Tuesday, 17 February 2015

California day three - Point Reyes to Jenner

We awoke today to a load of gloom here in Petaluma. The plan was to start the day's birding/gulling at nearby Lucchesi Park where myself, Lee G and Josh J a couple of years ago had feasted on loads of Thayer's Gulls and generally just good gulling. To my dismay this morning, I arrived to find the place had been totally gentrified! Signs saying 'do not feed the birds', new landscaping and generally not the 'shit hole' feel of a couple of years ago. So, as we all know, gulls love places most of us don't so alas there were no gulls to sort through here and so we moved on...

The next stop was a bit of dirty ABA twitching and, it was roles reversed. I searched through upwards of 500 Ring-necked Ducks and Lesser Scaups at Stafford Lake to find a single drake Tufted Duck - and it was asleep on the far side of the lake! That said, the place was alive with activity - three Varied Thrushes among a load of American Robins, Hermit Thrush, Spotted Sandpipers, Killdeers, several American Wigeons, a single Cackling Goose along with copious doses of Buffleheads.
White-crowned Sparrow Point Reyes, California
Half an hour later, we arrived at Inverness where scanning the bay didn't reveal the hoped for Eurasian Wigeon (nor any American Wigeons) though loads of Buffleheads, Greater and Lesser Scaups and Black Brants were a bit of compensation. We headed through the dramatic yet bleak landscape at Point Reyes, arriving at the end of the point where showy White-crowned Sparrows and Savannah Sparrows were easily papped. We ended up overlooking Chimney Rock, where three Brown Boobies were present amongst the Brown Pelicans and Western Gulls; an adult and two immatures, rare birds and a bit of a bonus for this trip.
Brown Boobies on Chimney Rock, Point Reyes, California
It was nearly time to ease those larid withdrawal symptoms. But only after a nice Red-shouldered Hawk en route to the bushes below Diekmann's Store in Bodega Bay, where Nashville Warbler, a couple of Orange-crowned and Yellow-rumped Warblers, Anna's Hummingbird and Golden-crowned Sparrow showed up nicely. Just a couple of miles further up the coast was Salmon Creek - a tried and tested site for gull papping. And today was no exception with an adult and two juvenile Thayer's Gulls, several Mew Gulls, half a dozen American Herring Gulls along with the ubiquitous Glaucous-winged and Western Gulls.

American Herring Gulls Salmon Creek - adult (top), 2nd-winter (middle) and 1st-winter (bottom)
For most, an hour of gulls would have been enough. Not for myself, Mick S and Richard S. Instead, we decided to do it all again a little further up the coast at Jenner; again a previously visited site where gulls (and seals) congregate at the mouth of the Russian River and tend to show nicely. There were larger numbers here, and there were at least seven Thayer's Gulls here (four adults and three juveniles) as well as some nice looking American Herring Gulls, Mew Gulls and the like.

adult Thayer's Gulls Jenner, California (above two images)

juvenile Thayer's Gulls Jenner, California (above two images)

1st-winter American Herring Gull Jenner, California
Like the previous two days, ringed Western Gulls featured - one yellow ringed bird and a couple of blue ringed individuals too.

ringed Western Gulls - 1st-winter (top) at Salmon Creek and 2nd-winter (bottom) at Jenner

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