Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society has birding walks along the bay and they’re a nice way to get to know what kinds of birds live in Mountain View and get to know some nice people along the way. I went on one of these bird-watching tours. It started at Charleston Slough, which is right at the border of Palo Alto and Mountain View, at the end of San Antonio Road.
There were 6 people in my group when the walk started, and a few more people joined the group along the way. Everyone brought their own pair of binoculars. Apparently, the people who do this kind of thing regularly have scopes (which are more powerful) on tripods, but it was going to rain and binoculars are better for rainy days.
The walk moves along very slowly. Everyone stops to look at every bird along the way. The leader of the walk that I was on was Allen Royer. He tells the group where to look and what they’re looking at. I’ve walked this same route probably a hundred times before, but never noticed how many birds were around me as I did when I had someone pointing them out to me.
They’re everywhere you look and they’re used to all the people and bikes in the area, so they aren’t shy. I was under the impression that we would all have to whisper to each other if we were “birding” but that’s not true at all. A few times someone in the group would even shout “LOOK! LOOK!” and point at something as we all turned to see the excitement.
Some of the people on the walk were experienced, and others weren’t. It would be a nice morning activity for anyone, for a date, or for the entire family. It’s friendly and leisurely and would be a great way to meet people.
Several ravens flew by and Allen talked about the difference between a crow and a raven. There were plenty of Crowned Sparrows, some Snowy and Great Egrets, a giant line of Avocets, a big group of Pelicans on a sand bar, and some Black-crown Night Herons, just to name a few. Believe me, there were way too many different kinds for me to write down.
I really enjoyed Allen talking about the plants and fish as well. He told us that a Leopard Shark was recently found in Palo Alto part of the bay. He said not to worry about it biting people; it just came so it could eat the local mussels.
He also pointed out a spectacular Snowy Egret posed close to us and told me that one type of bird was the reason that the Audubon Society was formed. In 1898, two Massachusetts women set out to protect the birds from being killed. The feathers were used to adorn women’s hats and at one point in history the white feathers of a Snowy Egret were worth more than gold. Unbelievable.
The Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society is nestled in McClellan Ranch in Cupertino. It’s so close to the craziness of Silicon Valley, yet I felt like I was stepping back in time when I visited the 18 acre nature preserve ranch to find out about local bird walks. The ranch has a community garden, nature trails, a playground and farm animals. Here's a link to the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society event calendar. There is a nice little nature store at the ranch that is run by Audubon Society and they have bird houses, bird feeders, books, and local tour information. They're located at 22221 McClellan Road, Cupertino.
It's nice to enjoy mother nature and step away from the laptop sometimes.