Thursday, December 10, 2020

Post #188 - Late Year Bay Area Bike Birding: Painful misses and redemptive gains

Long time readers (i.e. gluttons for punishment) might recall my epic battle with Parakeet Auklet from a few years back. Though that bird frequented Land's End in San Francisco for multiple consecutive summers, it took me four independent bikes rides spread across 2017 and 2019 to add that bothersome bird to my cumulative Bay Area bike list. I said I'd never pour that much into a single bird again, but - sure as you know what - I couldn't help myself when a Glaucous Gull (GLGU) appeared in San Francisco a few weeks ago. The kicker? I already had GLGU for my Bay Area bike list since I saw one in my home San Mateo County in 2017, so I was after the bird purely as a San Francisco bird!

To make a long story short, I chased the SF GLGU three times (November 20, 22, and 26) without finding it. Twice I missed by a matter of minutes, and hindsight suggests the bird gone by the time I made my third trip. I did salvage Evening Grosbeak (EVGR) for San Mateo bike bird #283 on my return ride on my second attempt and a continuing Tropical Kingbird (TRKI) for San Francisco bike bird #231 on my third, so those additions softened the GLGU misses. I say I won't chase GLGU in SF again, but that will probably change if the damn bird surfaces again.....

Summary of Glaucous Gull Failures

Digiscope shots of San Mateo EVGR and San Francisco TRKI

Undaunted by GLGU struggles, I ventured south to Santa Clara County for a continuing Barrow's Goldeneye (BAGO) on November 28th. Fortunately that bird cooperated, and I had prolonged looks at the bird as it foraged on the far side of Shoreline Lake (too far for digiscope photos). That bird added Santa Clara bike bird #214, I birded my way through Byxbee Park and the Palo Alto Baylands on my return. Scanning from San Francisquito Creek, the border between Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, I watched 3 Bonaparte's Gulls (BOGU) fly from the former to the later.  I'd seen BOGU on San Mateo pelagics, but it was good to redeem that 'dirty bird' for a long overdue San Mateo bike bird (#284). The Bonaparte's were even farther away than the Barrow's, so no photo of that bird either.

My ride to Santa Clara County on November 28

I've since undertaken my two most ambitious single-day rides of the year, but I'll save those for a future installment. I've been giving you a lot of bike-birding lately, so I'll swap in some photography for the next post. Cheers! Here's an old shot of a Bonaparte's Gull from Boston to close down for now.

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