mrkinch: Erik holding fieldglasses in "Russia" (binocs)
[personal profile] mrkinch
My purpose was to see fox sparrows and eventually I did, although The Nature Area on a Sunday has its drawbacks. I went late, 7:30, so that the gate would be open, but I should have gone earlier regardless. (I should always go earlier.:)) I walked north on Upper Packrat then out as far as the madrone and huge eucs just past the park boundary, and back on Lower Packrat. Bird of the day was my first of season fox sparrow, but I also had lots of warblers (four species in three or four loose flocks), a visible Swainson's thrush, and nothing else exciting. The list: )

There's still water flowing over the dam. Less than a month ago but more than a trickle.

fiiiiiiiiiiggs omg

Sep. 23rd, 2017 11:40 am
mrkinch: albatross soaring (Default)
[personal profile] mrkinch
I rarely buy fruit other than the apples I take hiking but today, the display of perfectly ripe farmers' market figs forced me to buy a basket. Oh, my gosh. Will I manage not to eat them all this afternoon? Wouldn't bet on it.
mrkinch: Erik holding fieldglasses in "Russia" (binocs)
[personal profile] mrkinch
In order to maintain my streak and still have hope of getting to the farmers' market before the loose greens are gone I got down to the Berkeley Meadow about 7:30, returning about 9:30. Again the weather was glorious, clear, with little wind. Despite the kites not making an appearance it was a remarkable morning: more shore/water birds than last time and three warblers. A migration list: )

There were several mystery calls, none recordable.:(

9/22/2017 Point Reyes

Sep. 22nd, 2017 06:50 pm
mrkinch: Erik holding fieldglasses in "Russia" (binocs)
[personal profile] mrkinch
I left Berkeley at 7 am with U and MF for a long and excellent day at Point Reyes. The weather was glorious! No fog, little wind even out at the lighthouse overlook. The sky was blue and the air clear. Farallones were clearly visible. We first stopped briefly at Park Headquarters, where we saw several large coveys of quail, a song sparrow that stumped us because it hadn't gotten its song together properly yet, dark-eyed junco, Brewer's blackbirds, and a bobcat that apparently has been hanging around the picnic area for several days. Kind of worrying for the animal. Next brief stop was where Sir Francis Blvd crosses the northern end of Drake's Estero. There we saw great egret, song sparrow, Savannah sparrow, several red-tails, what were probably a couple of Say's phoebes and heard, off in the distance, greater yellow-legs and clapper/Ridgway's rail. Then it was on to the first really cool spot, the old RCA site, labeled on google maps as the Cypress Tunnel, a long avenue of tall, old cypress trees that leads to a more open area with a few buildings, varied vegetation, and usually fabulous birding. Tragically someone had turned off the water leak and torn out all the vegetation around it that used to be an amazing draw for migrant birds, even a swamp sparrow one winter, but despite this misstep we had a great time there. Four warblers! Birds of the RCA site: )

Next stop was the Fish Docks, where I got a fifth warbler and a few other species. Birds of the Fish Docks: ) Bird of the day was here, a broad-winged hawk on migration.

There were other things up in the cypress but I could not pull them out. And of course we could see, and often hear, the elephant seals hauled out in Drake's Bay. We then went out to the lighthouse, where we saw the local peregrine, some cliff swallows, sundry sea birds (pos Brandt's cormorants) from a great height, and a few humpback whales. It was after 2 pm when we finally ate lunch at Drake's Beach beside a bank of willows from which we heard Bewick's wren, wrentit, song sparrow, California scrub jay, a Steller's jay faking a red-tail badly and, just before we left, presumably from the marsh behind the willows, a Virginia rail. Additional species seen along the road were Canada geese, wild turkey, tri-color and red-winged blackbirds in amongst the dairy herds, a Cooper's hawk, many red-tails, and an American kestrel. Somewhere we heard killdeer. Also saw deer and coyotes, but no elk.

9/21/2017 Nimitz Way

Sep. 21st, 2017 02:45 pm
mrkinch: Erik holding fieldglasses in "Russia" (binocs)
[personal profile] mrkinch
I walked out to the Mezue trailhead and back, seven hours, eight-and-a-half or nine miles. Almost like the old days except that carrying bins in my fannypack turned pouch limits the number of layers I can remove and stash. Today it worked well. The weather was perfect, no fog, little wind, yet cool enough that I wasn't miserable in two layers on return. The white-crowned sparrows are back! I saw a couple of juveniles and heard some iffy songs in the open area just north of Conlon, but only on the way back. On the way out I was dawdling to allow a coyote to put some distance between us (this was just after I'd dawdled to allow a cow with calf to do the same - there were a lot of mammals up there today) and noticed an unmistakable, non-native bird: a European goldfinch, presumably an escapee. So I had three kinds of goldfinch today, lesser, American, and one apparently healthy European. For migrants I had one Pacific-slope flycatcher in an sheltered oak at about 3 mi and one black-throated gray warbler in an oak at the top of Laurel Canyon Road. Oh, and my reward for getting all the way out to the trail head was a Say's phoebe at the junction and a large family of coyotes in the near distance. The list may be less fun than the incidentals: )

One other mammal, my first skunk! Way out in the dry grass north of 3 mi, a striped skunk trundled up the slope from the west, crossed the road, and trundled on east through the fence and disappeared. If only I'd had the presence of mind to take video.

