Lick Observatory

01.03.2006 8:51Lick Observatory, Wildlife

This year’s Mount Hamilton Christmas Bird Count took place on Jan 2, 2006. I participated by hiking the mule trail in the pouring rain (last year snow, this year rain, maybe next year clear?). We didn’t see very many birds because of the weather, but I did manage to add a bird to my life list, a slate fox sparrow. We heard golden crowned kinglets, but didn’t see any, so didn’t include them in the count. Otherwise it was just the normal assortment of white-breasted nuthatches, oak titmice, scrub jays, steller’s jay, acorn woodpeckers, golden-crowned sparrows, a nutall’s woodpecker, dark-eyed juncos, a brown creeper and a red-tailed hawk.

I also included a feeder count for my feeder, but it was not as popular as usual because of the rain. The only new birds were a mourning dove (haven’t had those at my feeder in weeks) and a house finch.

This morning it is foggy and wet, but not raining, so in a few minutes I had logged quite a few birds at my feeder:

2 Steller’s Jays
6 Scrub Jays
3 Acorn Woodpeckers
18 Dark-eyed Juncos
2 Oak Titmice
1 White-breasted Nuthatch
1 Mourning Dove
5 Golden-crowned Sparrows
1 House Finch

12.29.2005 9:17Lick Observatory, Wildlife

Well, I wanted to write this message yesterday, but the blog was unavailable (looks like
our sysadmin updated the blog software or some such activity). Anyway, over the past
few days I’ve only had the following unusual bird occurances:

Dec 26: Kestrel perched very nicely in my yard, unfortunately I couldn’t stay and admire it
because I had to meet Ron Bricmont (Lick Observatory volunteer coordinator and historian/archeaologist at Grant Park) so that he could look at some of the old 1920’s wall mount sinks here at the Observatory. He wanted a sink so that he can continue renovating
the cabin at Deer Camp in Grant Park. Luckily, he found two sinks that suit the bill in decent condition. This worked well because the Observatory would have otherwise just thrown the sinks away at some point (or just left them for junk at the quanset hut – home of all wanted, but still usable stuff before it gets taken to the junk yard). While prowling about the second floor of the old dorm, he also located a 1920s tub just sitting in the middle of a room, not attached to anything that he would also like for Deer Camp. With luck the Observatory will donate it as well to the cause.

Dec 27: Saw more scrub jays than usual – 6 in total. Usually I only get 4 at my feeder.
Later in the day I startled what must have been a flock of over 20 dark-eyed juncos. Usually don’t have that many either. Also, saw a red-tailed hawk and 2 ravens.

Dec 28: Again, saw the red-tailed hawk. They are freqently seen here, but this one seems to be hanging out near Rattlesnake Ridge this week.

The past week I have seen only one band-tailed pigeon at my feeder. In fact they have been fairly scarce here for the past couple weeks. I’ve seen flocks down below the peak, where I consider seeing them a more regular occurance. The acorn crop up here was very healthy this year, so they certainly have lots of food and don’t need to come to my feeder, I suppose.

The 2 steller’s jays are still regular visitors at my feeder every morning. Until a few months ago, I very rarely had steller’s jays, as they seemed to prefer the east side of the mountain and the scrub jays the west. I wonder if the steller’s jays are going to be permanent west side residents or will eventually return to the east side.

12.23.2005 14:04Lick Observatory, Wildlife

Today is the first clear day this week and it is also warm, so I spent some time looking at birds.
I had a special treat today and spotted a chestnut-backed chickadee in my yard. This is the first time I’ve ever seen one on top of the mountain. Usually they are seen (and rarely) down
at Trumpler’s Garden. The rest of the birds I saw today are the regulars. Total tally for
the day is:

1 Chestnut-backed Chickadee
8 Western Bluebird
2 Steller’s Jay
4 Scrub Jay
2 Acorn Woodpecker
2 White-breasted Nuthatch
2 Oak Titmouse
8 Dark-eyed Junco
12 Golden-crowned Sparrow

12.14.2005 10:03Lick Observatory, Wildlife

Well, I’ve been very busy with work and have procrastinated on writing up the birds I have seen. Though the birds haven’t been too exciting in my yard the past two weeks. Mostly the regular assortment of
2-3 nuthatches
2-3 titmice
2-4 scrub jays
1-3 steller’s jays
2-3 acorn woodpeckers
4-12 juncos
2-6 golden crowned sparrows
0-3 western bluebirds
1-2 lesser goldfinches
2-4 house finches (though a couple days ago I had 8, I don’t know where they all came from)

Other birds I’ve seen in the past week that I don’t see everyday:
1 ruby crowned kinglet
1 northern (red-shafted) flicker
~10 california quail
2 red-tailed hawks
2 ravens

And to top it all off this morning:
1 kestrel (male)

I rarely see kestrels on top of Mt. Hamilton, usually I see them down at lower altitudes.

