Date: 3/11/17 6:18 pm
From: Matthew Dodder <mdodder...> [south-bay-birds] <south-bay-birds-noreply...>
Subject: [SBB] Grant Park (PAAS field trip) 03-11-17

I led my Palo Alto Adult School birding class to Grant Park this morning. Since a portion of Mount Hamilton Road is closed (due to a slide) we had to reach the park via Quimby.

We began at the lake where we had an unusually good showing of Raptors. There were two adult BALD EAGLES on a phone pole across the water, a GOLDEN EAGLE on the ridge, an OSPREY flying through the area, two WHITE-TAILED KITES, a couple of RED-TAILED HAWKS, and RED-SHOULDERED HAWKS, a COOPER'S HAWK, and several TURKEY VULTURES. Steve Tracy also told us he had seen a Merlin, but we weren't as lucky.

Waterfowl was less abundant than a month ago, but we found a lingering flotilla of AMERICAN WIGEONS, a healthy number of CANADA GEESE, RUDDY DUCKS, MALLARDS etc. No surprises...

We did well with Swallows finding many TREE SWALLOWS, a small number of VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOWS, and a BARN SWALLOW. As we walked along the shore, we heard a number of ORNAGE-CROWNED WARBLERS. WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH and CALIFORNIA THRASHERS were active and visible. Just before we moved to the farm house inside the front entrance, we spotted the first of 6 RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKERS in one of the two large oaks above the lot.

At the farm house we added a few species such as DARK-EYED JUNCO, LESSER GOLDFINCH, AMERICAN ROBIN and NORTHERN FLICKER. We also had two interesting scavenger-related encounters. First was a RED-TAILED HAWK consuming a EUROPEAN STARLING—it isn't often we see a RTHA feasting on a bird, but there it was keeping us alert.

A second encounter was with a dead BAND-TAILED PIGEON. We left it where it was and continued birding, returning to the area a little later. When we circled back, the carcass was completely hidden from the air, so the TURKEY VULTURE that was now eating it it had to have located it completely by scent as is so often described. What I found most surprising however, was that when we startled the Vulture into flight, it carried the BTPI away with it… I had never seen a Vulture carry its prey with it.

We had a BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER and several LESSER GOLDFINCH in the area around the farm house. We found another 5 RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKERS between the farmhouse and the campground, and a singing HOUSE WREN. A SHARP-SHINNED HAWK flew over us near the campground, and a pair of COOPER'S HAWKS were engaged in courtship displays over the meadow. Tons of ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLERS singing though out the morning.

Matthew Dodder

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