It's been a little while since I've written about the local birds that have been seen in Mendocino County so let's do that now.
Starting off where I ended with the last birding post is the group of six Aleutian Cackling Geese that were in a field along the Haul Road north of Fort Bragg back on October 24th. One of the birds had a blue neck collar. The band on it's right leg can't be seen in this picture.
I reported the Cackling Goose to the people at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center Bird Banding Laboratory which is part of the United States Geological Survey. It's was easy to do in this case because the collar number was easy to see. The website can be found here. In many cases they depend on amateur birders like me to report these bands to them. They provide you with a Certificate of Appreciation with the full details on the reported bird. This is what it looks like.
It feels good to be appreciated. I saw several large flocks Of Cackling Geese fly over this Fall. This is just a small part of a large flock (220+) that flew over the community of Mendocino.
Next up on this list is a Mute Swan. Mute Swans had been reported on the Noyo River, Pudding Creek (as a Tundra Swan by one Ebirder) and this one at Lake Cleone. They are probably all the same bird.
All reports of Mute Swans in California have been rejected by the California Bird Record Committee. It's felt that they are all escapees from private collections.
A bird that is all wild is this American Advocet on Virgin Creek. It was there on October 30th, a fairly late date for Mendocino County.
Early in November there were several reports of Eurasian Wigeons in Mendocino County. This “bright” male was on the Caspar Pond.
During a SOS Survey at Virgin Creek Beach on the 11th of November, the best bird wasn't a shorebird. It was a Rock Wren. Rock Wren are listed as rare in this county but can be found regularly inland on the Lake Mendocino Dam. Very few are found on the coast. I like this picture because the colorations in the rock match the colorations in the bird. I heard that a fellow birder chasing the wren found a very rare Sage Thrasher in the same area. I think I should get partial credit for the Sage Thrasher:>)
On the way back from the SOS Survey there was this Lapland Longspur right beside the new bike path at Glass Beach. Based on Ebird it's the only one reported this year.
I have many of the MTA bus drivers reporting birds they have seen. I told them to be on the lookout for big white geese among the many flocks of Canada Geese they go by that are mostly on school playgrounds. Last Thursday one of them reported seeing two white geese at the Redwood School. By the time I got there they were gone. To avoid the Pineapple Express storm coming in I went into town to do my SOS Survey on Tuesday. Coming up to the Redwood School playground I saw two Snow Geese with the Canada Geese. I told the driver to slow down so I could get some pictures. She stopped and asked if I wanted to get out to take the pictures. I was the only one on the bus. I said “no” and snapped off a few shots through the window and fence of the school yard. Probably should have got out. Most of the pictures were bad.
Virgin Creek Beach was very dramatic that day. There was a 6' tide and a high surf event that left little beach to survey except the main beach. Have recently been finding Bonaparte's Gulls during the surveys. Found 5 that day and 3 more at Big River. That's a little unusual for this time of year.
I like Bonaparte's Gulls. They are graceful flyers and I have seen these birds dive into the water feeding.
After the survey I went up to Laguna Point to look for a Rock Sandpiper. The only one reported this year on Ebird was actually a Dunlin. This identification was caught by the reviewer. It took me a few minutes but one turned up. We only get a few at this time of the year. They are more common further north.
At the Laguna Point parking lot there was a very “friendly” Brant hanging out. An old timer said it had been there for a week. One of my bus drivers said that there had been two of them there.
On my SOS Surveys I've started to find evidence of the COASST program. They survey beaches for dead seabirds which they tag and record. This is what a dead seabird looks like when they are done with their survey. I think this is a small Eared or Horned Grebe but I'm not sure and neither or they.
That's the end of the birding news for now. The Fort Bragg Christmas Bird Count(CBC) is coming up two Saturday's from now. I've decided to rerun my comments from last year about CBC counts with a few notes added. Look for it soon.
Birding at the Little River Airport has been pretty slow. Recent rains have filled the ponds and flooded the trail to the airport. I did however have an encounter with a dangerous animal while at one of the ponds. It just didn't want me to get by. It was like a horror movie. I escaped with my life.