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OSA's Boccardo Trail -- Dec 2006
Audubon Society Annual Bird Count
(Eastern Foothills)
Clipboard in hand, bird count coordinator Dave Cook greets volunteers
participating in the 2006 Audubon Christmas Bird Count.
Each set of volunteers was given a bird list to help them keep track
of the type and numbers of bird species sighted during the count.
The Alum Rock Park bird count includes access to areas normally closed to the public.
Here, Dave arranges with a Park Ranger for transport to a remote area within the park.
Our group's count began in the eastern foothills above the Boccardo Trail.
Windswept, grassy hillsides provide ideal habitat for both songbirds and raptors.
We passed through areas of deep shade; morning frost crunched beneath our feet.
Ice pellets still littered the ground from a brief hailstorm 36-hours before.
Scattered here and there in shallow recesses on sections of the upper trail;
At lower elevations, we found large drifts of ice pellets washed from narrow ravines.
Wild mushrooms thrive in the rich soil beside the trial.
Winter bare California Buckeye like this one accent sections of the Boccardo Trail.
Scanning hillsides and woodlands for any sign of birds.
As on previous counts, we slowly worked our way down the mountain.
Due to the recent rains, sections of the trail were very slippery.
In these areas thick layers of mud collected quickly on our boots.
Boccardo Trail affords sweeping views of the valley from San Francisco to Gilroy.
While our group kept mainly to the trail, one member ranged far and wide.
Bird and native plant expert Tom Cochrane covered an extensive area during the count.
The mid-winter sun climbed too slowly to illuminate the far side of the canyon.
This impressive California Buckeye is a well-known trail landmark.
We found numerous buckeye seeds scattered on the ground beneath its branches.
Some seeds were even trapped as they fell in recesses of its limb structure.
The rich color of California Buckeye seeds stand out among trailside grasses.
As in the past, we paid particular attention to narrow canyons and wooded areas.
Entering a sheltered canyon in search of birds.
A pair of Golden Eagles is often seen gliding high above this narrow canyon.
In search of rare native plants as well as birds, Tom heads for parts unknown.
Our eyes and ears in remote areas, Tom sighted numerous birds while exploring.
The cold discouraged many birds from being active.
Normally quite tall, these broad Bay Laurels are groomed by the elements.
A particularly challenging section of the Boccardo Trail.
But during the annual bird count, it's downhill all the way!
View of the lower levels of the Boccardo Trail above Alum Rock Park.

On the left, a tiny spring-fed pool near a stand of oaks. Cattle trails mark the area.
On the right, a stand of eucalyptus mark the Boccardo Trail trail head entrance.

Pausing briefly to scout for birds before continuing.
Although overcast, the air was noticeably less cold at higher elevations.
Morning cloud cover began to dissipate as we neared the trail head entrance.
Well done! Another successful winter bird count nears its conclusion.
Special thanks to these dedicated volunteers! Couldn't have done it without you!
As on past counts, we saw a pair of red tail hawks in this area.
Keep gate closed! A small herd of cattle roam throughout the Boccardo Trail preserve.
Their grazing trims non-native grasses allowing more sunlight for native plant species.
Wooden post marker shows distance between points along the trail.
Along a sunny section of the Todd Quick Memorial Trail in Alum Rock Park.
Trail traveler Tom with a view of the heights of the Boccardo Trail preserve.
Nearing the end of the North Rim trail at the conclusion of the count.
We set out from Sierra Road at 8:45AM, reaching the Alum Rock Parking Lot around noon.
We counted hundreds of birds during the day's count and noted 35 different bird species.
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