Saturday, March 7, 2009


Howdy, Birders,

On my mail run today, I made a few ramblings around San Benito County (SBT). The most significant find was 529 LONG-BILLED CURLEWS on Quien Sabe Road (N3648/W2115). They were using both sides of the road, circling flights of flocks as small as 33 birds, and as large as 380 birds, calling as they flew. They would settle down, feeding on the ground. I did count each bird. Apparently, this area is extremely important to them, as I have seen flocks of hundreds here in past years, too. This location is just beyond the intersection of Quien Sabe Road and Santa Anita Road— a wonderful grassland area, studded with oaks. At that intersection last June, I saw a badger. Bobcats are regularly seen there, too. After venturing just a short distance up Quien Sabe, I turned around and headed for Santa Anita, again. A Burrowing Owl has been hanging around the same area as the curlews, but I did not see it today. 

As I made my way down the road, I noticed a commotion of Turkey Vultures, Ravens, Yellow-billed Magpies, and an adult BALD EAGLE. So, I stopped the car and turned the engine off since I was sure that they were all on some sort of kill. I did not want to disturb the feeding process. Eventually, I saw the eagle fly to an oak tree, where it perched, shredding some sort of guts. Magpies and ravens were jostling on nearby branches for bits and pieces. 

Had a nice drive down Santa Anita Road, with no particularly unusual birds. A GREAT-HORNED OWL was sitting on a nest in a eucalyptus tree. This is a great road in the spring! California Poppies and lupines were in bloom along the roadside. In another 10 days, it will be hopping with migrant kingbirds, I suppose.

Speaking of kingbirds— quite a few CASSIN'S KINGBIRDS have been around in the county-- mostly on Santa Ana Valley Road. I saw one today at mm 4.42. This is not too far from the ranch where twelve years ago, Al de Martini, Dave Shuford and I confirmed nesting Cassin's and Western Kingbirds in the euc trees. A soaring COOPER'S HAWK was being dive-bombed by two BARN SWALLOWS in Santa Ana Valley. A few days ago I saw 600+ VIOLET-GREEN and TREE SWALLOWS soaring over the fields at the edge of the mountains. SAVANNAH SPARROWS dotted the fences. 

On John Smith Road, at the newly created pond at Guerra Vineyards, a male MERLIN was perched in a small tree while a Coot swam in the pond. 

Spring is coming--

Debra Shearwater
Shearwater Journeys, Inc.
PO Box 190
Hollister, CA 95024

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