Field Lab 2 : 2/6/2020 Field Trip


Mount Tamalpais State Park, Mill Valley US-CA (37.8796,-122.5547) (135 m)

Redwood Creek, Muir Beach US-CA (37.8672,-122.5802) (60 m)

Muir Beach Overlook, Muir Beach US-CA (37.8630,-122.5854) (0 m)

Site Description: We visited a few locations on the way to the Muir Beach Overlook. We took a first stop along the highway and hiked along a trail. This trail had some inclines and was at different elevations as it was in the hills. There were some shrubs/bushes and lots of trees (of various sizes). Most of the area along this trail were widely open and not heavily shaded where we were walking. The second stop we took was along Redwood Creek, where there are many tall trees and a lot more shaded areas. There were also areas with wide openings where we were able to observe birds soaring in the sky like Turkey Vultures and even a Peregrine Falcon. The area where we walked was entirely flat, with some higher areas along the trail along with a stream at lower elevation on the other side of the trail. The last stop we took was at the Muir Beach Overlook point, where we followed a trail that entered a heavily shaded area with large trees. These shaded areas where often cooler and had a variety of birds based on which location we stopped at. We also followed another trail that was much more open, with less much less shaded area. There were various small and tall trees where we saw many different birds coming and going. We were also able to get a very up close view of a White Crowned Sparrow at this location. Overall, the first 2 locations were further off from loud noises of cars but there is still significant human activity in the areas. The last location was a viewpoint, so there was slightly more noise and human activity in the area. The key bird species that were seen included: Anna’s Hummingbird, Allen’s Hummingbird, Gull, California Scrub Jay, Common raven, Bushtit, Wrentit, American Robin, Fox Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Spotted Towhee, Yellow Rumped Warbler, Turkey Vulture, Red-Tailed Hawk, Hair Woodpecker, Peregrine Falcon, Chestnut Backed Chickadee, Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Stellar’s Jay, Pygmy Nuthatch, Western Bluebird, and White Crowned Sparrow.

Species Account: Chestnut Backed Chickadees were seen a few times on this field trip. Chestnut Backed Chickadees are known to be found in the Pacific Northwest (eBird). Chestnut Backed Chickadees tend to be black and white on the head with a chestnut colored back — which can differ from other Chickadees based on region (allaboutbirds). Chickadees have a very small relative size compared to other birds with large heads, small beaks, and short rounded wings (allaboutbirds). Their habitat includes coniferous areas, along with shrubs, trees, and urban area parks (allaboutbirds). Chickadees forage and mainly eat insects, seeds, berries (audubon). Chickadees are very active, flitting from branch to branch and can even hang upside down (allaboutbirds). Chickadees tend to flock in groups and are even known to flock with Nuthatches or Kinglets in the winter (allaboutbirds).

Narrative: The class drove to the Muir Woods Area for this field trip. We left around 8 am on Thursday morning. It was slightly chilly in the morning with some fog but the weather cleared up and turned into a sunny day overall. There was no cloud coverage or fog and it warmed up once we got to Marin County. There were many birds visible mainly in the trees (all ranges from short to tall), along with smaller shrubs/bushes and even on the ground– like where we first spotted the White Crowned Sparrow. It was interesting to see how some species were seen at multiple locations, but also the fact that there were unique types of birds seen at each location. We did not see any other birders out that day, but we were lucky to have the chance to see a whale in the water along the coast. I really enjoyed this field trip for the new types of birds we saw along with the beautiful views.

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