Monday, May 02, 2005

2nd May - Point Reyes

I started off at Point Reyes Lighthouse in the hope of getting better views of Rhinoceros Auklet. This was not to be, but there were vast numbers of birds here including 1000 Guillemots (Common Murres), 120 Pacific and 4 Great Northern Divers (Pacific and Common Loons), 5 White-winged Scoters among 300 Surf Scoters, 25 Pigeon Guillemots, Brandt’s and Pelagic Cormorants and much more. A pair of Peregrines were present: I thought one was showing well until I turned round and noticed the other one sitting up right behind me and staring me in the face! A Rock Wren singing there provided nice views.

A stroll along to Fish Docks and Chimney Rock produced more of the same plus a colony of Elephant Seals. I then wasted a lot of time trying to see a whale off Chimney Rock but with no success. I caught it blowing a couple of times but never got a look at the beast itself. The blow was taller than the Gray Whales seen previously so I suspect it was a Humpback, but will never know for certain.

A Slavonian Grebe (or Horned Grebe if you’re local) at Fish Docks was the only one seen all trip and of 5 Glaucous-winged Gulls seen today an adult was the only mature bird seen all holiday. 100 Western Grebes were offshore from here and an Osprey flew over.

There were vast numbers of sparrows around the peninsula including 50 Savannah and 40 White-crowned (both mostly near the point) and 30 Song Sparrows (more spread about). There were also lots of American Goldfinches, at least 30 seen at several sites. About 40 Red-winged Blackbirds belonged to the local Californian race known as Bicolored Blackbird. The birds seen in the south of the state had been the ordinary form, although I had suspected some of the birds seen from the car on the way up were Bicolored too.

A small pond near the point held 3 Buffleheads and 4 Northern Harriers were in the area. Across the whole peninsula there were little groups of up to 12 Turkey Vultures all over the place – I reckon about 45 in all. There were also groups of California Quail everywhere, 32 birds in all.

Back at the cottage there were now 22 Dunlins feeding at the end of the pier and 20 Greater Scaup in the channel.

White House Pool failed to turn much up – but that could have been because we couldn’t find a pool there! So we went to Kehoe Beach instead where we enjoyed a pleasant walk to the beach. Along the way we were serenaded by Marsh Wrens and a male Allen’s Hummingbird was the first one to allow a more-or-less positive identification. On the beach a Long-billed Curlew was among 30 Hudsonian Whimbrels.

The footpath south to Muddy Hollow, round the other side of the peninsula, was blocked by floods, but the walk was productive. A Hutton’s Vireo and my first Olive-sided Flycatcher were both very vocal and another Allen’s Hummingbird provided excellent views. The hollow itself was reachable from the south at Limantour Beach and held 22 Gadwall and a couple of Ospreys overhead.

Limantour Beach turned up more Marsh Wrens and at dusk a fine Gray Fox came out to have a look – a very smart animal indeed.