Friday, 29 July 2005

Local patches

Over the years I've visited a number of "local patches" on a regular basis and whilst never finding anything particularly rare have enjoyed some good birding. Below are a few notes about some of these patches with more photos to follow in due course.

Grove Mill, Watford, Hertfordshire, England Map Annotated species list

This site is the first area of countryside you get to on the west of Watford and lies adjacent to the Grand Union canal. It is part of the Grove Estate and the main interest is various large ponds which are part of the newly landscaped golf course. I started visiting regularly in 2002, logging migrants for BTO's "Migration Watch" and watching the new ponds. Disturbance due to work on the estate limited numbers of birds but visiting waders included Green and Common Sandpipers and Ringed Plover. A single Little Grebe was resident and range of waterfowl bred around the pools (Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Mallard, Coot, Moorhen) along with Grey Wagtail and Sedge Warbler. Other ducks included Shovelers and Gadwall, whilst Hobby and Kingfisher were also seen.

In May 2003 an interesting interaction was observed with an intruding pair of Mute Swans driving the resident pair (female depicted below) from the area and possibly killing all their young - more details in species list.

Also in spring 2003 Little Grebe numbers increased to two pairs and, with territorial birds, breeding was suspected for Tufted Duck, Kingfisher, Sedge Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Bullfinch and Reed Bunting. By the end of August was able to confirm breeding of Little Grebe and Reed Bunting and 3 Kingfishers were seen together suggesting that they too had bred successfully somewhere locally.

From late August into September both Green and Common Sandpipers were again recorded regularly on the large pool.

At the year end the 6 Little Grebes were still present on the canal loop adjacent to the large pool with Common Snipe back on the island.

In spring 2004 a Great Crested Grebe arrived and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker was seen.

The best "non-bird" creature I've seen at this site was a grass snake swimming across the canal.

A few of my bird pictures from the area are shown below - please click on thumbnails for larger versions (Little Grebe; Grey Heron; Cormorant & "Victoria" the Mute Swan; Shovelers & Mallard; Green and Common Sand; Grey Wag & juv female Reed Buntings)...


  

PS - a more detailed site guide for this area is now available on the Herts Bird Club webpages.

Whippendell Wood, Watford, Hertfordshire, England Map

I undertook a personal survey of this site in spring 2002 by means of dawn visits. I found the expected woodland species: Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Marsh Tit, and plenty of Blackcap and Goldcrest. Owls included several Tawnys, with Barn Owls also at another (undisclosed) locality in the neighbourhood. More details are on this linked page.

Hilfield Reservoir, near Watford, Hertfordshire, England Map

I started visiting this HMWT reservoir in 2003 to count the gull roost which can be viewed from the footbridge over the M1. The above image shows less than 25% of the roost. During winter, the roost is dominated by Black-headed Gulls, with over 10000 present, typically accompanied by about 500 Common Gulls, up to 200 Lesser Blackbacks, and up to 75 Herring Gulls and occasional Mediterranean Gull, Yellow-legged Gull and Great Blackback. The record books show that several thousand Herring Gulls were present in former times (e.g. 7250 on 11/1/69) but it seems that changes in waste disposal practices have forced them to move elsewhere (cf Crow's Nest observations below).

Into the first week of April 2003, numbers of Black-headed and Common Gulls had fallen to single figures, though about 120 large gulls were still present in the roost including at least 30 Herring Gull. It was fascinating to see how the latter species arrived much later in the roost, most coming in from the south, often well after dark!

On 17 January 2004 I took part in the full BTO roost census at the site and we counted nearly 17000 Black-headed Gulls, 2300 Common Gulls, 380 Lesser Blackbacks, and 90 Herring Gulls. I also observed a fine adult Mediterranean Gull on the water prior to the count. These totals suggest that all of my own counts last year had been significant underestimates, though I'd noticed higher numbers of Common Gulls this year.

I followed up these observations with a study of the roost flightpath of the Herring Gulls arriving at Hilfield from the south-east. This is described in full on the linked page here, and downloadable as a pdf here.

