Biking big day — planning & scouting 2, eastern half

Here I want to outline some of our birding preparation for the upcoming green big day on Tuesday, April 29th.  In the quest to see as many species as possible in 24 hours, big days are not like most birding.  They’re not about observing birds, or really even looking for them.  They’re about knowing where the birds should be before you even begin.  Things are so fast paced that every nest, territory, and roost that you know about can really help add to your total.  To that end, we’ve put in a lot of scouting hours to understand the birds and their behavior on our route.  Loosely, the scouting is in four portions: the San Mateo County coast, the Santa Cruz Mountains, the southern SF bayshore, and the eastern foothills of the Diablo Range.

On April 20th, Logan Kahle, Josiah Clark, and I carpooled over to Milpitas and hopped on our bikes to scout the eastern foothills, focusing on Ed Levin County Park and nearby Calaveras Reservoir.  Here’s a taste of the scenery.

This area is arid grassland, with fingers of riparian habitat that stream into the reservoir, and the occasional patch of California Sagebrush.  As we rode, we delighted in a pair of Rock Wren exchanging food, Lark Sparrows warily eyeing us and attempting to distract us away from their territories, and Golden Eagles soaring above.  Here are the ebirds checklists for the day.

To scout the bayshore, Andy Kleinhesselink and I hopped on bikes yesterday (April 26th), and road around various salt ponds and marshes of Alviso and Sunnyvale.  I can be a bit restless, so having Andy’s patient scanning really paid off.  We found a very late Common Goldeneye, a nice assortment of gulls including a Thayer’s, and lots of peeps.  Checking out the freshwater marshes behind Yahoo’s offices, we enjoyed a lingering Wilson’s Snipe, eye-level Vaux’s Swifts, many Cinnamon Teal, and a Common Gallinule bobbing past.  A few checklists from the day.

As you can imagine, our route packs a lot of diversity.  In the next post I’ll share some scouting notes from the western half of the route, and talk about the final build up to the big day.



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