Monday, January 22, 2007

Winter means birding!

This is a shout out to my weekend knitting group buddies from Bobaknit and SnB San Jose. Hi knitters! I'm sorry to have missed your delightful gatherings for the last few weeks, but just now I'm in the thrall of my other addiction. You see, winter in California means birding to me and Bill. We've both felt the itch all month, as we went nearly three weeks without a serious birding outing. So we've dedicated this weekend, next weekend, and the one after that to birding as much as possible to make up for lost time.

I mean, ok, we were out birding most of the day on January 1, scoring some great ocean views at Ano Nuevo and Pigeon Point. (Year list: 73 species)

And, yes, it's true that we picked up a six species for our 2007 "Year List" on the 7th when we took our young friend Seth for a walk at Vasona Lake (Year list: 79).

But it wasn't enough. What we really want is to plunge in, to surround ourselves with birds and outdoor days and winter sunlight here in this most inviting landscape graced by gloriously clear winter skies.

And so out we went. This past weekend, due to social schedules, we stayed close to home, hitting Mountain View and Palo Alto on Saturday (Year list: 100). Sunday we hit coastal Santa Cruz and Moss Landing. And it was beautiful. (Year list: 118)

For instance -- check us out up there in the photo from Sunday. Temperature was around 55 degrees with almost no wind most of the day. The ocean was flat with no surf between 9 am and 1 pm, as the tied peaked & started to roll out. See the flat blue horizon behind Bill's ear? With a little bit of outdoor wear -- for me, it was long johns, gloves, a hat and my favorite birding sweater -- we were comfortable all day long. Jealous yet??

Oh! I've just realized *is* actual knitting in this post! On my head & hands in the photo at the top are my new garter stitch "field mitts" and matching short row hat in Gedifra Golden Tweed. I knit them in a hurry in Florida, where it was 43 degrees in the mornings. This yarn was going to be a sweater, but the swatch wasn't working out for me. Now it's a hat. That'll show it!

The gloves were adapted from the Weekend Knitting fingerless glove pattern -- I used a larger gauge and skipped the short rows, since the fabric was already plenty stretchy. I adapted the hat pattern from tychus from the Knitty accessories issue. I've got 4 sections instead of 5, and I think I'm going to be adding 6 - 10 rows of horizontal garter stitch to make a better brim, since the hat is currently either too long or too short, depending on whether I roll up the edge. Still, it's a great field hat! Warm, doesn't really call attention to itself, and brings my knitting addiction into the field with me.

Although the knitting continues, birding is the ascendant addiction and I will be "in the field" during as many daylight hours as I can be. Today, January 22, the year list stands at 118 species. Our total species count for all the Januaries, ever, is 228. We've got our work cut out for us to even get to 200, given how late we're starting the push, but we're going to give it all we've got.

Before Stitches West, we'll try to hit all of these places I bet you've never been to:
  • San Luis NWR, in California's Central Valley, where huge flocks of geese and ducks are mass in flooded fields near Los Banos for the winter. Sandhill cranes fly over in long lines, making their eerie prehistoric gobbling call
  • In Panoche Valley, in San Benito County, we'll try to get a photo of Long-eared Owls, and chase the elusive Mountain Plover
  • Up near Davis, in the Sacramento River delta, we'll look for wintering raptors, like Prairie Falcon, Rough-legged Hawk, and Ferruginous Hawk
  • Marin, Marin, Marin. What's not to love about Marin in winter? Pt. Reyes is nearly empty at this season, but the hills are green like Ireland and the shorebirds are fabulous. And of course, Marin has a great sewage pond at Las Gallinas, where the ducks can't be beat. Seriously worth the 100 yards of stench at the beginning of the walk.
  • Stretch goal - Mines Road, down from Livermore to Mt. Hamilton, behind most of the Diablo range. Roadrunners, Lewis's Woodpecker, and Lawrence's Goldfinch, mmmmm birdy.
Wish us luck and clear days, and I'll see you at Stitches!


Blogger Abigail said...

Have fun with the birdies!

I hope to see you at Stitches. :)

January 22, 2007 9:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sunday was gorgeous! I was out at Castle Rock SP, but all I saw was a couple of fat blue jays. :/

January 23, 2007 8:22 AM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

Isn't there a good birding area in Santa Barbara? I went to school there, and I think I remember hearing about one of the nearby preserved areas being popular with birders. Enjoy yourself out there!

January 23, 2007 8:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm exhausted just reading about your birding jaunts. Like I said in today's email -yesterday I saw 15--20 cardinals at my bird feeding area in the early evening. That was exciting to me. I've set aside the socks temporarily to knit a scarf from wool yarn Shirley found at a garage sale years ago. I have to work up nerve to work on the different sock pattern. Mom

January 25, 2007 8:13 AM  
Anonymous Godmoma said...

You guys are so cute! :)

And yes, I'll see you at Stitches.

January 26, 2007 1:29 PM  
Blogger Bogie said...

I'll definitely see you at Stitches if not sooner!

January 28, 2007 4:42 PM  
Blogger Cindy said...

Ahhh. So that's where you've been! My father-in-law was a big birder and used to lead walks at the ponds. Sadly we lost him last month but I am so glad that you are enjoying your passion for birding. I never got a chance to go on a birding outing with him. Maybe I can join you sometime instead.... :)

See you at Stitches!

February 02, 2007 10:33 PM  

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