Aldenham reservoir

 

The reservoir lies immediately south of Hilfield within Aldenham Country Park. It is a popular location for family days out and rather less attractive for birds, but on my few trips there I've come across Mandarins lurking along the western shore of the lake. The following are pictures taken in October 2003:

 

Loch of Leys, Banchory, Kincardineshire, Scotland Map Annotated species list

Whilst in Banchory, my local patch was the Loch of Leys only a short cycle ride from our house in the north of the village. This is more a bog than an loch and it is now almost possible to walk to the old crannog in the middle. Open water is virtually eliminated by scrub.

The characteristic birds at this site are the Water Rails and Common Buzzards. The former can be heard throughout the summer but almost impossible to see whilst the latter are present year round and very visible. I once made a concerted efforts count the calling Water Rails (April 1990) and concluded that there were at least 15 individuals calling. Reed Buntings also breed in some numbers and I found 18 males together in a neighbouring field the same week. Willow Warblers are also common breeders along with Redpolls and Siskin. Long-tailed Tits and Jays are often seen along the south shore and Common Crossbills and Green Woodpecker occasionally in the wood to the north. Reedbed roosts of Swallow and Starling once numbered over 1000 birds each but I've not been able to count them recently. Gulls gather in nearby fields after visiting the local dump (next section) and can be seen moving to and from the Loch of Skene roost at the ends of the day. There was formerly a Black-headed Gull colony at the site. My best find here was a Fulmar on 5 June 1987 which was somewhat lost nearly 20 miles up the Dee valley from the sea at Aberdeen, and over 10 miles from the nearest coast at Stonehaven; what may well have been the same bird had been seen previously at Milltimber 10 miles east down the Dee valley on 30 May and was subsequently reported about 35 miles further west up the valley at the Linn of Dee, near the heart of the Cairngorms, on 20 June!

Crow's Nest amenity site, Banchory, Kincardineshire, Scotland Map Detailed information

I have watched the gulls at this site for the last 20 years or so since my first interest in birds as a teenager. When I first counted the Herring Gulls on 7/1/88 there were over 4000 present but these days around 1000 is more normal for mid-winter. Great Blackback numbers seem to have shown the opposite trend, with very few in the mid-80's but about 150 present in winter 98/99. Lesser Blackbacks are present in smaller numbers, rarely in mid-winter, and I observed a presumed hybrid LBBxHG on 26/12/98. Only once did I find a white-winged bird amongst them, this being a 2nd-win. Iceland in the nearby dayroost at Maryfield.

In December 2003 numbers had fallen to less than 1000 birds and the manager informed me that "bird scaring" (with falcons) is now used on a daily basis to satisfy demands of SEPA. These birds included only 7% 1st-winters, much lower than averages for the early 1990's of 26% and perhaps to do with the scaring? Also, less than 1% were argentatus-race birds, including the adult and 4th-win individuals shown below - quite a low number, cf the paper of study of Coulson et al. 135 Carrion Crows were accompanied by 5 Hooded-Carrion hybrids and 3 pure-bred Hoodies - high counts for NE Scotland.

A more detailed description of the trends in large gulls numbers in this area is now included in this linked document.

Monday, 11 July 2005

Trip report - California, 25-28 June, 4-7 July 2005



Introduction

This is a brief summary of birds recorded on our first visit to the West Coast of the United States. The purpose of the trip was primarily to visit my brother-in-law and family in San Jose, and birds were seen along the way, rather than vice versa! Unlike the Nigeria bird trip report on this site there is no need for general info on travelling to the area, or its birds, so only a few brief highlights are mentioned.

Flights and preparation

We flew from Edinburgh via LHR and Calgary on Air Canada. Three species were noted at Calgary airport - Red-tailed Hawk, Black-billed Magpie and a single hirundine.

Bird information

Useful info on birding in the Bay area is here: San Francisco Bay bird observatory. A relevant summer trip report is here.

Bird records

On 25 June we did some shopping taking us south to Gilroy. At least 10 Turkey Vultures were logged along the valley south (HW101), along with Red-tailed Hawks and American Kestrels.

