1 May 08

Big Weekend Coming Up

javelinas at Indian Lodge, Davis Mountains; pen and ink We’ll be participating in the birdathon to benefit Yolo Audubon Society this weekend — trying to see as many species as possible by bike (we’re a week late but better late than never). We haven’t been doing too much birding by bicycle over the past three weeks, and have missed a lot of the migrating birds, but we’re going to do our best. If you’re interested in sponsoring us on a per-species or flat total basis, let us know! Thanks.

Posted by at 08:56 PM in Big Green Birding Year (BIGBY) | Link | Comment [1]

16 February 08

First Bigby Flat

Poor Numenius got his first Bigby flat tire today at the Davis Wetlands. We had seen our first cliff swallows of the year; our first Bigby cattle egret; American avocets — and then he felt the tire. I stopped at a pond to scan while he pumped it up and saw a horned grebe there, definitely a nice surprise. We limped home — he stopped to pump it up twice — and ran and got a new tube while I ordered burritos for lunch.

After lunch we met up with a postdoc from Spain who just arrived last week and wanted to go out birding — on his bike. He was excited about every bird, since they’re all new; it’s a great thrill to take someone who isn’t jaded by American robins out into our fields and creek and through West Campus. My memory of Spanish names for birds is definitely rusty but lots came back: “mito,” for instance, is the Spanish name for long-tailed tit, a word I haven’t seen or heard for over 20 years…

The binoculars were hauled out once again this evening so we could see the International Space Station on its way overhead. My but it’s bright. No wonder people report flying saucers.

Posted by at 07:11 PM in Big Green Birding Year (BIGBY) | Link | Comment

2 February 08

Mishka's on a Rainy Saturday

We DID head out into the rain looking for the Cassin’s finch at Slide Hill Park (no luck), the prairie falcon at 102/Rd 28 (no luck), the mew gull at the impromptu lake west of the landfill (no luck). We saw some great birds, though: the rough-legged hawk we’d seen earlier in January was perched in a field off 102, very close to the road. And it was fantastic to see so many gulls, close, and to have the chance to practice identifying them. (The great thing about that was that nobody was around to correct us. I’m feeling pretty happy about herring gull vs. California gull, though. And glaucous-winged. Less sure about Thayer’s in any plumage other than first cycle, but I’m working on it.)

We flushed a burrowing owl at the gull spot and I drew a quick sketch. It looks much more like a harpy than an owl. I’m saving it for when I need a sketch of a harpy.

Wet and cold again, we stopped at Mishka’s cafe in Davis for a mocha (me) and a cardamom-cinnamon tea (Numenius) and a regroup before heading south into the wind and home. Three Davis conversations going on around us: Proposition 98 from a while back (school budgeting); skydiving and Bali; and a gal typing emails from her laptop with a Ron Paul sticker.

Posted by at 07:41 PM in Big Green Birding Year (BIGBY) | Link | Comment [2]

12 January 08

A BIGBY Gull Jaunt

With all the reports of multiple gull species at the Yolo County Landfill/Oxidation Ponds, we rode our bikes up there to try and see some for our Big Green Birding Year (BIGBY). We ran into Marcel and friends and he was merciful enough to point out the distinctions between the various species and their various states of plumage, always confusing. A better-than-hoped-for gull tally: Bonaparte’s, ring-billed, California, herring, Thayer’s, glaucous-winged, glaucous (gorgeous white adult). We missed the lone Western but may go back for it tomorrow. (We also missed the ferruginous and rough-legged hawks, as well as the prairie falcon, nearby, which is more of an incentive to go back.)

While we were looking for the Western we ran into Roger who was out in his new Ford Escape Hybrid, looking for the same birds we were. He got so inspired he drove home and came back on his bike. Go Roger! Be careful! This is a cult!

Today’s bird list from our bikes (singles; the tandem’s having shifting problems):

Greater white-fronted goose
Snow goose
Ross’s goose
Canada goose
Cackling goose
Tundra swan
Wood duck
Gadwall
American wigeon
Mallard
Cinammon teal
Norther shoveler
Green-winged teal
Canvasback
Ring-necked duck
Lesser scaup
Bufflehead
Common goldeneye
Common merganser
Ruddy duck
Ring-necked pheasant
Pied-billed grebe
Eared grebe
American white pelican
Double-crested cormorant
Great blue heron
Great egret
Snowy egret
Black-crowned night-heron
Turkey vulture
White-tailed kite (doing talon-grabbing display)
Northern harrier
Cooper’s hawk
Red-shouldered hawk
American kestrel
American coot
Sandhill crane
Killdeer
Black-necked stilt
Greater yellowlegs
Long-billed curlew
Least sandpiper
Ring-billed gull
California gull
Herring gull
Thayer’s gull
Glaucous-winged gull
Glaucous gull
Rock pigeon
Mourning dove
Burrowing owl
White-throated swift
Anna’s hummingbird
Belted kingfisher
Nuttall’s woodpecker
Northern flicker
Black phoebe
Say’s phoebe
Western scrub-jay
Yellow-billed magpie
American crow
Common raven
Bushtit
Marsh wren
American robin
Northern mockingbird
European starling
American pipit
Cedar waxwing
Yellow-rumped warbler
Savannah sparrow
White-crowned sparrow
Red-winged blackbird
Brewer’s blackbird
House finch
American goldfinch
House sparrow

Just to note: some people are doing a BIGBY in currently frozen temperatures, just on foot, and they are happy to find twelve species. It’s humbling to be able to go out mid-January on our bikes in light jackets and get a list like this, and there is NO EXCUSE not to when we live somewhere with so benign a climate….

Posted by at 07:50 PM in Big Green Birding Year (BIGBY) | Link | Comment [6]