Date: 8/30/17 5:15 pm From: <bacpab...> [northbaybirds] <northbaybirds-noreply...> Subject: [NBB] Solono Co misc-phalaropes, curlews, and directions
Today Judith Dunham and I hit some spots in Solano County, with birding targets and questions about seldom-visited (or at least publicized) birding sites. We started at the Benicia Pier, where high tide, a strong cool wind, and many fisherpeople on the shore kept most birds away. We didn't find the reported Spotted Sandpipers or Black Oystercatcher, though we did find an early female COMMON GOLDENEYE just off the rocky island south of the pier. It's a good reminder that tide counts at this spot. Moving on to Benicia SRA, the wind was baffled by the bluffs but we found the park strangely birdless-we saw few passerines and no Bald Eagles-there was an OSPREY fishing near the parking lot at the end of the road.
Next stop was the Cullinan Ranch pull-off on Hwy 37, where large numbers of shorebirds were resting mostly at the far end of the pond. We spotted 2 LONG-BILLED CURLEWS among the many Marbled Godwits and American Pelicans. There were many shorebirds at a distance that were hard to pull out in the heat shimmer and wind-a lower tide is probably preferable for this site. The pullout can only be accessed if you are coming from the east now that the road has a center divide; to get back on to Hwy 37 east it's best to make the U-turn at the Sears Point light. From there we poked around the Mare Island North Ponds, a site I hadn't visited since 2011 and was unsure if it was still accessible. You can walk from the end of L St at West Elm out to the ponds, where we found both 9 RED-NECKED and 2 WILSON'S PHALAROPES with the Black-necked Stilts. Mare Island was bursting with new construction as we made our way south to the hiking trails of the Mare Island Preserve at Azuar Dr and Gardner Ave. It's only open Fri Sat Sun from 10 to sunset, so it's worth another visit when it's open.
There is a new section of the Bay Trail open at Azuar Dr just before Flagship, though bikes are not allowed. A young AMERICAN KESTRAL was perched on the fence near the parking lot.
It was a day of surprisingly few bird sighting, but we came away with more intel about sites along the shoreline that don't get much press.