Mines Road / DPC Road 05-22-10
I led the second half of my Palo Alto Adult School birding class on
the Mines / Del Puerto Canyon circuit on Saturday. Very cool and
windy conditions seemed to dampen songs in the morning, but activity
picked up for us in the afternoon.
Beginning at Murrietta's Well we found 4 GREAT HORNED OWLS, a small
group of BAND-TAILED PIGEONS and the usual EURASIAN COLLARED DOVES.
We then headed up Mines Road, but stopped at the bridge shortly after
the Del Valle junction. Several YELLOW WARBLERS were present here, as
well as CLIFF and NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOWS, WESTERN KINGBIRD,
ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER, BULLOCK'S ORIOLE. A female WILD TURKEY was
moving along the creek below us and had 9 small chicks with her. We
were impressed that these small birds could actually fly quite well,
although not very far. Terribly cute...
At about mp 5.5 we stopped to search for PHAINOPEPLA in the oaks
below the road. We found several flying between the trees and over
the road. RUFOUS-CROWNED SPARROW was also singing here and popped out
for a look at our group. Other birds found on the way up the hill
were GOLDEN EAGLE, WESTERN TANAGER, WARBLING VIREO, BLACK-HEADED
SANTA CLARA COUNTY:
The summit was rather quiet when we first arrived, but faint songs
eventually began to emanate from the hillside. "BELL'S" SAGE SPARROW
was a nice treat but a little far away to get a good look. A probable
DUSKY FLYCATCHER was working the gully below us. We got brief looks
at it in good light. We all noticed its very grayish plumage, rounded
head, eye ring slightly wider toward the back, long tail that was not
bobbed like a Gray. Primary projection much shorter than Hammond's
and very unlike it in general structure.
We had several LAZULI BUNTINGS during the day, the first of which was
a brilliant male near the cattle guard just before the Junction with
DPC Road. South of the junction we found 2 or 3 LEWIS'S WOODPECKERS,
nesting LARK SPARROW and WOOD DUCK.
Returning to the Junction, we headed down Del Puerto Canyon toward
the Frank Raines campground. PURPLE FINCH was heard from the car as
we drove past the old Wood Duck pond just beyond the Junction along
DPC Road. We stopped at the next small pond on the left to see the
TRICOLORED BLACKBIRD colony, along with a few RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS,
AMERICAN COOTS and PIED-BILLED GREBES. The young Grebes were still
As hoped, last week's NORTHERN PYGMY OWL at the Frank Raines
campground was heard and seen again in the trees just uphill from the
restrooms. It perched above us and glared at us intensely. Like last
week, some members of our group heard a second bird along the road,
but we did no see it.
GREEN HERONS were seen in a couple of places beside the creek. Owl
Rock was really active when we arrived in late afternoon. OLIVE-SIDED
FLYCATCHER and SAY'S PHOEBE were there and calling. BLACK PHOEBE was
nesting along the creek. ROCK WREN, GREAT HORNED OWL, WHITE-THROATED
Graffiti Rock was our COSTA'S HUMMINGBIRD stop. We waited for about
15 minutes for the bird to arrive and then a spectacular male perched
in the snaggy tree above the water in perfect light! A family of 3
ROCK WRENS was busy working along the creek, as well as two female
. . .
Mountain View, C