Thursday, February 2, 2012
Talking Falcated Duck and More
After a good night's rest, we were up early, and made the short drive over to the Colusa NWR near the town of Willams. CA. It was chilly but sunny as we walked up to the viewing platform. Several other birders already were scoping the impoundment which was covered with 1000's of birds. Fortunately the falcated duck (photo above, center bird facing left with the "shiny, rusty face" and white throat) was sitting not too far out on the water. We were able to enjoy good views of it over the next 45 minutes.
While scanning the water, Joe also quickly located 3 European wigeons which are relatively rare in the U.S. Even more rare than the wigeons was the Eurasian teal, which is a sub-species of the green-winged teal, that Joe located at the far back of the impoundment. While not countable as a species, this was the first Eurasian teal that he or I had ever seen in the U.S. Many ducks were feeding quite close to the platform including the cinnamon teal (just above) and the northern pintail (just below--click on any photo to enlarge).
After thoroughly soaking up the multitude of birds on the impoundment, and the amazement of seeing 3 very rare ducks at one spot, we felt blessed to be birding that morning. On our way back to the truck we found a western scrub jay (just below) and some white-crowned and golden-crowned sparrows feeding in a grassy area.
We decided to do the short auto tour thru the refuge, and then drove around the outside of the refuge as well where we watched a huge group of mostly snow geese lift off out of a field (just below).
By late morning we headed back to check out of our motel, and to grab a bite of lunch at Roberta's--a taqueria that I remembered eating at in 2010 during my big year. We then pointed the truck west towards the coast. Our destination was Ft. Bragg for the night where we wanted to look for some more target birds. We arrived in time to go to MacKerricher SP--a most scenic spot with lots of rocks for shorebirds to feed on and seals to sleep on. After 90 minutes, we had seen many birds, including a small raft of ancient murrelets which was one of the target birds of our group. The other target bird, a rock sandpiper, was not to be found that afternoon.
We checked into a motel for the night, and then went down to the wharf for dinner. We had dungeness crab cakes, steamed manila clams, and clam chowder, and toasted the overall success so far of the trip with a bottle of Roederer Estate champagne--produced very close by in Anderson Valley. On Monday Laura and I needed to be back in San Francisco by the evening to be in position to catch our flights home on Tuesday morning, but we still had all day Monday to do some more birding. Stay tuned!