On my way up to do some yard work in Santa Rosa today I took a detour through Marin County. With the increasing onshore winds I decided to forego a planned visit to the Point ReyesNational Seashore and instead checked out sites through the central county, starting at Nicasio Reservoir followed by a hike along the Tomales Bay Trail (trailhead just a couple miles north of the town of Point Reyes Station) and finishing with a couple of stops along country roads in the Valley Ford area. My main focus was investigating pastures and grasslands and their associated avifauna. I was not disappointed.
"Aleutian" Cackling Goose - gated pond along Tomales Bay Trail
Wilson's Snipe - 3 in the marshy draw on north side of Nicasio Valley Rd. right before junction w/Pt.Reyes/Petaluma Rd., 1 at Arabian Adventures pond on HWY 1 in Outer Point Reyes Station
Prairie Falcon/Loggerhead Shrike - along a dead end road near Valley Ford in the northernmost portion of the county
Burrowing Owl - pastures along Tomales BayTrail
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher - in willow scrub along Nicasio Valley Rd. at the guard rail before Pt.Reyes/Petaluma Rd. I've encountered gnatcatchers here in mid-winter in years past and based on the late date for a migrant perhaps this is a bird that will winter in the area.
CHESTNUT-COLLARED Longspur - along Tomales Bay Trail.
TRICOLORED Blackbirds - ~200, amongst cattle in the pasture just north of the Tomales Bay Trailhead/off Highway 1. They were there when I began my hike around 10:30 and were the reason why I made my first ever stop at this site. By the time I returned to my truck around 13:30, the flock had departed.
If anyone is interested in looking for the longspur. Take the main trail from the parking lot until you see the first of two ponds. Walk up slope toward an old tractor trail. The longspur landed about 15m in front of me on this trail. Then flushed and after making a broad loop overhead giving diagnostic flight calls landed about 100m away. After watching it land I tried to walk up to it for a better look but it flushed again when I unknowingly approached within about 5m. After watching it circle again and land in another part of the pasture I let it be.