Thursday, October 29, was the bimonthly bird survey at Shollenberger Park. The group gathered early, and the soft pink sunrise did not disappoint!

As with all survey mornings, a bevy of Red-winged Blackbirds declared “Good morning!” from the tules. As the sun rose, hundreds emerged en masse – here’s what it’s like to be beneath one of the emerging flocks.

Red-winged Blackbirds

And here’s a view of an extra large flock dispersing to the northwest.

Red-winged Blackbirds

Small flocks of Canada Geese streamed overhead as well.

Canada Geese

Setting off for the count

The harsh cries of a hidden Red-shouldered Hawk rang out as we walked by.

We spied five tucked-in swans in the central pond which we assumed were of the Mute variety. But, when they later untucked, we discovered three Tundra Swans sitting beside two Mute Swans!

Tundra Swans

We heard a Northern Mockingbird singing and spotted it atop a tall tree, serenading the morning sun.

Northern Mockingbird

Listen below to the mockingbird’s spot-on rendition of an Acorn Woodpecker between 0:18 and 0:20 seconds.

Pop Quiz #1: To whom does this flying silhouette belong? Find the answer at the bottom of this post.

Mystery silhouette

Near the Point Blue building, our count leader, Andy LaCasse, pulled the years-old remains of a barely recognizable kite from a tree. The White-tailed Kite was historically called the “Black-shouldered Kite” – you can see the remnants of the namesake black shoulder below.

Andy and what’s left of a White-tailed Kite

[L-R] Jordan, Len, Andy, Malcolm, Miles, JJ (not pictured – Teresa)

As we came upon a group of foraging Killdeer, one took to flight and cruised overhead, giving us a look from below of its diagnostic double breast-bands.

Killdeer

Listen below to the noisy group that remained on the mudflats.

Pop Quiz #2: Who’s the owner of this cute duck butt??? Stay tuned to find out.

Mystery duck butt

In a small puddle beside the trail, we encountered a single Greater Yellowlegs rushing about.

Greater Yellowlegs

This male Common Yellowthroat obligingly showed off his flashy colors to his eager onlookers.

Common Yellowthroat

As we watched a giant barge move by slowly in the Petaluma River, we heard a Virginia Rail call once from the tall, marshy grass.

Floating behemoth

 

Meanwhile, a Northern Harrier caught our eye as it effortlessly swooped past searching for its next meal.

Northern Harrier

Along the opposite riverbank, a healthy-looking coyote trotted by.

Coyote

Though many folks tend to overlook and even scorn Rock Pigeons, we find their iridescence worthy of an admiring look.

Rock Pigeon

Answer to Pop Quiz #1: The flying silhouette was a Black-necked Stilt.

Black-necked Stilt

Answer to Pop Quiz #2: The cute duck butt belongs to a male Northern Shoveler.

Northern Shoveler

And here’s a female Northern Shoveler for good measure!

Northern Shoveler

By the end of the morning, the team had tallied 64 species for PWA’s October 2020 survey.

This has been your in-the-field recap of the PWA’s October bird survey. These are just one of the many ways the PWA fulfills its mission statement:

Dedicated to the stewardship, restoration, and expansion of wetlands and associated wildlife habitats.

We’re Teresa and Miles Tuffli of I’m Birding Right Now. Check back for future reports on these volunteer PWA bird surveys!

If you have any questions about this particular count or if you’re interested in participating in future counts, please contact the coordinator/compiler for these surveys, Len Nelson, at [email protected].

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