Guadalupe Oak Grove Park

Thursday, July 15, 2010

breeding birds

I'll try to recall significant events in the park during the last year and a half I've neglected to blog.

A flock of Chipping Sparrows has wintered in adjoining Jeffrey Fontana Park for several years now, and they occasionally wander into Guadalupe Oak Grove. South bay birders can count on finding this species here for their year list.

A Hutton's Vireo pair nested high in a Valley Oak over the wooded trail this spring. I could see the tip of the females tail as she brooded eggs for several weeks. I enjoyed watching their progress from nest building to finding a fledgling giving his rendition of their call. Later I happened to find their empty nest on the trail.

Anna's Hummingbird nest along the south end of the wooded trail. One day I found 4 female hummingbirds on nests and one building a nest. Anna's nest early to coincide with blooming Gooseberry and California Fuchsia which grow along this trail. To find a hummingbird nest, look for a female gathering nest material or catching insects and follow her short flight to the nest.

The Coopers Hawk pair returned to last years nest and fledged two offspring a few weeks ago. The immature birds delighted the Los Gatos Birdwatcher group last Saturday on a field trip to the park. The young birds perched together on a snag, providing excellent views. That day the group bid farewell to our friend Hubert D'Hondt, who will return to France after an extended stay.

The parks resident Red-shouldered Hawk pair nested in the middle woods again. Once I find their nest I don't return, since they are easily agitated.
Finding nesting birds is a hobby of mine. I've found 117 nest so far this season. My favorite again this year was the Golden Eagle's nest on the Woods trail in Sierra Azul. They fledged one chick and had one unhatched egg. A close second was the Blue Gray Gnatcatcher nest on the Guadalupe trail in Quicksilver Co. Park. I could see into the nest and watch them feed nestlings. I was amazed how quickly the female would return with insects to feed her young.

Friday evening July 9th, I watched the resident pair of Red-tailed Hawks circling the park and constantly calling. I could hear the faint cries of their offspring, but hadn't found their nest in years. I followed their calls and spotted them on the Athenour property to the north east. The adults were apparently trying to coax the young to leave the nest. I was privileged to see both immature hawks first hesitant flight to a nearby Redwood tree. Two days later they were soaring over the ridge with confidence. The plumage of the immature Red-tailed Hawk is spectacular.

On May 6, 2010, I found a rare migrant, a Gray Flycatcher on the Quarry Trail. It was perched in a small oak flicking its tail. I knew right away it was something I hadn't seen before. Unfortunately it didn't stay, but was recorded for county records. It was one of two Gray Flycatchers seen in the county this year, the first since 2003. Regular birding in a neighborhood park results in some interesting finds. My species list for the park now numbers 109. I wonder what I'll find next?


Monday, December 15, 2008


The cut face on quarried sandstone reads CLINT WHY? Dec. 15 1993.
Exactly 15 years after that date, I find myself in Guadalupe Oak Grove Park staring at this rock. Why was I here that day, when I have neglected the park for so long? I find birding elsewhere more rewarding and seldom bird here anymore. It's cold and brisk today and the long green grass is in stark contrast to the brown hills of a valley in a year long drought. It rained yesterday and I find birds here and there. Dark eyed Juncos among White and Golden crowned Sparrows foraging on the ground. Ruby crowned Kinglet's are chattering throughout the park, announcing their presence. The Red tailed Hawk pair is still here and I find a beautiful Red breasted Sapsucker snug against an oak tree trunk, drilling for sap. A Downy and Nuttall's Woodpecker share a limb and a few Western Bluebirds fly overhead. Acorn Woodpeckers seem to be everywhere giving their raucous calls.

But no one is here for Clint. I only know he was a teenager found hanging from a tree limb by park rangers fifteen years ago today. I don't even know his full name. Friends used to gather at the rock with candles on the anniversary of his death. I'm sure he's not forgotten, not my me, not by his family or his friends. Rest in peace Clint.

Janna Pauser


Blogger Michael said...

Something to add to your collection of inhabitants of Guadalupe Oak Grove Park -- On Sunday April 26, 2009 I was coming down West side of Trail III -- When I saw Sprawled out laying in the middle of the path was a Mountain Lion -- I got within 50 foot or so when I saw it -- It Looked at me - stood up on all fours then sat back down on its haunches -- Of course I froze not knowing what was about to happen -- Then it Flopped back over on its side to enjoyed the sun. I took this opportunity to back track and go the other way - when I arrived at home I called Fish & Game just to let them know I spotted a Mountain Lion in the park. Michael

May 4, 2009 at 5:11 PM  

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

sparrow chase

I don't usually write about birding places other than Guadalupe Oak Grove in this blog, but things have been slow there lately. I haven't seen a good bird in the park since the Chestnut sided Warbler on Sept. 21. It was a rare bird for the county, and my best warbler this year.

