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Audubon Christmas Bird Count, Calero/Morgan Hill - Dec 2006
Casa Loma Rd. & OSA Rancho Property
Santa Clara County Open Space Authority
This year's team included: ( r.) Paul Billig, Dave Tharp, Pat Congdon, Angela Boyle, Doug Reynaud, Mike Hutnik, Tom Cochrane, Craige Edgerton, Dave Burnham.
With early morning temperatures in the low 40s, the team headed west along Casa Loma Road towards a closed section of OSA's Rancho Canada del Oro Open Space Preserve.
Crossing a stream on a residents-only section of Casa Loma Road.
Along this same creek further up the road, we sighted 6 brightly colored wood ducks.
A layer of frost blanketed the landscape. The chilly weather kept many birds under cover.
Checking the rafters of an old barn for owls. Nearby, high in the branches
of some sycamore trees, we sighted a score of Cedar Waxwings.
The sun shown brightly as the team entered the Rancho property.
Both experts and novices relied on bird books to correctly identify species sighted.
Entering a narrow side canyon heading for Hidden Lake.
Note: This was the first time in five years we found the creek dry.
We'd advanced only a short distance before noticing drops of blood along the trail.
On leaves, stones, and low hanging branches, we followed the blood trail up the canyon.
Keeping a watchful eye on the surrounding forest for more than birds.
At a spot just off the trail, we found disturbed earth in what appeared to be a cache site.
Hunters, both human and animal, often hide kill if intending to return later to retrieve it.
Speculating among ourselves as to the source of the blood-trail mystery,
we nonetheless continued counting birds up the canyon.
During past counts up this canyon, colorful wild mushrooms and
migrating California Newts have enlivened trail scenery.
Less than normal rainfall year-to-date has resulted in a dry creekbed.
Along the shore of Hidden Lake. A huge flock of Ring-Neck Ducks took flight the moment they saw us. Circling high overhead, we counted 30 before they disappeared from view.
Team members confirm the Ring-Neck Ducks'  ID as well as other birds sighted in the area.
It was quite cold in the canyon's deep shade, so after scanning the lake shores,
surrounding woods, we continued uphill into the bright sunshine.
Bird Count volunteer Dave Tharp pauses to enjoy the view.
Team members make the long ascent to the ridge above Hidden Lake.
Team members pause near a pair of towering oaks as they approach the summit.
We paused at the summit for a breather. Those who brought sack lunches, snacked.
The team paused for this group photo before heading downhill.
I'm wait'n on you!
But not for long!
Last half-mile before reaching the OSA parking lot. Another successful bird count draws to a close. Special thanks to OSA and to the dedicated volunteers who made this event possible.
We counted 40 separate species during the day, including a Golden Eagle above Hidden Lake.
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