On 26 June we visited San Francisco and did the Bay tour past Alcatraz to the Golden Gate bridge; highlights were up to 20 Brown Pelicans over and fishing near the bridge, Snowy Egret over Alcatraz island, abundant Western Gulls* both along the coast (roof-nesters), following the boat and a large feeding flock at the tide surge under the bridge, Brandt's, Pelagic and Double-crested Cormorants, with large feeding flocks also under the bridge; several Common and Pigeon Guillemots were feeding on the sea. A single orange-billed tern distantly was presumably Caspian and this species was definitely seen over San Francisco Bay from HW101 near San Mateo, together with more numerous Forster's Terns. A group of 40 Cliff Swallows were seen feeding beside HW101, together with other hirundines and a few White-throated Swifts.

On 27 June we ventured out to Yosemite National Park, crossing the San Joaquin Valley and entering the Sierra Nevada. As co-driver I was able to make a few bird observations en route.

Most noticable were raptors, and of these Turkey Vulture and Rough-legged Hawk were most prominent, without about 20 individuals of each seen, in groups of up to 3. A male Northern Harrier quartering fields near the junction of HW59 and HW152E, at Red Top south of Merced, was dive-bombed by a probable Swainson's Hawk. Three or four further Swainson's Hawks were suspected, but ID not confirmed from the speeding car. A couple of American Kestrels were noted and a group of 3 Common Ravens just east of St Luis Reservoir at the HW5 crossing.

In the San Jouquin Valley proper we logged all of Snowy Egret, Great White Egret and Great Blue Heron in flight. Brief Killdeer and Wilson's Phalarope were also seen, with another of the former on the shore of St Luis Reservoir. A group of gulls on a small island at the north-east side of the reservoir were mainly scruffy immature Ring-billed Gulls, but also a presumed third-summer California Gull - with clean beak like an adult but a few dark marks still in tail band, a very pleasing lifer.

Passerines were tricky from the car, but a couple of Northern Mockingbirds were seen on Plainsburg Road in Merced, along with Black-billed Magpie, and an American Robin in Los Banos. Tree Swallows included a group of about 50 near Los Banos. Cliff Swallow was also seen and Violet-green Swallow tentatively identified (wooded valley off HW140 about 10 miles SW of Cathey's Valley). A probable White-headed Woodpecker flew over the road near Cathey's Valley.

In Yosemite Park itself Steller's Jays were prominent, chasing tourist scraps at the main visitor center and elsewhere, and White-headed Woodpeckers were at the campsite. Northern Flicker and Brown-headed Cowbird were also seen. Over 10 White-throated Swifts were seen at various places in the rocky gorges of the Sierra Nevada.

On the way back, 2 Loggerhead Shrikes were seen on the wires over waste ground at Evergreen Commons shopping complex off HW101 in San Jose.

On other days we observed various other species in San Jose, including Great White and Snowy Egrets overhead, Nuttall's Woodpecker (single on a roadside tree by traffic lights on Monterey Highway), Black-chinned* and Anna's Hummingbirds at Santa Palmia and finally a large owl sp. over HW85, near Los Gatos Creek Park, at 22:00hrs on 6/7, which was most likely a Great Horned Owl.

Linked page

* = image formerly on linked page.

Sunday, 10 July 2005

Systematic list - Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park, 30 June-3 July 2005



This is the systematic list of species seen on our visits to Coon Rapids Regional Park, Minneapolis, spanning 4 days from the end of June 2005. The site straddles the Mississippi River at the Coon Rapids Dam in northern Minneapolis, Minnesota, see visitor center websites for more details: East Visitor Center and West Visitor Center.

