Big Day California Fall Challenge

Sunday, September 23, 2001, Led by Dick Carlson

Photos by Bill Walker

114 Species at 2 Locations

Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
Brant RASMC
One bird, with highly mottled plumage, sitting on the other side of the marsh channel.
Canada Goose RASMC
Gadwall RASMC
Mallard RASMC
Surf Scoter RASMC
Common Merganser RASMC
Eight mergansers at a time, swimming a channel in the marsh
Ruddy Duck RASMC
Odontophoridae (New World Quail)
Phasianidae (Pheasants, Grouse, and Allies)
Gaviidae (Loons)
Podicipedidae (Grebes)
Horned Grebe RASMC
Eared Grebe RASMC
2:30pm pillar point
Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)
Pelecanidae (Pelicans)
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
Great Egret RASMC
Snowy Egret RASMC
Cathartidae (New World Vultures)
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
Clapper Rail RASMC
heard not seen
Sora (h) RASMC
heard only (we originally thought it was a Virginia Rail; turns out we misremembered the bird calls from the Peterson CD).
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
Killdeer RASMC
Haematopodidae (Oystercatchers)
Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
Willet RASMC
Whimbrel RASMC
Surfbird RASMC
Eagle-eye Mary spotted two of these far away on surfbird-colored rocks.
Red Knot RASMC
We saw this bird occassionally preening, mostly sleeping. It showed a rufous breast with some white feathers still showing.
Sanderling RASMC
Pectoral Sandpiper RASMC
Mary spotted this bird amongst huge flocks of dowitchers, willets, godwits, and other shorebirds. Bill got a pretty good picture of it.
Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)
Least Tern RASMC
Forster's Tern RASMC
Dozens of these birds, dozing on a sandbar
Elegant Tern RASMC
Alcidae (Auks, Murres, and Puffins)
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
Rock Pigeon RASMC
Mourning Dove RASMC
8am
Strigidae (Owls)
Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)
Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)
Picidae (Woodpeckers)
Northern Flicker RASMC
heard repeatedly but not seen
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)
Say's Phoebe RASMC
Vireonidae (Vireos)
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)
Common Raven RASMC
Paridae (Chickadees and Tits)
Aegithalidae (Long-tailed Tits)
Bushtit RASMC
Sittidae (Nuthatches)
Pygmy Nuthatch RASMC
A group of eight or ten of these flitting together from tree to tree. They had steely blue-grey backs and were very tiny.
Certhiidae (Treecreepers)
Troglodytidae (Wrens)
Marsh Wren (h) RASMC
Bewick's Wren (h) RASMC
Regulidae (Kinglets)
Sylviidae (Sylviids, Parrotbills and Allies)
Wrentit RASMC
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)
Sturnidae (Starlings)
Motacillidae (Wagtails and Pipits)
American Pipit (h) RASMC
Parulidae (New World Warblers)
Emberizidae (Buntings and New World Sparrows)
Spotted Towhee (h) RASMC
Song Sparrow RASMC
Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)
Fringillidae (Siskins, Crossbills, and Allies)
Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)
Legend
Pigeon Point, CA = PP
Rural Areas of San Mateo County, CA = RASMC

114 Species at 2 Locations

Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
Brant RASMC
One bird, with highly mottled plumage, sitting on the other side of the marsh channel.
Canada Goose RASMC
Gadwall RASMC
Mallard RASMC
Surf Scoter RASMC
Common Merganser RASMC
Eight mergansers at a time, swimming a channel in the marsh
Ruddy Duck RASMC
Odontophoridae (New World Quail)
Phasianidae (Pheasants, Grouse, and Allies)
Gaviidae (Loons)
Podicipedidae (Grebes)
Horned Grebe RASMC
Eared Grebe RASMC
2:30pm pillar point
Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)
Pelecanidae (Pelicans)
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
Great Egret RASMC
Snowy Egret RASMC
Cathartidae (New World Vultures)
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
Clapper Rail RASMC
heard not seen
Sora (h) RASMC
heard only (we originally thought it was a Virginia Rail; turns out we misremembered the bird calls from the Peterson CD).
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
Killdeer RASMC
Haematopodidae (Oystercatchers)
Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
Willet RASMC
Whimbrel RASMC
Surfbird RASMC
Eagle-eye Mary spotted two of these far away on surfbird-colored rocks.
Red Knot RASMC
We saw this bird occassionally preening, mostly sleeping. It showed a rufous breast with some white feathers still showing.
Sanderling RASMC
Pectoral Sandpiper RASMC
Mary spotted this bird amongst huge flocks of dowitchers, willets, godwits, and other shorebirds. Bill got a pretty good picture of it.
Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)
Least Tern RASMC
Forster's Tern RASMC
Dozens of these birds, dozing on a sandbar
Elegant Tern RASMC
Alcidae (Auks, Murres, and Puffins)
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
Rock Pigeon RASMC
Mourning Dove RASMC
8am
Strigidae (Owls)
Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)
Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)
Picidae (Woodpeckers)
Northern Flicker RASMC
heard repeatedly but not seen
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)
Say's Phoebe RASMC
Vireonidae (Vireos)
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)
Common Raven RASMC
Paridae (Chickadees and Tits)
Aegithalidae (Long-tailed Tits)
Bushtit RASMC
Sittidae (Nuthatches)
Pygmy Nuthatch RASMC
A group of eight or ten of these flitting together from tree to tree. They had steely blue-grey backs and were very tiny.
Certhiidae (Treecreepers)
Troglodytidae (Wrens)
Marsh Wren (h) RASMC
Bewick's Wren (h) RASMC
Regulidae (Kinglets)
Sylviidae (Sylviids, Parrotbills and Allies)
Wrentit RASMC
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)
Sturnidae (Starlings)
Motacillidae (Wagtails and Pipits)
American Pipit (h) RASMC
Parulidae (New World Warblers)
Emberizidae (Buntings and New World Sparrows)
Spotted Towhee (h) RASMC
Song Sparrow RASMC
Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)
Fringillidae (Siskins, Crossbills, and Allies)
Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)
Legend
Pigeon Point, CA = PP
Rural Areas of San Mateo County, CA = RASMC

