Biking big day — planning & scouting 3, western half

So far, you’ve heard about the basics of our route.  Now you’ll get to learn more about the crazy side of the route.  But first, the place where we’ll spend dawn.  We’ll be starting in Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve in the Santa Cruz Mountains.  Picking a high point for dawn, we bird a hill (nicknamed ‘Hermit Hill’ by Garth Harwood) that is often good for Hermit Warbler, Red-breasted Nuthatch, and other birds with a more Sierra Nevadan feel.  Here’s a glimpse of the forest edge.

We’ll quickly drop down into Monte Bello Open Space Preserve, which is actually in Palo Alto, despite being at the crest of the mountains!  One spot we’ll bird carefully is a meadow 1 mile down the Canyon Trail.  It’s often wonderful for migrants.

Josiah, Andy, and I scouted this on April 22nd, and found lots of Hermit Warblers as well as a few other migrants.  Check out our ebird lists.

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S18041773

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S18042008

Okay, so that’s the mountain start.  But it’s not really our start.  We’ll be on the water at Pillar Point Harbor at midnight.  Josiah dropped a kayak in there the other evening, and demonstrated that a lot of birds can be found on the ocean at night.  Tattlers hyperactively teeted, Black Oystercatchers wailed, and Black Turnstones offered the occasional rattle.  The harbor can be pretty lit up in places, and the glare can offer views of loons and Red-breasted Mergansers.  As Surf Scoters heave themselves away, their wings whistle deeply.  This is certainly the biggest X-factor of our route.  We could find 5 special birds, or we could find 10 or more.  Regardless, it will be an adventure to remember.

After hauling out the kayaks and locking them up, we’ll be on our bikes, making our way up the mountains and racing the clock to beat the sunrise.  I think we can do it!

Stay tuned for some guest post from Josiah and Andy!

-Rob

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