  • Double-crested Cormorant - single upstream 2/7
  • Great Blue Heron - 10+ including juvs, (at least 3 nests)
  • Great White Egret * - 1 West Pond
  • Green Heron - 2 West Pond, 1 NE river branch
  • Canada Goose * - 38 (12 juv) NE river branch, 9 (4 juv) S swamp; one of the latter was distinctly more sturdy than the others in the group, with a very thick neck base, c.f. photos - possibly a maxima race bird, the others being moffitti?
  • Mallard - 8 NE river branch pond 30/6, fb5 West Pond 3/7
  • Wood Duck - single m, West Pond, 3/7
  • Hooded Merganser - pr daily upstream of main dam
  • Common Goldeneye - 1st sum m daily upstream of main dam
  • Osprey * - nest
  • Cooper's Hawk - singles 1,2/7
  • American Kestrel - up to 3, nest
  • Spotted Sandpiper - pr daily, possibly 2 prs
  • Ring-billed Gull - single trout lake, 1/7
  • Feral Pigeon - at least 10, nesting under main dam bridge
  • Mourning Dove - common
  • Chimney Swift - 3+ in evening, 30/6
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbird - single, West Visitor Center, 30/6
  • Belted Kingfisher - single, West Pond, 30/6
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker - pr, junction of West River Rd and Russell Ave N, 2,3/7
  • Northern Flicker - pr west river bank, 3 West Pond (5 in total?) 30/6
  • Downy Woodpecker * - at least 2 on 30/6 and 3/7
  • Eastern Phoebe - 4 seen 30/6
  • Eastern Wood-Pewee * - single near W end of main dam, 2/7
  • Great Crested Flycatcher - single East Visitor Center pond, 30/6, single main island 3/7
  • Eastern Kingbird - hunting savannah area, 2,3/7
  • Red-eyed Vireo - single, southern swamp, 2/7
  • Warbling Vireo - single, southern Cotton Trail, 2/7
  • Blue Jay - pr west bank 30/6, 1 3/7
  • American Crow - common
  • Tree Swallow * - at least 8, mainly feeding over river banks
  • Purple Martin - at least 5 over N end of island 30/6
  • Bank Swallow - at least 105 feeding over river 30/6
  • Cliff Swallow * - several daily, nesting under main dam
  • Northern Rough-winged Swallow - up to 5, nesting near East Visitor Center
  • Barn Swallow - pr nesting at Pavilion by trout pond
  • Black-capped Chickadee - common
  • White-breasted Nuthatch - singles 30/6, 3/7
  • House Wren * - at least 7 near West Pond; also on east bank
  • Eastern Bluebird - attending nest box behind East Visitor Center
  • Catharus thrush sp. - two singles, probably Veerys
  • American Robin - common
  • Grey Catbird * - common
  • Eurasian Starling - common
  • Cedar Waxwing - 4 on 30/6, 2 on 3/7
  • Yellow Warbler * - common
  • American Redstart - common
  • Song Sparrow * - common
  • Savannah Sparrow - at least one
  • Northern Cardinal - about 5 on the west bank
  • Red-winged Blackbird - numerous at West Pond (10+); also on east bank
  • Common Grackle * - plenty West Pond (5+)
  • Brewer's Blackbird * - present
  • Brown-headed Cowbird - juvs on the dam island; others on east bank
  • Baltimore Oriole - singles West Pond, 30/6 and Cotton Creek, 1/7
  • House Finch - family on dam island
  • American Goldfinch * - common
  • House Sparrow - common

* = image formerly on linked page.

Trip report - Minneapolis, 29 June - 3 July 2005



Introduction

This is a summary of birds recorded at Coon Rapids in Minnesota on our brief visit there in summer 2005. The purpose of the trip was primarily to attend my sister-in-law's wedding in Minneapolis, and birds were seen along the way, rather than vice versa! Unlike the Nigeria bird trip report on this site there is no need for general info on travelling to the area, or its birds, so only a few brief highlights are mentioned.

Flights and preparation

We flew from San Francisco on Delta, via Salt Lake City on the way out and Atlanta on the way back. At Salt Lake City we could see many swans spread out over local lakes as the aircraft came in; in Altanta we disappointingly saw not one bird from the airport terminal in over an hour of observation!

Bird information

Detailed information for the state is available here: The Minnesota Ornithologists' Union. We also got useful information at both the East and West visitor centers in the park, with monthly bird logs available and daily sightings updates, together with help and advice from knowledgeable local staff. Clearly, visiting in mid-summer, we had missed the main warbler passage and were rather early for returning shorebirds - nevertheless, the trip served its purpose as an introduction to the range of interesting and generally colourful passerine residents in the area.

Bird records

Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park (Visitor center info is here: East Visitor Center and West Visitor Center).

