Wings over Merced

Sunday, January 14, 2001, Led by Steve Shunk and Terry Steele (See also...)

Photos by Bill Walker

85 Species at Merced NWR, CA

Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
Phasianidae (Pheasants, Grouse, and Allies)
Podicipedidae (Grebes)
Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)
Pelecanidae (Pelicans)
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
American Bittern
We saw this during one of the auto tours; our car had driven passed it, but we backed up and got a nice look.
Cattle Egret
Life Bird! Saw a dozen of them in the parking lot across from the Mcdonalds
Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)
Cathartidae (New World Vultures)
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
Gruidae (Cranes)
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)
Ring-billed Gull
ring-necked duck? or ring-billed gull?
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
Cuculidae (Cuckoos)
Greater Roadrunner
Life Bird! In the parking lot of the rest stop, trotting along the cement.
Strigidae (Owls)
Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)
Picidae (Woodpeckers)
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)
Laniidae (Shrikes)
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)
Alaudidae (Larks)
Hirundinidae (Swallows)
Troglodytidae (Wrens)
Polioptilidae (Gnatcatchers)
Regulidae (Kinglets)
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)
Sturnidae (Starlings)
Motacillidae (Wagtails and Pipits)
Parulidae (New World Warblers)
Emberizidae (Buntings and New World Sparrows)
Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)
Fringillidae (Siskins, Crossbills, and Allies)
Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)

85 Species at Merced NWR, CA

Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
Phasianidae (Pheasants, Grouse, and Allies)
Podicipedidae (Grebes)
Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)
Pelecanidae (Pelicans)
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
American Bittern
We saw this during one of the auto tours; our car had driven passed it, but we backed up and got a nice look.
Cattle Egret
Life Bird! Saw a dozen of them in the parking lot across from the Mcdonalds
Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)
Cathartidae (New World Vultures)
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
Gruidae (Cranes)
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)
Ring-billed Gull
ring-necked duck? or ring-billed gull?
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
Cuculidae (Cuckoos)
Greater Roadrunner
Life Bird! In the parking lot of the rest stop, trotting along the cement.
Strigidae (Owls)
Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)
Picidae (Woodpeckers)
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)
Laniidae (Shrikes)
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)
Alaudidae (Larks)
Hirundinidae (Swallows)
Troglodytidae (Wrens)
Polioptilidae (Gnatcatchers)
Regulidae (Kinglets)
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)
Sturnidae (Starlings)
Motacillidae (Wagtails and Pipits)
Parulidae (New World Warblers)
Emberizidae (Buntings and New World Sparrows)
Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)
Fringillidae (Siskins, Crossbills, and Allies)
Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)

85 Species at Merced NWR, CA

Merced NWR
American Bittern
We saw this during one of the auto tours; our car had driven passed it, but we backed up and got a nice look.
Cattle Egret
Life Bird! Saw a dozen of them in the parking lot across from the Mcdonalds
Greater Roadrunner
Life Bird! In the parking lot of the rest stop, trotting along the cement.
Ring-billed Gull
ring-necked duck? or ring-billed gull?

Trip Map

Trip Notes

0700 to 0930

On the road from San Jose to Los Banos we started seeing raptors as soon as we got south of town and off the major highways. Our first serious stop was the rest area on highway 152, which yielded the Greater Road Runner we had been looking for in Panoche on the previous day. We also had nice looks through the scope at waterfowl far below on the reservoir.

1000 to 1100

We stopped in Los Banos for a pit stop and then headed toward the Merced National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). We didn't even exit the McDonald's parking lot before seeing over a dozen Cattle Egrets, our second life bird of the day. We spotted quite a few raptors on power poles and other birds on fences while en route to the NWR.

1100 to 1400

We spotted a wonderful Great Horned Owl just as we turned into the Merced NWR on our way to the parking lot. After pausing to look over the water from the parking lot, we slowly wound our way through the auto tour route, using walkie-talkies to relay information back and forth between cars. Although we didn't see the vast flocks of geese and cranes one might hope for, we did see some excellent ducks and raptors.

1400 to 1630

We decided to try our luck at the nearby San Luis NWR, where another auto tour route took us right past a lovely American Bittern. Some stubborn folks tracked a high altitude soaring raptor, which turned out to be a Bald Eagle.

1630 to 1700

We decided to squeeze in one last stop at the San Joaquin dam, where we enjoyed the sunset and scanned our scopes across the water. A restful end to a very full day.

Throughout the day we saw some excellent mammals and farm creatures, including:

  • coyote - healthy and happy looking 20 feet from the car
  • vole - not so healthy - he was being eaten and swallowed whole by a great egret. Great show. Wish we had it on tape to watch agan and again.
  • cows - Cows, cows, cows
  • emu - just one. Must be an experiment or a pet.
  • sheep - several breeds intermixed, but mostly looked like eatin' sheep, not spinnin' sheep
  • sheepdog - you never saw a happier animal
  • house cat - with dark shoulders and a white breast, sitting right where we expected to find hawks. It's always funny when you're trying to turn a mammal into some specialty bird.

    Also saw Dowitcher sp.