Monday, November 3, 2008

Rancho San Antonio County Park - Los Altos/Cupertino California

A month ago, the first Sunday in October, Red and I visited one of the county parks here in our area. Rancho San Antonio is located in the foothills of Los Altos, although I always considered it part of Cupertino, the city where we used to live before moving to San Jose. It was a pleasant afternoon with temperatures around 70-75 degrees. Click on the link to read a little more about this park which has quite a bit to offer visitors, such as horse trails, biking trails, and a farm where children can pet the animals. There are also picnic grounds and most of the trails are well used, especially on weekends.
Above is a thistle plant I saw while walking around the picnic ground area. And below is one of the oldest Bay Laurel trees in this park. As you can see in the photo it was fenced off. I had to walk back quite a distance to get the entire tree into the photo.
Red and I didn't have a lot of time, but walking around we did see a few birds. Below are acorn woodpeckers. There were quite a few of them all over the area where we were walking. [Be sure to click on the photos to get a larger image.]

Another species we saw were starlings, quite a few of them.

As we were leaving the park, driving right outside of the entrance, we caught a glimpse of white, actually black and white. It was large and so we had to find a place where we could pull off the road. When we finally did, we watched in awe as this big white bird hovering above the ground and then take a dive. Both of us finally realized we were looking at a White-tailed kite. We saw it fly back up into a tree and then realized a short distance away from this bird was another kite perched in another tree. Photo op? You bet! Did we get a photo? Nope! We already had everything packed away in the trunk and we needed to get home. Well, at least we know what to look for when we return to this park. For the short length of time we spent there we certainly found some very interesting birds to enjoy. And just to note, the acorn woodpecker was a lifer for me.


Anonymous said...

I always love seeing the acorn woodpeckers when we're in the west - we don't have them in the eastern part of the US. I still remember seeing my first one in the Angeles National Forest.

Linda in Erie said...

I never heard of an acorn woodpecker before. All the years I lived out there I never saw any woodpeckers that I can remember. Right place, wrong time, I guess. Your outing sounds wonderful. The kite would really be a great bird to see. That Bay Laurel tree is just beautiful!

Lynne said...

I had hoped to see an acorn woodpecker when we were in Phoenix a few years ago but no luck. They sure are purty!

Ruth's Photo Blog said...

I enjoyed your pictures,especially the ones of the Acorn Woodpecker,a new bird for me.

Red said...

WE didn't get a picture? You mean you, right? I snapped away. Sure, it wasn't a quality picture, but I got a few reasonable pics of it. Guess I'll need to post them now, lol!

Anonymous said...

Rancho San Antonio is a great park! I grew up nearby in Los Altos, and so have visited many, many times. I remember when the green-roofed building between the park and Hwy 280 was a convent, rather than the townhouses that are there now.

Congrats on your lifer - Acorn Woodpeckers are such characters, flying to and fro storing nuts in their granary trees, and making quite a racket. They're actually a fascinating bird, as they have complex societies and exhibit cooperative breeding, where not just the parents, but the rest of the extended family group, helps raise the young. See for more information :)

Shellmo said...

I don't believe we have the acorn woodpecker here in Michigan but it was nice to see yours in action!

RuthieJ said...

Acorn Woodpeckers are so neat--did you hear them calling too? (sounds like crazy laughter)

jan m said...

Love the acorn woodpecker. Guess I will have to travel west one day to see one.

Mary C said...

Wren, I didn't realize that acorn woodpeckers are only in the western part of the country, and specifically in the far west (mostly Calif and AZ). I thought these birds were all over the country.

Thanks, Linda. I only remember my husband pointing out a couple of woodpeckers many years ago, when my kids were only toddlers, and I had no time to think about birds. ;o) That was when we went to Roaring Camp in the Santa Cruz Redwoods.

Lynne, they are definitely "purty!" They are such fun to watch, too. I hope to see more of them as I continue birding.

Thanks, Ruth (Ruth's Photo Blog). I'm glad I could share a couple of photos of a bird that is unique to you.

Well, Red, when are you going to post them? I forgot you took photos. But that is expected of you since you are the one with the big lens! ;o)

Thanks for the link, Adam. So when can I see you visiting Rancho San Antonio again!? I'm sure you can point out a lot of things and birds to me that I'm sure I've missed! :o)

Shelley, Ruthie, Jan - thanks. I'm glad I could provide a bird that is not see in your "corner of the world." ;o)

Ruth said...

The Acorn woodpeckers remind me in shape of our Hairy woodpeckers. I love the red head. The west is a whole new birding world.

Red said...

They're about the same size as Hairys too Ruth. Around here, except for the Downeys, one has to pay attention to feather patterns to ID the woodpeckers. We get Nutall's, Hairy, Acorn that are all the same size. Sheesh!

Mom, maybe today?


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