9/20/2017 Diablo Foothills State Park

Sep. 20th, 2017 03:02 pm
mrkinch: Erik holding fieldglasses in "Russia" (binocs)
[personal profile] mrkinch
Went out with U, DW, and one other for the first time since early July, starting at 8:30 am. It was overcast with no wind so I went out in a t-shirt, a canvas shirt, and my trusty neckwarmer and was fine. No goddamned warblers nor any migrants save a Pacific-slope flycatcher or possibly two, and here it's the goddamned equinox. Very frustrating. A nice list of residents: )

Experiments in carrying bins )
mrkinch: Erik holding fieldglasses in "Russia" (binocs)
[personal profile] mrkinch
The "Wildcat Peak Trail is closed" signs disappeared a while ago so this morning I went up to see if the trail had really been fixed or just bashed down by foot traffic. But first I was surprised on Upper Packrat Trail by a bicycle coming up behind me. The guy claimed to have come from a trail "up there" and to have seen no signs; I know of no trail "up there" and the ranger I reported it to much later didn't seem to believe the claim, either. I wish I could say I made him turn back, but I think he would have pushed me off the trail had I refused to step aside. So that was a nice start.

Wildcat Peak Trail has indeed been fixed, wider and flatter than before. I guess it was done by a couple of guys with shovels as I cannot imagine how to get any other equipment to the site short of a helicopter. Maybe that's what they did. Anyway, once up that far (the slide site is a lot closer to the top than I recalled, but then I was too freaked to remember clearly) I of course did not turn around (my plan were it not sufficiently fixed) and after briefly contemplating going down Conlon I settled for the connector down to Laurel Canyon Trail and out.

There have been first of season reports for a number of winter species, but I neither heard nor saw any. Wildcat Peak Trail has no hard bits but it's boring and today was no exception. Just the usuals: )

So not an exciting morning, and it produced some un-encouraging empirical data. Stupid back. )

I forgot to say that the weather was perfect, clearing quickly but cool. I went out in two t-shirts and a light flannel, with my neckwarmer to start, and was quite comfortable.
mrkinch: Erik holding fieldglasses in "Russia" (binocs)
[personal profile] mrkinch
I got out about sunrise, went to three places, and was home about 11:30, so have three short lists. Point Emery: )

I didn't stay long before heading up the frontage road to what used to be called Berkeley Meadow. I walked east up the Virginia street extension, through the park, out the west gate, and along the fence back to the car. McLaughlin Eastshore State Park: )

There were great reports from Richmond Shoreline yesterday monrning but today it was the least productive. Meeker Slough: )

A day of mysteries.

My timing was terrible in that I was at Richmond Shoreline right around high tide and didn't want to hang around for an hour or more while the tide receded. There was also intense clean-up activity, which is wonderful if only briefly noticeable, given the unimaginable amount of crap that washes continually onto those shores and marshes, so too many people, however good their reason for being there.
mrkinch: Erik holding fieldglasses in "Russia" (binocs)
[personal profile] mrkinch
I drove up through the fog to higher overcast, but the weather rose as well. It looked like this )

There were breaks in the clouds over Contra Costa and thunder to the SSE while I was in the parking lot, but it got worse as I headed north: not much rain but wind so strong I turned back at the first gap in the ridge lest I be blown over. Twenty minutes later I was able to continue and despite not much energy I walked out to 2 mile and back. Lack of birds doesn't help, but it was all made worthwhile just north of the first cattle gate. I was looking for a thrasher calling in a little hollow to the west; I never found it but I did find a wonderful mixed flock: bushtits, several blue-gray gnatcatchers, a Hutton's vireo, two orange-crownedyellow warblers, and a chickadee. This is what we're always hoping for. I wasn't going to bother with a list til that happened: )

Some colorful and varied vegetation at about one and a half mile. )

It was 11 am and I didn't want to go home yet so I spent an hour at the EBRP Botanic Garden. It was still overcast but not cold, or even windy down in the gorge, and I had quite a few birds not encountered up on the ridge. Best was sitting on a bench and listening to purple finches singing and calling just over my head: Another short list: )

My view from the aforesaid bench )

Other taxa: From the Botanic Garden's primary bridge over Wildcat Creek I watched an enormous crayfish slowly but steadily working its way upstream. I've never noticed one there before and saw no other in other parts of the stream. I know they're in Jewel so presumably they're in Anza, but that's still quite a ways downstream. Impressive.

GIVEAWAY!

Sep. 11th, 2017 03:38 pm
mrkinch: albatross soaring (Default)
[personal profile] mrkinch
So I wore the flanged ear plugs on the way to work once and discovered they are useless to me. Returning them is too much trouble (I've given up amazon AGAIN so returning stuff is a pain) and will ship them at once to anyone who wants to try them. Comment and then we can take it to email or whatever for the details. Please take them off my hands!

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