2022-03-04 Point Reyes

Wrentit - Chamaea fasciata
I met these birds along the Pierce Point Road near the Heart’s Beach Trailhead. Point Reyes National Seashore on the northern California coast.
Black Turnstone - Arenaria melanocephala
These birds were foraging at Drake’s Beach, on the southern shore of the peninsula. 

After driving all day up the coast and through San Francisco, Friday afternoon I pulled into Olema and booked into the RV Park there. Having driven all day from Carmel through gale-force winds and intermittent rain, I was glad to settle in a few miles from Point Reyes Seashore. I booked two nights and had an option for a third. I took what was left of the afternoon and evening to complete the yarn-spinning and image presentations from Piedras Blancas two days earlier.

I think it is interesting to note the role that the San Andreas fault plays in the formation of the land features here. After leaving the San Francisco peninsula, it traverses the ocean just west of the Golden Gate and skims the coast past Stinson Beach, then north through Tomales Bay, separating Point Reyes from the continental plate of the mainland. From there it continues north through Bodega Bay, essentially following much of the path of California Route 1 to Salmon Creek and beyond.

Saturday morning I set out to explore the Point Reyes peninsula. I found little in the way of detailed descriptions about the best places to locate birds, but I had my own instincts with me, and I put them to use. The road into the park passes through a small town called Inverness. I needed a few groceries, so I stopped and collected a few essentials before setting out on my explorations.

The road that carries visitors into the park is called Sir Francis Drake Boulevard. It climbs out of Inverness, and winds through the peninsula. Several side roads split off the main road and offer access to various destinations, such as beaches, picnic areas, and viewpoints.

This area has a history of ranching, and a half-dozen or so working dairies still operate here. Much of the terrain is open grasslands, but I found the steeper northern slopes well wooded. I enjoyed meeting quite a few song birds species there, including my new friends, the Chestnut-Backed Chickadees. Also, there were Bushtits, Wrentits, Ruby-Crowned Kinglets, Bewick’s Wrens, Pygmy Nuthatches, and Cassin’s Vireos.

I left my woodland bird friends behind and drove off to explore the rest of the peninsula. During my drive I spotted a group of 10 light colored deer foraging on the slopes below. These did not look like our native Mule Deer species, and I later learned about the Fallow Deer that were purchased from the San Francisco Zoo in the 1940s by a private landowner‌.

From the high plateau above Drake’s Beach, Red-Tailed Hawks soared in the stiff winds, hovering as they kept an eye to the grass fields below, hoping some hapless prey might give away their position. I spent some time with these raptors attempting to capture the soaring beauties.

The farthest reaches of the roads wind down to the shore at Drakes beach, and there I found more Northern Elephant Seals, and several shorebird species to entertain me. When I finished my tour of the peninsula, I’d met the following species: Bushtit, Wrentit, Chestnut-Backed Chickadee, Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Bewick’s Wren, Pygmy Nuthatch, Hutton’s Vireo, Fallow Deer, Red-Tailed Hawk, Black-Tailed Mule Deer, Tule Elk, Northern Elephant Seal, Long-Billed Curlew, Sanderling, Least Sandpiper, and Black Turnstone.

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