Date: 1/5/20 9:49 pm
From: William Pelletier via Groups.Io <wrpelletier=<yahoo.com...>
Subject: [southbaybirds] San Antonio Valley - Sunday 1/5/2020
All,
With our vision tuned to 2020, Kitty and I headed up over Mt. Hamilton this morning on an epic birding journey. Before we were even fully awake, a pair of GREAT-HORNED OWL serenaded us in the pre-dawn hours.  We got lucky enough to see a bobcat near the house. Driving up near Grant Park we heard a VARIED THRUSH and saw a second one fly up to a branch and back away into the trees. After this, we saw a flock of BAND-TAILED PIGEON and got quick views of a FOX SPARROW up near Smith Creek, where we took a brief break to listen for birds. We heard a NORTHERN FLICKER "fleer" repeating, a WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH calling, and ACORN WOODPECKERS mocking the world with their laughter.
Once we got rolling again we noticed a frantic reaction from HOUSE FINCH and DARK-EYED JUNCO when a SHARP-SHINNED HAWK flew right over the car and gave a few quick circles in flight before disappearing over the ridge. We managed a couple of photos. https://ebird.org/checklist/S63077429
After cresting the peak we saw a pair of GOLDEN EAGLE flying away from us toward the east. https://ebird.org/checklist/S63077425One of the eagles was missing a feather on the right wing and another one on the tip of the left wing. We saw the same bird 3 1/2 hours later down in San Antonio Valley almost 30 miles away. Definitive molt pattern.
We drove past the new bridge at Isabel Creek and found our favorite spot to look for birds by an old, mossy well. At first there was nothing. Then a few small birds flew in and we got a brief look at a PINE SISKIN, our only of the day. Behind that bird were a handful of LAWRENCE'S GOLDFINCH. They were impossibly buried in the bushes until three of the birds dropped down to the creek for a quick drink before all the birds flew off. Only then did we notice a beautiful PURPLE FINCH posing for photos. It was sunny, warm and just a gentle breeze. 
We stopped by a pond with BUFFLEHEAD, WIGEON and RING-NECKED DUCK and got a brief view of a RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER. https://ebird.org/checklist/S63077738
We finally got down into the valley where we found a huge flock of doves including 150 MOURNING DOVE and 30 EURASIAN-COLLARED DOVE. The water levels are starting to fill the ponds and gullies, but the ducks were very light today. Once we got near the Junction we ran into a few colonies of LEWIS'S WOODPECKER that were very busy, constantly foraging and flying about. A few pictures of these cotton candy-colored birds at https://ebird.org/checklist/S63077397
On our way back up over Mt Hamilton to go home, we pulled over just before dark and were thrilled to have happened upon a flock of 30 LAWRENCE'S GOLDFINCH flying around, chattering and landing very close to us in the poor light. It was a thrill of my lifetime to have these birds flying so close overhead and landing only a few feet away in a Juniper tree. In awe. https://ebird.org/checklist/S63077193
The day's tally ends at 51 species and 13 checklists. We live on the mountain and never left its slopes on this beautiful sunny winter day.
Happy new year to all y'all,Bill & Kitty


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