Date: 1/8/18 8:10 pm
From: Martin Meyers <Martin...>
Subject: Rancho San Rafael, Sparks Marina, and University Farms today
On a rainy day in Truckee (and on the ski slopes), I headed to
Reno/Sparks for some birding. The rain followed me to about the state
line, but I had no rain during the day in Reno.

First stop was Rancho San Rafael, where I was again unable to find the
Varied Thrush reported previously by Paul Hurtado. But as soon as I
entered the arboretum loop (from the south end), I heard and then saw a
female-plumage Purple Finch. And then another, and another. So all three
were in the same tree at one time. I was able to get a documentation
photo of each bird, all photographed while all three were in view (but
not close enough together to get them all in one frame.) About fifteen
minutes later, I spotted two Purple Finches together, and I was able to
get a somewhat fuzzy photo of both together. I assume they are from that
same group I saw previously but can't say for sure. I don't think anyone
has reported more than three (not sure about that either.) All photos
have been submitted to the NBRC.

There were several Hermit Thrushes present, and one posed for some
really cute photos, one of which I've just put up on my website (address
below -- click on Recent tab.) An adult Sharp-shinned Hawk posed for
some distant but acceptable photos (not website quality).

A few very loud Steller's Jays drew my attention, and after some
searching, I spotted the Great Horned Owl they were yelling at. Two
other birders present then pointed out a second, so probably a mated
pair. Almost time for nesting. These were also in the arboretum.

A flock of waxwings flew over, but I didn't see anything I could call a

Much of the park was closed off for a bike event. I walked around the
back to Herman's Pond, but could not get in, as a gate was closed.
There were four Hooded Mergansers on the pond.

After leaving the park, I headed to Sparks Marina, where I ran into Alan
de Queiroz. The adult Lesser Black-backed Gull was on the floats at the
north end, along with a few Herring Gulls and a bird that was almost
certainly a first cycle thayeri Iceland, although it was on the large
side for that species. Still, everything else matched, so I'm stickin'
with it until proven wrong. (Last Saturday, I had a more typical one.)

Last stop for the day was University Farms, where in addition to
hundreds of Canada Geese and at least a thousand Starlings, I picked up
my first Snow Geese for the year (there were 15 of them.).

Here's a list of sightings from Rancho San Rafael Park:

Canada Goose 25
Mallard 25
Hooded Merganser 4
Eurasian Collared-Dove 1
Mourning Dove
American Coot 15
Sharp-shinned Hawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk 1
Great Horned Owl 2
Northern Flicker 5
Steller's Jay 2
California Scrub-Jay 10
Hermit Thrush 4
American Robin 3
Cedar Waxwing 20
House Finch 1
Purple Finch 3
Spotted Towhee 2


Martin Meyers
email: Martin (...AT...)
Photo website:
Truckee, CA

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