Kris Olson, Bob Lewis and I thought it would be fun to tackle a county
big day again . . . . but where, and when? The 'where' was settled when
I suggested we take on the nearest county where none of us had recorded
any birds previously. January 11 was the first time after the idea
arose that we all had a free day, so that set the 'when.'
Oh, and we agreed we wouldn't do any scouting beforehand . . . .
Happily, there were many posts on these and other mailing lists that
helped us plot a tentative route. And, thankfully, John Luther, Dave
Woodward and Jerry White were kind enough to offer helpful comments on
our plan, suggestions of other locations to check, and notes on birds we
Our route began at 4 am with owling between Cobb and Kelseyville,
continued after dawn with an hour at Clear Lake State Park, then
comprised a slow counter-clockwise circle around Clear Lake and
environs, including a detour up High Valley Road. We ended at Library
Park in Lakeport shortly before sunset, then high-tailed it back to
Berkeley, trying in vain to spot some geese at Hidden Valley Country
Club along the way.
We lucked out with the weather, being hampered only by dense fog during
our time at Clear Lake SP and some late afternoon glare as we scoped the
lake from SR 20. Despite our unfamiliarity with the county we lost only
about 15 minutes to driving miscues. We did adjust our itinerary during
the day by dropping a few hoped-for stops in order to stick to our
overall schedule, but overall our plan worked pretty well.
We ended up recording 92 species, listed below, and saw all of these but
the non-Tyto owls. We called in a Barn Owl before dawn, and, fittingly,
ended the day by enjoying a pair of Barn Owls cuddling together in
We have no way to calibrate this result, but do feel very good about
it. We had dreamed of 100 species -- and can see how that could have
been reached -- but in our hearts were quite ready to settle for 75,
considering our nearly complete ignorance about the county. (We figured
out during our drive up that none of us had even BEEN in Lake County
before.) Beyond the species count, we had a lot of fun, and learned a
bit about Lake County.
We'll be back.
PS: I will send our itinerary (a Word document) and/or our schedule (an
Excel document) to anyone who requests them.
Here's our list:
American White Pelican
Great Blue Heron
Great Horned Owl
Northern Saw-whet Owl