Continuing with the San Benito County Big Year, I headed out at the late hour of 2:30 pm today. For the life of me, I could not decide where to go. It seems that there has been a lot of reports of Yellow-breasted Chats and some Least Bell's Vireos. I thought I should try looking for them, but could not make a decision. So, my car just sort of lead me to Paicines Reservoir — the place I always like to go, anyway. The reservoir is very, very high right now. No mud flats for shorebirds exist. In all honesty, there is not much bird life around. However, I was in for a surprise. A solitary BLACK TERN was feeding near the Highway 25 pullout at 2:45 pm. I watched it for the next half hour.
Next I decided to bird along the San Benito River. On my way, I watched a pair of CALIFORNIA TOWHEES in a garden for about ten minutes. They seemed to be feeding young. And, sure enough, I found the nest with three newly hatched chicks. See below:I wandered along the river, pishing up a lot of SONG SPARROWS and a few COMMON YELLOWTHROATS. TREE SWALLOWS were nesting in a hole and a female LESSER GOLDFINCH was collecting nesting material. Suddenly, a male COOPER'S HAWK responded to the pishing, landing on a snag only a few feet off the ground. I could hear a lot of noise in the forest. So, I walked into the dense willows, finding both of the COOPER'S HAWKS near their nest. This is only the second Cooper's Hawk nest that I have ever found. It is about 25 feet high in a Goodding Willow tree. The nest is the dark area in the image below.
I wandered around for a bit. Watched a female NORTHERN HARRIER carrying food to her young, although I have yet to nail this nest down. While sitting in my car, writing my notes, at the edge of the river, a BOBCAT walked along the dirt road into the grass. Then, it returned to the road, and just sat there. Suddenly, a male CALIFORNIA QUAIL walked across the road, noticed the Bobcat, started to run— well, of course, I thought the Bobcat would snatch it, since it was only inches away, but instead, the Bobcat was genuinely startled, jumping up and away from the quail! Wandering along the river, hoping for another view of the Bobcat, but all I found were these tracks in the mud. Raccoon, I suppose.
Looped back to Paicines Reservoir. No Black Tern in sight, but a male WOOD DUCK scurried under the single willow tree nearest the pullout.
I drove home by way of Brown's Valley Road and was happy to see a few newly fledged HORNED LARKS, along with some adults.
Heading out tomorrow, early!
San Benito County Birding