Eastern SCL plus ALA & STA co. and PIWO [long]
- Hi, I'm reporting on two trips this weekend in northeastern Santa Clara
into parts of southeastern Alameda and western Stanislaus Cos. Also, a
Pileated Woodpecker sighting at home in western Santa Clara County.
Saturday, 5/15/04, I took a group from my Palo Alto Baylands birding
on a route over Mt. Hamilton and into San Antonio Valley to the
reaches of Santa Clara County. It was cool with a high overcast until
past Mt. Hamilton where it became clear and warm.
Our first stop at Grant Lake was lively with the regular spring &
WILD TURKEY was heard and feral pigs foraged in the fields around the
BULLOCK'S ORIOLE, BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK and LAZULI BUNTING
were among the regulars seen here. We stopped to listen for Grasshopper
Sparrows just up the road from the lake but could find none. A YELLOW
WARBLER was the only warbler recorded for the day.
Kincaid Road had a lot of RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD activity in a soggy area
opposite a cattle pen. We saw the first group of many BAND-TAILED PIGEON
in this area, too.
A WESTERN TANAGER was one of the few species seen at Lick Observatory.
Just past the Mt. Hamilton summit, where there is now no pig or cattle
signs, there was also no Black-chinned Sparrow detected. There were
BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS working the trees along the roadside. Many
more Band-tailed Pigeons were roosting and flying about the summit.
A mile or two beyond the summit, we dropped into a small valley with
SIDED FLYCATCHER, WESTERN WOOD-PEWEE, ASH-THROATED FLY-
CATCHER, and a pair of ACORN WOODPECKERS at a nest cavity.
Isabel Creek to Arroyo Bayo was uneventful. About a mile from San
Valley we heard, then saw, a SAGE SPARROW. After this stop, we hit the
lunch bell and went to the Junction Cafe for a break.
LAWRENCE'S GOLDFINCHES were flying around the picnic tables at the
Cafe. A PRAIRIE FALCON cruised by overhead. A probable CHIPPING
SPARROW was seen across the road from the Cafe.
After lunch, we went back, south, on San Antonio Valley Rd. looking for
Lewis's Woodpeckers. We searched the area just south of the Junction
with no success and continued beyond the YL Ranch to the last stretch of
valley before the road turns west. Here, Lisa Myers' sharp eyes picked
a LEWIS'S WOODPECKER flying from the creek channel to the far side
of the valley.
We then went to the CDF firestation back at San Antonio Junction. Lisa
pointed out a HOUSE FINCH nest in a cholla cactus that had nestlings.
We also found BULLOCK'S ORIOLES tending a nest in mistletoe above
the office, as well as HOUSE SPARROWS nesting in the same tree. A
WESTERN KINGBIRD perched on the tower and may have an active
nest there as in past years.
On the way out along San Antonio Valley Rd./Mines Rd., still in Santa
Clara Co., Lisa bagged the bird of the day, a NORTHERN PYGMY-OWL
that flew ahead of the cars and landed in a tree at roadside. Everyone
enjoyed long views of this petite ball of talons.
In Alameda County, Lisa once again provided a nice birding experience
showing us a GOLDEN EAGLE nest that she had located on a recent
trip. At least two well-developed nestlings with only fuzzy heads were
in the nest being tended by their parents. This was right at mile marker
10 where there's a large turnout. The nest is across the valley below
eye-level in a gray pine.
Sunday, 5/16/04, I took another group from my birding class down Mines
Rd. in Alameda County, into San Antonio Valley in Santa Clara County,
finishing on Del Puerto Canyon Rd. in Stanislaus County.
In Alameda County, we had RUFOUS-CROWNED SPARROW and PHAINO-
PEPLA at the "Sticky Monkeyflower Corner" between miles 5 and 6. At MP
6.74, as previously reported, a GREATER ROADRUNNER sunned on a
rock uphill from the road. We checked in on the eagle nest at mile 10.
Upon arriving at the cattle guard near San Antonio Junction in Santa
County, we heard SAGE SPARROWS singing as we got out of the cars.
They were singing on both sides of the road and sat up on top of chamise
giving great views. Randy Little called out a LEWIS'S WOODPECKER as
it flew by. It landed on a dead gray pine next to the road just north
cattle guard and was soon joined by a second bird.
We stopped at the firestation, seeing the same species as seen the
day, noting that there was also a BREWER'S BLACKBIRD nest in the tree
over the office. Randy reported another LEWIS'S WOODPECKER flyby.
We stopped for lunch amidst a large, testosterone-laden gathering of
at the Junction. This day, we leap-frogged with a Fieldguides' Northern
tour led by Chris Benesh and Jay VanderGaast. They were dismayed by the
mass of Harleykawasaki vibe and passed on having lunch at the Junction.
We did a quick run into San Antonio Valley mainly looking for Wood Duck
we had already found Lewis's Woodpeckers. None were seen in the ponds in
the valley, so we headed down Del Puerto Canyon Road. At Mallison Pond,
just east of the Junction, we saw 3 male WOOD DUCKS.
At about mile 17.8, in Stanislaus Co., we saw both ROCK and CANYON
The fire from last year(?) around Frank Raines Park torched most of the
At mile 10.25, the COMMON RAVEN nest in the road cut was occupied by at
least three nestlings. An adult stood, open-billed in the hot sun
across the road.
A family of at least five CANYON WREN were feeding on the downstream
of the culvert.
At the "Owl/Graffiti Rocks", three juvenile BARN OWLS roosted in a low
and an adult was in another. A new barbed wire fence around the base of
might provide some buffer for the birds that use this rock, as it will
people out of this area. But I'm sure it won't deter the graffitites.
Male Costa's Hummingbird(s) was/were working the tree tobacco at mile
had sightings of male COHU for over 100 yards; it could have been the
there could have been more than one. A SAY'S PHOEBE was in this area
as was a male BLUE GROSBEAK, spotted by Randy Little.
At the first cattle guard from I-5, about mile 1, we had 1-2 GRASSHOPPER
SPARROWS. The area appeared very dry and didn't seem to have the habitat
to encourage the Blue Grosbeaks to use it as they seemed to have in the
And while I was out leading my Sunday trip, my wife reported a male
WOODPECKER that was hacking away at an old madrone a few yards away
from our back deck. This was her THIRD sighting of this species at our
I've only had one sighting! I listened for the bird today, but heard
none. This area
is just east of Skyline Blvd. into Santa Clara County, across from Long
Les Chibana, Palo Alto