Field Trip: Gates Canyon

Date: Friday August 20, 2010

Time: 7:15 AM

Trip report added 8/20/2010 (NSAS Event)


Leader: Murray Berner

Trip Report: by Murray Berner
Escaping a month of fogbound mornings, ten North Bay birders enjoyed the sunshine at Gates Canyon on August 20th, hoping to find a few migrant songbirds or a pygmy-owl. There were very few migrants: several tanagers, a couple of warblers, and the odd flycatcher. A distant pygmy-owl tooted a few times. All the summer visitor grosbeaks and vireos have departed; only Western Wood-Pewee (including an adult feeding fledglings) and House Wren remain from the abundance of June. Interesting sidelights include a kite soaring over the ridge, ranch house feeders buzzing with dozens of hummers, and Stellerís Jays giving calls reminiscent of their Blue Jay cousins. My favorite observation was the 5-6 Rufous-crowned Sparrows leaving the canyon floor early, flying back up onto more expected habitat, the high, hot rocky hillsides. Several times in the past few years I have seen this sparrow briefly visiting a cool, heavily forested stream in a deep canyon far below their typical haunts, to me, a surprising behavior.

eBird Report:
Number of species: 31

California Quail X
Turkey Vulture 7
White-tailed Kite 1
Mourning Dove 5
Northern Pygmy-Owl 1
Anna's Hummingbird 30
Nuttall's Woodpecker 5
Downy Woodpecker 4
Hairy Woodpecker 1
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted) 4
Western Wood-Pewee 6
Pacific-slope Flycatcher 4
Black Phoebe 5
Hutton's Vireo 1
Steller's Jay 25
Western Scrub-Jay (Coastal) 8
Oak Titmouse 20
Bushtit 10
Bewick's Wren 4
House Wren 4
Western Bluebird 1
Wrentit 10
Orange-crowned Warbler 2
Nashville Warbler 1
Wilson's Warbler 1
California Towhee 10
Rufous-crowned Sparrow 5
Dark-eyed Junco 10
Western Tanager 7
Black-headed Grosbeak 2
Purple Finch 2

This list was generated automatically by eBird

Pre-trip Description: Lots of migrant warblers are passing through the canyons these days. Few of these places are accessible. I think it would be interesting to try Gates Canyon Rd. for migrants. It has received scant coverage at this season so we'll learn something. It should also be fog-free, a definite advantage. As during the June visit, we will shuttle up toward the top and walk back down about two miles. It'll be great. Be aware that there are some steep, gravely sections of the road. Beyond that, it's easy going.

The Napa carpool departs at 7:15 am from behind Sweeney's Sport Store in the Riverpark Shopping Center in Napa. It will arrive at the corner of Pleasants Valley Rd. and Gates Canyon Rd. at about 8:00 am. This corner is located on the northwestern outskirts of Vacaville, between Foothill Dr. and Vaca Valley Rd. off Pleasants Valley Rd. (about one mile north of Foothill Dr). Solano birders may carpool from the Solano Education Bldg 5100 Business Center Dr. in Cordelia at 7:30. The Napa carpool will not stop in Cordelia. Please do not arrive late and drive to the top of the Gates Canyon Rd. where the parking is severely limited. Thanks.

Read more about these trips on the Friday Bird Walks page.

Friday Bird Walk at Long Canyon © 2010 Dave McMullen NSAS Viewing Station at SF Bay Flyway Festival © 2008 Dave McMullen Murray Berner © 2009 Frank Toller Dialing in © 2009 Frank Toller

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