On Nov. 6, I led a preschool class on a nature walk in Guadalupe Oak Grove Park. While the kids were playing on the playground I went off to look for acorns for them to collect. Amazingly I came across a flock of Chipping Sparrows. I'd seen that species in the area several times, usually in the spring. I came back many times in the next three weeks, and counted as many as thirteen. It didn't attract much attention until another birder found a Clay colored Sparrow with the flock. Ann Verdi and I looked for it the next day, and both got a good look at this sparrow perched in a tree right in front of us.

On Dec. 3, I birded at Jeffrey Fontana Park where the sparrows had been seen. I heard a Fox Sparrow which I reported a week ago. Then I lucked out and found the Clay colored Sp. in the grass and nearby Chipping Sparrows. Just inside Guadalupe Oak Grove Park I found the White throated Sparrow, an uncommon winter visitor, which I first spotted a month ago. Already I had three uncommon sparrows! I continued the chase on the Guadalupe River Trail where I picked up White and Golden crowned Sparrows, Lincolns, House and Song Sparrow. It was only 9:30, so I drove out to Fortini Rd. I hadn't seen a Lark Sparrow for months, but persistence produced a Lark Sparrow. I knew I could find a Rufous crowned Sparrow at the Stile Ranch trailhead. I played its call on my PDA, and three RCSP popped up in the chaparral. I had only one more possible sparrow to find, so I stopped at the Calero Reservoir boat ramp and found a Savannah Sparrow, my twelveth sparrow species!!!

(White-throated Sparrow photo by Alan Walther)

Thursday, September 06, 2007

nesting birds

Each year I happen upon many active bird nests while birding. This year was no exception, with 49 nests seen in various parks this spring. The noisy nestling's alert me to their presence, and I stay to watch the adults feed their young. My favorite find was a Northern Mockingbird nest on the Guadalupe River trail in downtown San Jose. I was serving jury duty and walked to the nearby trail to have my lunch. A mockingbird perched nearby, eventually flew and settled on its nest in a Sycamore tree over my picnic table. It was the first and only Northern Mockingbird nest I've found. Although this bird is common, its nest had eluded me.

My husband Lee has 100 nest boxes in various Almaden Valley Parks, with many in GOG. We haven't had Western Screech Owls nest in a nest box for several years but I found two fledglings sitting side by side in a big Valley Oak tree recently. Lee has two Ash throated Flycatcher pairs nesting and five Western Bluebird pairs nesting in his nest boxes the park.

About ten years ago Lee gave me my first pair of binoculars. I knew nothing about birds, but went to GOG park one May morning. With beginners luck, I happened upon Northern Flickers nesting in a tree cavity. I sat on a log and watched the pair feed two nestling's for over an hour. That's what got me hooked on birding.

A photographer friend Alan Walther, found Northern Flickers nesting in Guadalupe Oak Grove Park this spring and shared their location. It's rare to find this bird nesting on the valley floor. It was a thrill to see the adults feeding their offspring.

(Northern Flicker photo by Alan Walther)

Friday, May 04, 2007

Yellow-breasted Chat

A little rain last night made a trip to Guadalupe Oak Grove Park a must this morning. It was a work day and I had to make this quick. As I walked back to my car after walking the trail, I heard a bird making a variety of calls. I gave some loud whistles, which surprisingly the bird mimicked, and further piqued my curiosity. I peered up into the tree and found a Yellow-breasted Chat!!
This unique bird was easily recognizable: a very large warbler with a vivid yellow throat and breast, is as bold and brash as local birds get. It flew off into the poison oak and peered out at me from an open area on the ground. Again I got a great look at this uncommon and normally elusive bird. I rushed home to post it on South Bay Birds, so that others may see it before it left. Later that afternoon I returned to the park and found several birders looking for the chat. Eventually, all got satisfying looks at the chat in a rare appearance at GOG. Apparently the bird left that night and was not seen again.

(Yellow-breasted Chat photo by Peter LaTourrette)

Monday, April 23, 2007

Almaden Eagles Birdathon

The following was posted on South Bay Birds by our venerable leader, Ann Verdi. This is the forth year I've participated in Audubon's Birdathon or Big Day, a fund raiser for youth education. It was even more special this year because our best birds were found at Guadalupe Oak Grove Park. Janna

Yesterday (Sun, Apr 22) the Almaden Eagles Birdathon team (Janna Pauser, Kirsten Holmquist, Rich Page, and Ann Verdi) did our run. We go for a full day, although we cover only a limited area on our count - only in the Almaden area and nearby areas - hence we never get up to the baylands, the Diablo Range, or the Santa Cruz Mountains (except for a small portion of Sierra Azul) - however we're able to find a good variety of species within our relatively small circle.

Here's a run-down of some of the highlights of our day. With weather reports of heavy rain predicted for the morning, we had opted to make a later start than usual and do our owling at the end of the day - but lo and behold, the rain had already passed through by morning, but we had a late start anyway.

