Sunday, December 27, 2009

Rain: More Rain Overnight (December 27, 2009)

It rained again last night. We got an additional 0.45 inches. That brings our 2009–2010 season total to 7.90 inches, which is 2.58 inches below normal for this date (10.48 inches).

[Update: had another 0.2 inches overnight on the 29th. Total now 8.1 inches as of December 30th.]

[Further update: Another 0.4 inches on the 31st and 1st of January puts our total at 8.5 inches as of January 2, 2010.]

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Birds I'm Watching: Lake Ralphine/Spring Lake



Took a walk around lake Ralphine and Spring Lake today, in Santa Rosa. Saw 40 bird species: Downy woodpecker, Nuttal's woodpecker, acorn woodpecker, turkey vulture, crows, lesser goldfinch, house finch, ruby-crowned kinglet, northern flicker, robin, Western meadowlark, ring-billed gull, coots (22), common moorhen (2), scrub jay, oak titmouse, chestnut-backed chickadee, yellow-rumped warbler, great egret, snowy egret, spotted towhee, California towhee, fox sparrow, golden-crowned sparrow, white-crowned sparrow, song sparrow, marsh wren, Bewick's wren, belted kingfisher, Great blue heron, Canada geese, mallards, buffleheads (10), greater scaup (6), common merganser (27 on Lake Ralphine), pied-billed grebe, a spotted sandpiper, a red-shouldered hawk, an Osprey eating a fish up in a tree, and a pair of common goldeneyes.

The photos are of a male (top) and female common merganser. These birds show striking sexual dimorphism--strictly speaking, sexual dichromatism.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Rain: Some Clear Skies Finally (December 13, 2009)

It finally stopped raining this morning. I can see clear skies off to the west, over Sebastopol. That usually means it will be clear here within an hour or so. Checking the rain gauge, we have had 1.75 inches since it began raining on Friday (the 11th). That brings our 2009-2o10 season total to 6.65 inches, which is almost 1.7 inches below normal for this date, but another storm is on the way, or so they say.

[Update] Got another 0.55 inches Monday and Tuesday (the 14th and 15th), which brings our total to 7.2 inches as of today (Wednesday, the 16th). Normal precipitation for this date is 8.89 inches, so we are 1.69 inches below normal at present.

[Update] Got an additional 0.25 inches on the 19th and 20th, putting us at 7.45 inches as of December 21. That's about 1.9 inches below normal for this date.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Miscellaneous: Rain and Manzanitas




More rain today, which is very nice. For one thing, it's a lot warmer following two days of very hard frost. Took a short walk in the rain today and came across this natural work of art--a gnarled manzanita.

The rain has been pretty steady since Friday afternoon. By 4:30 on Saturday afternoon, we had had another 1.4 inches, bringing the total so far in the 2009-2010 season to 6.3 inches. That's somewhat below normal for this date--but it's still raining.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Birds I'm Watching: Ellis Creek/Shollenberger Park

Good day today out at the Ellis Creek water treatment ponds and Shollenberger Park, in Petaluma. They are draining the ponds and refilling them--something to do with bullfrog eradication--, which has left a lot of mud exposed, drawing in many birds. I got a really good look at the swamp sparrow again. There were two of them, along with many song sparrows and common yellowthroats in the wet area between the two eucalyptus trees and the big pond--in the same spot others have reported seeing these species. In the drained pond were scores of snipe. There was a lesser yellowlegs along with about five greater yellowlegs. Obligingly they poked around together close to the path, allowing for some decent photos (pictured; the bird with its bill in the water is the lesser yellowlegs). Also saw a great-tailed grackle, which is unusual here. Good day for birds.

Other birds I saw today at Ellis Creek were: Great egret, crows, killdeer, northern shovelers, black-necked stilts, Say's phoebe, black phoebe, Mute swans, bufflehead, gadwalls, many cinnamon teals, a couple of blue-winged teals, coots, long-billed dowitchers, least sandpipers, mallards, Canada geese, robins, California towhees, American pipits, and brewer's blackbird. Over at Shollenberger, saw many of the same birds, but also savannah sparrow, Western gulls, black-bellied plovers, a Pacific golden plover (yet another comparatively rare sighting), a long-billed curlew, avocets, ruddy ducks, and a harrier harassing a red-tailed hawk.

With the California quails, spotted towhee, golden-crowned sparrows, house finches, oak titmouses, lesser goldfinches, chesnut-backed chickadees, flicker, acorn woodpecker, and Nuttal's woodpecker I saw at home (northeast Santa Rosa) before heading out, it was a fairly bird-filled day. It was a very COLD bird-filled day. It got down to 23 degrees overnight at home, the coldest it's ever been here in my experience.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Miscellaneous: Rain

Just to report that we had 0.5 inches of rain overnight here in Santa Rosa--well, my part of Santa Rosa anyway. It snowed at higher elevations. That brings the total for the 2009–2010 season to 4.90 inches, which is below normal. Normal for this date is just under 7.5 inches. We were supposed to have had a big storm over the weekend, but it missed us.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Birds I'm Watching: Place to Play Park, Santa Rosa



While waiting for my son at his Clarinet lesson today, I took a walk around the small pond at Place to Play Park, in Santa Rosa. Saw quite a few birds, including about 300 Canada Geese. Among them was what I'm pretty sure was a Snow Goose--which would be an unusual sighting for the middle of Santa Rosa--but the bird lacked the black primaries a snow goose should have--so, not entirely sure about this one. One expert I consulted has said it may be a partial blue morph snow goose.

Also saw a Say's Phoebe, Greater Yellowlegs, Wilson's Snipe, Killdeer, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Mallards, a pair of Shovelers, a single male Bufflehead, a single female Common Merganser, Crows, American Pipit, Long-billed Dowitchers (pictured), Black-necked Stilts, Double-crested Cormorants, gulls I didn't take the time to identify, three White Pelicans, and a few Scrub-jays.

