On Saturday, 5 January, I led my 3rd annual "Winter Rarities" field trip for Redwood Region Audubon Society. I always schedule this now annual trip to take place after the coastal Christmas Bird Counts--the Arcata and the Centerville to King Salmon--both of which tend to turn up some interesting rarities in generally accessible locations. This year was no exception as many "goodies" were turned up on both counts; especially the Centerville CBC! Read Centerville CBC compiler, Gary Lester's message to NWCALBIRD from 31 December:
"A mix of perfect weather and eager, capable participation brought a load of rarities and overall satisfaction in a job-well-done. Although the pelagic cruise didn't materialize, there was a respectable count total. I don't have all my reports, but the species total is in the neighborhood of 188. A belated report of Common Grackle, found on private property in the upper Salt River area, caught me by surprise.
Unusual reports include, in no particular order-Long-eared Owl, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Selasphorus sp., White-throated Swift (1st count record), Vaux's Swift (previous records?), Say's Phoebe, Wilson's Warbler, MacGillivray's Warbler, Hermit Warbler, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Northern Waterthrush, Yellow Warbler, Western Tanager, Vesper Sparrow, and Common Grackle (1st count record). Notable efforts included 8 warbler species total from 2 separate parties, a foraging Hermit Warbler on a Ferndale lawn, a dizzying mixed foraging flock of 1 Tree Swallow, 2 Violet-green Swallows, 2 Vaux's Swift's and 22 White-throated Swifts and a late-night owling effort on Graham/Tompkins Hill roads that produced 6 owl species including the infrequently reported Northern Saw-whet Owl...."
Unfortunately, a lot of the best birds were reported on private property that wouldn't be accessible to a field trip, of which has had up to 20 participants in the recent years--especially the 2010 trip when the infamous BROWN SHRIKE was around. But, we did have possibility for the Long-eared Owl that had recently been reported by numerous observers from the Hookton Slough Unit of Humboldt Bay NWR. Also, THREE Northern Shrikes had been reported by 3 separate parties on the Centerville CBC so we had excellent chances to try and refind at least one of those birds, including a stunning adult found by Greg Chapman on Quinn Rd. (For some reason I REALLY like the name of that road!) We also had to make an attempt to look for the reported Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in the town of Ferndale and had some other possibilities for lesser rarities like wintering Nashville Warbler, Long-tailed Duck, etc.