BBB.2 – The Pond

24 April 2007

Here we go again…

Date: April 21st, 2007

Time: 2:36 PM PDT

Location: West Pond, a storm runoff detention basin in west Davis, Yolo County, CA. (N38 33.246, W121 46.977)

Conditions: Even crappier. Now a steady drizzle and even worse light for photos.

Tools: Canon Powershot SD400, Sibley Guide to Birds, Garmin eTrex handheld GPS unit, Bushnell binos, UFW notepad, one decidedly un-waterproof green Uniball pen.

Protocol: Well, somewhat annoyingly, the pond is surrounded by a chain-link fence. While an hardly impervious barrier, it was sufficient to keep me out, at least in broad daylight with lots of civic-minded citizens jogging and biking past. So I decided to restrict myself to visible/audible vertebrates. I spent ten minutes a piece at each of three observation decks, and another thirty walking around the accessible half of the perimeter with a special eye toward species missed at the decks.


If you hang out at the West Pond observation decks, you’ll eventually hear tales of hundreds of bird species seen at West Pond. The sign pictured above lists 31 of ‘you might see’ (here’s a better view). I saw or heard 21 (only nine of which are even on that sign) in one hour on a drizzly late April afternoon.

And I didn’t see several I had counted on encountering.


Like any good suburban wetland there was everyone’s least favorite waterfowl


Canada Goose and goslings, Branta canadensis.

And nearly as exciting, reams of American Coot,


American Coot, Fulica americana.

These North American staples don’t really need me to pick on them. The Canada goslings above somehow escaped a concerted egg oiling effort by the City of Davis. And what can you say about a bird whose name is synonymous for ‘a crotchety person, usually elderly’, well I suppose it’s more dignified than “Mudhen”.

Of course, there were Mallards too, apparently so unremarkable that I only managed to photograph them accidentally,


Two Drake Mallards, Anas platyrhynchos, square-off against a braying Canada Goose.

Somewhat more exciting on the waterfowl front (I know, I know, Coots are actually rails…) were a pair of Wood duck, who escaped the camera, and a pair of Cinnamon Teal, who might as well have:


A pair of Cinnamon Teal, Anas cyanoptera, lower left.


Swallows, both Bank and Barn, were present in droves, wholly undaunted by the bad weather.

flight of the swallow


Female Barn Swallow (probably), Hirundo rustica.

They were predictably difficult to photograph, especially with a pocket-sized digital camera and crappy light. Even when they sat still.

Swallow rest

Bank Swallow (probably), Riparia riparia perched on a snag.

Other passerines included:

Yellow-Rumped Warblers (Dendroica coronata, neé Audubon’s Warbler)

American Goldfinches (Carduelis tristis)

Cedar Waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum)

Northern Mockingbirds (Mimus polyglottos)

Scrub Jays (Aphelocoma californica)

American Robin (Turdus migratorius)

And two flycatchers, an Empidonax, probably E. traillii or Willow Flycatcher, and a Black Phoebe,

Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans.



Someone should probably tell this Phoebe, that according to the sign pictured above, it is a winter resident only.


Anna’s Hummingbird, Calypte anna, (left) and Mourning Dove, Zenaidia macrorua (right).

“Who says we’re not ‘perching birds’ !?”, this pair of non-passerines seem to contest. I was also buzzed by a migrating Selasphorous hummingbird, probably a Rufous.

I saw several Rock Pigeons (neé Doves) (Columba livia), but somehow didn’t think to try to get a photograph.


Swainson’s Hawk, Buteo swainsoni.

It’s difficult to go anywhere in Davis this time of year and not see a Swainson’s Hawk. There is at least one pair constructing a nest inside the West Pond area. And where ever there are Swainson’ses (not a word, I know)…


American Crow, Corvus brachyrhyncus attacking a Swainson’s Hawk.

…there are bound to be some very angry Crows, putting on their classic Tom & Jerry/Coyote & Roadrunner/Itchy & Scratchy-style show. This post, has much, much more than you ever wanted to know about Swainson’s Hawks, including some marginally better pictures and videos!


The surprising bust was in the shorebird/wader department

Black-necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus) top left.

Just a few Stilts, and some noisy but distant Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus). Quite strangely for this pond, I didn’t see a single heron or egret.


Well, that’s about it. Oh yeah, I heard two amphibians: the ubiquitous and alien Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus) and the native Pacific Treefrog Chorus Frog (Pseudacris regilla). I was halfway hoping for a Muskrat, or even an Otter but no dice.


I might reblitz the pond later this week under different conditions just for comparison…and better pictures.


Next, BBB.3 – The Log.

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