Below, is a report of some highlights of birding in San Benito
County, January 29 through January 31, 2011.
January 29th, there was a MERLIN on John Smith Road. On Santa Ana
Valley Road a FERRUGINOUS HAWK and GOLDEN EAGLE performing courtship
display flight. At Paicines Reservoir a decent assortment of
waterfowl was present, along with an immature BALD EAGLE. On a
private ranch, one Empid flycatcher was present, possibly a Gray
On January 30th at San Felipe Lake, the Highway 152 call box: a pair,
male/female BALD EAGLES were perched on a willow. One PEREGRINE
FALCON was present. One CASSIN'S KINGBIRD was present. (Please note
that this pullout is a very dangerous area due to traffic. On Lovers
Lane, 9 GREAT-TAILED GRACKLES were present. This represents a high
count for the county, and the first winter record that I am aware of.
At Vista Park Hill in the town of Hollister, one RED-BREASTED
SAPSUCKER and one TOWNSEND'S WARBLER were present. Both were in the
pepper trees near the county buildings. At Bear Valley Fire Station
Pond on Highway 25, south of Pinnacles, 2 YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRDS
were foraging in a flock of 2700 TRICOLORED BLACKBIRDS, 200 Red-
winged Blackbirds and 100 Brewer's Blackbirds. This represents a new
county location for Yellow-headed Blackbird and a first winter record
that I am aware of. Continuing south on Highway 25, at Bitterwater
Dry Lake, 3 WHITE-FRONTED and 2 ROSS'S GEESE were present, along with
86 LONG-BILLED CURLEWS and one adult BALD EAGLE. One Red-tailed Hawk
with jesses and bells was photographed. Large flocks of YELLOW-BILLED
MAGPIES, up to 28, were present along Highway 25. At Hwy 25 and
Coalinga Road, one FERRUGINOUS HAWK was present. On Coalinga Road, at
Laguna BLM area, one RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER was present. At Hernandez
Reservoir, one immature (3 year old) BALD EAGLE summersalted, showing
its talons to a Red-tailed Hawk who was pursuing it. High numbers of
RUDDY DUCKS (280), MALLARDS (380) and AMERICAN WIGEON (220) were
present at the reservoir. Forty Tule Elk were near the road.
Returning home, Kangaroo Rats were observed on Quien Sabe Road. It
rained, off and on, all day.
On January 31st, a visit to the Hollister sewer ponds was very
disappointing, with virtually no shorebirds present, save one Greater
Yellowlegs and Killdeer. At Fremont Peak State Park, best birds were
one BROWN CREEPER and one TOWNSEND'S WARBLER.
Elsewhere, in Santa Clara County, 5 TUNDRA SWANS were present on
Bloomfield Road on January 30th.
San Benito County Birding