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Merlin in Potter Valley

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  • chaniot@pacific.net
    Mon, 5 Aug 2002 -- At about 10:00 this morning I found a MERLIN perched near the pond near my home on West Road, Potter Valley. The earliest that I have seen
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 5, 2002
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      Mon, 5 Aug 2002 -- At about 10:00 this morning I found a MERLIN perched
      near the pond near my home on West Road, Potter Valley. The earliest that I
      have seen Merlin previously in Potter is 29 Sep. I have 27 records between
      29 Sep and 15 Apr.
      I had a scope-filling view at about 50 feet for 20 minutes, but I
      agonized over the ID with books in hand because it seemed too big for a
      Merlin. There was an Acorn Woodpecker frozen quite near it and it looked
      nearly twice the length of the woodpecker. A Mourning Dove tried to land
      beside it, then thought better, and the Merlin was maybe 1.5 times as long.
      It was definitely shorter than a Green Heron that landed nearby. This
      might put it in the 16-18 inch range, too big for a Merlin? Wheeler and
      Clark indicate that the top length for a Taiga female is 12 inches, and
      that the Prairie form is larger. I interpreted it to be an adult female of
      the Prairie form: adult because of wear and fading of some feathers, female
      because of brown upperparts, Prairie because of near absence of moustachial
      stripe, some spotting on the upper side of the primaries, lack of buff or
      rufous in the underparts, and large size. However, the overall coloration
      was a little darker than most Prairie Merlins I have seen.
      Assuming that it had been on the breeding grounds this year, the
      nearest breeding population would be in eastern Oregon. Some older
      references I have call these _F.c.bendirei_. What are they like? They're
      Taiga types, aren't they? Grinnell and Miller state that there is
      inconclusive evidence that a few _bendirei_ remain in California through
      the summer, and they were skeptical of any breeding records. Are there any
      subsequent breeding records in California?

      Later in the day I was over on Lakeshore Blvd. in Nice and saw an
      immature BAIRD'S SANDPIPER on the boat ramp at the Featherbed Railroad Co.
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