Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Post #172 - 2019 Santa Clara Evening Grosbeak and 2019 bike-birding summary

I'm off for 16 days in Thailand tomorrow, but here's a quick and final post to close out 2019. I didn't do much bike-birding in the first third of the year, but a renewed commitment through the remainder yielded lots of birds and adventures, most of which I've chronicled in previous entries. I'd hoped to run my cumulative Bay Area Bike List to 300 species this year, but I fell just one short, the long-staying Evening Grosbeaks at Stanford checking-in at #299 on, December 12th. This winter is a mini-invasion for Evening Grosbeak, the usually more-alpine/coniferous finch making sporadic appearances around the Bay Area through November and December after after a several-year absence.

Evening Grosbeak Range (L) and Bay Area sightings 2015-2019 (R)
More info on Evening Grosbeak here.

Stanford Evening Grosbeak

Evening Grosbeak pursuit

With all the twists and turns, I churned out 2,086 miles of bike-birding in 2019, a total exceeding the 2,002 I logged last year. I spent comparatively less time in my home San Mateo County and correspondingly more exploring neighboring counties. Most notable were my first three trips over the Golden Gate to Marin (one in successful pursuit of Yellow-crowned Night-Heron and two failed in pursuit of Tricolored Heron) and a long, roundabout foray into Alameda to tick Bar-tailed Godwit. Incidentally, I chased only one bird by car in 2019 - Yellow-browed Warbler in the Sierras - and missed. At least I reconnected with loads of old friends in the bird's absence..... 

Bird added to my Bay Area Bike List in 2019

As I am now fully entrenched in the county listing game, here's a glance of where I stand to begin 2020. The 25-mile radius doesn't mean much - because riding distances aren't linear - but does give some sense of scale. Going north, it's 16 riding miles from home to the southern end of San Francisco and 28 to reach Marin via the Golden Gate. Going South/east, it's 16 riding miles to reach Santa Clara at the Palo Alto Baylands (and 30 to Alviso) and ~22 to across the Dumbarton Bridge to reach Alameda at Coyote Hills. 

Looking forward to 2020, I have several more ambitious overnight rides I'd like to execute.

1) A 3-day, 2-night loop going north into Marin (Feb 6), over the newly-opened bike lane on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge into Contra Costa County (Feb 7), and continuing to Arrowhead Marsh (Feb 8) for Nelson's Sparrow on the 11am high tide. That will leave me the afternoon of the 8th to continue south over the Dumbarton and back up the western shore of SF Bay to San Mateo. With ticks accumulated across Marin, Contra Costa (where everything will be new), and Alameda Counties, I should approach 1,000 county total.

2) A 4-day, 3-night out-and-back featuring Mines Road (Santa Clara) and Del Puerto Canyon Road (Stanislaus) for inland species including Swainson's Hawk, Greater Roadrunner, Costa's Hummingbird, Canyon Wren, Bell's Sparrow, Phainopepla, Lawrence's Goldfinch, Blue Grosbeak, and perhaps Common Poorwill. I'd go ~50 miles to Livermore on Day 1 and ~60 to Patterson on Day 2. That would let me do Mines Road in the AM and Del Puerto in the PM. I'd retrace those track on Day 3 and 4 to clean up whatever species I missed. I'd probably do this in early-May once all the birds are on territory. 

3) A two-day run down the San Mateo Coast to Año Nuevo to get Black Swift. I could also nibble on the northwestern edge of Santa Cruz County before returning to the Pigeon Point Hostel for the night. 

4) I'd also love to do a bigger loop around the North Bay to get into Sonoma, Napa, Solano, Sacramento, and San Joaquin Counties, but I can only dedicate so many days to this nonsense, right?

OK, enough. I will have a full photo recap coming, but that will have to wait until I return from Thailand. I thank readers for slogging through another year of what is mostly an on-line diary; I hope it provides at least a short refuge from the daily noise we are forced to endure at this least-inspired moment in American history. 

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