This Regional Park straddles the Mississippi River at the Coon Rapids Dam in northern Minneapolis, Minnesota. We visited on 4 dates (30/6-3/7) and spent at least 12 hours in the park on both sides of the river.

On first arriving at the East Visitor Center on 30/6, in very warm and humid conditions, we set off towards the dam and scanned the sandy islands in the downstream side of the NE river branch. Some small brown birds could be seen lurking at the water's edge which looked exciting - but once pinned down these turned out to be House Sparrows, familiar to us from our garden back home in the UK! Thereafter things only got better.

On the upstream pond there was a loafing 1st-sum male Common Goldeneye and a pair of Spotted Sandpiper, and upstream of the main dam there were a pair of Hooded Mergansers, the male apparently also a 1st-sum, i.e. in an eclipse plumage.

At the dam itself there was a large flock of hirundines feeding over the water; this eventually yielded all five expected species of hirundine, though the majority (over 100) were Bank Swallows ("Sand Martin" in the UK). At least 8 Tree Swallows were present, though these tended to feed over the edges of the river and along the river bank. There were a few Cliff Swallows and these were nesting under the dam itself; by the last date juvs were out on the wire fences on the river bank, see photos. Northern Rough-winged Swallow was also breeding, visiting a pipe in the wall under the viewing area nearest the East Visitor Center. A single Barn Swallow was seen in the evening, over the river bank, and a nest was later found under the pavilion by the Cenaiko Trout Lake on the east bank. Finally, a handful of Purple Martins turned up in the evening and fed over the western river branch round the main island, hanging low at the tip of the island itself at times. Chimney Swifts also showed up in the early evening.

On the west side of the river, a Ruby-throated Hummingbird was glimpsed at the West Visitor Center. An Osprey was seen over the west river bank and the nest there later seen care of the "Osprey Man" (Paul Fusco) (see photo showing the two juvs).

Following the Cotton Trail on the west bank we caught up with a number of delightful species, including 2 Downy Woodpeckers*, 2 Northern Flickers, Eastern Phoebe, 2 Blue Jays, White-breasted Nuthatch, Grey Catbirds, Cedar Waxwings, several Yellow Warblers, American Redstarts, Northern Cardinal, and a number of American Goldfinch. A catharus thrush species was seen very briefly, probably a Veery, and an equally fleeting vireo species which was probably Warbling. None of these proved easy to photograph, the only success being a single Downy Woodpecker.

At the West Pond the most prominent species was the noisy Red-winged Blackbird, along with Common Grackles*. Two Green Herons showed themselves and a Belted Kingfisher was seen fishing at the far bank. A party of 3 Northern Flickers perched high in a dead tree on the east bank. Noisy wrens there were later confirmed to be the common House Wren. A stunning Baltimore Oriole was seen.

Back on the east bank, I explored the dam island, were 3 Cedar Waxwings were seen - seeming rather out-of-place in the humid heat to a Brit accustomed to seeing "waxwings" in the depths of winter. One small clearing near the top of the island provided a fine set of Grey Catbird*, American Robin, Yellow Warbler, American Redstart and Song Sparrow, the first-mentioned uttering its plaintive mewing call which gives rise to the species name.

Back at the north river branch dam a Great Crested Flycatcher was observed feeding over the pond and another Green Heron came down to the islands.

On the second trip we focused on the east bank trail. A Cooper's Hawk passed overhead at the mouth of the Coon Creek. At least 3 Great Blue Heron nests were observed at the end of the main island, one containing three well-grown juvs. American Kestrel was also nesting there, with a juv calling for food - I was later informed that they breed inside the metal pylons using holes cut by woodpeckers. Spotted Sandpipers were on the river along the island. A single Ring-billed Gull flew over the Cenaiko Trout Lake. Yellow Warbler*, American Redstart, Baltimore Oriole and American Goldfinch* were again delightful. Savannah Sparrow was logged and one of the numerous Song Sparrows* well photographed.

On the third visit I went down to the swamp area on the west bank, and visited the Cotton Trail and West Pond again. I discovered that the best place to see the latter is from the West River Rd outside the park.

