Birding BoF 2007

Thursday morning was the second SD Birding BoF. If I do it once more, it becomes a tradition. Due to the daylight savings time change, we only had about an hour and fifteen minutes of actual birding, but we tried to make the most of it. Nine hardy souls joined me at 6:30 A.M. to ride over to the Donald M. Somers Water Pollution Control Plant. (It’s more interesting than it sounds.)

We started with some Mallards, Song Sparrows, and Mockingbirds in the canal. Marsh Wrens were also singing from the reeds. At the first corner on the Northeast of the hill, we relocated the Common Moorhen I’d scouted on Tuesday. There were a few false alarms where various bits of junk were misidentified as birds, and some domestic geese that were initially called as Greater White-fronted Geese (they weren’t) but that was forgotten when two Black-necked Stilts flew in and started feeding.

Continuing along the canal toward the west we found numerous American Coots in full voice as well as several egrets, both Snowy and Great. One attendee had brought a scope this year which helped a good deal. We scoped some Northern Shovelers and Ruddy Ducks further out in the ponds. We found some closer Ruddy Ducks as well that we could easily view with binoculars. Marsh Wrens continued to call from the reeds, and one Great Blue Heron flew over the hill. We also had flybys by Double-crested Cormorant, White Pelican, and Western Gull. The most unexpected species on the north side of the hill though wasn’t a bird at all, but rather a Jackrabbit.

The best birding, however, was at the pond just to the West of the hill, which featured Northern Shovelers, Mallards, Green-winged Teal, Cinnamon Teal, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Northern Pintail, and 15+ Black-crowned Night-Herons. A lone Green Heron also flew out of the reeds bringing our heron family total to 5 for the morning. We also had Common Yellowthroat in the reeds along with some Golden-crowned Sparrows.

The pond also had at least one aquatic mammal though we never got a good enough look at it to identify it, and I don’t know what’s likely here. Beaver? Woodchuck? Otter? If I were in Louisiana I’d call Nutria and in New York I’d say Muskrat, but I don’t know what’s possible in Sunnyvale. If it helps it swam in a pretty straight line directly across the pond and dove once.

I hated to leave that spot, but time was limited. Continuing south we came to the Yahoo corner and found our first Black Phoebes of the day. The Eucalyptus trees along the south side parallel to Caribbean Drive yielded up some Yellow-rumped Warblers. We also found our first definite White-crowned Sparrows.

Not a lot else was seen until we got back to the cars, and found two Barn Swallows perched on a sign, and an Anna’s Hummingbird that cooperatively posed long enough to be scoped.

Two barn swallows perched on sign

Total species count for the brief trip was 32, not counting the domestic geese:

  • Canada Goose
  • Gadwall
  • American Wigeon
  • Mallard
  • Cinnamon Teal
  • Northern Shoveler
  • Northern Pintail
  • Green-winged Teal
  • Ruddy Duck
  • Double-crested Cormorant
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Great Egret
  • Snowy Egret
  • Green Heron
  • Black-crowned Night-Heron
  • Common Moorhen
  • American Coot
  • Black-necked Stilt
  • Ring-billed Gull
  • Western Gull
  • Anna’s Hummingbird
  • Black Phoebe
  • American Crow
  • Barn Swallow
  • Marsh Wren
  • Northern Mockingbird
  • European Starling
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler
  • Common Yellowthroat
  • Song Sparrow
  • White-crowned Sparrow
  • Golden-crowned Sparrow

Numerous life birds were seen and a good time was had by all.


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