Saturday 21st September 2013

   Our last day!!! Mark had read up, from his book, on where to spend today. We didnt really want to have to rush to the airport, so closer to San Francisco, was our best bet. A nature reserve to the south of SF, called Las Gallinas was his choice. We didnt bank on the rain, it absolutely poured down. But its the last day of the holiday, so im staying out anyway!!! This reserve has at least 3 decent sized ponds, surrounded by fields, a tarmac walkway too, so easy walking, reed fringed edges and some tree covered islands, very nice.

Night Heron (Adult)

Night Heron (Juvenile)
   First thing i noticed were the Ducks, we had not seen this many on our trip before. Pintail, American Wigeon, Green-winged Teal, Shoveler, Mallard and Cinnamon Teal. sadly nearly all the drakes were still in eclipse plumage, shame, but nice to see anyway. There were also quite a few American White Pelicans, Great White Egret and Night Heron too. Overhead we had Violet-green Swallow, Rough-winged Swallow and then a small Swift, Vauxs Swift, a lifer for me, and we hadnt even walked 50 yards yet! A female Northern Harrier flew across the track up in front of us.
American Wigeon (Eclipse Drake)

Cinnamon Teal (Eclipse Drake)

American White Pelican

Vaux's Swift
   Then the rain started, luckily we were able to shelter under some trees, but we still got wet. We did a bit of luck while under the trees though. We had a male Common Yellowthroat calling and then showing, also a couple of Marsh Wrens, and then a Virginia Rail on the track (last 2 were lifers for me). There were also hundreds of Swallows sitting on the wires above our heads, waiting, like us, for the rain to bugger off, and the sun to come out???

Common Yellowthroat
Virginia Rail

   I went back to the car, to get my coat, as it seemed the rain was going off, halfway back the heavens opened again, needless to say, i got drenched. Having change my t-shirt etc, and put my coat on, i wandered back towards the trees. On one of the telegraph poles was a small raptor, Sharp-shinned hawk, i managed to get some shots before it disappeared, but the bird was nearly as wet as i was!!! Got to the trees as the rain got heavier again, Mark decided to go back and sit in the car until it went off. I had another walk. Not too much different though, except a Green Heron, getting soaked too. So eventually i got back to the car. Typically the sun came out just as i got there! Oh well, lets try again.
  We walked along the same track. Similar birds were seen again, this time a Black Phoebe showed well enough for photos. as we got to the trees again, i noticed the Hawk was back on the poles. So i walked back to get some more pix. It was pretty obliging, and drier, too.

Black Phoebe

Sharp-shinned Hawk

   Over the far side of the ponds i then noticed a male Northern Harrier, flying along the far track. It landed on a post, and started feeding on something. Great, lets get around there and photograph that, but just then i also noticed a man out running, nutter, and he was running straight towards where the Harrier was. It saw him and flew off. While searching for the Harrier, i noticed another pale bird shape, off in the distance.....White-tailed Kite, very nice, but distant. We walked that way anyway. I got some distant Kite shots, and it was off! As we continued, we came around a bush, to see the Harrier sat on the track feeding. Photo time!!!!!!! We gradually got closer and closer, the bird seemed unworried. the results of both are below.

White-tailed Kite
Northern Harrier (Male)

   From there we went back to the car. Mark had said, he had a few little bits down the road, while i had been walking around, the first time, so i went and had a quick look. Two California Towhee were by the side of the road, a few birds were moving in the trees, including a still sodden Yellow Warbler. While watching this, a Woodpecker flew out of a small bush, up into the treeline. A female Nuttall's Woodpecker. And it rained again, California 'the sunshine state', what??????
Yellow Warbler
Nuttalll's Woodpecker

    Then we were off, drying out in the car, back towards the airport, and home. Another good holiday over.

    The outcome of the Shearwater Pelagics question? If you want to see seabirds, recommended. But, if you want to get close, and like we did, photograph them, not really that good im afraid!! If they learn how to 'chum', it would improve dramatically, and may well get us back????
   Well you never know......

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