Near the West Visitor Center I met Paul Fusco, the "Osprey man", and got great views of the Osprey* nest through his 80x magnification astronomical telescope. We also saw and heard an Eastern Wood-Pewee* perched briefly in the top of a nearby tree.

In the savannah area (Cotton Trail) an Eastern Kingbird was hunting from the nest boxes and a pair of Northern Cardinals were feeding. A Warbling Vireo was watched for some time but eluded being photographed.

The southern wood yielded Red-eyed Vireo, another Northern Cardinal, several American Robins and the Cooper's Hawk was seen again. A Doubled-crested Cormorant flew up the river. A group of Canada Geese* were on a small pond, one of which was distinctly more sturdy than the others in the group, with a very thick neck base, c.f. photos; I wondered if this might be a maxima race bird, the others being moffitti, c.f. Wilson and Sibley ID articles. Nearby, a pair of Red-bellied Woodpeckers were found at a nest hole at the junction of West River Rd and Russell Ave N.

At the West Pond blackbirds and grackles were again very evident and a Great White Egret* was seen feeding.

On the final visit I again concentrated on the west bank, seeing many of the same species, including the 3 heron species, Red-bellied Woodpeckers and Blue Jay. The pond yielded a Wood Duck which flew off W, and there were at least 7 House Wrens there including 4+ singing birds and a family party with squeaking juvs.

Tipped-off on the location of the Pileated Woodpecker nest tree on the east bank I made a quick visit but found nothing there except a White-breasted Nuthatch. Perhaps the young had flown? A Great Crested Flycatcher was hunting off the riverside trees opposite as I departed.

Elsewhere in Minneapolis

Killdeer chicks at large at the side of the Liquour Mart at 1921 Coon Rapids Blvd (junc with Hanson Blvd NW) on 30/6, adult Broad-winged Hawk over HW694 at Fridley at 17:00hrs on 1/7, male Common Nighthawk hunting over Edinburgh USA golf course, Brooklyn, in the early hours of 3/7, Great White Egret by HW94 at Lowry Avenue on 3/7, repetitive cricket-like call in the hotel car park (at 155 Coon Rapids Blvd) tracked down to a singing Chipping Sparrow on 4/7.

Systematic list for Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park

  • Double-crested Cormorant - single upstream 2/7
  • Great Blue Heron - 10+ including juvs, (at least 3 nests)
  • Great White Egret* - 1 West Pond
  • Green Heron - 2 West Pond, 1 NE river branch
  • Canada Goose* - 38 (12 juv) NE river branch, 9 (4 juv) S swamp; one of the latter was distinctly more sturdy than the others in the group, with a very thick neck base, c.f. photos - possibly a maxima race bird, the others being moffitti?
  • Mallard - 8 NE river branch pond 30/6, fb5 West Pond 3/7
  • Wood Duck - single m, West Pond, 3/7
  • Hooded Merganser - pr daily upstream of main dam
  • Common Goldeneye - 1st sum m daily upstream of main dam
  • Osprey* - nest with 2 juvs
  • Cooper's Hawk - singles 1,2/7
  • American Kestrel - up to 3, nest
  • Spotted Sandpiper - pr daily, possibly 2 prs
  • Ring-billed Gull - single, Cenaiko Trout Lake, 1/7
  • Feral Pigeon - at least 10, nesting under main dam bridge
  • Mourning Dove - common
  • Chimney Swift - 3+ in evening, 30/6
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbird - single, West Visitor Center, 30/6
  • Belted Kingfisher - single, West Pond, 30/6
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker - pr at nest-hole, junction of West River Rd and Russell Ave N, 2,3/7
  • Northern Flicker - pr west river bank, 3 West Pond (5 in total?) 30/6
  • Downy Woodpecker* - at least 2 on 30/6 and 3/7
  • Eastern Phoebe - 4 seen 30/6
  • Eastern Wood-Pewee* - single near W end of main dam, 2/7
  • Great Crested Flycatcher - single East Visitor Center pond, 30/6, single main island 3/7
  • Eastern Kingbird - hunting savannah area, 2,3/7
  • Red-eyed Vireo - single, southern swamp, 2/7
  • Warbling Vireo - single, southern Cotton Trail, 2/7
  • Blue Jay - pr west bank 30/6, 1 3/7
  • American Crow - common
  • Tree Swallow* - at least 8, mainly feeding over river banks
  • Purple Martin - at least 5 over N end of island 30/6
  • Bank Swallow - at least 105 feeding over river 30/6
  • Cliff Swallow* - several daily, nesting under main dam
  • Northern Rough-winged Swallow - nesting near East Visitor Center
  • Barn Swallow - pr nesting at Pavilion by Cenaiko Trout Lake
  • Black-capped Chickadee - common
  • White-breasted Nuthatch - singles 30/6, 3/7
  • House Wren* - at least 7 near West Pond; also on east bank
  • Eastern Bluebird - attending nest box behind East Visitor Center
  • Catharus thrush sp. - two singles, probably Veerys
  • American Robin - common
  • Grey Catbird* - common
  • Eurasian Starling - common
  • Cedar Waxwing - 4 on 30/6, 2 on 3/7
  • Yellow Warbler* - common
  • American Redstart - common
  • Song Sparrow* - common
  • Savannah Sparrow - at least one
  • Northern Cardinal - about 5 on the west bank
  • Red-winged Blackbird - numerous at West Pond (10+); also on east bank
  • Common Grackle* - plenty West Pond (5+)
  • Brewer's Blackbird* - present
  • Brown-headed Cowbird - juvs on the dam island; others on east bank
  • Baltimore Oriole - singles West Pond, 30/6 and Cotton Creek, 1/7
  • House Finch - family on dam island
  • American Goldfinch* - common
  • House Sparrow - common

