Since I was in the office (Menlo Park) yesterday, I swung by the Palo Alto Baylands on my way home to see what was seeable.
The tide was VERY low, and few shorebirds were to be seen on the sloughs other than a flock of Ring-billed Gulls, a few Mallards, 4 Willets, and a small group of Dowitchers, sporting nice fresh alternate plumage. Cliff Swallows foraged for nest mud in the exposed banks, and a pair of Killdeer “kill de de de”-ed away near their nest in the parking lot (which fortunately for them, is cordoned off around where they’re nesting). I was hoping to photograph some Forster’s Terns, as they’re usually present this time of year, but likely due to the low tide, the fishing was poor and no Terns were seen.
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)
By the abandoned Yacht building I saw a beautiful Bullock’s Oriole, the first I’ve seen in quite some time. It posed nicely for me, although I would have preferred a more natural perch!
Bullock’s Oriole (Icterus bullockii)
At the Duck Pond there was little variety, most of the ducks having left, with mostly resident wild and domestic Mallards, a couple of Scaup, and a single Ruddy Duck. Numerous House Finches were foraging on the pathways, a flock of Bushtits flitted about, occasionally emerging from inside the shrubbery to pose for a picture, and the Heronry was very busy with Snowy Egrets. I didn’t see or hear any baby egrets, so I’m not sure if they’ve hatched yet, but I saw two very young Black-crowned Night Herons on the pond shore – they’re very fluffy! I had a good chuckle as one tipped onto its back and flailed, turtle-style, to right itself.
Black-crowned Night Heron chick (Nycticorax nycticorax)
Around the backside of the Duck Pond were two goose families (both Canada, I think, although there were two domestic geese acting protective too, but they’re usually fairly ornery), which allowed me to get surprisingly close without showing any signs of distress. The slough by the Palo Alto Airport was nearly devoid of birds too, just a couple of Mallards and a lone American Avocet.
Across the street from the parking lot by the Interpretive Center were about a dozen each of nesting American Avocet and Black-necked Stilt – their young should be hatching pretty soon. I’ll have to be sure to return as often as I can, as they’re pretty adorable!
American Avocet nesting (Recurvirostra americana)
Despite the low tide and corresponding low bird numbers, I saw a good # of species:
Birds seen (31 species):
– American Avocet (nesting)
– Barn Swallow
– Black Phoebe
– Black-crowned Night Heron (adults and chicks)
– Black-necked Stilt (nesting)
– Brewer’s Blackbird
+ Bullock’s Oriole
– Canada Goose (and goslings)
– Cliff Swallow (nesting)
– Common Raven
– Dowitcher sp.
– European Starling
– House Finch
– House Sparrow
– Killdeer (nesting)
– Marsh Wren (heard)
– Mourning Dove
– Northern Mockingbird
– Red-winged Blackbird
– Ring-billed Gull
– Ring-necked Pheasant
– Rock Pigeon
– Ruddy Duck
– Scaup sp.
– Snowy Egret (nesting/incubating)
– Song Sparrow