Wednesday, 18 February 2015

California day four - Bodega Bay to Colusa

It was another morning of hitting the beaches. Before that though, I swung into Doran Beach (just south of Bodega Bay) where we quickly located a Eurasian Wigeon on a small roadside lagoon among a small group of American Wigeon. Just like yesterday's Tufted Duck, I am starting to wonder whether I've been to California too many times when I drop in to have a look at stuff like this...
drake Eurasian Wigeon Bodega Bay, California - same as how they look in London!
Anyhow, it was back to the gulls after a quick stop at Diekmann's Store where an Orange-crowned Warbler, a few Chestnut-backed Chickadees and Yellow-rumped Warblers were seen. Most of the morning was then spent on the beach at Jenner at the mouth of the Russian River, where the undoubted highlight of the trip for me was a lovely dark, smooth and cute looking juvenile Thayer's Gull. Totally lush in every sense of the word.
juvenile Thayer's Gull Jenner, California
It contrasted nicely with this extreme juvenile too.
juvenile Thayer's Gull Jenner, California - an extremely pale individual
All told, there were about five juvenile Thayer's Gulls and two adults - as well as greater numbers of American Herring Gulls of all ages. But unlike yesterday, a lot of the birds weren't too cooperative and the Western Gulls quickly mastered the art of laying into our bread completely uninvited. And if it wasn't them, the closeness to the Pacific breakers meant a bit of our gull food got washed out with them (and quickly devoured by gulls subsequently).
adult California Gull Salmon Creek, California
Our final coastal stop was to be Salmon Creek again - and despite a distinct lack of anything interesting with the Glaucous-winged, California, American Herring and Western Gulls the views of Mew Gulls feeding in the surf more than made up for it.
adult Mew Gull Salmon Creek, California
And on that note, after a nice Belted Kingfisher by the roadside, we headed inland a couple of hours or so. I'd been stacking up the Eurasian vagrants for this trip (still one more to come tomorrow fingers crossed), and with a Falcated Duck overwintering at Colusa NWR that was the next port of call. Having headed through the mountains, we arrived to copious amounts of ducks on the pond just off Highway 20. I'd never seen so many ducks - thousands of American Wigeons, Pintails and Gadwall, hundreds of Ring-necked Ducks and smaller numbers of Lesser Scaup and Green-winged Teal as well as large flocks of Pacific White-fronted Geese and a small skein of Ross' Geese over.

After about an hour of scanning, I finally picked out the drake Falcated Duck, roosting at the back of the lagoon among American Wigeon and Pintail. Just like the Tufted Duck and Eurasian Wigeon, the views weren't ideal for shots - in fact, it was mega distant and there was no way of getting any closer. I also picked up at least three drake Eurasian Wigeons in total, as well as what looked like a female alongside one of the drakes.
Pacific White-fronted Goose Colusa NWR, California
And so we headed to the National Wildlife Refuge proper for the last bit of light, and on the 'autotour' [a way of allowing fat yanks to view wildlife from their car with minimum walking] highlights included Cinnamon Teal, American Bittern, Western Meadowlark, Northern Harrier and a nice roosting group of Black-crowned Night Herons. As dusk approached, the geese were nice and active, calling away, and a fitting end to another decent day in California.

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