Field Trip: Tennessee Valley, Marin County

Date: Saturday October 16, 2010

Time: 9:00 AM

Trip report added on 10/20/2010 (NSAS Event)


Leader: David Takeuchi

Trip Report: by David Takeuchi
Ten participants joined leader David Takeuchi for a morning of birding. It has been more than two decades since we last visited this gem in Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Marin County. Overcast sky and a chilly breeze welcomed us. A variety of passerines, raptors, and waterfowl were seen and enjoyed by all. The trip began with a antlered buck mule deer nonchalantly crossing the road ahead of us. We saw another buck, does, and fawn who like wise were not alarmed by runners and hikers. Returning hikers excitedly relayed seeing a bobcat on boulders by the horse corral, giving us an incentive to look for it. The last time we were treated to a bobcat on the grassy hill of a northern valley. We scoped a yellow-shafted flicker, which showed yellow marking on the face and throat. We took the lower Tennessee Valley trail following the riparian willows. A trail sign said we were 1.2 miles to the beach and it was nearly 11:30 AM. We had only gone half a mile from the parking lot. Keith Gish decided not to go any further (a smart move as will be explained later). We hiked to the beach and were treated to a sora acting more like a moorhen, as it swimmed at the edge of submerged water plants, stabbing at water bugs. We lunched on a bluff above the beach. The group split in two and half left leaving us to take up the rear. Jim Walsh, leading the back group, looking into the willows spotted a baby bunny on a nest. Mama taught the baby well, as it froze on the nest. We were able to show passing hikers the bunny. We looked for the bobcat, hoping to see it above the horse corral, without success. We caught up with Keith and Dave McMullen looking at a Great Horned Owl they spotted as it flew onto a branch of a grove of eucalyptus. We shared our binoculars with passing hikers who marveled at the sight of the owl. We asked Keith what he had seen and wouldn’t you know it, he watched the bobcat for half and hour. He heard someone in a group coming in the opposite direction saying the bobcat was in the same location he had seen it four years ago. Keith looked across in the hills and found it. He related how it postured and pounced on a vole, catching and eating it. It tried for a second one and missed. Sue Johnson reported that Mickey Riva had also seen the bobcat. Overcast sky followed us during the entire field trip, but the chilly breeze subsided towards the end of our trip, or maybe it was the hike that warmed us.

eBird Report:
Number of species: 38

American Wigeon 30
Brandt's Cormorant X
Pelagic Cormorant X
Turkey Vulture 7
Cooper's Hawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk 3
American Kestrel 6
Virginia Rail X
Sora 1
American Coot 3
Ring-billed Gull 1
Herring Gull 1
Great Horned Owl 1
Anna's Hummingbird 3
Downy Woodpecker X
Northern Flicker 2
Black Phoebe 3
Steller's Jay 2
Western Scrub-Jay 2
American Crow 2
Common Raven 12
Chestnut-backed Chickadee 20
Pygmy Nuthatch 1
Brown Creeper 1
Bewick's Wren 3
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 5
Wrentit 5
European Starling 5
Yellow-rumped Warbler 20
Spotted Towhee 2
California Towhee 4
Song Sparrow 20
White-crowned Sparrow 10
Golden-crowned Sparrow 1
Red-winged Blackbird 12
Brewer's Blackbird X
Lesser Goldfinch X
American Goldfinch X

This list was generated automatically by eBird

Pre-trip Description: The following has been extracted from the National Park Service web page for the Tennessee Valley. “Tennessee Valley is an amazing offshoot of the Marin Headlands, with hiking trails that suit the whole family. The Tennessee Valley Trail is mostly level; it begins at the parking area and travels 1.7 miles to Tennessee Beach. For the more adventurous hiker, there are a number of other trails leading into the hills above Tennessee Valley…

Tennessee Valley contains a bevy of wildlife; from mighty raptors to common swallows, the birds of the valley will keep your eyes on the skies. The skies are not the only place to view wildlife; the valley is teeming with deer, coyote, and on an occasion you might even see a bobcat.”

The creek to the cove is a thick riparian growth, attracting many species of birds.

For a detailed description of this area, check out page 136 of this on-line copy of Jean Richmond's Birding Northern California.

Pack snacks, liquids, and backpack a lunch. It’s always a good idea to wear a hat and bring sun screen. There is no shade, but dress in layers, as we will be going to the coast. Don’t forget your binoculars.

Directions: Head west on CA-37 to CA-101 south. Follow CA-101 south and take the Mill Valley / Stinson Beach / Hwy. 1 exit . Follow Shoreline Hwy. until you see the Tennessee Valley Road sign, the turn off will be on the left . Drive 1.6 miles to the parking lot at the end of the road.

submitted on August 19, 2010, at 03:41 PM PST

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