Category Archives: Bird Surveys

Stanford Cardinal takes it (greenly)! — Stanford v. Berkeley birdathon

UPDATE: a little bit of popular press.  http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Not-the-Big-Game-but-contest-not-just-for-the-5399424.php  Though, for the record, plenty of the Stanford birders actually really like football and enjoy going to The Big Game.

Stanford takes the victory!  With a total of 76 species, our hale and hearty team of 10 edged out Berkeley’s team, who found 64 species.  If you haven’t heard about it before, here are the details on this competition.  And best of all, this was a green effort!  We met at a single location and then divided ourselves up to cover the campus on foot.

10 birders scoured Stanford's campus today (4/13/14) to find 76 species!

10 birders scoured Stanford’s campus today (4/13/14) to find 76 species!

After meeting and planning early this morning, the group split into three sub-teams: one for the Stanford dish trail, one for San Francisquito Creek, and one focusing on the main campus.  The dish team came up big, finding Western Kingbird, Ash-throated Flycatcher, as well as Grasshopper, Savannah, and Lark Sparrows.  The creek team found their own treasures, like Downy Woodpecker, Pygmy Nuthatch, Black-headed Grosbeak, and Yellow Warbler.

The fearless leaders checking for lurking sparrows in the weeds.

The fearless leaders checking for lurking sparrows in the weeds. (Photo by Karen DeMello)

I led the main campus group.  The biggest treat was my group, with Joan Zuckerman, Karen DeMello, and Jasen Liu all providing great spotting and even better company.  As we studied sparrows in front of Bing Concert Hall, a White-throated Sparrow popped out!  We weren’t expecting that.  We did expect (and did find) other birds like California Thrasher, Hooded Oriole, White-throated Swift, and California Gull, but that didn’t keep us from appreciating them just as much!

This bird was foraging in front of Bing Concert Hall.

This White-throated Sparrow was foraging in front of Bing Concert Hall. (Photo by Jasen Liu)

All the groups reveled in the springtime chorus, with the shrill mews of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers exploding from the oaks, the deep blue backs of Western Bluebirds glowing in the sun, and the stammering chatter of White-throated Swifts peppering down from overhead.  It was not a day I’ll soon forget.

A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher at the Stanford dish trail.  (Photo by Jasen Liu)

A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher at the Stanford dish trail. (Photo by Jasen Liu)

If this is at all inspiring, we’re still taking sponsorships for local SF Bay Area youth nature education and conservation.  Sponsor me or anyone else on the team from the pulldown tab at the SCVAS birdathon website.

Members: Rob Furrow, Carrie Ann (Caroline) Adams, Marion Krause, Marina Dimitrov, Ellyn Bush, Joan Zuckerman, Danny Karp, Karen DeMello, Mike Rogers, Jasen Liu.

 

Happy birding,

-Rob Furrow

 

 

Go Stanford! — Stanford v. Berkeley birdathon 4/13

How many bird species are on Stanford’s campus on a spring morning?  I’ll tell you soon enough!  This Sunday is Birding’s Big Game.  4 hours, 1 Stanford team, 1 UC Berkeley team, 60+ species.  I’ll be coordinating the Stanford side of things, working with an awesome crew of a dozen birders: alumni, undergrads, grad students, community members, oh yeah!  I’m lucky to have such great birders helping, since the critical mission is to BEAT CAL in bird diversity.  Football’s not enough — we need to hit them where it really hurts.  In the birds.

Do you want kids to learn more about nature?  Do you want to protect unique bay area habitats?  SPONSOR US!  The money goes to youth nature education projects and conservation work in the southern Bay Area, run by the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society (I love them!).  You can do it online here.  Just select my name (Rob Furrow) from the pull down tab and make a donation using paypal.  If you want to make a per-bird donation (10 cents, 50 cents?), you can wait for the results and donate then.  And if you don’t like paypal, you can give me a check in person, made out to SCVAS.  Thanks!

birdlogo

Okay, down to the brass tacks.  How can we optimize coverage of Stanford’s campus?  We have a few key habitats.  Oak savanna and grassland, of particularly high quality along Stanford’s dish trail.  Riparian with some willows and alders along San Francisquito Creek.  Brushy edges.  Extensive eucalyptus groves.  A few migrant traps.  To cover it all, we’ll split into two teams.

