Cassin's Finch at Low Elevation

George Chaniot

Thu, 8 Feb 2001 -- At about 11:00 today I saw a single male CASSIN'S FINCH
at about 1000 feet elevation. It was in a short-grazed pasture along a
little-known private road near the quarry on Potter Valley Road. It flew
off over the skyline, and I don't expect it will be seen at the same spot.
This is just the second time that I have seen CAFI this low. -- George

Thanks, George


I was already a member of Yahoo groups, so sign-up was easy.
Thanks to George Chaniot for the work it took to set this up.
I always felt a little constrained on the other boards; they seemed
more like official archives.
Shall we use this as a general birding info venue or do we want to
restrict it to somewhat rare sightings? One board I visit (Ford N
Series Tractors) gets as many as 25 messages a day; this is too many
to take on an e-mail basis, so I just visit the site and read what
seems interesting (an option you can choose).
I guess I kind of made my vote, since I didn't mention any birds.
Thanks again.
Jim Armstrong

Lake Mendocino 2/10

George Chaniot

Sat, 10 Feb 2001 -- Today I dodged between storms to go out to Lake
Mendocino and peer into most every corner. The lake is still very low,
standing at 723.1' above sea level, up only slightly from 720.5' on 22 Jan,
at a time of year when it would normally be more than 20 feet higher.
The waterfowl are in a late winter pattern of high numbers and low
diversity. I saw no dabbling ducks at all, not even Mallards! No herons.
There are probably about 3-4000 scaups with Greater predominating, but with
zero boat activity and little wave action, they are scattered widely over
the lake and hard to see. The biggest concentrations were in the coves on
the east shore and south of Grapevine Point on the west shore where they
are very hard to see. I walked as far as Little Bear Campground where I
found a TUFTED DUCK among the scaups. Later off Ky-en Campground on the
north shore I found another TUFTED DUCK. The first had a dark gray back and
a short tuft, while the second had a black back and a long pony tail. This
confirms that there are at least two birds on the lake this winter.
South of the mesa there was an immature BALD EAGLE eating a coot on
a stump. It had white on the top of the head, white on the back, white on
the wing coverts, a white belly, and nearly white tail. It resembled White
Belly II in Clark and Wheeler, but more extreme. At the Pomo Day-use area
there was another immature flying by, similar, but with a different tail.
Later the first eagle was sitting in the last tree on Miti spit. There is
often a raptor of some kind in that tree.
Back in Potter Valley the MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD bonanza continues.
Today there were seven birds on seven consecutive fence posts right along
Pine Avenue by the emus. (Would you believe 7 bluebirds and a rainbow?!
Something out of Disney.) There was also a FERRUGINOUS HAWK along lower
Pine Avenue. -- George Chaniot

Lake Mendocino
Pied-billed Grebe 20
Western Grebe 100
Clark's Grebe 2
Canada Goose 2
Ring-necked Duck 5
Greater Scaup ] 3000-4000
Lesser Scaup ]
Tufted Duck 2 m
Common Goldeneye 20
Bufflehead 50
Hooded Merganser 1
Common Merganser 120
Ruddy Duck 300
Turkey Vulture 5
Bald Eagle 2 imm
Red-shouldered Hawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk 1
California Quail 1
American Coot 800
Ring-billed Gull 20
California Gull 80
Thayer's Gull 1 imm
Herring Gull 1 ad
Band-tailed Pigeon singing
Great Horned Owl calling repeatedly at midday!
Anna's Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Acorn Woodpecker
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker including a hybrid flicker
Pileated Woodpecker pair excavating a cavity at Deer Camp
Black Phoebe
Steller's Jay
W. Scrub Jay
American Crow
Common Raven
Oak Titmouse singing
White-breasted Nuthatch
Rock Wren Coyote Dam, near marker 025
Ruby-crowned Kinglet singing
Hermit Thrush
N. Mockingbird
California Thrasher singing, along Marina Drive mm 0.5
European Starling singing
Hutton's Vireo
Audubon's Y-r Warbler
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Song Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Oregon D-e Junco
Brewer's Blackbird
House Finch

Mallards at Lake Mendo


I was at the north boat ramp at about 11 AM Sat and think there were
a couple of dozen Mallards in and around the floating docks and poles.
Today it is snowing pretty good so it may not be very practical to
Looked for Dippers for about 20 minutes at first PV Road turnout with
no luck.

Lake County

Jerry White <grwhite@...>

Today in Lake County there were 2 adult Greater White-fronted Geese at Keeling Park in Nice (Lakeshore Blvd).

An adult male Barrow's Goldeneye was seen from about mile post 16.57 hiway 20 just west of Lucerne.

The Tufted Duck was seen from hiway 20 at about mile post 19.81 east of Lucerne.

