Mountain Lake Park (8/17/2022)

Today I wasn’t sure where I’d go Naturing. Had thoughts about maybe a short trail at Rancho. Maybe a short visit to Islais Creek. Whatever it was, it had to be short to make it to a special dinner reservation at Greens with Brian. Then I saw a post to the SFBirds list about a Gray Catbird being seen at Mountain Lake Park this morning. And it seemed like that was the place to be.

Nope, I didn’t see the Catbird. And, given the name, I’m still not convinced it’s a real thing. But I so rarely see the thing I try to see after reading someone’s post on SFBirds. I don’t know the call or song well enough. I’m there at the wrong time of day. I’m just not that good of a birder. WHATEVER. But there were a handful of other folks with binocs that were looking for it, too.

But let us start at the very beginning. Upon reaching the lake, I saw two older folks looking across it with their binocs. A good sign! There were a number of Black-crowned Night-Herons (like 3-4 juveniles and 2 adults I could see) plus a Great Blue Heron across the lake. On the lake were a group of female Mallards, a Ruddy Duck pair, and a Pied-billed Grebe family. Oh, and some American Coots making their funny noises. That might be the most bird action I’ve ever seen at that lake!

After admiring some random Common Sunflowers (?) I hadn’t seen there before, I set out to see about the Catbird. Watched a couple Anna’s Hummingbirds before I got to see a Wilson’s Warbler in decent view for a change! I’m absolutely THRILLED to have gotten a couple photos in focus enough of that bird. It’s a TOUGHIE.

Spotted galls on most of the Willows, a bizarre bird nest that looked like it’d fallen apart in a kerfuffle, and some Twinberry Honeysuckle (flowers and fruit) on the way to the North bench spot. There, I got to witness A BUNCH of Pacific Forktails all hovering over a shrub just past the fence gate. It was a Forktail BONANZA, I tell you.

Continuing on, one last gasp of a California Buckeye flower and some Cabbage Whites were all I really was able to observe til I got to the underpass. Headed back, and I caught sight of a sign for “Coast Live Oak” at the base of a Coast Live Oak behind the fence. Huh! Were other plants given signs in the area? Was this a botanical garden of some kind at one point? Before the fence was put up? I have questions!!

I was getting close to the South side of the lake when that same older couple from the very beginning approached me. I explained I was looking for the Catbird, and the woman said they’d seen Wilson’s Warblers just then. We chatted a bit about what we’d seen. It was nice! After that, I walked up a bit on the hill to see a community of White-crowned Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos, a Brown Creeper, and two Wilson’s Warblers all flying about in the taller trees and shrubs underneath.

Got back to the trail and saw the older couple chatting with the other birders. Looked like no luck for anyone. But everyone got to chat about it with each other. A nice consolation, I think.

The last thing I got to see on my way out was an Anna’s Hummingbird that sat still for me.

I had a bit of time left so I made a quick stop at the owl nursery in GGPark. Yep, I’m still trying to keep tabs on Junior ’22. Got to the nursery, and one Great Horned Owl was there sleeping. Went over to the fakenesttree, and another was way high up. Returned to the nursery to head out, and I found another one high up (that I entirely didn’t see the first time!). Owl photos below for the owl fans.

So. All three are still around. And that was a particularly nice unbirthday present for myself, I must say.

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