Re: [NBB] Solano, Thurs 26 Jan, 2006
Just wanted to thank everyone who offered suggestions on spots to view my target species and give a quick update of birds seen around my duties at the SF Flyway Fest in Mare Island. As this was my first time in the area it was good to put some names with the faces I've heard or read about over the years as well. I really enjoyed the event. I arrived in Vallejo late afternoon on Thursday the 26th and after checking into my hotel after 2 PM, I headed straight toward Solano. The gull fields by the dump just outside of Fairfield were absolutely empty. (Darned cleaner waste sites anyway! ;) While still heading out on 12 though, I had a light morph Rough-legged Hawk flash across the road a bit West of 113 where the road crosses a higher rolling ridge. Next stop was Flannery Road. Stopped to view the first field that "spoke to me" (it said "Mt. Plover") this was the low cut "Sod" looking field south of Flannery a bit west of the Robinson intersection (within site) that has a bit of a depression in it. There were anywhere from 83 to 69 plovers there and a few counts in between, but many were laying down and some of the depressions were likely low enough to hide these birds. At any rate, that was the first I'd seen these guys as well. While admiring them a "different" Meadowlark call caught my ear and I turned and realized that is the call they make when in the talons of a Prairie Falcon, I watched as the bird quartered away and one Meadowlark wing was flapping wildly, at one point the bird even broke free but with such short grass and an obviously injured wing there wasn't much hope. The Prairie slowly wheeled around and seemed to leisurely catch up to the meadowlark and snatched it again easily. I really think she was sorry I'd missed the first eevent and gave me an encore! ;) At any rate, that was truly remarkable to watch and the kill happened very close by almost over the road coming right at me. Sort of "in your face!" There were Horned Larks along this stretch as well. On Creed Rd (or so says Mapquest I was remembering Clark for some reason) to the west of 113 opposite Robinson, I dipped on my first attempt to locate YB Magpies but found these here a couple days later. They were roosting in the trees ringing the farm house on the N side of the road where the pavement ends.
There were also two Ferruginous Hawks here and I believe two others near the farm house at the south bend on Robinson. It was dark early though it was barely 4:30 and the frontal system had things to bed early. A great Horned began calling in the trees here before 5 PM even.
"The one that got away" on Creed was what I'd describe as a possible Northern Shrike, that you may want to look for if your in the area. This was on Creed about a mile onto the dirt where a row of trees (Eucalyptes?) runs parallel to the road on the south followed by a fenced in power station or little pump house also on the south. As I shot by it on the power line, I thought it looked massive, drawn out, and dingier below than the many Loggerheads around, but as I wheeled around, it shot into the trees on the south side of the road and I didn't see it again. Presumably it went to roost at this point. Everything else was there already.
I also got to see the famed ad male Tufted Duck in the Vallejo, late in the day Sunday eve. I would have stopped earlier but I managed to drive by it five times before realizing it was there. While digiscoping it after 4:30 PM in relatively dark overcast I saw 2 Thayer's Gulls here as well (one first winter, one second winter).
I made a visit to Rail Marshes near Inverness on Friday but the tide wasn't quite high enough, it happened apparently Sat and Sunday while working the booth at the festival. I did get to see bunches of the common pac slope stuff I don't get to see here in FL though: Nuttall's WP, Varied Thrush, Pygmy Nuthatches, Band-tailed Pigeons, Townsend's Warblers, Chestnut-backed Chickadees... It's always nice going to the other side of the country and look at someone else's common birds (feel free to holler should any of you make it over to FL) it made for a great day even if the rails weren't popping out of the marsh! I also appreciated the opportunity to look intently at the Scrub Jays (and listen to) in case more impending splits are coming.
Sat morning before opening we looked around Mare Island a bit . There were some beautiful RB Sapsuckers about with Bushtits, "Audubon's" and an Orange-crowned Warbler, plus a couple CB Chickadees, and a singing Brown Creeper. Near the bridge a handful of Barrow's Goldeneyes mixed with the Commons and two adult Peregrines sailed over. At any rate in what amounted to about 2 days of birding time stretched over four days I had a grand total of 123 species with 2 lifers and a bonus view of an unknown rarity I haven't seen in years.
Out of curiosity, can anyone give me some history of the Parakeet flocks I saw in the Marina area just south of the Golden Gate Bridge. Are these birds an established population or a more recent arrival? Coming from Florida I'm ever aware of those introduced exotics! ;)
Thanks again all for making my first visit to the area really enjoyable!
Leica Sport Optics
Port Charlotte, FL
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It was nice meeting you at the SF Bay Flyway Festival. Business picked up a lot on Sunday with the better weather that day.
The parakeets you saw (Red-Masked or White-Winged/Yellow-Chevroned, probably) were the topic of a popular book and movie, The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill by Mark Bittner.
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