Posted by: atowhee | April 28, 2017


As I approached San Francisco I made my obligatory birding stop at Cullinan Ranch in the San Pablo Bay NWR.  The last few years of salt marsh restoration has made a huge difference, all good for shorebirds and waterbirds.

Near the parking area were fingers of land alive with peeps.  Offshore islands were also peopled with peeps.  It was dizzying mix of Least and Western Sandpipers, Dunlin (some with black bellies already) and a few Semipalmated Sandpipers.  Across the shallows moved an advance of avocets, a grouping of brightly colored breeding pairs I thibnk of as an avo-set.  They moved on thin stilts sweeping across the water with their up-curved beaks.  Orange head and neck blazed in the sun. The shorebirds seems to sort by color, the mostly brown dowitchers and godwits clustered together in a large circle–a large congregation of GODwits  with heads prayerfully bowed, each tucked reverentially under a blessing wing.  On the perimeter of the cluster a few DOWitchers would stretch and show off their long beaks.  Collectively they were GODDOW.  Beckett would do something with that, I’m sure…waiting for…

The terns were mostly lounging about on the island with a only a few still fishing.  They seemed sated, plenty of breakfast fish, I presume.  I kept waiting for something to disturb their leisure and send them swirling into flight, a ternado…but they remained relaxed while I was there.  Not the swallows: BARN storming along beach, long and out of the wind where the bugs were SWALLOWed whole.

Avocet CUAvocet above, GODDOW below:godow

San Pablo Bay NWR–Cullinan Ranch, Solano, California, US
Apr 27, 2017 2:45 PM – 3:15 PM.  21 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  X
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  X
Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis)  40
Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)  3
Great Egret (Ardea alba)  2
Snowy Egret (Egretta thula)  1
American Avocet (Recurvirostra americana)  150
Semipalmated Plover (Charadrius semipalmatus)  15
Marbled Godwit (Limosa fedoa)  200
Dunlin (Calidris alpina)  400
Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla)  500
Western Sandpiper (Calidris mauri)  200
Long-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus scolopaceus)  100
Willet (Tringa semipalmata)  2
Western Gull (Larus occidentalis)  30
Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia)  50     on the manmade islands
Forster’s Tern (Sterna forsteri)  30
Common Raven (Corvus corax)  4
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)  20
Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis)  1
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  5


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