11.21.2005 16:46Lick Observatory, Wildlife

Today was yet another day with no sightings of pine siskins. They may have moved on to their winter feeding grounds (wherever that may be).

Acorn Woodpecker 2
Nuttall’s Woodpecker 1 (female)
Red-breasted Sapsucker 1
Dark-eyed Junco 8
Golden-crowned Sparrow 4
Lesser Goldfinch 3 (1 male, 2 female)
Western Bluebird 2 (1 male, 1 female)
Scrub Jay 3
Steller’s Jay 1
Band-tailed Pigeon 10
Anna’s Hummingbird 1 (female)
White-breasted Nuthatch 2
Oak Titmouse 2
House Finch 4

11.20.2005 11:43Lick Observatory, Wildlife

This morning had gorgeous weather and I decided it would be nice to take and hour
and survey the birds in the my yard. Nothing unusual today except that there were no pine siskins (I saw one yesterday, but they may have left the mountain).

Today’s tally:

Oak Titmouse 2
White-breasted Nuthatch 2
Dark-eyed Junco ~12
Golden-crowned Sparrow ~8
Nuttall’s Woodpecker 1 (female)
Western Bluebird 3
Acorn Woodpecker 2
Lesser Goldfinch 2 (male & female)
Scrub Jay 4
Steller’s Jay 2
Red-tailed Hawk 1
House Finch 2 (male & female)
Band-tailed Pigeon 6
Common Raven 1

11.17.2005 18:57Lick Observatory, Wildlife

Last night, just as I was starting to drive down to San Jose, I saw a poorwill sitting
in the road. It flew off just as my car got to it, but I was surprised to see one (I rarely see this bird and this was the second one in two weeks!). I continued on down to town and had the misfortune of having a screech owl fly into my car (it didn’t survive the encounter – making it the 3rd owl to have a fatal encounter
with my car – I have exceedingly bad owl karma).

11.16.2005 9:36Lick Observatory, Wildlife

It seems that a blog is the easiest way for me to keep track of what birds I see
here in my yard. Today started off well with my adding a new bird to my life list:
Cedar Waxwing. There was a flock of about 20 of them flitting around the oak tree that has lots of mistletoe on it outside my bedroom window. I had been told they were around here, but after looking for them for a couple years I still hadn’t
seen one. Then today, luckily a big flock so I got a pretty good look at them. With that sort of start to the day, of course I had to see what else I hanging out in my yard this morning.

Nuttall’s Woodpecker 1
Acorn Woodpecker 2
Steller’s Blue Jay 3
Scrub Jay 4
Dark-eyed Junco 6
Golden-crowned Sparrow 10
Cedar Waxwing 20+
Oak Titmouse 2
White-breasted Nuthatch 2
Anna’s Hummingbird 1
Band-tailed Pigeon 4
Lesser Goldfinch 2

11.15.2005 18:23Lick Observatory, Wildlife

I just got back from a few days out of town and discovered it was so windy that some of my birdfeeders had been blown down. I put them back up and within
minutes many of the regular birds were back (scrub jays, juncos, titmice, nuthatches). I did get a view of a new bird (for me anyway) today here on Mount Hamilton, a rock wren. Keith, a colleague of mine, caught sight of a red breasted
nuthatch here. I added another bird to my life list down in Grant Park a few miles from here – a merlin. It flew across the road in front of my car with something fuzzy in its talons. It is always nice to see new birds here that I’ve never seen before.

10.22.2005 9:38Lick Observatory, Wildlife

This morning a quick look out the window and refilling of the bird feeders gave me a few birds.

Band-tailed Pigeon 6
Red-bellied Sapsucker 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler 1
Anna’s Hummingbird 1
Lesser Goldfinch 1
Pine Siskin 2
Scrub Jay 1
Dark-eyed Junco 3
White-breasted Nuthatch 2
Golden-crowned Sparrow 3

I’ll probably add to this list as the day goes on.

I’m also planning on doing a history walk at Grant Park and some bird watching. If I see anything interesting I’ll update this post.

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