Continuing northern California rarities
- Doug Karalun and I spent four days in northern California chasing after some of the continuing rarities there, as well as birding for some species that are not regular in southern California. We were able to see all of the previously reported rarities, and most of our other target birds.
We departed southern California on the morning of Tuesday, Dec 27, and arrived at Colusa NWR (Colusa Co.) about 2 PM where we found about a dozen other birders watching the male Falcated Duck feeding just off the first viewing platform, providing great looks and photo ops. We ended the day watching the large flocks of Tundra Swans and geese along Road Z north of Biggs-Willows Road (Hwy 162; Glenn Co.).
On Wednesday, Dec 28, we started the morning in Chico (Butte Co.) looking for the Blue Jay with Al DeMartini, Bruce Deuel, et al (we were Bruce's unnamed So Cal boys). The Blue Jay was kind enough to make a brief appearance around 8:30 AM before flying off. We then headed north, and after a brief discussion about speed limits with a representative of the Red Bluff Police Department, arrived at McArthur Swamp (Shasta Co.) around 11:45 AM. After about ten minutes of searching along the road, we spotted the Common Redpoll foraging in the thistle seed above the dry gully on the opposite (east) side of the channel. We were able to watch it for several minutes though spotting scopes before we decided to go around to the other side of the channel, but we were unable to refind it. Doug spotted it again in the willows in the channel but the bird flew off again before I could get there. We then drove over to Eastman Lake/Island Road, where we were able to relocate the American Tree Sparrow and Red-naped Sapsucker, as well as a single male Barrow's Goldeneye. We then returned to McArthur Swamp where there was an informal So Cal birders convention (with Steve and Becky Turley, Dick Norton, and Jim Abernathy), but we did not see the Common Redpoll again despite much searching.
Thursday, Dec 29, we started the morning at Humboldt/Arcata Bays (Humboldt Co.) where we saw a number of our target birds, though none of them were rare. At Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary, we had several Black-capped Chickadees, and along the north jetty from Samoa Dunes Recreation Area we easily picked up Black and White-winged Scoters, Long-tailed Duck, Harlequin Duck, Red-necked Grebe, and Rock Sandpiper. Continuing south, we stopped at Russ Park in Ferndale where we hiked one of the trails and were lucky enough to encounter a small flock of Gray Jays moving through the forest.
Our last day, Friday, Dec 30, we started at Bothe-Napa Valley State Park (Napa Co.) where, after a short walk, we spotted a Pileated Woodpecker. We made a brief detour over to the south shore of Lake Hennessey, but were unable to find waxwings of any kind, so left relatively quickly. We then dropped down to Lake Merritt (Alameda Co.) where we were able to find the continuing Tufted Duck in the northeast corner of the lake, and at least 18 Barrow's Goldeneyes scattered about the rest of the lake. We then crossed the Bay Bridge for the last stop of our trip. We arrived at Ferry Park (SF Co.) around 12:30 PM, and were able to see the continuing Yellow-throated Warbler within about ten minutes (in fact, I found the warbler faster than I could find a parking space), and we were able to watch it for about fifteen minutes as it moved around in the low vegetation at the west end of the park.
Photos of the Falcated Duck, Blue Jay, American Tree Sparrow, and Yellow-throated Warbler may be seen on my Flickr page using the link below.
San Bernardino, CA
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