Sunday, July 31, 2005

Forest Hills/ Nolde Forest EEC

Spent the morning with Jody and Melissa doing some very fine birding. We first went to Forest Hills for just a few minutes. Had excellent looks at Eastern Wood PeeWee, Northern Flicker, Baltimore Oriole, Chickadee sp., White-breasted Nuthatch, and Tufted Timouse. Also seen were American Robin, Blue Jay,and Mourning Dove. The bugs weren't nearly as bad as the last time, but the mention of a Scarlet Tanager made us decide to hit Nolde instead.

On the way to Nolde Forest Environmental Education Center in Shillington, we saw American Goldfinch, American Crow, and Canada Goose. Nolde is one of my very first and favorite places to bird. The forest is getting quieter now that many of the birds have raised their chicks. We didn’t see Scarlet Tanager, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, or Eastern Bluebird which is funny because I almost always see those three there. We sat in the garden for a long time with only a Gray Catbird for company. We did see/hear Wood Thrush, Northern Waterthrush, Red-eyed Vireo, Northern Cardinal, Song Sparrow, Brown Creeper, Downy Woodpecker, House Wren, Chimney Swift, many robins, and (best of all) a Hooded Warbler (lifer!).

Life List tally = 318

Friday, July 22, 2005

SFO July 2005

I’ve been in San Francisco on business this past week and now I know why people get so corny about leaving their heart there (or at least a little bit of it). Jody and I took a late start (a late start for a birder anyway) and the bus to Golden Gate Park. It took us a while to find some good spots, however we found a pair of Common Ravens almost immediately. In fact, we saw several pairs throughout the day – probably more than I’ve seen all put together. Among the Brewer’s Blackbirds and omnipresent Rock Pigeons were a single Red-winged Blackbird and a Steller’s Jay.

The best birding spots were among the automatic sprinklers scattered in the park. At the first sprinkler we had amazing looks at a female Anna’s Hummingbird who put on a show by hovering/ bathing in the sprinkler mist for at least ten minutes. With her were a dozen or so Chestnut-backed Chickadees and a Song Sparrow whose behavior initially confused me into thinking it was a different sparrow species. Shortly after that we spotted a mixed group of juvenile American Robins, a female yellow/ olive warbler sp., and several House Finches with an orange-variant male. It took several looks through the book to ID him as I never even knew there was an orange-variant!

A nearby sports field yielded Barn Swallows and an “Oregon” Dark-eyed Junco – technically not a lifer, but a first look at an Oregon. Another sprinkler brought in a California Towhee (lifer!) and a whinnying Downy Woodpecker. We crossed JFK Avenue (?) to the Botanical Gardens. This immediately produced a Western Scrub Jay and Western Gull. We couldn’t find the California Quail that a couple from North Carolina said they saw, but we ended with a fine specimen of a Red-tailed Hawk sitting stock still in a (I don’t know any of the trees out here) tree.

Didn’t get to the Japanese Gardens, but opted for lunch on Haight Street instead. Ate at a place called, Cha-cha-cha’s which was highly recommended by a random guy standing outside the restaurant waiting for the rest of his party. We shared a pepper and goat cheese sandwich, green salad, and black beans with rice. I do believe we ate it all.

As a side note, tonight we traveled to Chinatown, bought souvenirs, ate fried bean curd strips in lemon curd sauce (awesome!), pot stickers, and puffed wheat gluten with black bean sauce (chewy, but good). Almost time to go back to work, life and reality.