For more about birding in Sonoma County, see my website: Sonoma County Bird Watching Spots

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Miscellaneous: A Visit to the Theater



Went on a field trip with my son's class at the Santa Rosa Charter School for the Arts today. The class saw a dance performance by students at Santa Rosa High School and then visited the set for the Santa Rosa Junior College's production of The Wizard of Oz. Set designer Peter Compton gave us a behind-the-scenes look--literally. The kids got to walk on stage and see how the backdrops and turntables work and then they had a look at the scenery shop where the sets are built and props created. Not a bad way to spend a morning.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Books I'm Reading: How Equal Temperament Ruined Harmony (And Why You Should Care)


I just finished a slim volume--I needed something short after reading a giant Andrew Carnegie biography-- called How Equal Temperament Ruined Harmony (And Why You Should Care), by Ross W. Duffin (W. W. Norton, 2007). Clear, concise, well written, and well argued, this book sets out to do two things: First, show that equal temperament in many instances simply doesn't sound as good as alternative tuning systems; and second, that "before the standardization of equal temperament became so overwhelming that nobody got to hear anything else when they were growing up, musicians knew about equal temperament and in many cases chose not to use it." Here the author is attempting to refute the notion implicit in much modern thinking about music that equal temperament was an unmitigated improvement that in some sense saved music from chaos (instead of the truth, which is that ET is simply a convenience that accommodates fixed-tone instruments such as the piano when accompanying stringed instruments, for example, and that it has both advantages and disadvantages--the main disadvantage being that it often forces unpleasant-sounding harmonies). He argues convincingly that ET was viewed as a compromise grudgingly accepted by vocalists and string players when they had to accommodate keyboard instruments (which can't differentiate between what are today considered enharmonic notes--such as g-sharp and a-flat--unless specially built with extra keys). I suspect the audience for this book is limited, but a good argument is a good argument, whatever the subject. Very enjoyable. Recommended.

What to read next?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Tidbits: Abaloney and Krab

I was wondering: If fake crab is called "krab," is fake abalone called "abaloney?"

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Books I'm Reading: Andrew Carnegie

I'm just finishing a colossal (800-page) biography of Andrew Carnegie by David Nasaw (Penguin, 2006). While it would be hard not to know the name Andrew Carnegie, or to consider oneself educated without knowing something about the man--about his great wealth and his philanthropy, particularly his creation of libraries across the United States and in many other countries (when I drove across the country this past summer, one of the things that impressed me was the startling number of Carnegie libraries I happened to see along the way)--I must admit there was a great deal about him I didn't know. I didn't fully understand Carnegie's connection with the Homestead riot, I hadn't been aware of his close association with Frick, whose name I knew mostly in association with the great art museum in New York that houses possibly my favorite portrait of all time (Holbein's 1527 painting of Sir Thomas More), and I hadn't been aware of Carnegie's extraordinary access to a string of American presidents (Harrison, Cleveland, McKinley, Roosevelt, Taft, and Wilson), not to mention an important group of politicians in England.

Likewise, I hadn't know about his efforts to establish such things as international arbitration treaties (with the aim of abolishing war as a means of settling disputes among nations), a precursor to the League of Nations, a world court, and an international police--although his efforts bore little fruit in his lifetime, and, as an older man, his meddling in politics and foreign affairs appear to have annoyed many of the people he was trying to influence. Carnegie seems to have been ahead of his time in these peace-related matters. He failed spectacularly--his efforts were followed immediately by WWI and then by WWII--but they were noble ideas, nevertheless.

Long, but very well written and edited. It never drags. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Miscellaneous: Beautiful Clear Day After Rain

It's a beautiful clear day today--the air cleansed by rain last night. We got 0.3 inches, bringing the total for the 2009-2010 season to 4.25 inches so far. That's only very slightly below normal, and very good relative to the past few years.

[Update: Another 0.60 inches of rain today, Friday the 20th. Total for the season at our location is now 4.85 inches.]

Monday, November 16, 2009

Tidbits: Car Insurance Explained

I think I've got it now: I move to Progressive, next switch to Geico, then go to Allstate--and my car insurance is free, right?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Wines I'm Drinking: Gevrey Chambertin


I had an opportunity yesterday to buy some of the 2006 premier cru Gevrey Chambertin wines from Rene Leclerc at a reasonable price ($35-$39 a bottle; I've seen them for more than $80 each). Haven't tasted these for years, but I have fond memories of Clos St. Jacques--both driving by the vineyard in France (a rather modest-looking patch beside the highway) and drinking the wine. I've always found the Clos St. Jacques a relatively inexpensive over-achiever. Also got some of the Les Champeaux, and the Combe aux Moines. Looking forward to these in a few years.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Birds I'm Watching: Ellis Creek Water Treatment Ponds


Spent the day out at the Ellis Creek Water Treatment Ponds, in Petaluma. Went with a group of very serious birders--a bit too serious, it seemed to me. Had fun nevertheless. The group saw something like 70 species, of which I saw 54. I saw a number of birds for the first time. Highlights were a flying American bittern, a pair of peregrine falcons, a sora, a greater white-fronted goose, a few common goldeneyes, and some really good looks at a number of Say's phoebes.

Other birds I saw were: cedar waxwing, orange-crowned warbler (pictured), yellow-rumped warbler, savannah sparrow, song sparrow, golden-crowned sparrow, red-winged blackbirds, Western meadowlark (lots), American pipits, white pelican, pied-billed grebe, Western grebe, snowy egret, turkey vulture, mute swans, gadwall, American wigeon, mallard, cinnamon teal, northern shoveler, black phoebe, red-tailed hawk, Canada goose, long-billed dowitcher, hooded merganser, white-tailed kite, Cooper's Hawk, red-shouldered hawk, coots, killdeer, black-necked stilts, American avocet, greater yellowlegs, Wilson's snipe, Western gull, mourning dove, robins, European starling, great egret, Bonaparte's gull, kestrel, crow, scrub jay, Northern pintail, greater scaup, horned grebe, marsh wren, and brewer's blackbird.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Wines I'm Making: Racked wines yesterday

Racked the last of the 2009 wines yesterday--the Cabernet Sauvignon, the second-run Cab, and the Sangiovese rosé. Lightly sulfited each. Added oak staves to the two Cabernet wines. All are now resting out in the garage. The flavor of the Cabernet was again impressive, even at this stage.

