Sunday, June 15, 2008

May Migrants, Sonoma and Pt. Reyes

Well I'm slowing adding to the list. Since my last post about a month ago I've added 10 new birds. After many mornings of steep climbs up Mt. Davidson in San Francisco with no new birds on top, we finally had a couple of very good migrant days around May 15th. That morning I added three new species. Hammond's and Dusky Flycatchers at Mt. Davidson and then a fly over Broad-wing Hawk over the Presidio. The Broad-wing Hawk is quite a rare bird in San Francisco, but hundreds are recorded migrating south in the fall over Hawk Hill on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge. It was a great day for raptors along the coast because hot weather and northeast winds pushed them west until they had to make their way north along the coast passing right over the San Francisco and the Presidio. I also had an adult Swainson's Hawk that same day and heard reports of another Swainson's Hawk and Golden Eagle over the City.

After that a vagrant Indigo Bunting was found in the Presidio near El Polin springs. I successfully chased it down a few days later. Then I found another uncommon spring bird, a singing male Rose-breasted Grosbeak at Glen Canyon Park. From here I had to get out of the City to add new birds. I did a big bike ride along the Bolinas Ridge with Josiah and I added Ash-throated Flycatcher (a bird I missed by bike during the migrant wave in the City), and Grasshopper Sparrow.

Last weekend I rode up to Santa Rosa with my girlfriend Hillary. This was a 70 mile ride and the first time I'd biked up to Sonoma this year. On the way back I was able to stop at Bodega Bay, where out 0f season loons, grebes and waterfowl and very early fall migrant shorebirds were hanging out including over 30 Marbled Godwits. Scoping from Bodega Head I found a pair of Rhinoceros Auklets. I had hoped to see my first Sooty Shearwaters of the year, but no luck. Oh and on my way to Bodega I spotted these guys near Sebastopol.

CATTLE EGRETS! Hooray. 9 of them foraging around there name sake.

So after Bodega Bay I headed south trying to make it to Pt. Reyes. On my way around Tomales Bay I saw my most exciting mammal sighting of the year, a Gray Fox that bounced in front of my bike at dusk. By nightfall I had made it to Marshall but I hadn't eaten dinner. I heard there would be food down at Pt. Reyes Station. But I got there 20 minutes too late and the restaurants were closed. So resigned to going to bed hungry I figured I could get up early and have a big breakfast. I pulled off the road in a secluded spot and layed out my sleeping bag and bad. It was a beautiful spot to sleep and I heard N. Saw-whet Owl, Barn Owl and a distant Spotted Owl during the night. I awoke at 5Am to the loud chips of Tree Swallows above me and Swainson's Thrushes singing all around. I decided to head for Inverness to get breakfast. I was heartbroken however to find that the cafe didn't open for another three hours. The nearest town was a back track to Pt. Reyes Station like a dozen miles which may not have had food either. I was starving and had hoped to make it out to outer Point Reyes, the mecca for migrating birds along the California coast. The whether was nice, and I was closer than I had been. I decided I had to go out to the point--breakfast or no breakfast, dinner or no dinner! It's about 17 miles or so I think from inverness to the Point. And it was a really gruelling up and down ride over the rolling headlands. I finally made it to the lighthouse. I scoped the ocean and saw again Rhinoceros Auklets, Common Murres, Pigeon Guillemots and other sea birds that nest in profusion out there. But nothing new. I checked all the trees that migrants tend to stop in if they get stuck out at the point. Nothing. All that hungry riding and no new birds. It was a beautiful morning nonetheless.

So here I am one big bike misadventure later and 10 species richer. I now must announce my latest adventure plans for the BIGBY: a bike ride to Mono Lake in the Sierra. It will be around a 700 hundred mile ride round trip and I think I could add over 30 species! I'm leaving in a few hours in my revamped touring mt. bike set up. I'll let you know how it goes.