Field Lab 2: Mount Tamalpais State Park/ Redwood Creek/ Muir Beach

Date: 02/06/20


Mount Tamalpais State Park, 37.8795°N, -122.5548°W, highest elevation = 784m

Redwood Creek, 37.881461°N, -122.577001°W

Muir Beach (lookout), 37.8628°N, -122.5850°W, elevation = 144m

Site description: We first visited a trail off of Frank Valley Road in Mount Tamalpais State Park. The surrounding plant life consisted of a diverse range of shorter-sized bushes with a scatter of various medium sized trees. The trail wound  through hills and valleys alongside a small forest of tall eucalyptus trees. Some key bird species that were identified at the time of visit include the California Scrub-Jay, Wrentits, and the American Robin. Next, we visited a dirt trail that ran alongside a small portion of Redwood Creek. Unlike the location before, the area was surrounded by an array of tall trees some of which were in bloom and some that were completely stripped of leaves. The creek floor was covered in a blanket of grass amongst the fallen trees. Some key bird species that were found include the Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Ruby-crowned kinglets, and even a Peregrine Falcon. The last place we visited was a cliff trail on the coast that looked over Muir Beach. The trail first wove through tall pine and eucalyptus trees that homed a multitude of birds and non-bird species. The path lead to an open cliff area that was covered majorly by shorter bushes and shrubs; however, the cliff was home to several taller groups of trees. Some key bird species that were observed include the Stellar’s Jay (Coastal), the Pygmy Nuthatch, and the White-crowned sparrow.

Species account: Peregrine Falcon, Falco peregrinus. Peregrine Falcons are medium-sized birds that are athletically and sturdily built when looking from the naked eye. Their plumage varies across subspecies however the underside of their wings most often contain hundreds of brown spots and lines in front of a whiter background.Peregrine Falcons navigate primarily at high altitudes in flight with occasional perching at natural and manmade lookout spots. Their diet consists of other avian species such as pigeons, ducks, and gulls all of which they primarily hunt mid-flight. During breeding season, Peregrine Falcon males viscously defend their mating territory and female-protected nest. The specific Peregrine Falcon spotted on this field lab was seen slowly spiraling upwards via the surrounding thermals.

Narrative: Our trip began at approximately 8:00AM on February 6th, 2020. We crossed the bridge into Marin Headlands territory before approaching our three destinations along the Muir Woods State Park. The weather was a mostly clear sky with scattered clouds. Wind was minimal at Mount Tamalpais State Park and Redwood Creek but it picked up as we moved closer to the coast (Muir Beach lookout). Like the previous field lab, there was an abundance of birds and we had no problem identifying a plethora of species. This time, we focused largely on the specific calls made by the birds and how this can serve as an easy way to identify bird species that are present without actually visualizing them.

Mount Tamalpais State Park

Redwood Creek

Muir Beach Lookout

eBird checklist: https://ebird.org/profile/MTUzNjg2OA/world


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