From Peter Colasanti:
On Sunday, April 15, PWA held our annual Feather Fest at Shollenberger Park. Over 20 avid junior birders attended with parents, siblings and other hangers-on in tow. Our President Al Hesla opened the affair with an explanation of our purpose and introduction of four group leaders, we then formed coveys and headed off with two teams in Shollenberger Park, and two in Ellis Creek. Our plan had been to concentrate on documenting avian nesting activities, but this year the birds seem to be a bit late in settling down to such domestic chores and many migrants were still in evidence. As a consequence, we were all a bit distracted by the spectacle. My own group was about halfway down the east trail at Shollenberger and facing the central pond when Autumn’s mom Janey Stewart noticed a bittern perched high in some cattails. Luckily Bea Pezzolo had brought her camera and was already taking pictures by the time I could tell the group it was a Least Bittern. This was just the fifth record of the species in Sonoma County and the second in the Petaluma Wetlands. They’re commoner to the south and seem to be establishing themselves northward with the warming of the climate. In the past couple years they have bred successfully at Las Gallinas in Marin. The other groups all turned up special birds too. Andy Lacasse’s had an adult Bald Eagle near Adobe Creek. At Ellis Creek, Marin and her dad Alan Wight found a Solitary Sandpiper, a mid-continental migrant that shows up in California as a vagrant in season. Monica’s group had great views of an American Bittern and her charges all got looks at baby Barn Owls through the entry hole in the box Andy put up for them at Ellis Creek. Every year the Fest turns up surprises, but there’s always one constant: we returned to lots of boxes of hot pizza. Some of us even brought home leftovers.