Thursday, 4 October 2012

California, September 2012 - Bodega Bay and Jenner

Continuing north our next destination was the Bodega Bay area, which was chosen due to a planned pelagic with Debi Shearwater on 21st September, but I will write about that in the next post. We headed north on Highway 1, and since we planned to stay for two nights in Bodega Bay we continued north eventually stopping at the small village of Jenner. Jenner is situated at the mouth of the Russian River, and our accommodation looked out over the creek. A colony of Harbour Seals haul out at the mouth of the creek affording excellent views. We drove out onto Goat Rock, which forms the western, outer side of the creek; there was some great birding to be had in this area. 

Harbour Seal

Most notably were good numbers of Western Grebes, but despite my best efforts I could not turn any of them into Clark's Grebes. Red-throated and Common Loons were feeding among the crashing waves, and further out there were good sized flocks of scoter, mainly Black but also occasional Surf. Brandt's and Pelagic Cormorants, Common Murres, Brown and a flock of 30 American Pelicans were also present. 

Americam White Pelican

In the evening a small flock of Red-breasted Mergansers and two Belted Kingfishers were also recorded. 

Anna's Hummingbird

Behind our accommodation a small green, enclosed with scrub was present and a pre-breakfast visit produced several Anna's Hummingbirds, Spotted Towhee, Fox Sparrow (of the Pacific Coast sooty form), Lincoln's Sparrow, loads of White-crowned Sparrows and a rather gothic looking Turkey Vulture, warming its wings in the morning sun.

Turkey Vulture

After spending the day north of Jenner we headed back towards of Bodega Bay, stopping at various viewpoints on the way. Our stops produced the usual gull species, more Red-throated and Pacific Loons and the occasional passing Pomarine Jaeger (Skua), but the highlight was two Hump-backed Whales that were feeding just offshore. A brief stop at Portuguese Beach, one of the beaches on the journey south, had over 20 Red-throated Loons, 10 Eared and two Western Grebes, another Pomarine Jaeger and two Glaucous-winged Gulls.

Glaucous-winged Gull

Salmon Creek, is situated just to the north of Bodega Bay, and consists of two pools to the east of the road, and the main creek to the west. The pools apparently hold loads of ducks during the winter, but chatting to a couple of birders revealed that they had arrived early this year as within the resident Mallards were Cinnamon Teals, Shovelers, American Wigeon, and as we stood chatting five Pintail dropped in. There were also a few waders on the pool, the most notable being a Pectoral Sandpiper, along with four Long-billed Dowitchers and a Spotted Sandpiper. The mouth of the creek was even more productive with Least and Western Sandpipers, Semi-palmated Plovers, Sanderling, Dunlin and a Marbled Godwit.

Marbled Godwit

Bodega Headland, known locally as the West Side is an excellent birding location. Spud Point Marina is located on the east side of West Shore Road (the main road onto the headland), and support a large wader roost at high tide. We stopped here twice and recorded a peak count of over 200 Marbled Godwits, 100 Willets, 24 American Pelican, four Sanderling, one Long-billed Dowitcher, two Brent Geese and a Black-bellied Plover (grey). 

Mixed Wader Roost, Marblled Godwit, Willet, Long-billed Dowitcher
and Black-bellied Plover

Moving on to the headland itself we spent a while looking out to sea, but by this time the wind had picked up and the sea was not in a good state for looking for cetaceans. The headland and patches of scrub had some interesting species present including Warbling Vireo, Savannah Sparrow, Purple Finch, American Goldfinch, Glaucous-winged Gull and a cracking Northern Harrier. 

Northern Harrier

The Port of Bodega was another good birding spot with several hundred Western and Least Sandpipers roosting on the rocks, giving me an excellent opportunity to get some photos.

Western Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper

Returning to our accommodation 20 Killdeer, 2 Western Bluebirds and a Black Phoebe  were present in the field behind and a flock of Pine Siskin and a White-tailed Kite flew over. 

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