Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Baylands Preserve, Palo Alto, San Francisco, Dec 2012


The first Caltrain service on a Sunday or Holiday schedule leaves from the 4th St. San Francisco Terminal (Google Earth ref; 37°46'35.96"N 122°23'41.54"W ) at 08.15, arriving California Ave (Google Earth ref; 37°25'44.22"N 122° 8'29.23"W) around an hour later. I had found that bikes can be brought on the train. This, I anticipated would speed my 2 mile journey along N. California Ave. to the Baylands Preserve at Palo Alto.


Actually, I took just as long I would have done on foot as I was distracted numerous times, notably by a flock of Cedar Waxwings feeding in a holly bush. Also found along the avenue, part of an approach list of 19 birds, were Nuttall’s WoodpeckerGolden-crowned Warbler and Western Bluebird.



It was 10.00 by the time I reached the salt marshes, mud and Duck Pond of the Baylands Reserve at Google Earth ref; 37°27'23.53"N 122° 6'32.64"W.
The Duck Pond was too full of gulls for my tastes, so I moved quickly past and onto the slough behind it, preferring the challenge of identifying dowitchers to that of trying to separate gulls.


These were Long-billed Dowitchers, feeding and roosting close to the edge. The top of the tide was still a couple of hours away, so the birds would only get closer. They seem quite unwary of people here.


A quick glance across the slough brought American Avocet, Canvasback and Northern Shoveler. A more attentive scan also brought Marbled Godwit, Green Teal and a Long-billed Curlew.


Most of the peeps appeared to be Least Sandpiper, but a few Western Sandpipers were also found, though their muddied legs made my preferred method of separating them more difficult.


I joined a photographer on the crook of the slough which gave a good vantage for fly-by shots and we fired away merrily as anything that passed. This American Avocet had a growth and a wrybill.



The American Avocet were as approachable as I have seen them and a couple of pairs appeared to be indulging in courtship behaviour, though there was no sign of any breeding plumage yet. The rear bird of the pair below appeared to be guiding the bird in the foreground by gently nudging and shepherding it. The bill of the female is more up-curved at the end, but I would hesitate to say which of this pair was which. If pressed I might say that the one nearest the camera is slightly more up-turned and it does have a cuter look.


I followed the path around the slough towards the bridge. The inlet here allows the water through and a Common Golden-eye was diving in the current. 


Lucy Evans Baylands Interpretative Centre stands just on the other side of the bridge at Google Earth ref; 37°27'34.68"N 122° 6'22.71"W. A veranda stretches around one side and gives access onto the boardwalk that crosses the salt marsh and reaches out to the bay. The water here was especially smooth and the reflections were almost perfect. Strange how I don't recall the water being quite so blue. I will have to put it down to the UV filter.


From the veranda, I could see a few birds in the small pool to the north. American Avocets, Least Sandpipers and a Greater Yellowlegs were feeding here. 
The marsh was quiet along the boardwalk, but there were plenty of birds in the distance.


A Northern Harrier passed along by the waterline and may have had a mate staying low on the marsh. It made one close pass that I didn't see 'til it was almost past me.
Out on the bay Greater Scaup and Canvasback joined the shoveler. 


The tide was high by now and I was hoping that the rails might have been pushed up through the vegetation and into the open, but none were seen.

Birds seen; 55

Canada Goose 6, Mallard 70, Cinnamon Teal 2, Northern Shoveler 720, Green-winged Teal 20, Canvasback 125, Greater Scaup 30, Common Golden–eye 1, Ruddy Duck 75, Pied-billed Grebe 1, Western Grebe 3, Great Blue Heron 1, Great Egret 1, Snowy Egret 3, Turkey Vulture 4, White-tailed Kite 1, Northern Harrier 3, Cooper’s Hawk 1, Peregrine Falcon 1, American Coot 200, Black-necked Stilt 21, American Avocet 208, Greater Yellowlegs 1, Willet 5, Long-billed Curlew 1, Marbled Godwit 25, Western Sandpiper 20, Least Sandpiper 66, Long-billed Dowitcher 200, Bonaparte’s Gull 24,  Mew Gull 15, Ring-billed Gull 12, Glaucous-winged Gull 3, Mourning Dove 1, Anna’s Hummingbird 2, Nuttall’s Woodpecker 1, Black Phoebe 2, Western Scrub-jay 2, American Crow 4, Common Raven 3, Chestnut-backed Chickadee 2, Bushtit 6, Western Bluebird 4, American Robin 25, Northern Mockingbird 1, Cedar Waxwing 25, Orange-crowned Warbler 1, Yellow-rumped Warbler 1, California Towhee 3, Song Sparrow 3, White-crowned Sparrow 10, Brewer’s Blackbird 150, House Finch 4, Pine Siskin 1.

For previous posts from Palo Alto Baylands, follow the links below;

Visit the dedicated USA and CanadaPage for more posts from the area including Golden Gate Park  and Crissy Field