If you’re in the greater Bay Area, I want to invite you to join me at one of two outings I’ll be leading during the upcoming Birdathon with the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society. Birdathons are an annual event that Audubon Chapters use to raise funds to help push forward their activities over the year.

I’m going to be doing two big sits, on in Mountain View in the Shoreline Lake area( the “Sitting Ducks” on March 25 from 9AM to 1PM), the other down in Coyote Valley at Coyote Open Space Preserve (the “Shrikes of Joy” on April 8 from 2-6PM).

The idea of a big sit is just that: everyone gets together in a group and sees how many species that can see from their fixed location. The location at Shoreline has good views of the lake, the salt ponds, some of the slough areas and parts of the tree areas, so it usually has a good number of birds and variety of species.

Yellow-billed Magpie

Down in Coyote OSP, this is a new open space and we’re still not entirely sure what we’ll find, but in my trips down where we see American Kestrel, White-Tailed Kite and Yellow-Billed Magpie various sparrows and often raptors. There’s a chance for species like Golden and Bald eagle, Tri-colored Blackbird and other fun birds — and recently at least one Lewis’ Woodpecker has been seen there.

This is an opportunity to help us scout out this location and figure out what we can expect of it as we get to know it. My feeling is it’s going to become a special birding place in the county.

These big sits are designed to be fun and casual events with a lot of chance to sit and talk, teach and generally relax and enjoy getting to know people with similar interests. You don’t need special gear, if you have binoculars of any kind bring them along, and I’d suggest a camp or folding chair to be comfortable during the wait. You don’t need to be there for the full four hours, come when you can, stay as long as you want.

Northern Harrier

Interested? You can find out more and sign up at the SCVAS Birdathon page. There are a number of other teams operating during the Birdathon you can get involved with too, from casual 4 hour outings to 24 hour chases for large numbers of species to extreme birding via bicycle. It’s all a lot of fun and for a good cause.

The cause? This is a primary fund raiser for Santa Clara Valley Audubon, funding their ongoing operations, their educational and outreach programs. It also helps find the chapter’s full-time Conservation Advocate, who works with local governments and other groups to help them craft policies that promote bird-safe buildings and protect habitat.

SVACAS also fights attempts to destroy open space and existing habitats. There are currently some proposals within San Jose that would open up Coyote Valley to development, which would destroy a major wildlife corridor and bird habitat, one of the best areas for resident raptors in Northern California. You can learn more of what’s being attempted by checking out http://www.stopthedeception.com, and we encourage all of you in the San Jose area in sending feedback to the San Jose government.

Have questions? Drop me a note and we can chat. Please sign up for one of my trips, and we can sit down and have a good time studying the birds and talking about them as we sit outside and enjoy our green spaces.

Can’t make it to one of the events? Consider sponsoring my teams by donating to the birdathon and helping out. As an added bonus, whoever sponsors the largest amount I’ll do a signed, custom 13×19 print of one of my images and send it to you. If you sponsor, just send me confirmation of it and whoever wins will be able to pick the image they want to have made for them.

This is the first year I’m leading outings for the Birdathon. I’ve participated in them in the past, and they’re a lot of fun, and a great way to learn more about the birds and birding, and get together with others that have the same interest.

If you’re not local to Silicon Valley? Audubon Chapters across the country are doing this as well. If you can’t find the one for your local area, let me know and I’ll help you find it.

Thanks, and see you soon with the birds.

(the eagle? Shot just down the street a bit from Coyote OSP. The Magpie and Harrier? Shot literally from the location where our Big Sit will be in a few weeks. Now are you interested?)