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Mendocino Pt Arena - Jan. 1, 2007 -- Light-morph Harlan's Hawk, Albatross, etc.

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  • Kris Olson
    Ron Thorn and I drove to Pt Arena to see the Laysan Albatross on Jan. 1 -- great way to start the new year with perfect weather and beautiful views. We stopped
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 3, 2007
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      Ron Thorn and I drove to Pt Arena to see the Laysan
      Albatross on Jan. 1 -- great way to start the new year
      with perfect weather and beautiful views.

      We stopped at a cove just before Fort Ross. There we
      saw 150 ANCIENT MURRELETTES, 400 RHINOCEROUS
      AUKLETS,20-30 SURFBIRDS and BLACK TURNSTONES. Two
      WHITE-WINGED SCOTERs flew by. [Sonoma County]

      When we arrived at Pt Arena about 11-11:30AM, no Al.
      Locals told us that he/she always comes in around
      mid-day and stays for the rest of the day.

      We birded Miner's Road and Alder Creek Road next. We
      saw some terrific raptors, esepcially from the Alder
      creek road turnoff, right at the top by the house/farm
      there.

      First we saw one, then 2, FERRUGINOUS HAWKS. One was
      an adult (sitting in front of the farm facing the
      ocean) and the other, which we saw on the east side of
      route 1 over the farmland, was an immature with no
      rufous markings under the wings. Soon the adult joined
      the immature and both flew together over the farm
      fields.

      Next, Ron spotted this really intersting RED-TAILED
      HAWK. From the dark brown-black back, white/light gray
      tail with narrow subterminal band, and heavily
      streaked breast, Ron thought it was probably a light
      morph HARLAN'S HAWK, which apparently is pretty rare.
      Once he got home, he did some more research and agrees
      (see his comments below). I looked it up in Raptors of
      Western North America and it fits well with the photos
      of the light morph Harlan's. So that was pretty
      exciting. We got to watch it for quite awhile.

      We also saw 2 PEREGRINE FALCONS, AMERICAN KESTRELS, a
      NORTHERN HARRIER and a WHITE-TAILED KITE.

      Back at Pt Arena, Al had indeed arrived, floating in
      his usual position on the north side of the pier. He
      floated to about 20' from shore and stayed there, head
      tucked. Eventually, a friendly surfer who had "known"
      Al for 10 years got into the water near the bird, and
      amazingly, Al woke up, opened his bill and started
      making all kinds of noises, swam over to the surfer,
      mouthed the surfer's hand coverings with it bill. The
      surfer said that Al is this friendly toward all of
      them and will even climb in their laps while they are
      surfing! He also says that surfers don't feed Al, but
      he sure looks used to expecting good things from their
      hands. I have all this on photos, but I have to get
      them off the camera onto my computer. Next Al
      proceeded to search around him for bits of stick-like
      things in the water, apparently clearing them out of
      his way? He would pick them up, move them, put them
      down. He was not eating them. he also picked up a
      couple of round items, maybe floating snails,and moved
      them.

      We left around 2:30 or 3pm and headed over to highway
      101 via Mountain View Road (thanks Dean Manley for the
      tip.) In addition to VARIED THRUSHES and TOWNSEND'S
      WARBLERS, we found 3 MOUNTAIN QUAIL. We had pulled
      over to check the Birding Mendocino book, and wham,
      there they were! pretty amazing coincidence. They
      froze, so we got quite good and close looks.

      It was a lovely way to start the new year!

      Kris Olson, Menlo Park, CA


      From RON THORN, on the LIGHT MORPH HARLAN'S HAWK

      I did some additional checking of references and we
      did see a light-morph adult Harlan's Hawk. There are
      intermediates between the light and dark
      morph. The intermediate would show dark underwings and
      a dark breast with white mottling. Our bird had the
      underwings as a light-morph adult Red-tailed Hawk. On
      the breast of our bird, there was dark streaking
      forming a breast band and the rest of the underparts
      white. The upperparts were a dark brown and I could
      not detect any white mottling. I thought the tail was
      a pale gray with a distinct broad terminal band. There
      was dark shading extending from the terminal band
      inward along the edges of the
      rectrices.
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