309 Smith Ranch Rd, San Rafael US-CA 38.02562, -122.51764
We went out next to a water treatment plant in San Rafael. We followed a trail that had many small ponds and bodies of water- perfect places to find plenty of birds. There were even a couple of small islands in one of the ponds in which we observed many birds resting. The trail was mostly a dirt road with some streams lining alongside it. It resembled a rural countryside- lots of open fields of grass and shrubbery. The terrain was very open and the weather was very sunny. The key bird species here was the Red-winged Blackbird. We observed hundreds of them laid out over the telephone lines, the trees- everywhere.
The Black-crowned Night-Heron is quite an interesting bird. I first spotted it on the one of the little islands in the first “pond” that we came upon. The professor pointed them out and I took a look to find them just perching within some of the shrubbery on the island. They were simply perched- it appeared as though they were just watching for something- prey, predators, etc. After reading up on them, I realized this behavior was normal as the black-crowned night-herons are nocturnal predators, and that they tend to rest on branches in shady areas during the day. Their normal prey include fish and frogs. Night-herons have very stocky appearances due to their tucked-in necks along with red, beady eyes. The adults are generally grayish with black backs and a noticeable black “cap”.
It was quite interesting that there were so many birds of different species residing right next to a water treatment plant. The weather was once again very sunny out so that played well to our advantage. We saw an enormous plethora of birds- from small house finches to double-crested cormorants. The one bird I saw that really caught my eye though, was undoubtedly the mute Swan. Seeing a swan in real life for the first time and so up close was fascinating. Knowing what swans represent and about how they have monogamous mating for life made for a unique situation, as the swan we saw was actually alone. We stayed in the same area the entire time, which allowed us to fully experience the whole place.