Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Howdy, Birders,

This evening, November 1, the San Benito Raptor Show was incredible! From 4:25 pm until 5:16 pm, I birded along SANTA ANA VALLEY ROAD. Highlights were the continued presence of a great number and variety of raptors as reported in my October 31 blog post. This evening, though 10 FERRUGINOUS HAWKS and 4 GOLDEN EAGLES were in one single field, alone! Also, an adult female PRAIRIE FALCON was hunting and perched on a telephone pole. See eBird reports, below.

Luckily, I decided to shoot up JOHN SMITH ROAD. Good thing I did, as I encountered a tractor actively discing the field nearest to the intersection with Santa Ana Valley Road. Below, is an image of the tractor towing the disc-like devise. I'm sure this has a name in the farming business, but I do not know it. Actually, in this image, you can see two Ferruginous Hawks, in flight, just above the cab of the tractor.
Below, is a view of the field from John Smith Road. The small white dots on the ground are Ferruginous Hawks. Many Ravens were following the tractor, too.
Below, white dots blown up a little. My regular camera, an old Canon 20D with a 100-400 image stabilizing lens wasn't working. (Operator error, I'm sure). So, I used my little Lumix camera. Bring a spotting scope for closer views of the raptors, although they do fly around, and it is possible to get some outstanding views and images!
A gorgeous rufous/dark morph Ferruginous Hawk, below.
Ferruginous Hawks are my most favorite hawks in the world. Ravens are another favorite. And, my absolute most favorite BIRD in the world is the GOLDEN EAGLE! (Yes, it is not a seabird). These three birds were the first three birds on my yard list when I moved to Hollister nearly 18 years ago!

Happy Trails,
Debi Shearwater
San Benito Birding

Below, are my eBird lists:

Santa Ana Valley Road, San Benito, US-CA
Nov 1, 2011 4:25 PM - 5:16 PM
Protocol: Traveling
5.0 mile(s)
Comments: This area has a concentration of raptors due to discing by the farmers which is disturbing the ground squirrels. Many of the raptors can be found in one single field near the intersection of Santa Ana Valley and John Smith Roads. For instance, in that field alone, I saw 10 Ferruginous Hawks and 4 Golden Eagles. However, I birded the other areas along a 5 mile stretch of Santa Ana Valley Road. Most of the White-tailed Kites are along the section closest to Fairview Road. It was sunny, light breeze, 73F. I also saw: 1 feral cat, 9 feral/wild pigs, all full grown. 6 native black-tailed deer.
19 species

Turkey Vulture 1 On the ground, in the road, consuming roadkill.
White-tailed Kite 2
Northern Harrier 3 Mostly hunting on the far hillsides, not in the fields.
Red-tailed Hawk 8
Ferruginous Hawk 10 Absolutely spectacular to see this large, gray headed, white breasted, regal raptors sitting on the ground, waiting to snag a ground squirrel. All 10 were in one single field. One adult was close enough to age due to its rufous legs, feathered to the toes.
Golden Eagle 7 Most individuals were on the ground, and I could not age or sex, as they were too far away.
American Kestrel 9
Prairie Falcon 1 Hunting and sitting on a telephone pole near mailbox #5250/5238. Look on the line that runs perpendicular to Santa Ana Valley Road.
Mourning Dove 24
Say's Phoebe 1
Loggerhead Shrike 5
Common Raven 107
Western Bluebird 3
White-crowned Sparrow 24
Red-winged Blackbird (California Bicolored) 320
Western Meadowlark 37
Brewer's Blackbird 456
House Finch 12

John Smith Road, San Benito, US-CA
Nov 1, 2011 5:30 PM - 5:44 PM
Protocol: Traveling
2.0 mile(s)
Comments: A farmer was actively discing the field closest to the intersection with Santa Ana Valley Road. The Ferruginous Hawks and Ravens were actively following the discing operation. This is a tractor that pulls a device with round disc-shaped plow-like thingys on it. I'm sure it has a name, but not being a farmer, I do not know the name of it. This is an area that was formerly a wet land. It was drained, illegally, I'm told. Short-eared Owl should be looked for in this area, as they occurred during winters when the wetland was present.
7 species (+1 other taxa)

White-tailed Kite 1
Red-tailed Hawk (Western) 5
Ferruginous Hawk 3 One incredible rufous/dark morph. The other two were light morphs.
American Kestrel 1
Loggerhead Shrike 1
Savannah Sparrow 8
White-crowned Sparrow 30
blackbird sp. 1400 These two flocks (about 700 each) could have been composed of a lot of starlings. They were swirling, high in the sky a long way off. I have not ever seen these large flocks
in this area before, although I have not birded here in the late evening for some years.

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