Highland Ridge morning flight update and Kellogg Creek riparian oasis


The last few weeks I decided to focus on trying to observe morning flights at the Highland Ridge gate saddle location I mentioned last time as it's relatively easy to access and seemed to have good potential. Cornell's birdcast and the wind conditions at the nearby weather station seem to be pretty good predictors of the morning flight activity at this site with more low flyovers when birdcast predicts higher regional migration activity and when there's a local north headwind. After the initial visits, there haven't really been any mornings recently with both of these synced up, though this morning was decent with 14 Townsend's Warblers, 2 Olive-sided Flycatchers, 9 Lazuli Buntings, 6 Lawrence's Goldfinches, and others. I spent the first 5 minutes at 37.839896, -121.841630 where I've observed before, but upon watching a flock of warblers fly out of the oaks along the ridge crest immediately to the east, I moved to 37.838941, -121.838058 so I could watch birds fly into these oaks and then take off north at some later time. Though the birds were passing by relatively low to the ground with the north wind, they weren't all focused at just one spot and hence all the warbler sp. and passerine sp.

I also birded Kellogg Creek just downstream of the Los Vaqueros dam twice in the last couple weeks and was impressed with the habitat with 9 warbler species observed on April 23. Water is released into the creek and mitigation ponds (I believe year round) such that the first mile or so below the dam has relatively lush riparian vegetation (cottonwood, willow, etc) and multiple bird bathing spots. There are no ebird lists for this site in September, so I'm really curious if this is a good migrant trap in fall migration when there's probably no other running water paired with riparian vegetation for many miles around. The spring vagrant season is nearly upon us, so we'll see what shows up in the near term!

Michael Strom

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