SBT FULVOUS WHISTLING DUCK
- Hi, Birders,
Some details about the FULVOUS WHISTLING DUCK that Steve Rovell and I
found at the Hollister Sewer Ponds today.
Steve spotted this duck, sitting on the bank that has a lot of grass
around it. He got out of the car (both of us mostly stayed in the car),
set up his scope, and a whole lot of the ducks flew to the ponds. We
saw the black wings, and creamy-colored rump. We refound the duck, and
shot a some long distance images with my camera. It has all the field
marks of the fulvous whistling duck. When it was on the bank, we had a
clear view of the legs, and neither of us saw any bands. That doesn't
mean that we are 100% sure on this. There is a person in San Benito
County who raises exotic waterfowl. So, we will have to check with this
person. But, the odds look in favor of it being a wild duck. If anyone
has further comments on this, I would welcome it.
The Hollister Sewer Ponds are open from 7:30 am until 4 pm on weekdays.
Dennis Rose is the manager. He is aware of the duck, and that there
might be some increased traffic at the ponds. If you would like to
visit the ponds, it is IMPERATIVE that you ask at the office for
permission to drive the ponds. If no one is there, then you need to
leave. You need to be sure that you are out the gate well before 4 pm,
in case they close early. Its a small town! Our ability to bird the
ponds depends on everyone's respect for the situation. In past years,
the ponds have been totally closed to birders. Dennis is a really nice
guy, and also a bit of a birder. So, please don't mess this up.
When you drive into the ponds, proceed to the office. If you are
standing, facing the office, the ponds where the whistling duck was
found will be on your left. There is a road with much vegetation, and
many mallards and shovelers sit on it. This is where the whistling duck
was first sighted. It did not fly far. It just landed in the long,
narrow ponds with the other ducks. But, it stayed far out in the middle
of the pond. It is far better to bird the sewer ponds from your car,
rather than walking. These ponds are referred to by the locals, as the
"old sewer ponds." To bird the "new sewer ponds," you will drive to the
far end of the old ponds, then drive along the fence, and under the
Highway 156 bypass along the San Benito River. This will bring you to a
very large area with ponds of various heights in water. The pond
farthest away from the freeway is the best one right now for
DIRECTIONS to the sewer ponds: From Highway 101 northbound, exit on
Highway 156 to Hollister, going thru San Juan Bautista. Follow this to
the traffic light at Union Road, and go straight. (If you wanted to go
to Pinnacles National Monument, you would turn right on Union Road,
south to Highway 25). Highway 156 splits, with the bypass going
straight, and San Juan Road going off to the right. If it is a weekday,
and you are going to the ponds, go right on San Juan Road. (It just
veers right, and there may not be a sign). Your first left is the short
entrance road to the sewer ponds gate. If it is a weekend, and the
ponds are closed, you can stay on the 156 bypass, and carefully pull
out at the call box. If you were very lucky you might find the duck on
the same side as the pullout. This is certainly a possibility. Coming
from 101 southbound: exit on Route 25 which is patrolled for speed.
Exit on the 156 bypass road, and then turn left at the traffic light at
San Juan Road. (which might not be marked). You will see the sewer
ponds on your right and left before you reach this traffic light. CSAAA
has a street map of Hollister and vicinity that is very good.
Other birds of note at the sewer ponds included 3-4 PECTORAL
SANDPIPERS, 100+ TREE SWALLOWS, lots of dowitchers, black-necked
stilts, a few avocets, peeps, etc. I would welcome any reports, and
listings of species and numbers, if you make a visit, no matter how
mundane they might seem.
Steve and I also birded for a short while at Vista Hill Park in
downtown Hollister. I arrived prior to Steve, and encountered a pretty
good size flock of new arrivals. FOF for me: 22 RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS.
Also, working the row of bottlebrush were 4 NASHVILLE WARBLERS, 4-5
ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLERS, 8-10 YELLOW WARBLERS, and about 70+
hummingbirds. YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS were in the eucalypt trees.
Directions to Vista Hill Park: Follow directions for San Juan Road into
town. This road turns into 4th Street. Turn left on San Benito Street,
also known as San Felipe Road (if you are coming from the north, and
entering town from Highway 25). Turn west on the very small Hill
Street, which is signed, but easy to miss. The park is at the end of
the road. This is the highest point in the area, and is very, very
attractive to migrants. Almost anything can and has showed up here.
There are restrooms. Be sure to lock your car, even if you don't leave
the parking lot. You might run into the "Laughing Club" early morning
up here. They are nice folks. Hollister can have as many as four
different names for the same road. So, the CSAAA map is very helpful.
If someone wants to post this to MBB and county birders, I would
Debra Love Shearwater
PO Box 190
Hollister, CA 95024 USA
"Real birds eat squid."�Tony Marr
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