Miscellaneous: Autumn Colors (November 10, 2009)



Autumn colors in Santa Rosa. Peppers at Imwalle gardens, on Dutton Ave. Imwalle is one of those old-fashioned farm fruit and vegetable stands that I remember from visits to my grandmother's house, in Dayton, Ohio when I was a boy. We lived in New York at the time, but would drive out to see her. Mumma's and Wampler's were the big ones--full of fresh produce in barn-like buildings, much of it in bushel baskets, with the fields starting right at the edge of the parking area. I especially remember glass gallon jars of honey with squares of comb floating in them and bringing home corn. My brother and I got to husk the corn. Always rainbow sherbet for desert.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Miscellaneous: Rain Today

Light rain last night and throughout the day today. Got a total of 0.15 inches. Not much, but that should bring our total to about 3.7 inches so far for 2009-2010. More rain possibly tomorrow and Saturday.

[Update] more rain on Friday--0.25 inches. 2009-2010 total now 3.95 inches.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Birds I'm Watching: Bodega Bay


I spent the day out at Bodega Bay today. I stopped first at the farm pond on Bohemian Highway (about 6 miles west of Sebastopol, on the way to Bodega Bay). There were many more ducks than there have been recently--although still not that many. Saw a pair of buffleheads among the Canada geese and mallards, a couple of female shovelers, a fair number of ring-necked ducks, and a lone duck different from the rest that looked like a Eurasian wigeon to me. The highlight was the ring-necked ducks, a new Sonoma County bird for me.

At Porto Bodega, nothing out of the ordinary, but I saw: House sparrows, turkey vultures, Western gulls, greater yellowlegs, Brewer's blackbird, double-crested cormorant, great blue heron, surf scoters, a lone marbled godwit, a Western grebe or two, and a couple of common loons.

At the Tides Restaurant, the usual flock of sandpipers was there, but also saw Western grebes, snowy egrets, a horned grebe, and a great blue heron.

Nothing much at the rail ponds but yellow-rumped warblers. At the north end of Bodega Harbor, I saw surf scoters, common loons, greater scaup (quite a few), ruddy ducks, Western grebes, great egrets, great blue herons, and six buffleheads. On my way home, passing the same location, there were 14 male buffleheads and about half that number of females.

On the mud flats just past Spud Point marina, I saw: Snowy egrets, brown pelicans, white pelicans, Western gulls, marbled godwits, willets, black-bellied plovers, black turnstones, ruddy turnstones, great blue herons, double-crested cormorants, great egrets, and surf scoters. Further along, after Westside Park, I saw: Western gulls, California gulls, and a single Bonapart's gull along with more herons, surf scoters, and white pelicans. On the way to Bodega Head there were many egrets, herons, Western gulls, and cormorants.

At Campbell Cove it was more surf scoters, six more buffleheads, and more Western gulls. Saw nothing up on the cliffs above, except a good view of a Northern Harrier. At the hole in the head, there was little to see except a black phoebe and various sparrows I couldn't identify, along with many yellow-rumped warblers.

Again nothing much out of the ordinary, but I enjoyed seeing the ring-necked ducks, all the buffleheads, the Bonapart's gull, and the harrier. At the hole in the head there was also a juvenile raptor that I couldn't figure out.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Birds I'm Watching: Shollenberger Park, Ellis Creek, Las Gallinas



Spent much of the day birding again today. Visited Shollenberger park in the morning. Saw the family of white-tailed kites that has been there the past few days, on the Adobe Creek side of the area. Also saw: Black phoebe, coots, black-necked stilts, northern shovelers, killdeer, Western meadowlark, red-winged blackbirds (lower photo; technically, I think the ones we have around here are the "bi-colored" form that lacks the yellow wing bar, like the bird pictured), mallards, song sparrow, Western sandpiper, and willets. On the other end of the park, saw: Shovelers again, avocets, black-necked stilts, marbled godwits, coots, Canada geese, dowitchers (probably long-billed), Western gulls, ring-billed gulls, turkey vultures, plovers, and blue-winged teals (upper photo)--this last a first sighting for me.

Then drove over to the Ellis Creek ponds. Saw: Red-winged blackbirds, Anna's hummingbird, cedar waxwings, Canada geese, scrub jay, and house finches right in the parking lot. In and around the ponds, I saw: Cinnamon teal, coots, black-necked stilts, northern shovelers, Canada geese, greater yellowlegs, mallards, pied-billed grebe, killdeer, a Wilson's snipe, dowitchers again, yellow-rumped warblers, great egret, black phoebe, blue-winged teal, a kestrel, a marsh wren, and what turned out to be a couple of female greater scaups, also a new bird for me.

Finally, ran down to the Las Gallinas sewage treatment ponds. I actually found them this time. Saw: Snowy egrets, great egrets, black phoebe, northern harrier, shovelers, avocets, crow, Canada geese, willets, black-necked stilts, white pelicans, northern pintail (a first sighting for me), green-winged teal (likewise), dowitchers, wigeons, gadwalls, Western grebes, bushtits, yellow-rumped warblers, and a white-crowned sparrow.

A tiring day, but got four new species, bringing my total to 182 and my Sonoma County total to 130. Saw a total of 42 species, if I've counted correctly.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Birds I'm Watching: Home

The number of bird species living in and around my own garden is sometimes astounding. I had counted 24 before noon today just standing in the driveway and walking around the garden. The highlight was a red-breasted sapsucker I could see in the neighbor's yard. It was only the second time I've seen one and the first time in Sonoma County. That raises my county total to 128 species. Birds seen from home today included: Turkey vulture, crow, scrub jay, lesser goldfinch, American goldfinch, house finch, golden-crowned sparrow, black phoebe, bewick's wren, oak titmouse, ruby-crowned kinglet, California towhee, dark-eyed junco, Anna's hummingbird, Northern mockingbird, cedar waxwing, Northern flicker, acorn woodpecker, Nuttall's woodpecker, Canada goose, mourning dove, yellow-rumped warbler, and European starling. Nothing very unusual except the sapsucker and the cedar waxwings, but still impressive for not even trying.

