Sat, 30 Apr 2005 -- Yesterday (Sat) the team of Bob Keiffer, Chuck Vaughn,
Jerry White, and I did a Big Day in Mendocino County. This is the 15th
consecutive year that this "sporting" event has been done in the spring.
In past years we have sometimes had an excellent morning in the interior -
only to have a windy or otherwise unproductive afternoon on the coast. Some
years it has been the reverse, and some years both areas have been slow.
This year all of the elements combined for an excellent day of birding: It
was mostly overcast, and neither cold, rainy, nor windy. On the coast the
ocean was glassy with low waves and good seeing conditions.
We changed the route slightly: instead of going from Ukiah to the
coast via Boonville and Navarro, a route which is faster but usually does
not provide us with any new species, we crossed Orr Springs Road and picked
up a handfull of species which are difficult elsewhere or which we had
missed earlier. This year we found six species which had not been seen in
the previous 14 years: Ross's Goose, Blue-winged Teal, Hooded Merganser,
Spotted Owl, N. Saw-Whet Owl, and Gray Jay. We missed Northern Harrier
(for the first time), Wandering Tatler, and six other species which I had
seen in the same locations in the previous three days.
For me the day began with a 02:30 alarm. The team met up in Hopland
at 03:45 and the first bird of the day was a Barn Owl carrying a mouse into
the Keiffers' water tower. Sunrise was on top of the ridge at the Hopland
Field Station listening to Common Poorwills, N. Pygmy-Owl, and picking the
voices out of a rather lusty dawn chorus. Chuck and Jerry acted as whips to
keep us in the "tick and run" mode throughout the day - no time to stop and
enjoy a Lazuli Bunting or Hermit Warbler. At about 5:30 pm we broke the
old record of 161 species with a Brant at Ten-Mile River on the coast. We
managed to pick up three more species after that with difficulty. Then we
had a leisurely dinner before dark (a first!) before plunging back into the
darkness of Jackson State Forest to listen for some more owls. When a
Spotted Owl spoke up about 9:30, the cheer of "166!" went up, and fifteen
minutes later, when a N. Saw-Whet Owl began tooting, "167!" That was our
last new bird of the day. I got home to Potter Valley at 11:20 where I fell
asleep listening to a Western Screech-Owl calling outside the window.
Potter Valley, MEN, CA
Great Blue Heron
Greater White-fronted Goose
Great Horned Owl
Northern Saw-whet Owl
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Black-throated Gray Warbler