The alarm woke us early every Saturday morning in San Jose. We scrambled into our clothes and dashed out the door, camera and binoculars in hand. Our habit was to stop at Peet’s to pick up coffee and a sweet roll before strolling into the Los Gatos Birdwatcher shop promptly at 8am, where we met the group. Together we carpooled to the bird walk chosen for the day.
Who would have thought the places we’d visit in Silicon Valley? We walked on paths at the Oka Ponds, the parking lot of an environmental company, Almaden Lake Park, and Sunnyvale Water Treatment Plant. On those early mornings, one experiences a stillness and beauty, plus the wonderful sound of chirping birds.
Over the weeks on these Saturday morning Birdwatcher Walks, we added new birds to our list and had the opportunity to learn more about those we’d seen in the past months on our trip across the US. Never would we have been able to identify the marsh wren on our own, let alone seen one climbing into her nest in the tall reeds along the water’s edge. Watching red-tailed hawks in the nest with little chicks was pretty exciting. Killdeer were on the banks of the lake and pretty well camouflaged. Our first sightings of a song sparrow, Northern rough-winged swallows, and a Forster tern happened on the walks.
We got to know Freddy Howell, the genial storeowner and very helpful tour leader. Most in the group were (way) more knowledgeable than we, generous with their information and spotting scopes, and we were grateful for all that we learned from them. The Los Gatos Birdwatcher sponsors these free walks.
When you travel, be on the lookout for opportunities like this to be part of a local group enjoying something you love doing. As you migrate, keep your eyes open for all the new birds you might see along the way.