Thursday, November 12, 2015

October Visit to Marin County

We headed to Marin to see family prior to putting our fifth-wheel in storage for a few months. The fall weather was beautiful, and we had the opportunity to visit some of our favorite places in Marin.

Our first day started with an opportunity to see a very rare visitor from distant lands! We get rare bird alerts via email from the local birding network. They reported that a Dusky Warbler had recently been banded near Redwood Creek across the road from Muir Beach. This is a rare bird from Asia!

First thing Monday morning we headed to the reported spot.  We showed up at 7:15 a.m. and immediately ran into a handful of birders that had seen the Dusky Warbler on previous mornings. They were able to share the locations that the warbler had been seen in the past few days. Luckily for us, the Dusky Warbler has a very loud call note that made it easy to track down. Also, it was the only bird that was active at that time in the was still a little chilly.  This bird was very camera shy- darting from coyote bush to coyote bush.  These are not the greatest photos but this was one skulky little warbler- we were lucky it had such a loud call note and we had a handful of great views. We wish this little bird luck in getting back on track :- )

You can see the light eyebrow....
There were a few Warbling Vireos hanging out around the Dusky Warbler that made things a little confusing at times. The Vireos are not nearly as secretive as the Dusky Warbler.
This Song Sparrow was pretending to be camera shy as well...
Fox Sparrows have a very similar call to that of the Dusky Warbler...luckily the Fox Sparrows were not up and calling until later in the morning

A beautiful early morning at Whitehouse Pool in Pt Reyes

Spider webs greeted us around every corner.....each one more beautiful and unique:-)

Song Sparrows everywhere

Fox Sparrow
This American Robin was greeting the day with its cheerful song
It had been awhile since we had seen Chestnut-backed Chickadees

Golden-crowned Sparrow
The Wrentits were there to greet us with their distinctive song:-)

A Pair of California Towhees; it seems like I usually see California Towhees in pairs versus the Spotted and Green-tailed Towhees seem to be seen alone and appear much more secretive
Bunny Rabbit (technical term)
We love Pt Reyes National Seashore....we were so lucky to have a few gorgeous clear days.

We had wonderful views of Tricolored Blackbirds....their cocked tail is one of the characteristics that helps to differentiate them from Red-winged Blackbirds. They are also typically found in large groups in cow pens...

Bob spotted this Barn Owl in the field munching....
After being absent for over 150 years, Elephant Seals have returned to the shores of Pt Reyes. The current populations range from 1,500 to 2,000 seals! What a wonderful thing!!
We spotted a number of loons out on the water but were not sure whether they were Red-throated or Pacific Loons.

We think the bird below is a Red-throated Loon

This is either a Red-throated or Pacific Loon in non-breeding plumage...any thoughts?

This is a Common Loon in transition plumage - from breeding to non-breeding
Red-breasted Nuthatch
This Common Raven landed in the tree right above our heads. It had a meal in its bill and we could hear it crunching away above us- poor little guy !

All done...
Orange-crowned Warbler
Wandering Tattler

Bob spotted this Leucistic Red-tailed Hawk (leucistic means albino)...we could not figure out what it was until it got up to fly...

White-crowned Sparrow
Brown Pelican & Ring-billed Gull
Elegant Terns have such little attitudes!
Elegant Tern, Double-crested Cormorant & Brown Pelican
Black Turnstones
Double-crested Cormorant
Female Belted Kingfisher
Song Sparrow
10 Mile Beach
A banded Red-tailed Hawk
And here is its band...

Peregrine Falcon
A Fox Sparrow digging in the dirt, looking for a snack

Stinson Beach
We have participated in counting the Snowy Plovers on Stinson Beach for the past 5 years. We were looking to see if we could find the group of Snowy Plovers that we usually have on the beach to find any birds with bling (otherwise known as bands).....they were tucked in their depressions in the sand...
All of a sudden they started to move.....
This is a new bird for us.. we send in the band configurations and count totals to Pt Reyes Bird Observatory and they  send back a history of where and when the bird was banded! This year we had record numbers of Snowy Plovers on the beach.
Not everyone has bling...they are so darn cute!

Rodeo Lagoon- another rare bird alert right around the corner...
We received another rare bird alert ... there was a White Wagtail in Rodeo Lagoon!
Wagtails are birds of open areas and have the habit of wagging their tails while walking. In North America, this birds occurs as a breeding species only in northwestern Alaska. So this guy ended up off the beaten path for migration. They winter in southwestern China, Philippines, & Singapore.
Killdeer and White Wagtail

This how it got its name...Wagtail
Then this coyote appeared and no more wagtail....birders relocated later, alive and well in another part of the lagoon:-)
Coyote on the look out....

Las Galinas Waste Water Treatment Plant
We were greeted by a group of Bushtits...
Male Lesser Goldfinch
Female Lesser Goldfinch
Eared Grebe
This is the first Great-tailed Grackle we have seen in Marin...
Mute Swans are not endemic to North America but are doing very well here...we saw approximately 8-10 swans on our walk

Savannah Sparrow
We spotted one Greater White-fronted Goose
Western Meadowlark
Female Northern Pintail
Male Northern Pintail
Male Northern Shoveler coming into breeding plumage

Hamilton Wetlands

What a success story....transformation of an old Air Force base into incredible wetlands!
Birds, birds, birds....shorebirds...mostly Dunlins and Sanderlings.

Long-billed Curlews

Abbott's Lagoon

This Black Phoebe was feeding by skimming the surface on the lagoon
Bonaparte's Gull

Great Blue Heron
Song Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrows are everywhere on the trail to the ocean, singing their little hearts out:-)

The World is Full of Beauty & Wonder,

Turtle & Hawk


  1. Such an incredible wealth of birds! We are always excited when we see a rare bird, but I always feel a bit sad and hope (as you said) that it finds its way back to where it's supposed to be. And very cool that you saw a leucistic Red-tail!

  2. I just hit one of two albino red tailed hawks that were grappling for food. One of them landed on the freeway. It started flying but I could not slow down enough, let alone swerve.