We started with Guadalupe Oak Grove Park where because of the rain the night before there was a nice fall-out of passerines. Highlights here included two CASSIN'S VIREOS and two NASHVILLE WARBLERS. Other notable birds at the park included PACIFIC-SLOPE FLYCATCHER, ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER, HUTTON'S VIREO, COOPER'S HAWK, ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER, WILSON'S WARBLER, WESTERN TANAGER, BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK, and VAUX'S SWIFT overhead. To Janna's delight, we also saw a female NORTHERN FLICKER peaking out from one of the nest boxes.

Next stop was Alamitos Creek Trail by Camden Ave & Graystone bridge. Here we found HOUSE WREN, YELLOW WARBLER, AMERICAN GOLDFINCH, a fly-over GREAT BLUE HERON, and Kirsten found a FOX SPARROW. We also saw a pair of nesting WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH.

On to the Stile Ranch trailhead and the ranch lands around Fortini and San Vicente Rds. At the Stile Ranch trailhead we picked up RUFOUS-CROWNED SPARROW and W. MEADOWLARK. In the ranch lands we saw WESTERN KINGBIRD, SAVANNAH SPARROW, AMERICAN KESTREL, and a lone BAND-TAILED PIGEON in one of the trees.

We visited CALERO RESERVOIR twice during the day but because of high winds and very little roosting area, we didn't find as much as we had hoped here; however, we did see our first GOLDEN EAGLE of the day (an immature). We had some concern about finding our "namesake" Golden Eagle as the eagles have chosen not to nest at the McKean Rd transmission tower nesting site this season. Other birds tallied here included GADWALL, WHITE-TAILED KITE, N. HARRIER, FORSTER'S TERN, and a variety of swallows. (We managed to get to get all five regularly occurring swallow species during our day - Tree, Violet-green, N. Rough-winged, Cliff, Barn).

We headed on to Casa Loma Road and the entrance to Canada del Oro Open Space Preserve. Highlights here included a pair of WESTERN WOOD-PEWEES along Llagas Creek, and a nice male LAZULI BUNTING in Rancho Canada del Oro OSP. Other notable birds here included COMMON RAVEN, WARBLING VIREO, HAIRY WOODPECKER, plus YELLOW-BILLED MAGPIE seen along Casa Loma Rd. We also saw a pair of GOLDEN EAGLES here.

Next stop was Chesbro Reservoir and here we found our bird-of-the-day - a SOLITARY SANDPIPER seen upstream of the reservoir in Llagas Creek along Old Oak Glen Road. Janna originally spotted the bird which was then well seen and studied by all of us. Although Chesbro Reservoir is quite dry right now, we found an interesting assortment of other shorebirds on the mudflats - one GREATER YELLOWLEGS, approximately 60 WESTERN SANDPIPERS, and about dozen DUNLIN (all in full breeding plumage). Other birds tallied here included WOOD DUCK and WESTERN BLUEBIRD.

Then it was time to head back to the Almaden area. At the Mockingbird Hill entrance to Quicksilver CP we found BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER and WRENTIT. At Almaden Reservoir we found our first COMMON MERGANSER of the day plus more Wood Ducks. While we didn't add anything new in Twin Creeks, we finally got some decent looks at Pacific-slope Flycatcher and Warbling Vireo. By then we were into late afternoon and the winds were kicking up. We tallied CALIFORNIA THRASHER on Mt Umunhum, but the township of New Almaden and Hicks Road were quiet.

Back to suburbia, stopping first at Almaden Lake where we noted GREAT EGRET, SNOWY EGRET, GREEN HERON, and BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON on the nesting island. RING-BILLED GULL was our only gull species tallied for the day. Two W. Sandpipers and a Dunlin were also seen here, plus several Common Mergansers. We also saw a beautiful male HOODED ORIOLE on the west side of the park. Last day-time stop was at the Water District as daylight was fading. In the channel we saw a male CINNAMON TEAL and a SPOTTED SANDPIPER in breeding plumage, plus a heard-only COMMON YELLOWTHROAT at the main pond.

After a quick bite to eat, we then headed over to the McAbee entrance to Quicksilver CP for a little owling. It was dark by the time we got there, and we were unable to rouse any Common Poorwills, so we had to settle for heard-only W. SCREECH OWL and BARN OWL. And so ended our big day.

We had a few misses - notably Osprey, Caspian Tern, and no selasphorous hummers - but we ended up with a total of 107 species for the day which is pretty good for this limited inland count, and definitely better than our total of 99 species last year.

Ann Verdi

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Varied Thrush

Varied Thrush are moving into Almaden Valley this winter. I've seen them in Quicksilver County Park and elsewhere. I thought this would be the year to find this colorful species in Guadalupe Oak Grove Park. Right out of my car I heard it's distinctive call. I found my first Varied Thrush across from the parking lot. Walking along the wooded trail I found two more beautiful bright orange males picking through the leaf litter under the oaks. That should be species number 98 for the park.

(Varied Thrush photo by Peter LaTourrette)