Friday, February 26, 2010

Long-eared Owl

Alot to talk about tonight. First, yesterday was the end of week 8 of this travel adventure I am on. I flew into San Francisco from Oklahoma. I had a little time before I needed to meet my son for dinner, so I went to Foster City just below the SF airport to check out what birds might be there. I got good looks at greater scaup--a new bird for the year. The week ended with a total of 124 birds seen, and 22 more YTD birds, including 2 life list birds.

I met my son at a chinese restaurant in SF called Hunan. I have been eating here for over 30 years. I was first introduced to it when it was a hole in the wall on Kearny St. by 2 sisters I knew at the time. That location closed soon after when they opened at a much larger site on Sansome St. Whenever I am in San Francisco I make an effort to have a meal there. They make a dish called Marty's special that consists of smoked ham, chicken, bell pepper, onion, carrots, bamboo shoots and black beans. I have never had a chinese dish like it, and over the 30 years it has never disappointed. It was really good to be able to see my son and share a meal. He lives in Brooklyn, NY but is in SF to participate in a bachelor party for a friend.

Today I would have to call another red letter day--both for birding and eating. I am in Monterey, CA, and it was supposed to rain most of today. So I decided to go about an hour east of here to Panoche Valley to look for land birds. I met a birder from San Jose who had current info about mountain plovers and long-eared owls. These are both difficult birds to track down, so we teamed up to find them. Fortunately the info was still good and we saw about 75 mountain plovers at one location. And only 10 miles away at Mercey Hot Springs we saw 8 long-eared owls (see top 2 photos above; the plover picture was taken by the guy from San Jose--click on photo to enlarge).

I returned to the Monterey Bay area to find the weather forecast was right--lots of rain that made the birding a bit difficult. Even so I found more YTD birds including the heerman's gull (bottom photo above). By sunset I had seen 63 birds for the new week of which 18 were new YTD birds.

I had dinner at Passion Fish, a restaurant located in the neighboring town of Pacific Grove. I have eaten here a few times since I discovered it 3 years ago. The great thing about Passion Fish is its wine program. I think it is the most diverse and interesting wine list I have found in the US. And they sell their wine at retail prices rather than the norm of 2-3 times wholesale. This is the kind of place that if it was in your home town, and you love wine, you would want to eat there regularly.

The restaurant is also a huge supporter of sustainable fishing. The menu is mostly seafood focused, but it also has some meat choices. Tonight I had the seasonal house specialty--Monterey Bay spot prawns. They remind me of the langoustines you get in Europe. I drank a 1/2 bottle of 2005 Copain rousanne which was a good match.

Tomorrow I am planning to go out on a whale watch boat to see some seabirds. Monterey Bay is one of the great seabirding locations, and while a whale watch boat is not the same as going out on a pelagic birding boat, it should still be good. Stay tuned!

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