(yes, I really should go birding at other places at least once in a while!)
Yesterday was a bang-up day at the Palo Alto baylands; I got to observe several raptors hunting, a rarity, and a very good variety of the usual suspects.
As I finished my usual loop around the duck pond, I spied a small raptor (Sharp-shinned or Cooper’s Hawk) plunging into the bushes in hopes of plucking a sparrow or bushtit. He let me get very close, and I watched him for some minutes before he flew to a nearby well-lighted tree and let me take some very nice portraits of him, which I will post as soon as I’ve processed them.
Along the slough I helped some new-to-the-area birders with identifying a few they weren’t familiar with. It felt good to be on the giving, rather than receiving end, of identification help for a change!
The Eurasian Wigeon is still in with a group of American Wigeons along the slough, today he was pretty close-in, and in good light, so I may have gotten some decent photographs of him. I’m not entirely certain it’s not a Eurasian X American hybrid, though….
Out on the boardwalk I saw a Clapper Rail very close, but he skittered away before I could attach my flash, and he was in deep shadows, making for no photo op at all. I got a very good look at him with my bare eyes anyhow – lovely birds, them!
Returning along the slough I met a couple of friendly birders who were there to see the Wigeon (a bit of a star, as they’re rare in these parts). I helped them spot it, and we spent some time talking about Bay Area birding and what all we’d seen. They were very experienced and helpful and I was glad to have run into them.
As we talked, a male Northern Harrier dove into the brush, emerged with a deceased duck in its talons, and landed in the grass opposite us, and began plucking his dinner – quite a sight to see! A Baylands ranger stopped to see if the Wigeon was out, and we showed her where it was too.
By now it was getting dark and the park was near closing, so I steeled myself for the long drive home, smack in the middle of rush hour, and headed on my mery way.
This was one of the better days I’ve had at the Baylands to date, what with the rarities and watching two separate raptors hunting!
Today’s list is:
Eurasian Wigeon (maybe a hybrid w/American?)
Sharp-shinned? Hawk (maybe Cooper’s)