Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The other volant vertebrate

And now a break from the usual bat entries to talk about the other volant (flying) vertebrates, birds. This past Sunday I spent a glorious day looking for birds in Pt. Reyes National Seashore as part of a fundraiser for the San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory.

This fundraiser takes the form of a bird-a-thon, where teams compete to see who can find the highest number of bird species in a single day. My team, the Feral Birders, generally chooses Pt. Reyes as a destination because as a long peninsula sticking out into the Pacific ocean it tends to attract a large number of rare migrating birds. There aren't many trees out at the end of the point, so the birds taking a break from their travels tend to collect in the few groves of pine trees available. These two pine trees past the ranger residence at the fishdocks held an amazing number of fall migrants, including Black Throated Blue Warbler, Palm Warbler, Prothonotary Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, Townsend's Warbler, and Yellow Warbler. There was also an amazing variety of birders there to witness it. We shared the wonder with Joe Morlan's class, among many other lucky people. That was extra special because the group of friends I spent the day with were all alumni from Joe's class years ago.
Over the course of the day we saw 102 different species of birds, mainly due to the great skills of my teammates, since I've been neglecting my birding skills in favor of bat skills. Let me know if you want a full list of the species we saw. Other exciting animal treats included several Mola Mola (sunfish) getting parasites picked off by gulls while floating in the ocean near the lighthouse, piles of elephant seals on the beaches as well as groups flinging their whole bodies out of the water chasing fish, and a coyote walking down the road stopping up traffic a la Yosemite or Yellowstone.
All in all it was a very magical day for an excellent cause. You can help support my fundraising efforts by making a contribution online. Just select my name, Jennifer Krauel, from the "Program" list. Thank you so much for your support!


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