Date: 1/13/20 7:02 pm From: Chuq Von Rospach via Groups.Io <chuqui=<mac.com...> Subject: [southbaybirds] Los Gatos Creek Park/Oka Ponds 1/13
I dropped by the Oka Lane ponds today to see about adding a few missing ducks to my 2020 lists. I was able to find the continuing ring-necked ducks as well as the common mergansers, but the hooded mergansers that I saw there in December eluded me. A small Canada goose flock was there, but the cackling goose wasn’t there, so I headed to the other entrance to the park off Dell, where I found a larger CAGO flock, and immediately found the Cackling goose in the water near the path. To me it looks good for Aleutian.
I did run into this really weird looking “it’s kinda like a Bufflehead but wrong” bird in the south eastern most pond off Oka Lane. I pass it along for your amusement and thoughts; to me, while I hesitate to yell HYBRID early in the ID phase, really seems like Bufflehead X something (maybe mallard?). Bird seemed more coot sized than bufflehead sized, bigger than a bufflehead by a bit.
Visiting Oka Ponds (aka Oka Lane, aka Los Gatos Creek County Park)
I have gotten two requests for info on the Oka ponds today from various people, since we’ve been talking a lot more about it this winter (why not? I had a visit in December where I logged ten duck species in a quick 30 minute walk). The Southern ponds off Oka lane seem like the best place to reliably see ring-necked this winter, and today had five common mergansers. The hooded merganser pair being seen there was hiding, though.
What we call Oka ponds (or Oka Lane) is also known as Los Gatos Creek County Park. There are two access points. On the north side, take San Tomas to Hacienda and go east, then turn left on Dell, the entrance is on your right (parking is $6 or county park pass).
the Oka lane entrance on the south, Lark Avenue to Oka road, take Oka road north under the freeway to Mozart, hang a left, then a quick right onto Oka lane. at the end of the road are gates with an access space to get onto the paths for the northern ponds. Parking on the street and limited, you're in a residential neighborhood.
They interconnect via the Los Gatos Creek Trail that travels long the creek that’s in the middle of the park here (but carries on N and S). This is a good place for ducks, grebes, and often has a large gull population that can be fun to sort through. There are two belted kingfishers here in different parts of the park, I found one today in the tree in the island near the Dell (northern) entrance. Also tends to have some egrets and great blue herons hanging about.
The southern entrance is a good place if you want to walk the creek, or bring a bike and bike along the levee.
My visit today got me two geese (Canada and Cackling), seven ducks (Shoveler, Gadwall, Mallard, Ring-necked, Bufflehead, Common Merganser, ruddy) and two grebes (pied billed and western) in 40 minutes with two stops and < a mile of flat walking. If you’re trying to fill out your duck bingo card, winter here seems kind of awesome…