Happy Thanksgiving… a dull and rainy start to the day. Meeting at Petra’s were a hardy few. Regulars Lorna, Tom, Marion, Mike and Roger were joined by newcomers Bruce and Niki who are soon to be local residents. Because of the inclement weather we decided to start at the foot of 12th Avenue and bird the lagoon as far as the first viewpoint. Very few shorebird species were found, the majority being Greater Yellowlegs with a few Killdeer. The ducks were mainly Wigeon (no Europeans), Green-winged Teal and Pintail. A number of Canada Geese were seen in the distance to the south. A few Bald Eagles and one Osprey were all the raptors to be seen. The gulls seemed to be all Glaucous-winged and Ring-billed. The sides of the dike had been cleared of vegetation leaving nothing but a few Fennel patches. There must have been a reason behind the denuding process but one wonders whether leaving the seeds for the songbirds might have been wiser (comments welcome). Other birds included a few Northern Flickers, House Sparrows, Golden-crowned Sparrows and a few Song Sparrows and the regular robins, starlings, and Red-winged Blackbirds.
As we walked back to the parking lot the rain abated but the damage was done and the wet and cold Bruce, Niki and Marion opted for warmth and breakfast and departed. Hopefully, Bruce and Niki will give us another chance as today’s weather was very unusual (our story and we’re sticking to it!).
The stalwart remaining few, Lorna (who fears no type of weather), Tom, not wanting to look like a wimp, and Mike and Roger (who know no better) decided to tough it out and go to Reifel. The rain had let up at the refuge and right as we started down the main north trail, Hawkeye Lorna spots a Saw-whet Owl 10 meters away in the trees.
At this point Lorna had to run back to the parking lot where Tom was trying to make his getaway and brought him back to see her find. Beside the owl were what appeared to be the remains of its breakfast and was probably a Black-capped Chickadee. Very little else was seen along the trail and the water in front of the viewing shelter had nothing but Canada Geese. Along the trail to the tower Lorna, again, spotted a Brown Creeper just a few feet in front of us. The pond in front of the tower had a large number of Long-billed Dowitchers and Mallards. We failed to see, or hear, the Sandhill Cranes although others had reported seeing them earlier. From the top of the tower we could see large numbers of Snow Geese at the distant low tide line. Walking along the outer dike we found the one Harrier of the day, another flicker , and were treated to the aerobatics of a pair of Peregrine Falcons. On the way back to the cars we added a Horned Grebe and a pair of Black-crowned Night Herons (again Lorna…this is getting tiresome) to our list. A Barred Owl had been sighted earlier but we were unable to locate it.
To reward ourselves for persevering, despite the weather, we decided to have Lunch at the Landing Pub where Lorna realized her long standing ambition to have a Blue-Bacon Burger. Great burgers and scintillating conversation…what a great way to end the trip!
Finally, a democratic decision was made at Petras’ to extend the meeting time for the rest of the fall/winter trips to 7:30 for an 8:00am departure due to the later sunrise. So, next week the new times at Petra’s.