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507Tour of the Coast

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  • chaniot@pacific.net
    Jan 5, 2003
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      Sun, 5 Jan 2003 -- Today Matthew Matthiessen, Chuck Vaughn, and I made a
      fast trip up the coast, getting a jump start on our year lists. All of the
      coast was taking a pounding by 20 foot waves, and there were piles of froth
      on many beaches. At Arena Cove we missed the Laysan Albatross ( maybe we
      used up some of our birding luck yesterday south of the Golden Gate with a
      triple twitch of Brown Booby, Sedge Wren, and Nutting's Flycatcher ), but
      there was a N. PYGMY-OWL tooting from the riparian willows. At the Garcia
      River bottoms we found the continuing SANDHILL CRANE, 94 TUNDRA SWANS, a
      and a ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK.
      Zipping quickly up to Van Damme State Park we met Dorothy Tobkin
      and spent some time searching the chickadee flocks for a Black-capped, but
      we were unable to find one. About 10 CANADA JAYS were conspicuous near the
      Visitors' Center and a nearby campsite where a plate of corn chips had been
      put out for them. I don't think I've ever seen this many here so easily.
      Among the gulls on the beach across the road was a THAYER'S GULL in third
      winter plumage. We don't remember ever seeing this plumage before.
      Next a quick trip to Laguna Point in MacKerricher State Park for
      high tide. Lake Cleone is still quite full, but the water is no longer over
      the road, and you can drive to the outer parking lot. The haul road has
      been breached at the outflow of the lake. There were five ROCK SANDPIPERS
      resting on the rocks north of the observation deck among surf-birds,
      oystercatchers, and turnstones. This is possibly a record number for this
      location. Matthew promises some stunning, full-frame photos of Rock
      Sandpipers, among others. He was stoked. Offshore there was pretty good
      activity of tubenoses ( when you could scope over the towering breakers )
      including SOOTY and BULLER'S SHEARWATERS, and N. FULMARS. There were also
      several MARBLED MURRELETS and BLACK-LEGGED KITIWAKES. Toby reports that
      the group of HARLEQUIN DUCKS usually found a Glass Beach appears to have
      been scattered by the wave pounding of the last several week, but we found
      two birds at Laguna Point.
      Next a quick trip to Ward Avenue where 3 BLACK SCOTERS did not
      disapoint us, and finally to Bald Hill where a FERRUGINOUS HAWK made it's
      anticipated appearance.

      George Chaniot
      Potter Valley, MEN, CA