Date: 3/28/21 3:43 pm From: Emilie Danna <emilie.danna...> Subject: [southbaybirds] Raptor and woodpecker morning at Pearson-Arastradero Preserve
This morning, my son and I had a great time at Pearson-Arastradero Preserve. We saw (or at least we think we saw) 9 (!) different species of raptors within ~3.5 hours. I took photos of most of them... please keep us honest as we are not 100% sure of all identifications. Photos are available at https://ebird.org/checklist/S84290102. I'll correct any mistakes based on your input.
It started auspiciously with an immature *Cooper's hawk* (?) in a tree near the start of the De Anza trail. While I was busy taking photos of it, my son looked up and saw a *Bald Eagle* traversing high in the sky, unmistakable with its white head and large size. Then, we saw 2 *white-tailed kites* flying quite low then using the thermals to quickly gain altitude. A *red-tailed hawk* soon joined them (see the photos in the checklist where the red tail is nicely visible), and then a third kite also appeared on the scene. Later on, a light brown blob attracted my eye in a tree in the distance, and with binoculars it turned out to be a *red-shouldered hawk* (?). On the spot, while looking at my (bad) photos to try to identify it, I realized there was a second bird of the same species right next to it in the tree (!) and soon both of them flew off the tree one after the other (maybe they were a couple?). Afterwards, while trying to identify two swallows perched on a thin naked trunk, it turned out one of them was a male *American Kestrel*... you can see we have room for improvement in our identification skills :-) It was far, so I only took one very blurry photo, but it was easy to recognize from its small size and distinctive contrasting colors and spots. Meanwhile, a *turkey vulture* was circling the sky.
At the Arastradero lake, trees were full of birds, with many yellow-rumped warblers, bushtits, oak titmice, California towhees, song sparrows, etc. I gave up counting. We saw and heard >10 *acorn woodpeckers*, as well as two *Nuttall woodpeckers* and two *Hairy woodpeckers*.
We were having such a great time that we decided to continue the hike up Arastradero Creek Trail. Turning left on Acorn Trail, we heard weird noises multiple times, which we guessed were from Wild Turkeys. We couldn't see them though and continued on... At the turn in the trail, we finally got a visual and loudly exclaimed on our discovery (saw 7, including at least 2 males). And then, my son shouted *"sharp shinned hawk!". *There was indeed a small hawk perched on a branch right above my head, undisturbed by our noise (sorry). This is the first time we have ever seen one up close, so please let us know what you think: you can see some photos in the checklist (not of great quality as the sun was right in front of me).
Finally, we continued on and just as we were congratulating ourselves on such unbelievable luck with raptors, we emerged onto Meadowlark trail and saw our ninth raptor of the day: a *Northern Harrier* with its characteristic white rump patch.