I have 2 projects going on for clients in the Bay Area of California. Both projects require me to meet with them in person but my calendar is booked solid for May with both work and birding. As luck would have it, the weather was so bad that I cancelled a trip to the shore last weekend and started to look at airfare pricing to California. Things worked out and I booked a last minute trip leaving Philly on Sunday, staying in Berkeley through Wed and catching the red-eye home on Wed night/Thurs morning. I had a few target birds to look for on this trip which I will post later. This post is about bonus birds - in particular a mega rare bird that I stumbled upon on my last day of the trip.
The business part of the trip included a meeting with a client in Milpitas which is down near San Jose. The meeting was scheduled for 10 AM. How could I spend the morning? Hmmm. Birding of course. The night before, I searched eBird for a location close to my meeting that looked promising for shorebirds. I clicked the link for Alviso Marina and was shocked to see Little Stint in the list of recently recorded birds. Now, you need to know that Little Stint is a super rare bird from Asia. This bird was only the second ever recorded in all of California. I had to go.
Arrived at 6:15 to find that the park doesn't open til 8:00 AM. That didn't stop me. Over the fence I went with my binoculars and camera. I was surprised that I was totally alone for 2 hours looking for the Little Stint. I thought for sure there would be others but only one other birder came along. We didn't find the Little Stint. We did see these Eared Grebes floating on the glassy water.
I never realized that they had those shocking blue legs.
One of the things that you might notice about all of these photos is that there are little black dots on them. This isn't a camera problem. The dots are tiny little flies that were here by the billions. So many that when I walked on the path, a cloud of them would rise up and fly around my feet to avoid being squashed. You can see it best in this photo. The Avocet is stalking the flies but they are too smart. They move just far enough so the Avocet can't reach them.
|Avocet hunting flies|
My meeting went great. I was supposed to be there until 4 PM but when I told my client about the rare bird, he agreed to cut the meeting short. So, I tore out of there at 2 PM and headed back to the park. This time, the gate was open and there were many other birders there. All gathered at the end of the trail where I had been searching for the Stint earlier. I literally ran to get there. Tada! Little Stint.
|Little Stint (left), Dunlin (center) and Western Sandpiper|
|Little Stint and American Flyer|