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.

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