Had a busy and exciting birding week. Plans were for me to bus over to Ukiah, where Chuck Vaughn would pick me up and take me to the Hopland Research & Extension Center east of Hopland. Chuck is the current president of the Peregrine Audubon Society and a retired researcher at HREC. When he picked me up he said we were going to stop at the Ukiah Waste Treatment Plant where Steve Stump had found White-faced Ibis that morning. 7 of them to be exact. While walking around the ponds a Western Wood-Pewee called and we spotted a male Blue-winged Teal(rare) that had been found earlier in the week. As we neared the sludge ponds at the beginning of the trail, Chuck spotted a Great-tailed Grackle flying up from the ponds heading south. It landed on a tower nearby and I could see it’s great tail. WFIB and GTGR are extremely rare in Mendocino County. WFIB are beginning to be seen regularly and GTGRs are expanding their range so they may become more regular here. So I had a great start for the day, 4 “year” birds and one new Mendocino County bird, the GTGR. So on to HREC.
HREC is an extension of the University of California. It mostly deals with agriculture and natural resources research. It covers 5300 acres in the Mayacamus Mountains. “There are a number of seasonal streams, vernal pools, stock ponds and 2 large natural ponds. There are 4 principal vegetation types: grass, oak woodland-grass, dense oak woodland, and chaparral.” There are 219 bird species on their checklist. Much of HREC is as pictured above. Their website can be found here. If you go to the site you can find a picture of Chuck working hard. Click on the facilities link. Chuck still volunteers his time there.
It was the grass, oak woodland, and chaparral birds that I was after. Boy did we find them, Bullock’s Oriole, Sage, Lark and Chipping Sparrows, Lazuli Bunting, Black-throated Gray Warbler, California Thrasher, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, House Wren, Cassin’s Vireo, Western Kingbird, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Barn Owl, and Mountain Quail! In all I had a 18 “year” bird day. Missed on the Golden Eagle and Rufous-crowned Sparrow.
I told Chuck that it was rude of me to take over the lead of Mendocino birders while he was finding me birds at Hopland. He just laughed. The next day he came over to the coast and we found enough birds to put him back into the lead again. But it seems to me that I’m going to have to revise my estimate of 230/240 total birds for the year. I think that 260 is possible.
I didn’t find anything new on the coast or at the airport but the Swainson’s Thrush was still singing and the Olive-sided Flycatcher was still calling.
My new totals are 204 bird species with over 1172 car miles saved. I know that it says 205 in the picture but I have one bird not on my “green” list. It’s a Wilson’s Snipe and I should get it in the Fall.
It has been unusually hot in Mendocino this last week. California has already had a series of bad fires and the smoke was coming over from Central Valley making for bad air quality. It has been as high as 73 here on the coast and was in the lower ninety’s while birding over in Hopland. This is only the first week in May.
While I didn’t find anything new at the Little River Airport I did notice that the dragonflies were plentiful. I think this picture is neat. I believe it is a Eight-spotted Skimmer but don’t quote me on that.