Birding the Alameda Open Space

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

As I arrived at the parking area at the Alameda Open Space, a Red-tail Hawk sat on a bare snag surveying the world – and then he was off. We would see him circling as we made our way through the bosque during our morning’s walk.

Our first stop for the morning for the 28 Thursday Birders was at the Alameda wetlands, where scores of Mallards and a few Canada Geese, Wood Ducks, Northern Shovelers, and American Coots puttered in the water or sunned themselves on the island. A Kildeer foraged on the east end of the island.

There was no activity along the irrigation ditch from the southern footbridge to the path on the north – probably since all of the grasses and shrubs had been cut along the edge of the ditch. A loud squawk alerted us to a Northern Flicker perched high in one of the bare cottonwood trees.

Some of the group wandered along the edge of the irrigation ditch, while the others scouted from the top of the levee. The most plentiful bird in the Coyote Willows was Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Although we didn’t see their red crests on this trip, I had seen numerous displays when I made a scouting trip two days prior.

Other birds in the thickets hanging over the water, or feeding at water’s edge included, Black Phoebe, Song Sparrows, a variety of Dark-eyed Juncos and Bushtits. A single American Goldfinch nibbled at seed heads.

“There is a Cooper’s Hawk circling,” Sylvia reported.

A Downey Woodpecker flew into a large cottonwood on the east side of the ditch and the gurgling sounds of a Great-tailed Grackle emanated from nearby. Five Sandhill Cranes passed as they headed north – stragglers from the hordes that headed north two days prior.

Those walking along the levee spotted a White-breasted Nuthatch in the bosque and a Northern Harrier flying over the river.

We then dropped down into the bosque and checked out the river. A pair of Common Mergansers swam out of sight and Steve spotted an American Wigeon.

It was fairly quiet as we walked south on the bosque trail, skirting the jetty jacks. I had seen a Bewick’s Wren earlier in the week, but none that day.

Ring-billed Gulls on Rio Grande

Ring-billed Gulls on Rio Grande

We noticed gulls circling, and then came to a place where we could get close to the river again. Two flocks, totaling over 100 gulls rested on sand bars. We checked them out through Rebecca’s scope to see if there was anything different. They all appeared to be Ring-billed Gulls.

Several of us walked out on the old bridge to scout the island underneath for the vagrant sparrows that had been spotted a few weeks prior. All was quiet; however, Rebecca located the Black-crowned Night Heron in the same location along the west back of the river where it was on the Christmas Bird Count.

“I saw a sharpie as I was returning to the parking lot,” Ray reported.

We ended the morning with 34 species.

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