Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Early (in the year) Birding and "Red" Fox Sparrow

It's early in the year, and that means there are still lots of birds to add to one's year list.  This makes for an exciting time for birding.  A time when a bird that might otherwise be common can now be exciting!  Anyways, beginning of the year aside, we heard about a really exciting bird, through the grape vine, that was seen right down the road from PRBO in Bolinas, CA.  We heard that Keith Hansen, a local artist/birder, had seen a Summer Tanager somewhere around the tennis court on Brighton Avenue in Bolinas.  We searched the area fairly well, but, much to our chagrin, we could not locate it.  We continued birding Bolinas, though.
Anna's Hummingbird, Bolinas, CA. 01/03/12. [Photo by Lukas Musher]
Starting around the tennis courts, we walked up the road leading uphill.  No Summer Tanager or eastern warblers, but lots of the common birds.  Anna's Hummingbirds were busy as ever displaying and feeding in the gardens along the road.  We then headed to the Bolinas cemetery to look for Pygmy Nuthatch (a bird both of us need for life).  We stopped to look at the wigeon flock across from the school and found two (maybe more?) female and male Eurasian Wigeon.
Eurasian Wigeon, Bolinas, CA. 01/03/12. [Photo by Lukas Musher]
At the cemetery we came across a very large flock of warblers that were, as far as we could tell, entirely Yellow-rumped (both Myrtle and Audubon's) and Townsend's Warblers.  We spent a lot of time sorting through them, but couldn't come up with anything else.
Townsend's Warbler, Bolinas, CA. 01/03/12. [Photo by Lukas Musher]
The biggest surprise of the day, though was what we believe to be a "Red" Fox Sparrow, which was feeding with a large flock of sparrows including both California and Spotted Towhees, as well as Golden-crowned, White-throated (no less than three), and Song Sparrows.  As far as we know, this race is quite rare in California, so we are hesitant to accept that it is a pure "Red."  We welcome your comments on this.
"Red" Fox Sparrow, Bolinas, CA. 01/03/12. [Photo by Lukas Musher]
"Red" Fox Sparrow, Bolinas, CA. 01/03/12. [Photo by Lukas Musher]
"Red" Fox Sparrow, Bolinas, CA. 01/03/12. [Photo by Lukas Musher]
We finished up the day birding some of the side roads off of Mesa Rd, looking again for Pygmy Nuthatch, but no luck again.  Birds around here included, Western Bluebird, White-crowned Sparrow, Townsend's Warbler, and a lone Cackling Goose in with the Canada Goose flock across Mesa Road from Overlook Drive.  On Mesa Road about one mile from PRBO we had one Say's Phoebe and a bobcat hunting in the coast guard field.

By Cory Ritter and Luke Musher

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