After work today I spent the better part of two hours walking around Charleston Slough and Shoreline Lake (gotta love how late it stays light now!). Although I didn’t see anything unusual, I had a fine time being out and about, and had some fine views of many more common birds.
Forster’s Tern (Sterna forsteri)
In the largest pond with the viewing platform, I saw numerous Forster’s Terns, a sure sign that summer is on its way. Ditto the almost complete lack of ducks, just a few straggling Mallards and Gadwalls.
Forster’s Terns always present me with a photographic challenge – their flight is generally pretty predictable, and with a high enough shutter speed, they’re not too hard to freeze mid-air but I have a very hard time focusing on them, as they fly quite speedily most of the time.
More Forster’s Terns on an abandoned dock
Continuing along the slough, I saw a good number of American Avocets and some freshly-molted Dowitcher sp. One of these days I’ll have to sit down with my shorebird book and figure out how to separate the Long- from the Short-billed Dowitchers, but today was not that day!
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
Many Cliff Swallows, and a few Barn Swallows foraged on the muddy banks of a largely dried-up pond, no doubt collecting dabs of mud for their nests in the eaves of a small pumping building nearby.
Shoreline Lake wasn’t very active, other than more foraging and calling Forster’s Terns, with a few scattered Ring-billed Gulls, a couple of American Coots, and a lone Ruddy Duck. I heard an unfamiliar call in the shrubby trees next to the lake and excitedly turned around and snapped a few decent photos of….
Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos)
…A Northern Mockingbird. Not a bad bird, but not unusual either. It then proceeded to live up to its name by emitting a stream of varied calls, some resembling avians, some sounding like nothing so much as a cellphone ring.
As I walked along the shore, a WWII-era bomber (I think, an airplane expert I am not!) flew overhead, presumably taking off from nearby Moffett Field. Several juvenile and one adult Double-crested Cormorants dove just offshore, and across the path on the lawn’y section, two families with fuzzy gosling Canada Geese preened and grazed.
The wind was stiff, not ideal for birding, but quite nice for the folks windsailing and boating in the lake:
I saw no signs of the Burrowing Owls that I’ve seen for the past two years near the golf course parking lot, alas. Walking back towards the car I didn’t see too much else of interest, mainly a murder of American Crows, a few Anna’s Hummingbirds, 3 House Finches (2 males with good color) and a bunch of vocal Red-winged Blackbirds along the trail by the Terminal Road parking lot.
House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus)
Charleston Slough and Shoreline Lake are always a good walk, no exception this time, even though the hoped-for Black Skimmers and Burrowing Owls failed to materialize.
Birds seen (30 species):
– American Avocet
– American Coot
– American Crow
– American Robin
– Anna’s Hummingbird
– Barn Swallow
– Black-necked Stilt
– Brewer’s Blackbird
– Brown-headed Cowbird
– California Towhee
– Canada Goose and goslings
– Cinnamon Teal
– Cliff Swallow
– Double-crested Cormorant
– Dowitcher sp.
– Forster’s Tern
– Great Egret
– House Finch
– House Sparrow
– Mourning Dove
– Northern Mockingbird
– Red-winged Blackbird
– Ring-billed Gull
– Ruddy Duck
– Snowy Egret
– Song Sparrow
– Surf Scoter