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Sandhill Crane et al.

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  • chaniot@pacific.net
    Thu, 21 Nov 2002 -- This morning, after a predawn trip to the Santa Rosa Airport, I decided to come home the long way up the coast and look for the Sandhill
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 21, 2002
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      Thu, 21 Nov 2002 -- This morning, after a predawn trip to the Santa Rosa
      Airport, I decided to come home the long way up the coast and look for the
      Sandhill Crane at the Garcia R. bottomlands. I started off by making my
      first-ever complete transit of Fish Rock Road, making a chance encounter
      with a BLUE GROUSE at about mile 8 between Gualala Peak and Walalla Mt.
      At Arena Cove "Al", the LAYSAN ALBATROSS, was sitting on the water
      about 10 feet north of the pier. Some of the local habitu├ęs had also
      noticed it, and they seemed to think that today was the first day that it
      had been seen. Is this the 7th year?
      At the Garcia bottomland I quickly found the SANDHILL CRANE from
      the elevated pullout on Hwy. 1 just north of Miner Hole Road. It was
      standing with two Great Blue Herons in a puddle of water along the fence
      that runs straight out from that pullout. Also standing in the puddle were
      two ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS which seemed to be trying to bathe their feathered
      tarsi but were being mercilessly tormented by ravens, which hounded them as
      they fled. A NORTHERN PYGMY-OWL was tooting regularly from the Garcia
      riparian near the green bridge. No swans yet.
      Next I went out to the Point Arena lighthouse and scoped out to sea
      with favorable morning light at my back. This was my best pelagic birding
      from shore this year. There were large numbers of phalaropes rather near
      shore, both RED and RED-NECKED PHALAROPES. A PARASITIC JAEGER was chasing
      some of them. There were numerous NORTHERN FULMARS, several BULLER'S
      BLACK SCOTER flew by in a line of Surf Scoters. An impressive longshore
      line of loons was moving south all day today, predominately Pacific Loons.
      A ten-minute count at Point Arena yielded an estimate of 1785/ hour.
      At the Mendocino Headlands I found a HORNED LARK along the edge of
      the bluff south of the sister city monument. It was flushed by a woman with
      a dog and flew south over the water to the next point, where I found it
      again. Both times it was sitting directly in the trail. [ Some people seem
      not to know where the sister city monument, often mentioned recently, is
      located. At the very west end of Little Lake Street is a parking area, the
      southernmost parking on the headlands. The small monument is just south of
      this parking area and is visable from the car. This shortgrass area has
      been the site of several longspur and lark sightings. ] As I was driving
      north on Heeser Drive, a VESPER SPARROW flew up from the side of the road
      near the Goat Island parking area. Five minutes later it was back on the
      road and gave a good scope look.
      I walked out to the Cabrillo Point Lighthouse and scoped to sea.
      There were more BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKES, three SABINE'S GULLS and the line
      of loons. The lighthouse is much restored since my last visit, and the
      beautiful Fresnel lens was turning in the tower, putting out a beam every
      ten seconds.
      North of here the fog set in heavily. I made a stab at Laguna
      Point, but the fog and tide were not favorable. I walked all of the bluffs
      and trails south to Virgin Creek beach, but I could not find any of last
      week's visitors. By the way, David Nelson's fine photos of the Snow Bunting
      can be viewed on Joe Morlan's California Birding page at


      A productive day of birding the long way home.

      George Chaniot
      Potter Valley, MEN, CA
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