Date: 12/25/17 10:08 am
From: Mike Rogers <> [south-bay-birds] <south-bay-birds-noreply...>
Subject: [SBB] Palo Alto CBC - Palo Alto to Moffett Field - 12/18/17

Sorry for the belated summary report. On Monday 12/18/17, I birded the bayside from Palo Alto to Moffett Field for the Palo Alto Christmas Bird Count. From 6:30am to 11:00am, I was joined by Nateri Madavan covering Palo Alto and from noon to 3:00pm I was joined by my son Steven birding both sides of Stevens Creek from Highway 101 to Shoreline Park. Although we didn't find any completely unexpected species, we did very well finding birds that can never be counted on.

The tide covered the bay for most of the day, but from 6:00am to 8:00am there would be visible mud, so we biked out to the San Franciscquito Creek delta before sunrise. The construction along the San Francisquito levee meant we had to bike out through the Palo Alto Baylands. Just after 7:00am, we heard a RIDGWAY'S RAIL from inside the estuary near the Interpretive Center parking lot. Biking out along the outfall channel by the airport, we stopped and immediately located a SWAMP SPARROW at the usual location. We arrived at the San Francisquito Creek mouth at 7:20am and were treated to a RUDDY TURNSTONE (San Mateo County) and 5 RED KNOTS (right side of the channel, but probably also San Mateo County, although different USGS maps are not consistent about the county line out there) among thousands of more common shorebirds (including 180+ SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS). Three more RIDGWAY'S RAILS were found near the delta, with photos obtained of one bathing on the north bank of the creek. Biking back along San Francisquito Creek turned up an adult GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE with a small group of CANADA GEESE and 135 AMERICAN PIPITS on the golf course. Biking back along the outfall channel we again found (and photographed) the SWAMP SPARROW.

At 11:00am, after birding the end of Geng Road, I headed over to Embarcadero Way and the Palo Alto WPCP. The highlight there was a YELLOW WARBLER opposite the entrance to the Byxbee Park parking area. Other warblers included 3 ORANGE-CROWNED and 2 TOWNSEND'S. Flying over the sewage ponds were 6+ TREE SWALLOWS and 5+ BONAPARTE'S GULLS. A GOLDEN EAGLE flew south towards the ITT fields and a lone PINE SISKINN flew over the end of Embarcadero Way.

Next, Steve and I birded Stevens Creek from Highway 101 to the rusty bridge at Shoreline Park. An immature WHITE-THROATED SPARROW was right at the La Avenida trailhead and we found another WHITE-THROATED SPARROW just north of Crittenden Lane. Heading south to Highway 101 we located a female HAIRY WOODPECKER, a rare species in the urban lowlands. Tracking down a dry chip note in the first cottonwood north of La Avenida led to the discovery of a BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER (we also found an ORANGE-CROWNED and 3 TOWNSEND'S WARBLERS later). Another SWAMP SPARROW chipping in Stevens Creek just south of the pumphouse outfall at the southeast corner of the Shoreline overflow parking lot was a nice surprise. Photos of some of these birds can be found in the following ebird checklists:

Finally, I covered Moffett Field and the Noffett Golf Course before dark. Two more TREE SWALLOWS were near the Storm Water Pond west of the airstrip and the golf course turned up 2 SLATE-COLORED JUNCOS together with 16 OREGON JUNCOS and 2 WILSON'S SNIPE.

A quick stop at the frontage road parking area for the Palo Alto Flood Control Basin failed to yield a Short-eared Owl at dusk.

A pretty nice day by the bayside!

Mike Rogers
Sunnyvale, CA

Posted by: Mike Rogers <>

South Bay Birds list (


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