From March 4th to March 8th (part of my Spring Break) I was birding in northern California with my cousin.
I flew out by myself (first time I had ever done that) and my cousin picked me up at the Oakland airport. We stayed at her house and for the next three days she took me to places around the San Francisco Bay. On the first day we mostly birded in the Baylands, around the south part of the bay and in the foothills (near San Jose). We saw 93 species and I got 5 lifers including California Towhee and Western Gull (yes, that was the very first time I saw a WEGU). The second day we birded in parks near my cousin's house and saw 50+ species. I obtained another 3 life birds and overall it was a very good day. The weather was spectacular (well, warm and a bit cloudy) and there were no problems except a brief encounter with a bay leaf (yeah, a bay leaf). We were hiking in a park and I noticed lots of bay trees. My cousin said that they smelled very enticing and that I should sniff one. Taking her word I plucked a leaf out a tree and (very energetically) inhaled the smell. Unfortunately I snorted a couple bits of leaf up my nose as well and I was sneezing my head off for about 15 minutes! Luckily that was the only minor difficulty that occurred on the trip. After looking a day for it I finally saw a Wrentit! It took standing on top of a post and making Pygmy-Owl calls to lure one out. This is a picture of me looking quite smug after I saw one of those buggers (my cousin took the picture).
The third day of our adventure was probably the funnest. We went out to the coast a friend of my cousin's who is a excellent birder. For anyone at all familiar with northern California we were birding mostly around Half Moon Bay. We saw lots of interesting species (Brant, Surfbird, Hooded Merganser, Scoters, Marbled Murrelet, etc) and I saw another handful of lifers. The best bird for the day was probably a Hooded Merganser that we saw in a creek. Apparently it was very unusual to see one of them in habitats like that. But for me, all of the birds were amazing (since I'd never been to California before) and it was great to see all of the specialties. I was pretty sad when it was time to go because of all the birds and mainly, because it is so green there (remember, I live in New Mexico).
When I arrived back home I was welcomed by 30 MPH winds and terrible weather. We got a foot of snow that week (the 8 to the 13) and we are getting at least 8 inches this week! I don't mind snow but I am looking forward to Spring. There has been a more than usual amount of snowfall this year so I am expecting a very green Spring!
Note: I would have taken more pictures but I forgot to bring my good camera. Please forgive me if any of the pics are a bit grainy.