Birding at SD 2007

So far this year I’ve had little time to bird anywhere other than Prospect Park, which, while pretty, gets a little repetitive. (I did get a life bird there a couple of weeks ago though.) Thus I’m really looking forward to getting out and doing some California birding in the upcoming week while I’m in Santa Clara for Software Development 2007 West. Looking at my schedule I have three full days open, and maybe a little extra time here and there.

Here are my tentative plans. Schedule will be adjusted to fit the weather, tides, wind conditions, and such. If any locals would like to guide/escort/tag along please drop me e-mail. It’s always nice to have company. Also if anyone has suggestions for sites I’m missing, or information about tides, best viewing spots, local mailing lists and rare bird alerts, etc. please leave a comment.

Also it would be helpful to know which of my target species are hopeless at this time of year. I will be back in May so I can try for some of these later.

Damn. JetBlue canceled my flight. I won’t be able to get out till Sunday night. That kills the weekend. I should still be able to spend some time birding, but not nearly as much as I planned; and I won’t be able to get as far afield as I wanted. I was so looking forward to this trip too. I am a very unhappy birder right now.


The conference is a couple of weeks later this year than it has been for the last couple of years so I’m hoping a few more hummingbird, warbler, and other passerine species will have arrived by the time I get there. I plan to spend at least Saturday morning at Stevens Creek Park Looking for them.

Target Species: Clark’s Grebe, Western Grebe, Mountain Quail, California Quail, Western Screech Owl, Northern Pygmy Owl (unlikely), Pygmy Nuthatch, Pine Siskin, Allen’s Hummingbird (may be too early), Western Wood-peewee, Pacific-slope Flycatcher (a real tough one to ID), Cassin’s Vireo, Black-headed Grosbeak, MacGillivray’s Warbler, Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Lazuli Bunting, Bullock’s Oriole, Hooded Oriole, Common Poorwill, American Dipper

The owls and poorwill will likely not be calling when I’m there. Doubtless some of these won’t have arrived yet, and one or two winter residents may have left already, but I hope I can pick up a few.

I am kicking myself for not arranging to stay over the weekend after the conference instead of the week before. The SCVAS has a field trip to Stevens Creek Park the day after I leave and one to Ogier Ponds the day after that. I do wish they’d post their trip schedule a little sooner. It always feels like I’m playing chicken with the airlines waiting for the SCVAS schedule to go up.


Sunday I plan to drive out to the coast for gulls and coastal birds. I plan to get to Pigeon Point, Pescadero Beach and Marsh, and various other parks in the area. Maybe I’ll even get down to Santa Cruz. I’m not sure if I should start in Santa Cruz and head north or start in Half Moon Bay/Pillar Point Marsh and head south. I don’t think I’ll make it as far south as Moss Landing, Elkhorn Slough, or Monterey this trip. Maybe next year.

Target species: Heermann’s Gull, Black Oystercatcher, Wandering Tattler, Surfbird, Tri-colored Blackbird, Pigeon Guillemot, Western Grebe, Clark’s Grebe, Snowy Plover, Common Murre, Harlequin Duck


I’m free in the afternoon. I could hit some of the reliable nearby Bay sites like Mountain View Shoreline, or I may try Ed Levin County Park, or Alum Rock Park.

Target species: Ferruginous Hawk, Allen’s Hummingbird, Rock Wren, Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Blue Grosbeak

Or I could drive over Mt. Hamilton or Joseph Grant County Park to look for Yellow-billed Magpie and Lawrence’s Goldfinch.


I should probably stay at the conference Tuesday for either Brian Goetz’s talk on threading or Christian Gross’s AJAX class, or both. However I’ve made reservations for the 2:30 elephant seal walk at Ano Nueva.

I may stay for the threads talk in the morning and then skip out in the afternoon, or I may try to get to some more coastal sites. I haven’t decided yet.

Target species: Elephant Seal, Pelagic Cormorant, Harlequin Duck, Black Swift, Pine Siskin


This morning I lead the Birding BoF to Sunnyvale Baylands Park. If the gates are closed, we’ll go to the Donald M. Somers water Pollution Control Plant instead.

Target species: Black-necked Stilt, Red-winged Blackbird, Bushtit, Golden Eagle, White Pelican, Pied-billed Grebe, Ruddy Duck, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, White-tailed Kite, Say’s Phoebe, Black Phoebe


I should have a few hours between the end of the conference and the red eye home. Sometimes I hang out with friends also waiting for their flights, but if not I’ll probably head over to Mountain View Shoreline, and see what I see. This is always a wonderful spot.

Target species: Burrowing Owl

Summing Up

I haven’t planned a lot of time along the Bay, but I’ve spent a lot of time there in the last couple of years, so I want to go different places this year. Also, if I have an extra hour or two free after the conference finishes for the day, it’s easy enough to hop over to Alviso, Sunnyvale Baylands, Palo Alto Baylands, the Donald M. Somers Water Pollution Control Plant, or Mountain View Shoreline. I’ll have to check the tide tables. And I really should try to visit the San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory. They lead trips in the area too, though sadly not while I’m there. Also worth remembering: the Santa Cruz Bird Club

I only got about six life birds when I came out here last year. Maybe with a little planning and preparation I can top that this year.

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