Had to fill up my truck Thursday. It was almost empty. I had been wanting to go into the New Year before doing this but a late bus and the Thanksgiving Holiday forced me to use my truck more than I had planned. I went 50 days between fill ups this time which wasn’t bad. My record is 56 days which I did twice. Before this “green” year I was going an average of 21 days. I have saved lot’s of money on gas this year. I only put gas in my truck 8 times which averages out to once every month and a half.
Where did I use gas? Most of it was getting to bus stops. Then there was getting to the recycling centers, banking, and shopping for large items for home projects. As always I tried to get as much birding done while taking my truck into town.
Thursday I stopped at the Rose Memorial Cemetery but still no luck on the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. Scoped off of Ward Ave. and spotted a Mendocino County rare female Long-tailed Duck. We see 1 or 2 every winter. It was too far out to get a picture so this Wikipedia picture will have to do. It’s a little darker then the one I saw. I didn’t see a credit for the picture.
From Laguna Point I spotted what I was sure were Cassin’s Auklets which would be a new “year” bird but because they were so far out I’ve decided not to claim them.
Friday I did my normal SOS Survey at Virgin Creek Beach. While on the bus I spotted the Snow Geese still at the Dana Gray Elementary School. It would have been a good sighting from a bus if I hadn’t already found them on Wednesday. While I didn’t find anything new at Virgin Creek there were 9 Snowy Plovers on the beach in the afternoon. I had heard about them being there earlier. The entire flock had been down at Ten Mile Beach and why they have split is unknown.
I added a new bird for my Little River Airport list on Saturday. I heard a strange call coming from a marshy part of one of the ponds at the west end. I suspected a rail and reviewed their calls on my Itouch. It turned out to be a Sora “keep” call. I rarely use my Itouch to call in birds but rails are rarely seen so we talked back and forth for a minute. I never saw the rail. Soras are not a year bird but I was happy to add it to the airport list as it was a bird I was expecting to find there at some point.
New totals are 249 bird species with over 2859 carbon producing truck miles saved.
This last Thursday I had to drive into Fort Bragg. My gas tank was getting low so I planed my day around filling it up. I have tied my previous record of 56 days between fill ups. At this rate, by the end of the year, I will have filled my tank only 8 times. This “green” year is saving me money.
It’s ironic that to help save energy (and to keep our roads clean) by recycling cans, glass and plastic I have to drive about 30 miles round trip to do it. I still remember the days that you could return them to the local market. I know that was many years ago. Into the back of the truck my many bags of recyclables went.
My plans were to visit the gas station, the recycle center, bird Ten Mile Beach, and do some shopping. It was a nice day on Ten Mile sunny and warm. One of the most interesting things I saw were many Brown Pelicans plunge diving for food just off the beach.
The second Pelican appears to be a first year bird because of the white belly. I hear that the fishing has been good this year.
The day went as planned. No new year birds and no truck miles saved. Did help save the earth by recycling my beer bottles.
The last time I talked about my gas usage I had gone 56 days between filling up my truck. Thursday I had to take my truck into Fort Bragg to put gas in it. I had lasted 49 days. My average had been 21.5 days before I started this experimental year so I’m still doing a good job in that area. Where am I still using gas? 10 miles round trip to Mendocino Bus Stop and several trips into Fort Bragg to catch the CC Rider (MTA) to Ukiah.
On my way back home I stopped at the Caspar Cemetery to look for a Northern Parula. The cemetery is one of the best areas to look for this rare Mendocino bird. Didn’t find one but got some excellent pictures of a Hermit Warbler.
Also went out to the Mendocino Headlands to look for a Tufted Puffin, another rare Mendocino bird. They have been seen during this time period. No luck. Did see 4 Rhinoceros Auklets to the north. There are a rough estimate of 600 Common Murres and 250 Brandt’s Cormorants nesting on the rocks.
The last time I put gas in my truck was on January 24th. The tank was getting low so I made a trip into Fort Bragg To fill it up this last Thursday. That’s a total of 56 days. I went back into my records and found that on average, before I started this experiment, I was going 21.5 days between fill ups. Will have to see if I can keep this up. Since a fill up is about $50 these days that equals 10 trips to Ukiah by bus or almost 7, “16 trip bus pass cards”.
When I do a trip into town with my truck I try to make the most of the it. I get my shopping and banking done and maybe a birding effort that might be hard to do by bus and bike. This day I decided to do Ten Mile. I needed to see if I could do my normal route of Ward Ave. to Inglenook Creek and back in time to catch the last bus to Mendocino. It was a mistake on my part. The March winds were extreme and cold coming in off the ocean. Walking towards Inglenook was walking straight into them. I didn’t see much, the birds being smarter then me. I did see Alison Cebula, a state parks employee and one of my Snowy Plover Monitor Trainers, walking far ahead of me. At least she was getting paid for her efforts.
Ten Mile is part of the old logging history for the area. It’s now part of MacKerricher State Park. A logging haul road used to go from Fort Bragg to Ten Mile River. Most of that haul road is covered in sand or washed out by the ocean. California State Parks now plan to remove what’s left of the asphalt road and let the dunes return to their natural state. The plan has caused some controversy with the locals that mostly live in back of the dunes. Others think that the park should maintain the haul road for easy access down to Ten Mile River. I agree with the park’s plan. Some areas should be hard to get to.
Ten Mile can be a place where you can go for miles without running into a person or a bird. But when it’s hot it’s hot. Especially during the Fall shorebird migration. During the Winter it is home to upwards of 60 endangered Snowy Plovers and this year at least 6 Burrowing Owls (I believe a new high). Burrowing Owls are a California species of special concern. Snowy Plovers have a breeding history here. I believe the last time was in 2005. It is hoped that they will try again. If we can keep Ravens, dogs, and other disturbances to a minimum that might happen.
My regular camera was acting up so I took the above with my Apple Itouch. You can get a feel for the isolation of Ten Mile. I think the black and white is sort of neat.
I stopped at the inner harbor of the Noyo River to eat lunch and get out of the wind. California Sea Lions haul out of the water to rest on some of the docks. There I found a “branded” sea lion (C869). A search of the internet found that this sea lion is part of the controversial sea lion vs. salmon program on the Columbia River. Sea lions are branded so they can be identified. If they are found to be excessively eating salmon they are killed. This sea lion was branded either in Astoria or below the Bonneville Dam I believe in September of 2005.