Wines I'm Making: Racked Zinfandel

I did a paper chromatography test on all the wines yesterday and found that the malolactic fermentation was mostly finished in the Zinfandel, so I racked the wines, sulfited lightly (to about 50ppm) and added medium toast French oak staves to both the three- and five-gallon carboys. The Cabernet needs more time and the second-press Cab still shows a lot of malic acid, so I will wait to rack both those wines. The "fake" Cab is too acidic because I accidentally added more acid blend than I had intended. I'm hoping further malolactic fermentation and then some serious cold to precipitate tartrate crystals will help soften it. The Sangiovese rosé I moved into the garage where it's cooler. Will have to rack that wine soon, too.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Miscellaneous: Honey Harvest



Harvested 33lbs of honey on Sunday. It's considerably darker this year than it has been in the past. Most of it got made and stored away fairly early in the season. I'm not sure exactly what kind of nectar the bees were getting, but it's tasty. With that, most of the seasonal work is done. The wine is made--more or less. The honey is harvested. The figs are mostly finished. We have tons of apples and pears and a lot of basil for making pesto. Maybe we should get some chickens?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Birds I'm Watching: Ellis Creek Water Treatment Ponds


Just to report a sighting yesterday of a Swamp Sparrow at the Ellis Creek water treatment ponds, in Petaluma, California. It was my first visit. I hadn't realized how much space is there--easily as big as Shollenberger Park, next door. Turns out the Swamp Sparrow is a moderately rare bird in the state. My report of it has caused a bit of a buzz among local birders. Adding the Swamp Sparrow to my list gives me 127 species in Sonoma County, about 31% of all the species that have ever been recorded here (438)--although that total includes a fair number of extremely rare and unlikely-to-be-repeated sightings. I'm hoping to get to around 150 over the winter.

[Update: As of Jaunary 12, 2010, I'm already at 160 for the county. Based on subsequent research, it sounds like 375 birds are regulars in Sonoma--or at least not so rare that there is little hope of ever seeing them here.]

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Birds I'm Watching: Pt. Reyes, Shollenberger Park


Spent the day yesterday out at Pt. Reyes and then stopped off at Shollenberger Park, in Petaluma, on my way home. There wasn't a lot to see at Pt. Reyes. At the lighthouse there were a couple of Common Murres in the water, saw a Savannah Sparrow on the way up to the light house, along with a lot of White-crowned Sparrows, but that was about it. I did bump into a geology class, however, and very much enjoyed listening to the teacher explain the very interesting swirls of sandstone and conglomerate at the point. Always wondered about the formations there. I think I've posted about them here before. On the Chimney Rock side of the point, I saw a lot of Surf Scoters, Western Grebes, and Eared Grebes. Saw a Brown Pelican, four Pacific Loons, a Golden-crowned Sparrow in the trees by the residence, Crows, a Turkey Vulture or two, and, more interestingly, a Western Meadowlark on the drive out again.

There were many raptors around. The only one I could identify was a Red-tailed Hawk. There were several smaller birds, all motionless, expertly using the updrafts from the coast to stay still while searching the ground for prey. They had brown heads, were pale underneath, but had a tracing of brown under the wings and speckles at the "wingpit." The tips of the wings were very dark. I got a very good look at the birds, but could find nothing in the book that seemed right. Closest was a Ferruginous Hawk, but, the book says they should have distinctly dark legs, which these didn't and that their heads should not have been brown. Another interesting feature was apparent from above. The last third of the wing (but not the primaries) had an almost transparent look. Very frustrating not to know what this was. Still, it was fun to watch them hunt.

At Shollenberger Park, I saw Black Phoebes, Greater Yellowlegs, Coots, Ring-billed Gulls, Western Gulls, Mallards, a single Canada Goose, Black-necked Stilts, Avocets, four Long-billed Curlews, a Marbled Godwit or two (I think--they were very far away), and Northern Shovelers in large numbers--perhaps 200 of them. A new bird for me. (Pictured above; these are males and females, the juveniles, with the black heads, are going from juvenile plumage to winter plumage). Other birds were mostly in their confusing winter plumages, but I believe them to have been long-billed dowitchers. Also saw many Black-bellied Plovers in winter plumage.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Wines I'm Making: Bottled the 2008 Wines Today





I spent most of the day today bottling the 2008 wines. Bottled 50 bottles of Cabernet (two kinds, 25 bottles each) and 24 bottles of Sangiovese. Sulfited each batch to 52pmm. Finished printing the labels this morning. They look good on the bottles. Made back labels to distinguish the two different treatments of the Cabernet. I will have to finish labeling the Sangiovese tomorrow.

I got to taste the finished wines for the first time. The Sangiovese is fairly ordinary--as it always has been--although it's markedly better than in previous years. This reinforces my view that it's best made into rosé.

The Cabs, however, are startlingly good. I'm really impressed with both of them, but especially the one fermented with the French Bordeaux yeast. It's a bit tannic on the finish, but it's young. I have high hopes for these wines. the Cabs keep getting better every year.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Miscellaneous: Found Art



More found art. Patterns in the paint on the playground at my son's new school. These (oddly) are extremely reminiscent of some of the prints of Hideo Hagiwara, one of Japan's most respected modern printmakers. Actually, these are more boldly abstract than most of Hagiwara's work, but still, they are similar in feel. I am feeling inspired to do something--a painting or a print--based on these interesting pavement patterns.

Birds I'm Watching: Spring Lake, Santa Rosa


I took a walk around Spring Lake again today. Didn't see much, but got a great shot of a yellow-rumped warbler with my new camera lens. Sooooo much better than trying to shoot through the spotting scope. This is an incredibly lightweight 140mm - 600mm zoom from Olympus for my E-3. Perfect for birding.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Birds I'm Watching: Bodega Bay


Took a quick run out to Bodega late this afternoon (the 19th). Didn't have much time, so I just raced through the usual spots. The tide was very low. I don't think I've ever seen it so low. Not a lot of birds were around. Not a single bird at the farm pond to the left side of the road as you approach from Sebastopol.

At Porto Bodega, I saw: Belted kingfisher, snowy egret, Western gull, ring-billed gull, double-crested cormorant, Western sandpiper, a second sandpiper species (least sandpipers I'm guessing because of their smallish black bills and yellow legs), willets, whimbrel (1), long-billed dowitcher (1), black-crowned night heron (2, one immature, one adult; the adult is pictured here), brown pelican, Clark's grebes, surf scoters, and greater yellowlegs.

At bodega harbor, I saw: Common loon, Pacific loon, Clark's grebe, surf scoters, and a great blue heron.

At Campbell Cove, I saw: Great egret, snowy egrets (4), Clark's grebe, and surf scoters.

