Swainson's Hawk; Lapland Longspur
We had a really fun and successful field trip for our San Francisco Bay
Bird Obs. sparrow workshop today! We started the day at CCFS where a Prairie
Falcon greeted us upon arrival and where the highlight was a dark juvenile
Swainson’s Hawk which flew over with Turkey Vultures and Red-tailed Hawks,
heading northward. I can only remember seeing Swainson’s Hawk once before at
CCFS. A flock of 148 American White Pelicans were great to see as well. Next
we went over to Sandy Wool Lake, at Ed Levin County Park where highlights
included two nice Rufous-crowned Sparrows, many, many raptors including
three Golden Eagles (one close enough to touch almost!), Sharp-shinned and
Cooper’s hawks. At the Palo Alto Baylands we enjoyed “Alameda” Song
Sparrows, along with a Clapper Rail. We ended the day off at Bayfront Park,
Menlo Park, where we walked all over looking for the longspurs and failed.
But just as we were getting ready to go the park ranger came to tell us he
knew exactly where they were, took us to the spot, and we enjoyed point
blank looks at the two longspurs! Wow. The exact spot was the hill nearest
to the pond/hwy 101, so the westernmost hill. It is the one which on its
north end has two big rocks, and immediately to the north of that has three
scraggly pines, the westernmost one being a dead pine. The longspurs are
eating a little goosefoot type plant with little red berries, specifically
they are eating the berries. The plant is not all that widespread it seems.
They flew off eventually and probably went to another hilltop where more of
that plant is found. They returned eventually and flew over our hill, but
did not land, but they will likely be there tomorrow. They seemed to love
that little plant.
It was a great day to study sparrows, and certainly ended up being a
fantastic raptor day, and overall just a great day in the field!
Finally a request: We saw several color banded White-crowned Sparrows at
Palo Alto Baylands. Anyone know who is doing this research? It was news to
Half Moon Bay, California
Field Guides - Birding Tours Worldwide
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