Rancho San Rafael 8/4/02 8:30am - 11:30am.
I got some interesting sightings on my Sunday walk in no particular order.
This is the most unID'd and questionable ID'd birds I have seen at one time since I have gotten most of the most common Reno-area birds down pat. It may not do any good but I would like to ask for any more info you discover from my ID's. I really do try and use the book. But, I am still a newbie and any suggestions are, as always, appreciated.
This one can not be right! I saw a flock of birds that looked the most like PINE GROSBEAKS. The funny/odd/impossible thing is that I saw them feeding along McCarran Blvd. I saw them just as I was about to enter the tunnel from the south. They were walking and pecking around the sagebrush along the road. They would peck a little then fly to the ground about 3-4 feet away and peck etc. That's pretty far and they were mostly moving away from me as I saw them and that is why I am not sure of the beak. I watched them for about 40' but there was no way to get closer. Anyway, There were a couple of about 7-10 birds that did not have the red but for the most part, here is my ID info. They were very red on the heads and the whole bodies. Not just "dusted on" looking color like a house finch. Not hummer red but very slightly orangey red and it was almost florescent. They had dark grey (?) wings and tails. They were not quite as dark as the photo in my book but they may have been dusty. They had dark eyes and beak but I may have forgotten beak color. I did not notice the wing bars in my ID book but I was just trying to convince/not convince myself they were just finches. BUT... They were definitely twice as big as a house or Cassin's finch. Almost Robin-sized but slimmer. They were more colored and darker than a House or Cassin's Finch. Since they were on the move and I don't know when I'll see them there again, I am really wondering about these.
I think I did finally see one of the SORA Fred Petersen reported. I caught a quick glimpse of the last chick darting out from under the bridge up a little rivulet. It was just a long legged orangish chick but it gives me hope for finding the parents. There were a man and boy poking around under the bridge looking for snakes and frogs and I was sure they had scared them away but I must have seen the last straggler.
While I was waiting and looking for the PIED GREBE family, I saw what I am taking to be a BLACK PHOEBE on the pond. It was sitting on the small stump on the far side and I could not see it perfectly. It was very dark colored with an extremely white belly sharply delineated from the dark sides. It was catching insects off of the pond and then returning to the stump. It seemed "Flycatcher"ish shaped. I watched it catch a few and then people coming along the path frightened it into the trees. I took a quick look but it wasn't in sight when I came back. I had been very still for a long time looking for the grebe and it was easily startled by passers-by the first time so, maybe it was just being shy.
Slightly unusual? I saw something like a SANDPIPER (sp.) apparently going to a nest under the trees on the far (south) side of the pond. Just saw it quickly in flight from the rear and one profile view. It was definitely not a Killdeer. It was sandpiper colored browns and white "stripes" sharply delineated down wings and outspread tail. BUT, it had a long thicker beak more like a KNOT or maybe just a SPOTTED S.P.? Anyway, nesting under the thickest of the shrubs seemed kind of "un-peeplike". Would you keep me posted?
There was one PIED GREBE honking on the pond. I waited but saw no evidence of any others.
I believe I saw a SAVANNAH SPARROW on the fence by the horse pasture or dog run. I thought it was a SONG SPARROW but it didn't sing and did not have the black smudge on its chest.
I saw my first FLICKER of the summer. It was kind of "funny" looking. Its tail was kind of short and looked either new or very damaged.
There was no sight of the KESTREL and COOPERS HAWKS that have been raising chicks.
There are still quite a few HUMMERS along the creek on the north side of McCarran. The only one I got a good look at was a female which I can not yet ID. I did hear and see about 10 more birds though and found another couple of nests. I did not look to see if they were still in use.
I saw a glimpse of that bird that looks pretty much like a dark grey BREWERS BLACKBIRD but it has a thicker beak. No ID yet.
It is a There were a couple of Bewick's wrens in the trees under the pond where I had not noticed them before.
There were several American Goldfinches along the meadow.
Lots of ducks with full grown chicks on the pond.
That and the usual MOURNING DOVES, ROBINS, HOUSE FINCHES, KILLDEER (although very few and on the grass not by the marsh) is about all I remember in the way of birds.
I did see a 4 foot snake. I almost stepped on it and froze. But it had no rattle and I relaxed and looked again. I think it was a gopher snake. Kind of tan and dark brown striped but the stripe was kind of offset on the sides.
I also saw a garter snake in the stream that feeds the pond. I told the little boys that were watching it that they did bite. I only casually mentioned that they didn't actually hurt when they tried. Hopefully it will stop a little abuse of the wildlife.
This is the most unID'd and questionable ID'd birds I have seen at one time since I have gotten most of the common birds down pat. It won't do any good but I would like to ask for any more info you discover from my ID's. I really do try and use the book. But, I am still a newbie and any suggestions are, as always, appreciated.
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