So, nothing out of the ordinary, but many more ducks and grebes than in the recent past (I hadn't been out in about a week and a half). Tomorrow I'm hoping to go out to the Las Gallinas ponds, Rodeo Lagoon, Point Reyes area--if work permits.

Miscellaneous: More Rain

Following the three inches of rain we got during last week's storm, a morning of rain today added 0.45 to the 2009-2010 total. That gives us a total of about 3.55 inches for the season so far. A great start. I just hope it clears up tomorrow. I'd like to go out to Pt. Reyes to look for birds.

[Update] I did go. Didn't see that much, but was able to add three new birds to my life list: Horned Grebe, Savannah Sparrow, and American Wigeon--all at Rodeo Lagoon. Saw a Whimbrel up close--amazing blue legs--and observed a pair of Dunlins in winter plumage up close. There was also a lone female Common Merganser.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Wines I'm Drinking: 1998 Château Mont-Redon Côtes du Rhône

Opened my last bottle of 1998 Château Mont-Redon Côtes du Rhône tonight. Wow. It was beautiful when it was new. It's even more beautiful at eleven years old. Inexpensive (about $11 a bottle), I bought this wine by the case when I first moved back to California from Tokyo (in 2000). It was so good then, it was hard to resist. This was the only bottle that survived. Wonderful scents of figs, violets, licorice, and meat. Perfectly balanced. Good fruit, mellowed tannins, soft acidity. Mature, but very much alive. This could easily pass for a Châteauneuf-du-Pape costing four to five times as much. Beautiful wine. Just goes to prove that great wine does not have to be expensive--but 1998 appears to have been a truly great year in the southern Rhône.

Birds I'm Watching: Spring Lake (October 17, 2009)


Went on a walk around Spring Lake this morning with some experienced birders from the Madrone Audubon Society. Cleared up a few birds I was wondering about and got two new ones for my life list--the band-tailed pigeon and Wilson's Snipe--making 160. Bird species sighted by the group totaled 71, 41 of which I saw. I did not count birds I heard without seeing, unless I was very familiar with the call already. Today's sightings included: Redwing Blackbird, Turkey Vulture, Crow, Steller's Jay, Scrub Jay, California Quail, California Towhee, Spotted Towhee, Song Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Gold-crowned Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, Lesser Goldfinch, Great Blue Heron, Kildeer, Wilson's Snipe, Great Egret, Mallard, Canada Goose, Common Moorhen, Double-crested Cormorant, Pied-billed Grebe, American Coot, Cooper's Hawk, Hutton's Vireo, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Townsend's Warbler, Cedar Waxwing, Band-tailed Pigeon, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, White-breasted Nuthatch, Oak Titmouse, Brown Creeper, Bewick's Wren, Anna's Hummingbird, Acorn Woodpecker, Nuttal's Woodpecker, Red-shafted flicker, Belted Kingfisher, and House Finch.

Forty one species in one day at Spring Lake is a new record for me. The photo shows the scenery early in the morning.

At home, afterwards, there were a lot of birds around. In the space of 10 minutes I saw: Crow, House Finch, Lesser Goldfinch, Golden-crowned Sparrow (heard), Bushtits, Oak Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Dark-eyed Junco, Scrub Jay, Black Phoebe, Nuttal's Woodpecker, Acorn Woodpecker, Anna's Hummingbird, Northern Flicker, and a Hermit Thrush--fifteen species without even leaving my yard.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Wines I'm Making: Sangiovese Rosé Racked and Topped Up

Racked and topped up the Sangiovese rosé this morning. Topped it up with the remaining three bottles of last year's rosé and a couple of bottles of a local Sangiovese rosé. Unfortunately, the grapes yielded well over three gallons, but not as many as five--always an awkward amount. I sure wish somebody would make 2- or 4-gallon carboys. Sulfited very lightly, but it still seems to be working, even though it tested at less than 0 Brix yesterday. I'll let it go, if that is its wont. After it stops completely I'll rack it again and sulfite lightly once more--or maybe not. This is not wine designed to last. It usually doesn't survive more than a year. I hope we will have some excellent rosé to drink at Thanksgiving. So far, so good. The fermentation ended up being two full weeks (assuming we call it stopped today)--much longer than the furious four-day fermentations of the past with this yeast (Epernay II).

Music I'm Listening To: Itzhak Perlman and the San Francisco Symphony

Just got back from hearing Itzhak Perlman play with and conduct the San Francisco Symphony. Perlman played the Bach Violin Concerto No. 2, conducting as he played. He later led the orchestra in Elgar's Introduction and Allegro--one of my favorite pieces of music--and Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6. Had an early dinner at Café Delle Stelle, on Hayes St. beforehand. Solid, but not great. Still, it was fairly priced, I'd say. Actually, considering that they were packed, it was not bad at all. I had grilled shrimp with tuscan white beans for a starter and then Tagliatelle. Enjoyed a tasty Verdicchio along with it.

It was fun to see Perlman live again. I have seen him in person once before, in 1983 or so. That was a long time ago, but it is a concert I remember vividly. He played one of the Bach solo partitas or sonatas, at Mershon Auditorium, in Columbus, Ohio. I remember paying $8 for the ticket--and it was a good seat. Tonight he played a Violin Concerto, not a solo piece. I'm afraid it was a bit disappointing. Perlman was difficult to hear against the backdrop of the orchestra. The playing seemed highly competent--as it always is in San Francisco--but it lacked spark. Perhaps it was just me. I had the feeling that Perlman was tuned a trifle flat, as well. That's probably my imagination, or related to the muddy sound. Whatever the reason, I was disappointed.

No matter. I have learned to cherish the gems of live performances and not worry too much about the disappointments, and the Elgar Introduction and Allegro was wonderful. Perlman took the orchestra through a somewhat more lush interpretation than the one I'm used to (on Edward Elgar: Works for String Orchestra, William Boughton conducting the English String Orchestra, Nimbus NIM 5008). Despite Perlman's interpretation being a little more romantic than the one I know, it was disciplined. Perlman managed to make the music feel both lush and restrained at the same time. While that may sound contradictory, a nice balance of the romantic and the restrained seems just right for Elgar somehow. I had never seen this piece performed before. I enjoyed watching the hand-offs from section to section in the fugue-like section toward the end of the piece. Very enjoyable. The concert was worth it just for this.

