On Sunday 2/5 Geoff Heineken, Cheryl Watson and Vishnu
circumnavigated Clear Lake and visited many of the sites (some for
the first time) that have been recently mentioned on this Mendobirds
forum. From Ukiah and proceeding east on Hwy 20 we first found
hundreds of Common Mergansers in the easternmost Blue Lake and a few
miles further to the east in a flooded field just adjacent to the
Half Diamond Ranch about 20 Canvasbacks. Proceeding further we found
the flooded fields/ponds along the Nice/Lucerne Cutoff Rd to the
north of Rodman Slough and there among a large number of Gadwalls,
American Widgeon and Green-winged Teal we saw 3 Eurasian Widgeon.
Continuing east on Hwy 20 we made several impromptu stops along the
lakeshore for the common but multitudinous numbers of Western Grebes,
Gulls and Great & Snowy Egrets. I haven't yet mentioned that the
light was PERFECT all day and every bird that was seen appeared
bright and splendid. Entering Clearlake Oaks (to the right) there is
a boat launch picnic area with tables on a berm projecting into the
lake. We had lunch there, easily observing up close many Clark's
Grebes and Cheryl identified Ring-billed, California, Thayer's and
Herring Gulls that, along with the Grebes, covered the water as far
as one could see. These were not unusual birds but the sheer number
of them as well as the brilliance of the light made it seem like we
were at Morro Bay or some exotic birding locale. From there we drove
to Borax Lake and found among the thousands of Scaup 1 Tufted Duck.
Although the raft it was in was large it was not nearly so large as
the immense raft further to the southeast. The bird we saw had a
small but quite distinct tuft which, as it was preening a great deal,
was shaken about and almost continually visible. In our opinion this
duck had the typical black back and head of a Tufted Duck. No color
variation as might be seen in a hybrid was observed by us (although
it was quite apparent in the nearby Scaup).
We searched in vain at Clearlake County Park for a Phainopepla but
found only Western Bluebirds eating the white mistletoe berries.
Species count for the day was 74 birds.
Thanks to Floyd Hayes, Kathy Robertson and George Chaniot for the
valuable Lake County birding information and directions posted on
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]