I had a nice day of birding in San Benito County today, with an emphasis on
Paicines Reservoir had a good variety of ducks, along with an adult and a
first year BALD EAGLE. An adult FERRUGINOUS HAWK at the far end of the reservoir
proved to be the only one I was see all day.
Mammals from the day included feral pigs, coyote, and numerous deer,
including ten on one spot. A couple of tarantulas were spotted as well. Falcon Rock
had a WHITE-THROATED SWIFT and a couple of Calif Thrashers, but no falcons. A
bit farther up the road, I encounted about a dozen WILD TURKEYS.
RUFOUS-CROWNED SPARROWS were amazingly cooperative at the traditional
spots, even allowing for some decent photographs. Obviously, these birds realized I
wasn't trying to show them to anyone else, and decided to allow full views.
A LEWIS WOODPECKER was seen between the RC Sparrow spot and McCullough Ranch,
near a lone oak next to a windmill, in the same area where Earl Lebow found a
bird about three years ago.
Several GOLDEN EAGLES were seen beyond the Panoche Valley Inn. I decided to
bird the New Idria Road area, since it was early and I hadn't seen any Praire
Falcons or Mountain Bluebirds yet. About 5 miles past the cattle pens on New
Idria, I ran into a small flock of about 10 MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRDS. Additional
Golden Eagles were seen in this area, along with a couple PRAIRIE FALCONS, and a
GREATER ROADRUNNER. I drove about a mile past the end of the county road, at
which point the conditions deteriorated greatly and rapidily. Enough!!! Time
to head back to the valley to look for the remaining specialities.
Little Panoche Road produced a couple more Mountain Bluebirds, and another
Greater Roadrunner was added just before the dip leading into the creek
crossing and marshy area. Several more Prairie Falcons were along here as well.
No Mountain Plovers, however, despite much scanning. I continued searching
to no avail along Recalde Rd, then finally turned down Norton Road (the dirt
road next to the Panoche School; sometimes, I get Recalde and Norton mixed up,
so it might be the other way around.
A blackbird flock near the loading pens on Recalde included about half a
dozen TRI-COLORED BLACKBIRDS, a bird sometimes missed on Panoche Valley CBC's. I
kept scanning the fields for plovers, and the Horned Lark flocks for
longspurs. Finally across from the trikes, I was able to spot a single MOUNTAIN
PLOVER. I watched this bird for about 20 minutes, hoping it would reveal the
location of addtional plovers, but no luck. Eventually, it disappeared into taller
grass in the distance. If there were more plovers there, I wasn't able to see
Continuing along Recalde Rd to where it makes a sharp left, I was able to
spot two BURROWING OWLS, near a local house featuring a yard full of dogs. I
hooked up with Little Panoche Road after stopping to watch a Prairie Falcon
stoop half a dozen times on a Red-tailed Hawk. Along Little Panoche Rd., I found
my only MERLIN of the day; a nice adult male perched alongside the road.
I looked for Chukar at Shotgun Pass without success, then decided to skip
Mersey Hot Springs and the BLM area and head home, since I had a few errands to
run prior to a trip out of town tomorrow morning.
A few photos from the day can be seen at:
Some of these photos are mediocre at best; but a few are decent. They do,
however, catch some of the highlights of the day.
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