Like the Elgar, the Tchaikovsky was fun to watch. There's a lot going on in this one, especially among the woodwinds, in the brass section, and in the percussion section (and the woodwinds of the San Francisco Symphony are always particularly good). It was interesting to see the bass drum player rotate the drum back and forth between vertical and horizontal positions, the latter for the loudest strokes. I wonder how that's written into the score? The Fifth Symphony is still my favorite of the Tchaikovsky symphonies, but this was a solid performance. I hadn't realized Perlman was conducting as much as he seems to be these days.

Photo of Itzhak Perlman used with permission: Courtesy of the San Francisco Symphony.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Miscellaneous: Storm and New Neighbors

Well, they were right about a storm coming in. We haven't had one like this for several years. Heavy rain and high winds. My rain gauge already shows 3 inches last night and today. In other words, we've had a tenth of our normal annual rainfall already in less than 24 hours. That bodes well.

In other news, the house next door to us is in escrow again. We'll see if the sale goes through this time. Sounds like a younger couple with a one-year-old daughter. It will be strange having neighbors on that side for the first time in the nine years we've lived here. As long as they are quiet and don't have noisy dogs, I'm happy. It would be nice if they were educated, artsy, wine enthusiasts, but you can't have everything. We'll see.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Wines I'm Making: Pressed the Second-run Cabernet Today

Checked the fermentation of my experimental second-run Cabernet today and the hydrometer read zero. With a big storm coming in tonight (so they say), I decided to press the wine and get all the season's wine-making equipment cleaned up and packed away. We ended up with a little more than three gallons of the wine. It's light, but respectably colored. It doesn't taste too bad, either. I added in a little of the zinfandel now undergoing malolactic fermentation in the hope of getting it going in this wine as well. We'll see.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Art on Wheels: 2009 Alameda All-Italian Car and Motorcycle Show







I showed my 1978 Alfa Romeo Spider at the 2009 Alameda All-Italian Car and Motorcycle Show today (first picture--just washed and ready for the drive to Alameda). Here are a few pictures of cars at the show--three Alfa Romeos, a Ferrari racing car cockpit, and a little Fiat 600. The turn out was excellent this year and there were more cars than I remember seeing in the past. It was mostly Alfas, which is why I enjoy the show, but there were cars from Fiat, Lancia, Maserati, Lamborghini, and Ferrari among others. Art on wheels.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Wines I'm Making: Malolactic Fermentation (2009)

The winery activity around the house has peaked and slowed for the season. Next I need to think about harvesting honey, but I doubt I'll have time ahead of the rains predicted for early next week. At present, the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Zinfandel are quietly undergoing malolactic fermentation in the living room and the Sangiovese rosé is still fermenting in the garage on day nine. This fermentation is already more than twice as long as what has been normal using the Epernay II yeast. Typically, the rosé has fermented in about four days--rather violently. I'm hoping the slow, extended fermentation this year will make the wine even better.

Once again being left with still useful-looking pressings from the Cabernet this year, I decided to make a second-run wine. It may be horrible, but at least I'll know it's not worth doing twice. Into the skins and seeds left over after pressing, I added 6 gallons of water, 10 pounds of sugar, and just over 2 ounces of an acid blend (combining tartaric, malic, and citric acids). Fermentation began again spontaneously. So far, it has behaved just like a normal fermentation. It's remarkable how much color is left in the skins. The wine is already a respectable red. I hope there is enough flavor left in them to make the wine at least palatable.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Wines I'm Making: Pressed Cabernet this Evening

Pressed the Cabernet this evening. 10 gallons of must yielded six gallons of pressed wine. Beautiful deep purple red. Smells wonderful. Inoculated with Enoferm Alpha to start malolactic fermentation. Celebrated by opening a bottle of the 2007 Cabernet, which keeps getting better. Also inoculated the Zinfandel for malolactic fermentation. The wine is resting in the living room, wrapped in a blanket and a heating pad.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Birds I'm Watching: Shollenberger Park

Spent a couple hours out at Shollenberger Park this morning, in Petaluma. The areas closest to the paths are mostly dried up by now, but there were a fair number of birds in the distance. Using my new spotting scope, I was able to identify a few things--song sparrows, black-necked stilts, marbled godwits, willets, turkey vultures, Western sandpipers, a paler sandpiper (probably sanderlings), killdeer, snowy egrets, great egrets, ring-billed gulls, and a few long-billed curlews. These last were a first sighting for me. The bird in the photo is a Black Phoebe.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Birds I'm Watching: Bodega Bay (Oct. 3, 2009)

After pressing the Zinfandel this morning, I went out to Bodega Bay to look at birds. The wind was fierce, but saw quite a lot--28 species, including Red-winged Blackbird, Brown Pelican, White Pelican, Turkey Vulture, Scrub-jay, Elegant Tern, Forster's Tern, California Gull, Western Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Willet, Marbled Godwit, Semipalmated Plover, Western Sandpiper, Greater Yellowlegs, Sanderlings, Snowy Egret, Great Egret, Double-crested Cormorant, Ruddy Turnstone, Black Turnstone, Common Loon, Pied-billed Grebe, Surf Scoter, Black Oystercatcher, an unidentified murrelet (looking most like a Xantus's murrelet, but possibly an ancient murrelet--all black back, white up to the chin), and Eurasian Collared Dove. The Forster's Tern was a first sighting for me--as was the Murrelet, although I'm not counting that, as I can't decide what it was.

[Update: I wrote this when I first started birding in Sonoma County. I've learned a lot since then—six years ago now. As evidence, see my website Sonoma County Bird Watching Spots.]