Lake County

Jerry White <grwhite@...>

Today in Lake County there were 2 adult Greater White-fronted Geese at Keeling Park in Nice (Lakeshore Blvd).

An adult male Barrow's Goldeneye was seen from about mile post 16.57 hiway 20 just west of Lucerne.

The Tufted Duck was seen from hiway 20 at about mile post 19.81 east of Lucerne

Hopland Black-legged Kittiwake

Chuck & Barbara Vaughn

Greetings: At 730 today Cory Simerson found a very weak Black-legged Kittiwake in the snow at the headquarters of the UC Hopland Research and Extension Center. The bird was found at about 800' elevation and probably 30-35 miles from the coast. It would be interesting to know how long/far it was flying around in this northern cyclone.

Chuck Vaughn
Bob Keiffer

Chuck and Barbara Vaughn
1550 Deerwood Drive
Ukiah, CA 95482


Eagles at Lake Mendocino

vishnu <vishnu@...>

Late Monday afternoon 2/12/01 a pair of immature bald eagles were
observed diving for fish in the water just east of the large parking lot
at the south boat ramp at Lake Mendocino. I watched from a boat near the
east shore and they eventually flew back over the lake and overhead
cavorting in the sky. What looked playful may have been more competitive
as it turned out one of them had a fish. What appeared to be a 3rd eagle
flew across the lake at the same time further down but I didn't ID it as
I was too taken with the ones close by. A black shouldered kite was also
seen perched near the east shore. Vishnu

kite in last post

vishnu <vishnu@...>

Correction! I saw a white tailed kite not a black shouldered one. (One
of these days I'll get a new book.) Vishnu

Continuing Rarities

George Chaniot

Sat, 17 Feb 2001 -- As of today two male TUFTED DUCKS continue to be seen
in the north end of Lake Mendocino. In Potter Valley seven MOUNTAIN
BLUEBIRDS can still be found at the end of the county road on Pine Avenue,
but they are harder to find in the rain.
Further afield in Marin Co. the superrare KING EIDER at the
Fishdocks and the megarare GREATER SANDPLOVER at Stinson Beach were both
reported yesterday. -- George Chaniot

[ Several people have expressed concern about my attack of
mallard-blindness on the 10th. I'm recovering at home, thank you; I saw one
out the window this morning. I think it was a side effect of scaup-eye, an
ailment caused by looking at too many scaups through the telescope, itself
a side effect of TUDU-on-the-brain OCD ;-)]

Greater Sandplover

Jerry White <grwhite@...>

The GREATER SANDPLOVER was first seen at about 10:30 AM yesterday by Nikki and I and about 30 of our closest friends (at least we all became great friends after it was found). The bird was discovered on the outgoing tide as the mudflats began to form. This is in Sea Drift Estates near Stinson Beach.

VGSW etc

Chuck & Barbara Vaughn

Greetings- I made it out to the Ukiah sewage treatment plant oxidation ponds this am between storms. With all of the recent rain, the ponds are finally getting some serious water. Among the usual ducks were 7 Canada Geese, including an "Aleutian" type. The Tree Swallow numbers along the river have increased to a couple dozen, and they were joined by a pair of Violet-green Swallows. The Violet-greens are the first I've seen this year.



Chuck and Barbara Vaughn
1550 Deerwood Drive
Ukiah, CA 95482

Geater Sandplover

vishnu <vishnu@...>

The same book (2nd ed Nat. Geo.) that bade me call a white-tailed kite a
black-shouldered one earlier this week does not list a Greater
Sandplover. It does list Greater Golden-Plover. Is this verily the same
bird? Vishnu

South Coast 2/18

George Chaniot

Sun, 18 Feb 2001 -- Dorothy Tobkin reports the following from the south
Mendocino coast area: a PRAIRIE FALCON at about milemarker 30 on Hwy 1, and
2 FERRUGINOUS HAWKS in about the same area. A PEREGRINE FALCON was seen
near the green bridge over the Garcia River, and the LAYSAN ALBATROSS was
seen in Arena Cove at about 12:30.

Greater Sandplover (Charadrius leschenaultii)


Greater Sandplover is not mentioned in NGS 2nd ed or 3rd ed for that
matter. It is my understanding that this may be the first North
American record for this Eurasian species. The scientic (latin) name
is Charadrius leschenaultii, reference SHOREBIRDS, AN IDENTIFICATION
GUIDE, P. Hayman, J. Marchant, T. Prater, Houghton Mifflin publisher,