We missed Bald Eagle, Common Turkey (present daily with 7 juv in savannah area), 3 Black Tern (3/7) and Pileated Woodpecker.

Linked page

* = image formerly on linked page.

Annotated bird list for Santa Palmia, San Jose, California


This is a list of the species seen from a balcony in the Santa Palmia estate in San Jose, California, between 24 June and 7 July 2005. This is a modern apartment block complex with limited habitat for birds in the courtyard consisting mainly of shrubs and palm trees.

Species which were only seen overhead are marked with an asterisk *.

  1. Snowy Egret (Bubulcus ibis) * - two singles and a couple seen over
  2. American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) - regularly hunting over, nest traced to a hole in a large palm nearby, at the base of the leafy section
  3. Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) * - group of 10 N over in the evening
  4. Feral Pigeon (Columba livia) - common
  5. Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) - common; a nest with two eggs was observed on a metal drainpipe cover nearby
  6. Black-chinned Hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri) - one or two regularly made rounds of the flowers in the yard; ID was confirmed on seeing the male, but at least two birds were regular, one of which is depicted below (not an adult male)
  7. Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorous) - the most obvious bird in the estate, with a least 5 permanently resident on the small line of palms at the front entrance
  8. Black Phoebe (Sayornis nigricans) - loud squeaking of a juv betrayed the presence of this delightful bird one evening, the adult busily fetching food for it around the yard
  9. American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) * - regular in small groups over, max 5
  10. American Robin (Turdus migratorius) - occasional, preferring the larger lawns outside the complex; once squabbling with the Brewer's Blackbirds
  11. Eurasian Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) - present
  12. Brewer's Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus) - common, in flocks as large as 25 including young juvs
  13. House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus) - most permanent resident of the yard, some almost always in sight or hearing, 5+ including young being fed
  14. Lesser Goldfinch (Carduelis psaltria) - regularly heard over and a pair in the "yard" palms one the morning; observed roving the entire estate later one afternoon
  15. House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) - regular in the "yard"

    Other species seen locally some of which are probably regularly visible from the complex included:

  16. Great White Egret (Ardea alba) - single S over SE side of town, c. HW82
  17. Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) - seen over dry hillsides to immediate E
  18. Anna's Hummingbird (Calypte anna) - this species was tentatively seen and heard outside the courtyard, and based on call was suspected in the "yard" too
  19. Nuttall's Woodpecker (Picoides nuttallii) - single on a roadside tree by traffic lights on Monterey Highway
  20. Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus) - a couple on wires over waste ground by the Evergreen Commons shopping area off HW101