114 Species at 2 Locations

Pigeon Point
Rural Areas of San Mateo County
Brant
One bird, with highly mottled plumage, sitting on the other side of the marsh channel.
Clapper Rail
heard not seen
Common Merganser
Eight mergansers at a time, swimming a channel in the marsh
Eared Grebe
2:30pm pillar point
Forster's Tern
Dozens of these birds, dozing on a sandbar
Northern Flicker
heard repeatedly but not seen
Pectoral Sandpiper
Mary spotted this bird amongst huge flocks of dowitchers, willets, godwits, and other shorebirds. Bill got a pretty good picture of it.
Pygmy Nuthatch
A group of eight or ten of these flitting together from tree to tree. They had steely blue-grey backs and were very tiny.
Red Knot
We saw this bird occassionally preening, mostly sleeping. It showed a rufous breast with some white feathers still showing.
Sora (h)
heard only (we originally thought it was a Virginia Rail; turns out we misremembered the bird calls from the Peterson CD).
Surfbird
Eagle-eye Mary spotted two of these far away on surfbird-colored rocks.

Trip Map

Trip Notes

Mary and Bill teamed up with Dick Carlson to do this trip as a fund-raiser for the San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory. It is our largest single day species total ever. Here's how the day unfolded:

4:45am Clock radio turns on. Ugh.

4:50am Alarm clock goes off. Ugh.

5:00am Found the list I wrote myself last night about what to do this morning, with helpful items like "feed cat" and "eat breakfast"

5:30am On our way to Dick's house

6:00am We're in Dick's car, headed for the coast. The new plan is to hit the coast first, then work back toward the bay side.

6:45am In the pre-dawn overcast we spot our first species -- a Great Horned Owl posing out in the open on a telephone wire. It seems an auspicous start to the day.

7:30am, Pigeon Point Lighthouse. A huge raft of Common Murres floats serenely as dozens of cormorants speed by. No warblers in the trees near the hostel.

8:20am On the way to Gazos Creek we spot our first of eight or ten Red-shouldered Hawks for the day.

9:00am, Gazos Creek Road. We've hit the warbler jackpot! These trees are teeming with chickadees, vireos, warblers. After much debate, we decide that we're seeing both Warbling and Philadelphia Vireo.

10:00am, Ano Neuvo State Park. Dick leads us in the secret back way to a beach overlook were we are greeted by one of the largest flocks of Western and Clark's Grebes any of us can remember.

11:00am On our way to Pescadero Beach, we pull of the road to look at a raptor, and notice a dozen Tricolored Blackbirds posing conveniently on the telephone wire directly overhead.

11:40am Immediately upon setting up the spotting scope at Pescadero Beach, eight mergansers hove into view around a bend in the creek. We decide its lunch time.

1:00pm We've finished lunch at Duarte's in Pescadero, and are much revived by the Cream of Artichoke Soup. We've seen over sixty species before lunch, and are feeling good about hitting our goal of one hundred species today. Before returning to Pescadero Marsh, we drive around the town itself. During a brief roadside stop, Mary and Bill see their first Pygmy Nuthatch. A local birder invites to stop by her delightful garden, where we get great looks at Say's Phoebe.

2:30pm, Pescadero Marsh. There are only four kinds of ducks here, but we've also rounded out our list of herons and egrets.

3:00pm Mezza Luna. Dick introduces to the famous "Mezza Luna Willows" behind the restraurant in Princeton-by-the-Sea. These trees, like the ones at Gazos Creek, are teeming with life.

4:00pm, Pillar Point Harbor. Finally, some Terns! We add Elegant Tern and Surf Scoter to the list and decide to head back over the hills.

5:30pm, Redwood Shores Radio Towers. Dick is right, this pond is amazing at high tide. Amongst hundreds of Godwits, Dowitchers, and Curlews, Dick shows Mary and Bill their first Red Knot outside of the Monterey Bay Aquarium aviary. We also enjoy great looks at Pectoral Sandpiper.

6:15pm Another unlikely but crowded pond is located directly behind the Silicon Valley Athletic Club. We add American White Pelican to the list.

7:00pm As the sunlight fades, we stop at the East Palo Alto Baylands, one of Dick's favorite bicycle destinations. We round out our list at 115 species with the distinctive calls of Clapper Rail and Sora.

What a day!