappear. Then there are other days when the fog wants to stick around. As for Mr. Dunn I probably would have enjoyed the workshops more if it would have been geared toward a beginner's level. How true, Kathie, that I'm there to enjoy the birds and all of my surroundings. I'm really not into the scientific/technical details. And you're right that I can continue to learn (in the field) with my field guides, etc. and have lots of fun. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.


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