Welcome to the Shoreline at Mountain View
One of the highlights of my Netroots Nations trip was the birdwatching outing planned by our own Lineatus. Without a definite plan other than a time to meet at the Hilton Hotel, she managed to organize our diverse crew and get us on down the road from San Jose to a wonderful wildlife viewing area, the Shoreline at Mountain View.
Although I claim the Bay Area as home, I'm not real familiar with the South Bay. Lineatus introduced me to a treasure and I will be have to sure to go back and visit with my birdwatching father. He will love this place.
We started off hiking from the parking lot through coastal shrub, lots of dry grass, bushy plants and a few trees. There was enough flora to hide the fauna and we began the tour trying to figure out who was squawking at us from the bushes. Ended up being a baby mockingbird who still hadn't learned how to mock anything other than a loud and monotone bird. Poor guy.
Gray sky but bright light made it tough for pictures.
Sail boats on the lake.
Just past the scrub, we came upon a small lake with a tiny island that was home to several nesting skimmers. Unfortunately, my new camera does not yet have a long lens. I can digitally zoom once I get home and sometimes come up with some great shots but the island was more than I could manage. But I did get a good shot of the sailboats. You can see the day was overcast and cloudy but we were grateful for the lower temperatures that come along with threatening rain.
We saw some Canadian Geese, goslings and all, as we headed towards a different part of the park. It looks as if the geese keep the area well-cropped, helping to keep maintenance costs down for the city. During sequestration, many military bases have cancelled their lawn contracts... maybe they should consider hiring geese?
Not quite military precision in their marching style but the baby geese are learning fast.
As usual, I couldn't keep my eyes just on birds. As we left the lake to head over to the marshlands, we saw gray and white swirled snails climbing high on the local fennel plants, rusty colored Salty
peppered the drying marshland, and several varieties of late spring wild flowers.
A lone snail.
Flowering fennel. Can you smell the licorice in the air?
A lucky insect shot on a flowering bush.
The ponds on the other side of the park are extensive and we didn't even walk halfway around before heading back. Honestly, we could have spent hours walking trails. We found swallows nesting in one of the maintenance buildings. We saw ducks and coot hanging out in one nearby pond. We kept our eyes peeled for raptors high over head and were lucky enough to view a gorgeous juvenile kite perched in a small bush in the distance. Thank goodness for the viewing scopes of Lineatus and Senor Unoball. It made the bird watching even more enjoyable!
A patient swallow guarding the nest.
A swallow that is trying to look like a kestrel to me.
Then we reached the motherlode of birds - white pelicans (did you know they aren't seabirds?), ravens or crows (do you know how to tell the difference?), willets and avocets, kites and more. Unfortunately, I don't have my US identification book with me; I've only packed the one for South America. And though I have a good guess at most of the birds, I'm not 100% positive. Rather than get corrected, I figured I give folks a chance at guessing the exact ones. Maybe it's a good opportunity for our less practiced birders to practice!
Enjoy the rest of the pictures below... and cross your fingers that we find the right long lens soon! I recently bought a used one, tried it for the day, and returned it after the images were less than sharp at the 300mm range. I hope to have this affordably remedied before heading south.
White Pelicans were everywhere.
Tracks deep into the mudflats. The tide was out!
Avocets and their reflections in flight.
A broad view of the area, clouds and all.
Avocet in near flight
Egrets on the shoreline
A lone bird waiting to say goodbye as we left