Team 1 tackles the creekside habitat and the mish-mash of Stanford’s main campus.  We’ll hope for migrants, woodpeckers, Hooded and Bullock’s Oriole, and some Brown Creepers making a breeding attempt behind eucalyptus bark.

The basic route for team 1

The basic route for team 1

Team 2 covers the dish trails, and the lovely riparian where the trail meets Alpine Road.  Lots of excellent grassland with great chances for hawks, kites, falcons, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Western Kingbird, maybe even a Grasshopper Sparrow.

The outline of team 2's route

The outline of team 2’s route

Wish us luck!

-Rob Furrow

 

Bioblitz recap

Cold and windy weather last Friday couldn’t stop Josiah Clark, Michael Park, and I from hopping on our bikes and exploring the SF Presidio, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, and riding into the Marin Headlands.  High school phenom Logan Kahle joined along for the early afternoon.  Not the most diverse day, but we did manage to find 90 species and submit 10 ebird checklists for different localities.  My highlight was definitely watching an abundance of displaying Allen’s Hummingbirds around Fort Scott in the Presidio.  I’ll keep this short, but here are the checklists.

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S17631332

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S17631726

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S17632595

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S17632568

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S17632759

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S17633290

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S17633899

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S17637253

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S17637250

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S17637260

Bioblitzing!

Today and tomorrow, National Geographic and the Golden Gate National Parks are coordinating a Bioblitz and biodiversity festival throughout the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA).  Check out the basic info here.  Registration for the formal expert-led inventories is now closed, but there are a few other ways to participate.

1) Go out and make some sightings of your own!  Between noon today (28 March, 2014) and noon tomorrow, any sightings within the GGNRA that are posted to ebird or iNaturalist will become part of the data for this Bioblitz.  You can be a member of the scientific community by contributing your observations.  The green areas on the map below show the boundaries of the GGNRA and Golden Gate NPs — a diverse set of parks that include Crissy Field, The SF Presidio, The Marin Headlands, Muir Beach, and more.  Josiah Clark and I (and hopefully a few more folks) are gonna bring some GREEN to the event.  We’ll be biking around the presidio and up into the Marin Headlands to survey bird diversity and more without using any fossil fuels.

2) Bring friends and family to the biodiversity festival. From 9-5 today and tomorrow there are interactive exhibits, live animal demonstrations, and music, at East Beach in the SF Presidio.

I hope to see you out there!

The map of the SF area with GGNRA lands colored green.

The map of the SF area with GGNRA lands colored green.

Jasper Ridge new arrivals

A millipede crept along the trail. (Photo courtesy of Sonny Mencher, 3/17/2014.)

A millipede crept along the trail. (Photo courtesy of Sonny Mencher, 3/17/2014.)

New birds continue to trickle into the SF Bay Area.  As March flows into April, this trickle will broaden into a stream that strengthens throughout the month.  On Monday, I helped conduct one of the monthly bird transects at Jasper Ridge, Stanford’s local biological preserve (and the location of some fascinating ecological research).  Our transect winds through open oak woodlands, into some riparian (creekside) habitat, and through a peaceful redwood grove.

A newly arrived gnatcatcher staring us down. (Photo courtesy of Malia DeFelice, 3/17/2014.)

A newly arrived gnatcatcher staring us down. (Photo courtesy of Malia DeFelice, 3/17/2014.)

Migrants have arrived, including a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher mewing from the edge of a patch of Blue Oak woodland, and many Orange-crowned Warblers demarcating their territories.  One highlight was the song of a returning Wilson’s Warbler — my first of the Spring!  And of course, we enjoyed old favorites like Acorn Woodpeckers and Hutton’s Vireos.

An Acorn Woodpecker hanging out on a granary tree.  (Photo courtesy of Sonny Mencher, 3/17/2014.)

An Acorn Woodpecker hanging out on a granary tree. (Photo courtesy of Sonny Mencher, 3/17/2014.)