Merced Co Steller's Jay & Migrants, Stanislaus Co Cassin's Kingbird & Blue-winged Teal


This morning I went down to Upper Cottonwood Creek Wildlife Area above San Luis Reservoir to look for the Steller's Jay that Dale Swanberg reported from there two days ago. I parked at 37.077737, -121.199848 and walked down the trail toward the canyon. I had been out of the car for less than five minutes when I heard a STELLER'S JAY calling, less than ten minutes later it flew over and landed behind me in an oak where I couldn't see it. A couple of minutes after that it flew out and went back in the direction from which it had come. I did not see it again but I heard it call a few more times. There may have been two because when I first heard it it seemed that there was a second one calling from further away. This was approx. 700 feet down the trail from the parking area. I did not go any further because I had already seen the bird I had come for and in that short distance I picked over a dozen ticks off my pants and shoes and one off my arm. I found another one when I was about half-way home. At that location I also heard a California Thrasher and saw a family of five White-breasted Nuthatches, a probable SWAINSON'S THRUSH, a male Phainopepla, a Wilson's Warbler, a Western Tanager and a Black-headed Grosbeak.

After seeing the jay I went up to Dinosaur Point Road to look for the Costa's Hummingbird Dale had seen there, also two days ago. I missed that one but I saw two Pacific Slope Flycatchers, a Cassin's Vireo, four Warbling Vireos, a pair of California Thrashers (a species that took me years to get for the county and now I see them every time I go to Dinosaur Point Road!), three Lawrence's Goldfinches, a singing Dark-eyed Junco, an Orange-crowned Warbler, a female Townsend's Warbler, at least five Wilson's Warblers (though there were probably several more) and one Black-headed Grosbeak. I also heard a Red-breasted Nuthatch and at least two SWAINSON'S THRUSHES (I wish I could've gotten a satisfying look at at least one of the thrushes because I still need that one for the county). Most of these were seen along Dinosaur Point Road between the county line and Windmill Road or along the first .3 miles of Windmill Road. The gates to Pacheco State Park and the gate on Dinosaur Point Road are closed but the small dirt parking lot opposite the entrance to the state park is open as are the trails.

After lunch I made a stop at Orestimba Road where it crosses Orestimba Creek to look for Cassin's Kingbird. By this time it had gotten VERY windy but I was able to find one CASSIN'S KINGBIRD. I did not see either of the nests that were found by Sal Salerno and others, however.

Then an the way home I made a brief stop at Ceres Water Treatment Facility (WTF) to see if I could find any interesting shorebirds. There was not much shorebird habitat visible from outside the facility. All but one pond visible from outside the fence were either completely full or completely dry and the one pond that did have low water and exposed mud had zero shorebirds. There were a few stilts, avocets and dowitchers along the shoreline of the pond at the SE corner, but that was it. I did, however, find a pair of BLUE-WINGED TEAL on that same pond. The wind did not make it easy to scope them, though, and it didn't help with photographing them, either.

And, as always, happy birding, stay safe, stay sane, and may the light be with you,
Ralph Baker, Riverbank.


I forgot to mention that at 5:10pm, as I was driving up Oakdale Road on my way home, a WHITE-TAILED KITE flew across the road above my car.

And, as always, all that other stuff,
Ralph Baker, Riverbank