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?