Date: 5/19/24 4:31 pm
From: Matthew Dodder via <mdodder...>
Subject: [southbaybirds] San Antonio Valley, etc 05-19-24
I always tour Mines Road, Del Puerto Canyon Road, and San Antonio Valley Roads in spring to search of target species like Bell’s Sparrow, Tricolored Blackbird, Lawrence’s Goldfinch and Lewis’s Woodpecker. Today, the weather was wonderful and there was very little car traffic and also very few motorcycles—perhaps because the Junction is closed. Stopping along the way was a little easier than it often is.

The past couple of years, I have been especially interested in how the area is recovering from the devastating fires of 2020 that scorched thousands of acres of prime chaparral habitat. I have been very concerned with some of the signature species of this area, especially Bell’s Sparrow, one of my favorites! I’m happy to say, things are looking reasonably good, all things considered...

I arrived at the Mines Road Firestation just after 7:00 AM and was quickly greeted by singing BELL’S SPARROWS. A total of 5 individuals were singing from the chamise hillside just north of the new firestation as well as the slope above the pond a few hundred hards away. I managed to get some photos, but they are quite distant.

From there, I turned east on to Del Puerto Canyon Road and stopped at every patch of chamise I could find, locating several more BELL’S SPARROWS calling and singing. This is their favorite plant, apparently.

The TRICOLORED BLACKBIRD colony was disturbingly quiet, but I assume that is because many of the adults were out searching for food. I counted about 20 individuals, but they so quickly disappeared into the reeds it’s hard to tell how many were actually present. I encountered more Tricolored Blackbirds in various creeks and fields as I drove up Mount Hamilton on my way home.

I continued to watch for Lewis’s Woodpecker south from the Junction, but was not successful. I did come across four or so LAWRENCE’S GOLDFINCHES along San Antonio Valley Road just south of the pond. An adult BALD EAGLE was surveying the pond from a nearby snag, and a group of Mallards was accompanied by a WOOD DUCK.

As I continued south on San Antonio Valley Road toward the sharp westward turn, I encountered a few more spots that looked good for Bell’s Sparrow. Fresh, green chamise was growing from the blackened charred stalks of the old growth (see image below) which made me think the birds might be present. Sure enough, at two more stops I was able to hear and see BELL’S SPARROWS. A total of 11 for the day seemed like a good count, and I think it is probably conservative. The good news is that the birds seem to be enjoying the new growth.

See the trip report below with species list and stops.


SCVAS Speaker Series this Wednesday will host Sophie Osborn, author of Feather Trails
Speaker Series: Sophie Osborn — Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society

Matthew Dodder (he/him)
Executive Director
Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society
22221 McClellan Rd.
Cupertino, CA 95014

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