Cranes and Geese and Swans (Oh my!)

I guess I’m a real photographer now…
The fun of Ottawa and San Jose

I spent sunday out in the Lodi/Galt area birding and doing photography in the geese and crane preserves. The morning started at 5AM and I was on the road by 5:30. The original idea was to go over Mount Hamilton into Anderson Valley and pop out via Mines road, but the temperature (< 40 degrees in Santa Clara) made me worry about icing and I decided that was putting a bit too much into one day (I was right), so I drove straight to Woodbridge and arrived before 8 to 35 degree weather and a brisk, sustained wind (memo to self. gloves would have been nice).

There were good numbers of Sandhill Cranes in the fields around the preserve. The Isenberg preserve itself was fairly quiet but you could see flights of cranes, canada geese, greater white-fronted and some snow geese moving about. I tried doing some count estimating, the flocks won. (one. two. three. many….) Highlight birds along Woodbridge were the Tundra Swans and a surprising number of Belted Kingfishers each patrolling a different part of the irrigation channel long the road; I counted at least four, possibly five, all of them annoyed at my presence. Also notable was the only other pair of birders out in that weather sitting on the side of the road watching the flocks fly out.

After that I rolled into Lodi for a coffee (and a bathroom; thanks, Lodi starbucks) then went off to Staten Island arriving about 11. it was quite slow, about 100 cranes, a couple of small flocks of canada geese, a few raptors some shovelers. I didn’t stay long, and headed off to Consumnes. It was cold and windy with a sustained breeze; the ducks were primarily looking for bushes to hide behind and under. I parked down in the 2ndary parking lot and walked the wetlands boardwalk and other than a pair of stalwart birders from san mateo county, there wasn’t a lot going on. you could hear a good number of cranes in the area, but there were only two small flocks at distance, and a few larger flocks (about 100 total) of the greater white-fronted.

I ended up walking the tree path up to the main visitor center and then exploring most of the riverwalk path. Along the way the sun finally broke through and it warmed up. The trees had a number of nice birds, a female downy chowing down on a seed pod, multiple ruby-crowned kinglets, a few yellow rumps, northern flickers….  It actually turned into a rather pleasant hike. Riverwalk wasn’t too birdy, but I heard two distinct kingfishers and another flicker on the river past the bridge back to the parking lot. Once I was done with that, I took the path back to the road and along the wetlands back to the parking lot and my car, chasing out some pipits and a rather cooperative loggerhead shrike. Actually two, because when the one I was watching called and flew off, it was answered by an identical call somewhere behind me.

Because I was curious how they’d work, I had brought my 25×100 binoculars (designed for astronomy use); they did both an awesome job of pulling in the distant areas of the wetlands and creating a crowd; their downside is they require a sherpa or a small forklift but they definitely seem useful for a place like Consumnes. I’ll have to try them on a seawatch some day. A couple of ten year olds were pestering mom for a pair when I packed up…

By that time the storm (3PM) was moving in and it didn’t seem like there was much promise for interesting photography of the sunset and/or fly-ins (things like or . I headed back to Isenberg to see if it was more promising; the sprinkles started when I got there (about 3:30) and it seemed the birds had mostly flown in early and were hunkered down. By that time the fields were loaded, and there were a large number of snow geese as well, which had been mostly missing in the morning, and I still don’t feel comfortable with my count estimates, but “hundreds” of cranes, “a thousand+” snow geese and “zillions” of canada geese, with greater white-fronted being “more than cranes, less than canada geese”. Some scanning the flocks for Ross’s and cackling didn’t turn any up, but that’s more speaking to the birder than the birds.  With the rain moving in and the light failing, I called it and headed home.

I didn’t see anything exceptionally rare or unusual, but it was a fun day (long and cold and windy, but fun)…

Location:     Woodbridge Ecological Reserve (Isenberg Crane Reserve)
Observation date:     12/6/09
Number of species:     35

Greater White-fronted Goose     X
Snow Goose     X
Canada Goose     X
Tundra Swan     12
Gadwall     X
American Wigeon     X
Mallard     X
Cinnamon Teal     X
Northern Shoveler     X
Northern Pintail     X
Green-winged Teal     X
Bufflehead     X
Great Blue Heron     1
Great Egret     3
Snowy Egret     6
Turkey Vulture     2
Northern Harrier     3
Red-tailed Hawk     4
American Kestrel     2
American Coot     X
Sandhill Crane     600
Killdeer     X
Black-necked Stilt     X
peep sp.     X
Mourning Dove     X
Belted Kingfisher     4
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted)     1
Black Phoebe     2
Western Scrub-Jay     X
American Crow     X
Common Raven     2
Northern Mockingbird     X
European Starling     X
American Pipit     X
Red-winged Blackbird     X
Western Meadowlark     X

Location:     Consumnes River Preseve
Observation date:     12/6/09
Number of species:     44

Greater White-fronted Goose     X
Canada Goose     X
Gadwall     X
American Wigeon     X
Mallard     X
Cinnamon Teal     X
Northern Shoveler     X
Northern Pintail     X
Green-winged Teal     X
Ring-necked Duck     X
Greater/Lesser Scaup     X
Bufflehead     X
Common Goldeneye     X
Pied-billed Grebe     X
Great Egret     X
Snowy Egret     X
Turkey Vulture     X
Northern Harrier     X
Red-tailed Hawk     X
American Kestrel     X
American Coot     X
Sandhill Crane     X
Killdeer     X
Black-necked Stilt     X
gull sp.     X
Belted Kingfisher     2
Downy Woodpecker     1
Northern Flicker     1
Black Phoebe     4
Say’s Phoebe     1
Loggerhead Shrike     2
Western Scrub-Jay     X
American Crow     X
Bushtit     X
Marsh Wren     4
Ruby-crowned Kinglet     5
Northern Mockingbird     X
European Starling     X
American Pipit     X
Yellow-rumped Warbler     X
Common Yellowthroat     1
Savannah Sparrow     X
Dark-eyed Junco     X
Red-winged Blackbird     X
House Finch     X
House Sparrow     X

Location:     Staten Island
Observation date:     12/6/09
Number of species:     18

Greater White-fronted Goose     X
Canada Goose     X
Mallard     X
Northern Shoveler     X
Great Egret     1
Turkey Vulture     1
Northern Harrier     2
Red-tailed Hawk     2
American Kestrel     2
American Coot     X
Sandhill Crane     125
Killdeer     X
Least Sandpiper     X
Mourning Dove     X
Black Phoebe     1
American Crow     X
American Pipit     X
Red-winged Blackbird     X

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(http://ebird.org)

This entry was posted in Birdwatching.