Wines I'm Making: Pressed Zinfandel This Morning


Pressed the Zinfandel this morning. Pressed 14 gallons of must, which yielded nine gallons of wine, although there was so much sediment in it that I passed it once through cheese cloth. The end result was 8 gallons of wine which is now resting, ahead of malolactic bacteria inoculation, which I will do tomorrow. The primary fermentation was a fairly short eight days.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Wines I'm Drinking: Tasting at Wine Spectrum (Veraison, Krupp Brothers, Blackbart)

I recently attended an interesting wine tasting at the Wine Spectrum wine shop in Santa Rosa, near Railroad Square. Michael Heliotes, of Krupp Brothers, was showing wines from the Blackbart, Krupp Brothers, and Veraison labels. I tasted a 2006 Blackbart Marsanne/Viognier/Chardonnay blend from fruit from the Stagecoach Vineyard called "Black Bart's Bride;" the 2006 Krupp Brothers "The Doctor," a blend of Tempranillo, Merlot, Malbec, and Cabernet Sauvignon, from Krup Vineyard and Stagecoach Vineyard fruit; the 2004 Veraison "Synchrony" (Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and Merlot), also from Stagecoach Vineyard fruit; a 2005 Veraison Cabernet Sauvignon from Stagecoach Vineyard fruit; and a 2006 Blackbart Syrah, also from Stagecoach Vineyard fruit.

I went into the tasting with a great deal of skepticism. Frankly, I can't remember why I decided to attend this one (usually the word Napa turns me off), but, despite my prejudice against Napa wines--which, in my view, are far too often overpriced--I was impressed by all of these. Michael was hands-off, but available for background information and a lot of fun to talk with. His enthusiasm for the wines shows.

The 2006 "Black Bart's Bride" had a peachy nose with hints of caramel at first, later developing scents of roses and peach cobbler. There was also a sappy sort of scent that reminded me of Roero Arneis--a very pleasant fresh vegetable-like scent that nearly all the wines had in the background. Very concentrated on the palate. Powerful. Tasted of peaches and ginger. Very rich, concentrated wine with a long finish. More finesse than a lot of California Viognier wines have. I suspect the addition of the Chardonnay helped to boost acidity and keep this fresh, despite its oomph. Can't imagine what you'd eat with this--créme brulée comes to mind--but a very interesting, tasty wine.

"The Doctor" was not quite like anything I've tasted before. It is mostly Tempranillo (37%) but is 28% Merlot and 21% Malbec, finished off with 14% Cabernet Sauvignon. A nice medium ruby color. The nose was fairly closed at first, but suggested dark berries and something volatile that I couldn't quite pin down. After a few minutes it began to strongly suggest cinnamon, or, more precisely, cinnamon balls. Rich, sweet, and fruity on the palate. The wine didn't taste like any of the grapes I knew to be in it--I'd call it more than the sum of its parts. Perhaps most striking was its balance. Good fruit, good tannins, and just the right amount of acidity. Poised, I would call it. With a little time, it began to develop some slightly exotic scents. I was reminded of ginger, crabmeat, and toasted coconut (yes, I changed my glass after the Viognier-based wine). Not my favorite of the evening--I found myself wanting a more familiar flavor profile, which is more a fault in me than in the wine--but a very well made, solid offering.

The 2004 "Synchrony" had good color--again a medium ruby red. Pronounced meaty scents and cinnamon again. Later, it suddenly smelled of anise and the meat scents became more specifically suggestive of roasted game. Remarkably well balanced. A bit lighter than the "The Doctor," but with a beautiful, pure, core of fruit. It seemed almost ethereal--floating on the tongue. Light tannins, but just enough bite. Began to suggest blueberries on the palate. Had the fresh, sappy scents I noticed in some of the other wines. Delicious. Of all things, this reminded me of Australia's Grange Hermitage (now just called Grange), from Penfold's. It would have made more sense if the Syrah had done so, but life often makes no sense, I've found. In any case, a very tasty, well made wine. Along with the Syrah, it was my favorite of the evening.

The 2005 Stagecoach Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon was much deeper in color than the "Synchrony." The nose suggested roses, green peppers, and cinnamon. There was a rather heady, alcoholic tone as well. Rich, sweet on the palate with considerable tannin. Rather closed overall, but later developed chocolate flavors and something spicy. I had trouble with this one. While I enjoyed it, I find it hard to describe. I suspect it will reward patience. I'd like try this again in about five years.

I generally dislike California (and Australian) Syrah. If I want Syrah, I try to drink wines from the Northern Rhone. Too often California Syrah seems sweet (in a cloying way), too fruity, and it has no real character. It tends to be a Kool-Aid wine. I expected to dislike the 2006 Blackbart Syrah.

I didn't. It was delicious. No Kool-Aid here. Clearly an adult wine. Very deep red. Gamey on the nose, in the best sort of way. Hints of citrus--blood oranges, I'd say, because of something bitter in the scent--, and later hints of blueberries. Wonderfully clean on the palate. Again, very nicely balanced between fruit and tannin. If I had to quibble, I'd ask for a touch more acid, a little more brightness, but this wine was notable for the same sort of clarity of fruit that I enjoyed in the "Synchrony." Delicious. I jokingly said to Michael "Your winemaker must be Australian" just from looking at the blends. Turned out I was right. Kudos to winemaker Nigel Kinsman. All five of the wines I tasted were delicious.

I didn't ask the prices. I'm sure I can't afford them. If you can, they're probably worth it. All in all, another fun evening from Pat Moore and the staff at Wine Spectrum (with which, for the record, I have no connections except as an occasional customer).

Images courtesy of the Krupp Brothers Web site.

Wines I'm Making: Rosé fermenting, Cab off to a Slow Start

The rosé fermentation is well under way today. The yeast went in yesterday. I'm keeping the carboy in a big tub with blocks of ice to try to keep the temperature down and achieve a slower fermentation this year. We'll see how it goes. The Cabernet smells wonderful this year--very spicy and Cabernet-like. I inoculated the must yesterday, but the fermentation has been very slow to get started. Usually there are a lot of bubbles within hours, but there has been very little activity so far, probably because it was so cool in the garage last night. Brought it in the house this morning and I plan to leave it out in the sun for a bit today to get it going.

Birds I'm Watching: First Flicker of the Year

Saw the first flicker of the year in the yard this morning, atop one of the evergreen trees behind the grape vines. Also saw a ruby-crowned kinglet--the first time I've seen one in the yard. A Bewick's wren was warbling loudly earlier this morning from the locust tree in the front of the yard.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Wines I'm Making: 2009 Harvest



Harvested the grapes today. The yield was very low. We got only 86 pounds of Cabernet and 64 pounds of Sangiovese. The Cabernet yielded nine gallons of must, which means we'll get about six gallons of wine at best, which would be 30 bottles. The Sangiovese yielded 6.6 gallons of must, which will mean about 4 gallons of wine, or about 20 bottles. That's about half what we usually make. The cold weather at flowering this year caused shatter, and we lost a fair amount to the raccoons again.

