#334-336 at Ogier Ponds

Saturday I joined the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society for a field trip to Ogier Ponds down in south San Jose. The trip officially started at 8:30 A.M., but not knowing the area I’d alloted more time than necessary to reach the site and got there about 7:30 A.M.

The first bird I saw was an American Robin. The last time I was an Audubon trip in California I’d also spotted a robin before the start of the walk, which I didn’t learn till the walk was over was a big surprise at that site and location so I hadn’t taken a picture. This time I was prepared and snapped this picture:

American Robin in California

Of course, Murphy’s law applies; and at this site at this time of year, robins turned out to be common. We saw seven or eight more, and no one was the least impressed with my early robin. :-)

Next birds were a dozen or so White-crowned Sparrows, also seen from the car. These are exciting birds for a New Yorker, but they’re quite common in California. On the other hand, everyone gets really excited when they think they might have a White-throated Sparrow. In New York it’s exactly the opposite.

The gate wasn’t open yet, so I parked the car and walked in. I quickly picked up Bushtit, Spotted Towhee, Mallard, Song Sparrow, Black Phoebe, and Yellow-rumped Warbler.

At this point, the weather was spitting and dripping and threatening to pour so I pulled out my poncho. Trip leader Rich Page had arrived and the gate had been opened so I drove my rental car in to the meeting point. Rich found some Common Mergansers and Bufflehead on the West pond. I was afraid the rain was going to cancel the trip so I did a little solo birding down the road where I found the first Red-shouldered Hawk of the day. Heading the other way down the road I found my first ever wild Bobcat.

By 8:30 the rest of the group had gathered, and the rain wasn’t too bad so we took off. The rain stopped almost immediately at that point, but it kept threatening to restart. We had Violet-green Swallows and a Northern Rough-winged Swallow or two over the West pond. White-crowned and Golden-crowned Sparrows were feeding in the grass by the pond. Western Scrub Jay and a probable Purple Finch perched in nearby trees. A couple of rather wet American Kestrels were scoped in a far tree. About 15 Turkey Vultures were roosting in a tree.

Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society at Ogier Ponds, 3/11/06

Turning back, we scoped the West Pond again for mallards and mergansers. A Pied-billed Grebe was also spotted. We walked over to the North Pond where we spotted numerous Greater Scaup and a couple of Common Goldeneye. Two White-tailed Kites perched and then copulated at the top of a fir tree. (Sorry I can’t be more specific. I don’t know California trees.)

Continuing along to the quarry ponds, we spotted my first life bird of the day, a Loggerhead Shrike perched on a power line. Shrikes are the only carnivorous passerines. That is, they’re song birds, not true raptors like a hawk or an eagle. This was my first (and so far only) shrike.

Continuing on under the power line and walking between two ponds, an American Bittern (my second life bird of the day) flew overhead. In flight it looks very much like a Great Blue Heron, only it’s brown. I now think of it as the Great Brown Heron. I’ve been looking for this bird for a while, and it would have been nice to find it in New York, but I’ll take it where I get it.

There was a large flock of Herring Gulls and California Gulls on the quarry pond, though I’m taking the groups’ word for that identification. I’m not very good with California gulls (or California Gulls). I have enough trouble telling a Ring-billed Gull from a Herring Gull in new York, and the California has not only Ring-billed and Herring but also California Gulls which are midway between the two to make identification even trickier.

Walking back to the meeting point we found more of the same birds until we reached the bend in the road where we’d parked. There were a number of gulls and vultures flying overhead, and one Golden Eagle, my third life bird of the day. In the cloudy light, it looked quite similar to the vultures, but looked noticeably bigger. Here it is with a couple of gulls:

Golden Eagle at Ogier Ponds

We continued down the road to the East and South ponds and the model airplane fields. In the ponds we spotted several more waterfowl including Gadwall, Cinnamon Teal, Ring-necked Duck, Bufflehead, Ruddy Duck, and Eared Grebe. The airplane fields yielded Rock Pigeon and California Ground Squirrel. We also picked up Cliff Swallow and Northern Flicker along the route.

We split about noon after four and a half hours of birding covering 6.45 kilometers (as measured by GPS). Our total species count for the morning was 56.

Report Details
Location name: Ogier Ponds
Observation date: 3/11/06
Duration: 4 hour(s) 30 minute(s)
# of people in birding party: 10
Observation type: Traveling Count
Start time: 7:30 AM
Distance covered: 6.45 kilometer(s)
Area covered: N/A
Species Details
Species Name Number Reported
Canada Goose X
Gadwall X
Cinnamon Teal 3
Ring-necked Duck X
Greater Scaup 72
Bufflehead X
Common Goldeneye 2
Hooded Merganser 2
Common Merganser 2
Ruddy Duck 23
Pied-billed Grebe 3
Eared Grebe 3
Double-crested Cormorant 2
American Bittern 1
Great Blue Heron 1
Great Egret 2
Turkey Vulture 15
Osprey 1
White-tailed Kite X
Cooper’s Hawk 1
Red-shouldered Hawk 4
Red-tailed Hawk 2
Golden Eagle 1
American Kestrel 2
Common Moorhen 4
American Coot X
Killdeer 2
California Gull X
Herring Gull X
Rock Pigeon X
Mourning Dove X
Anna’s Hummingbird X
Northern Flicker 1
Black Phoebe X
Loggerhead Shrike 1
Western Scrub-Jay 2
American Crow X
Tree Swallow 1
Violet-green Swallow X
Northern Rough-winged Swallow X
Cliff Swallow X
Oak Titmouse 1
Bushtit X
Bewick’s Wren 1
Marsh Wren X
American Robin 8
European Starling X
Yellow-rumped Warbler X
Common Yellowthroat 1
Spotted Towhee 1
Song Sparrow X
White-crowned Sparrow X
Golden-crowned Sparrow X
Red-winged Blackbird X
Purple Finch 1
House Finch X

One Response to “#334-336 at Ogier Ponds”

  1. Mokka mit Schlag » California Gulls at Don Edwards Says:

    […] After leaving Ogier Ponds around noon, I drove up to Mountain View and one of my favorite sites, Mountain View Shoreline Park. Unfortunately I hit it several hours before low tide, and the shore birds hadn’t yet come in. 100+ American Avocets and several dozen dowitchers were camped out on a small island in the middle of the pond. A few Canvasbacks and other ducks were swimming around: […]

Leave a Reply