Florence Sanchez

I got up VERY early this morning and drove to the eastern end of Barka Slough where I parked and then walked the road from that point to near the Western end, and then back again.  I started my walk about 5:50 a.m., which was just about sunrise.  It was beautifully clear with no wind so birds were already singing and active by that time.

I saw plenty of all the species we generally go there to find:  Blue Grosbeak (7 males, 1 female), Lazuli Bunting (8 males, 2 females). Yellow-breasted Chat (7 heard, 1 seen), Swainson's Thrush (so many I lost count), Chestnut-backed Chickadees, and warblers (Orange-crowned, Yellow, Wilson's, Common Yellowthroat).  Common Yellowthroats were particularly abundant and active as were Ash-throated Flycatchers.  I also had plenty of singing Black-headed Grosbeaks, 2 Warbling Vireos, House and Purple Finches, Lesser and American Goldfinches, a well as a Lawrence's Goldfinch near MP 2.61.  (I got one in that vicinity last year if I remember correctly.)  A male Northern Harrier glided overhead two or three times.  All these in addition to more common species like Nuttall's and Downy Woodpeckers, Song Sparrow, Spotted Towhee, Wrentit, etc., etc.  I was so absorbed in the bird activity that I lost all track of time.  When I got back to my car, I was surprised to find that it was 10:15--I had been out there 4.5 hours!

I checked the ranch area east of the Slough for Grasshopper Sparrow, but none were heard or seen.  I had a male Kestrel there as well as a Cassin's Kingbird on the wire.  I also made it a point to check out a small plot of farmland that was restored to willow forest some time ago.  The trees (which went in as tiny saplings watered by drip irrigation in the late 1980s) are now fully mature.  There is no apparent way to get down into the area but I could listen from the road above to get some idea of what birds might be attracted to this plot.  I heard the following:  Ash-throated Flycatcher, Swainson's Thrush, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow Warbler, House Finch, Lesser Goldfinch, and Song sparrow--this in a few minutes listening at 10:45 a.m.  A post-dawn check of that spot would probably produce even more species.  This is a good indication that habitat restoration is worthwhile.

Florence Sanchez