Collared Aleutian Goose

George Chaniot

On 6 Jan 2001 Chuck Vaughn, Matthew Matthiessen, and I saw a group
of 12 Aleutian Canada Geese on the Garcia River bottoms near Point Arena
along with larger Canada Geese, Greater White-fronted Geese, Ross's Geese,
and Tundra Swans. One of the Aleutians was wearing a neck collar, #941,
white on blue. Just this week I have heard back that it was banded 5 miles
northeast of Vernalis, Stanislaus County, CA on 10 Dec 1999. When trapped,
it was identified as an after hatching year male (AHY M), which means that
it was hatched in 1998 or earlier, making it at least 3 1/2 years old at
our sighting. Although my awareness of Aleutian Canada Geese has increased
in the last ten years, it is also my impression that they became more
frequent in Mendocino county in the 90's in parallel with their recovery.
Thanks to Dr. Paul Springer for tracking down this information. I'm
still waiting to hear from other sources about a radio-collared "Tule"
Greater White-fronted Goose which appeared on a vineyard pond in Potter
Valley in Oct 2000. -- George Chaniot

Re: Greater Sandplover (Charadrius leschenaultii)

Feather Forestwalker <feather@...>

I have this in my Collins Pocket Guide to Birds of Britain and Europe, as
well as the Petersen's Guide to Birds of Britain and Europe.

I looked in my Sibley's Guide to Birds as well as all three editions of my
NGS, Audubon's, Petersen's, and cannot find it listed as even an accidental
or rare winter vagrant.

It would definitely be a record, though I do remember reading something
recently about this bird being easily confused with another species that IS
more commonly found here, though is a Eurasian species. I cannot remember
which species that was; am thinking Mongolian Plover, but might be wrong.

Good luck and happy birding to you all! Sounds like everyone's been having a
wonderful time out there!

Saw an OSPREY at Pudding Creek the other day; it was on a wire, preening in
the rain. . .


The Greater Sandplover

Kris K. Carter <kkcarter@...>

Hello All:

Here is my attempt to clarify information on this bird. Yes this is the first
record of this bird in No. America, hence it does not appear and is not mentioned
in any American Field Guide so far as I know. The best reference is Hayman et al:
Shorebirds: An Identification Guide. In this book p.108 is devoted to the Lesser
and Greater Sandplovers, you should concentrate on illustration 108d, this is
closest to the Stinson Beach bird. When first discovered there was a lot of
discussion about whether this bird was a greater or lesser Sandplover. We in the
United States know the Lesser Sandplover as the Mongolian Plover, a rare visitor
to the west coast. The last one I know of was the bird seen by many of us at the
WFO conference in Arcata, fall 1998. Hayman contains a discussion of the
differences between these two species, see the chart on p. 393. The Stinson Beach
GSP has the very long legs (for a plover), and they are greenish, not gray or
brownish. The bill is very long and thick (for any plover), clearly longer than
the distance from the base of the bill to the back of the eye. These two features
alone define this bird to be a GSP, but there is more to look at if you wish, see
Hayman. If you lack access to any reference books you might think like this: it is
a small bird, just a bit larger than a Semipalmated Plover. Think of a Snowy
Plover, then eliminate the white hind collar, make the back and neck all brown.
Extend the legs by about one third, color them greenish. Triple the length of the
bill, double the thickness. Now imagine it somewhat larger, and you will be close
to the image you need. When the bird is standing in soft mud the legs do not look
as long as they actually are.

When I went to see the bird I did just what Jerry White posted, I planned to be
there shortly after a morning high tide, and I enjoyed wonderful close scoped
views of the bird. You do need a scope to see the detail. While you are there note
that there has been a Cape May Warbler in this same subdivision, a first winter
male currently molting into breeding plumage. It visits the bottlebrush plants in
the front yard of home #303, near the junction of the two main roads at the west
end of the subdivision. Good Luck.

Richard Irvin

more on the Greater Sandplover

Mike Feighner <pacloon@...>

Mendocino County Birders:

Regarding the fine points already provided by Richard Irvin on the
Greater Sandplover, I would like to point out Joe Morlan's site at containing a vivid
write-up, photos, links to other sites, and articles covering the
Greater Sandplover, and a 10-second video provided by Leslie Lieurance
of San Francisco.

I invite all to check out,
listserve covering areas to the south and east of Mendocino County.
There are several posts there covering the Greater Sandplover at
Seadrift Estates in Stinson Beach since the bird was first discovered on
29 January 2001. I have just taken a look at the site and have
determined that unlike Mendobirds the archives are not public. So,
viewing the archives will unfortunately cost a subscription.

If this post comes through twice, my apologies. My ISP, PacBell, has
been having some problems the past couple of days.

Mike Feighner, Livermore, CA, Alameda County

Black-legged Kittiwake at Van Damme Beach

Charlene McAllister

There is a Black-legged Kittiwake on the beach at Van Damme. It is located on the west end of the beach where the trail goes up to Peterson Lane. The bird is badly oiled, but only on it's tail feathers and the tips of it's wings. It does not appear able to fly.

Charlene McAllister