The Cabernet must tested at 24.8 Brix with a pH of 3.91--on the high side--and total acidity of .051, which is on the low side. I may have to do some adjustments later. The sugar spiked over the weekend. Sulfited the must to 72ppm, which is rather more than usual because of the high pH.

The Sangiovese must tested at 21.0 Brix (1.086 by the hydrometer) with a pH of 3.70. Total acidity was again somewhat low, at 0.50. Sulfited to about 50ppm. I've decided to make all the Sangiovese into rosé again this year, as it's so nice to have new wine at Thanksgiving. I will try to keep the temperature down more, to extend the fermentation a bit, as the winemaker at Wellington suggested that would improve the freshness. I'll be pressing the Sangiovese first thing in the morning tomorrow, after taking my son to school. The upper photo shows Sangiovese grapes, just picked. The lower shows the crushed Cabernet grapes, ready to be inoculated with yeast.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Tidbits: Alicia de Larrocha--RIP

Alicia de Larrocha died today. Heard her play a stirring recital in Milan around 1994. I have several brilliant recordings by her. Sad, but inevitable.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Birds I'm Watching: Howarth Park (Lake Ralphine)

Spent an hour and a half or so this afternoon taking a break from work by walking along one side of Lake Ralphine, the boating lake at Howarth Park, in Santa Rosa. I've found that this is a good place to see warblers and other small woodland birds. I'm a novice when it comes to warblers, but I'm a quick learner. Today I saw yellow warblers and a Townsend's warbler, along with chestnut-backed chickadees, Oak titmice, bushtits, scrub jays, juncos, Anna's hummingbirds, Canada Geese, snowy egrets, mallards, a pacific-slope flycatcher, a brown creeper, a Nuttall's woodpecker, and a hairy woodpecker--16 species. Not too bad for a two-minute drive from home.

If you care to try this one, take the trail out of the far right corner of the upper parking lot at Howarth Park (far right if you're facing the lake, looking along the long axis of the parking lot). After about 100 meters the path splits. Take the left, lower, unpaved path--the path less traveled by--rather than the main, paved path that begins to rise. The lower path runs right along the side of Lake Ralphine. This entire stretch is a good place to look for birds, particularly in the more open areas toward the end of the lake.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Wines I'm Making: Harvested and crushed 321 pounds of Zinfandel


Harvested the neighbor's Zinfandel grapes today. We took in and crushed 321lbs of grapes. We had to pick a little earlier than would have been ideal because of raccoon losses and because the grapes were not watered much, so the sugar was rising more as a result of dehydration than because of maturity. Still, the must tests at 23.2 Brix and 1.090 by the hydrometer with a pH of 3.6--not too bad. Sulfited to around 55ppm. Will inoculate with yeast tomorrow. This will be my first time making Zinfandel. The Cabernet and Sangiovese grapes in our own back yard have been better cared for. I expect to harvest them in the next week or so. Above is a photo of my grape-stained hand, looking as if cast in bronze.

Following day: Inoculated the must at around 4:30 with Rhone yeast L2226. Must tested at 1.091 by hydrometer, pH of 3.66, and total acidity of 1.080, at 70 degrees. That translates into a temperature-adjusted Brix of 22.3 for potential alcohol of 12.9%--quite respectable.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Wines I'm Making: Harvest in About a Week? (2009)

Checked out all the grapes today. The Sangiovese is at 20 Brix (although at least one berry tested higher a few days ago) and a pH of 3.51 (pH squared times sugar equals 246). I'd like to get the sugar up to 22 Brix at least, ideally 23. So, will wait. The Cabernet is at 22.5 Brix, with a pH of 3.61 (293), again, getting close, but I'd like at least another degree of sugar. I think harvest is likely to be right around the end of the month.

The neighbor's Zinfandel vines that I'm tending this year with the help of our (other) new neighbor, Steve, are at 21.0 Brix and a pH of 3.41 (244), still too early to pick in an ideal world, but, as we all know, the world is not ideal. The problem is that the grapes are fast disappearing to the raccoons, as Ben, the owner of the grapes, didn't want to bother netting them. Looks like we'll be forced to harvest these earliest of the three varieties, probably on Steve's next day off, Thursday.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Food I'm Eating: Tarts at Tartine



Enjoyed the lemon cream and coconut cream tarts at Tartine this morning. I've come to the conclusion that the coconut cream is the tastier of the two, but both are good. The layer of chocolate in the coconut cream tart is unorthodox, but a tasty variation on a classic. Thumbs up.

Later in the day, stopped briefly at Ocean Beach, near the San Francisco Zoo. Saw a small group of Sanderlings playing tag with the waves. Also saw Least Sandpipers, identifying these with certainty for the first time.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Birds I'm Watching: Bodega Bay



I spent the morning and early afternoon out at Bodega Bay today, trying out my new Orion Grandview spotting scope. It's a bit bigger than I anticipated. It's fairly heavy and cumbersome, but considering that I'll generally use it only while touring by car, I'm very pleased. Bright, clear optics. Rather hard to focus through the camera though (I got the camera adapter). In fact, it's so dark, it's hard to see what you're trying to focus on. I think that's partly a function of the focusing screen in my camera. I will have to look into perhaps changing to a more compatible one.
 The photos I took today show that I can't focus it very well. These are Elegant Terns in the photos.

Birds I saw today: Scrub-jay, Common Raven, Crow, Flycatcher sp., Anna's Hummingbird, Northern Harrier, Pied-billed Grebe, Brandt's Cormorant, Pelagic Cormorant, Double-crested Cormorant, Pacific Loon, Black Oystercatcher, Brown Pelican, White Pelican, Black Turnstone, Ruddy Turnstone, Turkey Vulture, Black-bellied Plover, Western Sandpiper, Marbled Godwit, Willet, Short-billed Dowitcher, Western Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Elegant Tern, Lesser Goldfinch, and Brants.

I think the terns I've seen recently at Bodega that I've been calling Common Terns have probably been Elegant Terns. I like these birds. They look like they are balding with the hair in the back left to grow long. I can easily imagine one at a podium, conducting a seaside opera.
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