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Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Black Tern, Cackling Goose

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  • Bill Bousman
    Folks: Today, 6/6/09, I participated in the Palo Alto Summer Bird Count, now in its 29th year. My area of coverage was Shoreline Lake, Mountain View Forebay,
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 6, 2009
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      Today, 6/6/09, I participated in the Palo Alto Summer Bird Count, now
      in its 29th year. My area of coverage was Shoreline Lake, Mountain
      View Forebay, and Ponds A1 and A2W. I started out at the forebay
      before sunrise. I then started cycling, riding through the empty
      light industrial area between Shoreline Park and Hwy 101. A WESTERN
      BLUEBIRD along some of the grassy areas is probably part of the slow
      movement of this species into urban areas. I saw single VIOLET-GREEN
      SWALLOWS there and later at Shoreline Lake, they must be breeding
      somewhere nearby.

      I arrived at Shoreline Lake about 0810 hrs, long before the Saturday
      crowds and the lake was still. The two basic COMMON LOONS, the first
      of which was found there on 24 May, were both present (presumably
      enjoying the morning calm). A male and two female SURF SCOTERS were
      also on the lake, this summer's infirmary birds. The lake is the
      metropolis of CANADA GEESE in the county and my tally was 579 birds.

      I then headed towards Pond A1, to do a CW loop with my refuge
      permit. A check of the forebay on my way showed 4 GREATER YELLOWLEGS
      and a basic (and silent) DOWITCHER were present, not being there on
      my earlier check. On the west levee of Pond A1, no more than 100 m
      from the gate, I was flabbergasted to see an adult male
      SCISSOR-TAILED FLYCATCHER moving along the levee toward the Bay,
      foraging as it went. I pursued this flycatcher, only the second in
      the county, taking dozens of bad photos as I followed it
      north. Then, in a brief moment, I saw a basic-plumaged BLACK TERN
      flying south! Confused by such riches, I scurried back south on the
      levee where I then took dozens of bad pictures of the
      tern. Returning to my pursuit of the flycatcher I watched from a
      distance as it flew south across Pond A1 to the bike trail at the
      edge of Shoreline Park and then east to where I lost it in the trees
      near the Lakeside Cafe. At one point it was only 10 feet or so above
      the bike trail and I saw a couple stop and point at the bird. They
      did not have binoculars, but clearly knew that this distinctive bird
      was unusual. Continuing my route around Pond A1, I was scolded by a
      number of PEREGRINE FALCONS on the Bay side. Last year the
      Peregrines nested in an old raven's nest and raised at least one
      young. This year they had at least two young and it was apparent
      that these have fledged. In all, I counted 6 Peregrines. Two were
      adults and one was a juvenile, but the others were on distant towers
      and I never had good enough looks at them to ascertain their ages.

      After lunch, I then did a CW route around Pond A2W. On the Stevens
      Creek side of the pond (east side) I saw two BLACK SKIMMERS on an
      island where I've not seen them in the past, they did not appear to
      be nesting. In Stevens Creek, there was a single male GREEN-WINGED
      TEAL. Leaving Pond A2W I made a CW loop of the Stevens Creek Tidal
      Marsh. On its western edge, in the drainage ditch, was a single
      CACKLING GOOSE ('Aleutian') with a few Canadas. I finished up by
      hanging around the Rengstorff House for a while, but never found the
      Varied Thrush that Bob Reiling and Frank Vanslager reported in the morning.

      Bill Bousman
      Santa Clara County records compiler
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