Trip Report: Elkhorn Slough

16 Mar

Saturday, I had the joy of going out to Elkhorn Slough (pronounced “slew”) — my favorite place to bird — and doing an all day training out there.  I can now take my classes out there for field trips!  Hurrah!


Elkhorn Slough Reserve used to be a dairy and before that it was a gun club.  This shot was taken from inside the old milking barn.  There are two Barn Owl nest boxes inside.  There are signs of nesting in one of the boxes.  In all my visits, I’ve never had the joy of seeing an owl, sigh.  There are also Great Horned Owls that nest in one of the Eucalyptus Groves. Owl pellets abound inside the barn.


This pictures was taken at the end of the day.  We hiked over much of this land.  It’s so rich with life.


Saw a Song Sparrow.  I also saw a Common Yellowthroat .  .  . life bird for me.

Leopard Shark

Not only bird life abounds at the Slough.  This Leopard Shark was a thrill for all of us.  You can see broken bottles in the water . . . this was a dumping ground when the Reserve was a Dairy.

Egrets & Cormorants II

While we had lunch on Hummingbird Island, I saw this odd flock come in and land on the water in front of us.  They don’t normally allow food on the trails but made an exception for us.


Pretty Suncups (Camissonia ovata) on Hummingbird Island

The day was exhausting but wonderful.  I saw a lot, learning a lot, hiked a lot.  I saw a lot of birds:

Canada Goose – Branta canadensis     2
Mallard – Anas platyrhynchos     8
Bufflehead – Bucephala albeola     10
Common Merganser – Mergus merganser     1
Western Grebe – Aechmophorus occidentalis     1
Double-crested Cormorant – Phalacrocorax auritus     10
Great Blue Heron – Ardea herodias     1
Great Egret – Ardea alba     8
Snowy Egret – Egretta thula     4
Turkey Vulture – Cathartes aura     4
White-tailed Kite – Elanus leucurus     1
Northern Harrier – Circus cyaneus     1
California Gull – Larus californicus     X
Forster’s Tern – Sterna forsteri     10
Anna’s Hummingbird – Calypte anna     3
Belted Kingfisher – Megaceryle alcyon     1
Black Phoebe – Sayornis nigricans     4
Western Scrub-Jay (Coastal) – Aphelocoma californica californica     2
American Crow – Corvus brachyrhynchos     4
Common Yellowthroat – Geothlypis trichas     2   **LIFER**
Song Sparrow – Melospiza melodia     4

More pictures and stories will follow.

23 Responses to “Trip Report: Elkhorn Slough”

  1. Lynne at Hasty Brook 16 March, 2009 at 6:10 am #

    Can I go with on one of your field trips!

    • Liza Lee Miller 17 March, 2009 at 5:08 am #

      Sure! Let’s get the Flock out here to California to bird Elkhorn Slough!!! 🙂

  2. robin andrea 16 March, 2009 at 6:58 am #

    Looks like a great day out on the slough. It sure is pretty there.

  3. Pam 16 March, 2009 at 7:04 am #

    What a great place! Your weather looks so perfect and your photo subjects are so cool! I look forward to seeing what else you find out there.

  4. bob k 16 March, 2009 at 7:34 am #

    This is one of the places we plan to visit soon. Thanks for sharing!

  5. jodyss 16 March, 2009 at 8:08 am #

    Gorgeous pics!!

  6. ken 16 March, 2009 at 8:45 am #

    Thanks for posting. I have never seen such a clear shot of a leopard shark!

    Have you seen the Elkhorn Slough Foundation’s YouTube channel? The have some cool videos.

    • Liza Lee Miller 17 March, 2009 at 5:07 am #

      Thanks! I’ll check it out. It was a great day . . . I was pretty excited about the leopard shark shot myself!

  7. Mick 16 March, 2009 at 11:18 am #

    That looks like a very interesting place to visit. Great photos!

  8. Sparverius 16 March, 2009 at 11:19 am #

    Those are beautiful pictures of a beautiful area. Makes me even hungrier for spring than before.

  9. MaineBirder 16 March, 2009 at 1:13 pm #

    What a great place for a trip! Very nice photos too. It’s a shame about the dump leftovers

    • Liza Lee Miller 17 March, 2009 at 5:06 am #

      Well, it’s interesting about the dump. Yes, it’s a shame but it’s also part of the history of this place. It was really fascinating because there was a plant expert with us on the hike. She is involved in returning it to its native site but also with stewarding the land. She pointed out that man has always modified his environment. The Ohlone indians who lived there first used to do controlled burns so that the wildflowers would bloom. I’m sure that one day, they will clean up the broken glass (although, I’d imagine it will keep coming back up to the surface since it was a dump site for a long time) but it also points to the history of the place. The area is teeming with life so it’s clearly not hurting anything. It’s amazing how this area has changed since being restored to wetlands.

  10. Laisseraller 16 March, 2009 at 3:57 pm #

    Great photos! Birds are not the only creature needing nesting boxes! New blog on the Hx. of the Ladybug:

  11. amarkonmywall 16 March, 2009 at 5:20 pm #

    Oh, my- what a wonderful place to bird. This is a beautiful post, Lisa. Love that shark!- and the long distance views.

    • Liza Lee Miller 17 March, 2009 at 5:03 am #

      Thanks! (Oh, and it’s Liza with a Z!) The shark was amazing — ooohs and ahhhhs from everyone in my group! The long distance views though are what always get me. Living in a redwood forest, I don’t often get the chance to look at a wide open vista . . .

  12. jayne 17 March, 2009 at 2:35 am #

    What a great day!

  13. Larry Jordan 17 March, 2009 at 8:52 pm #

    Hey Liza, it looks like an awesome spot to bird. Where is it exactly?

    Great captures of the shark and the odd flock of Double-crested Cormorants and Snowy Egrets, plus you got to see two of my favorites, the Northern Harrier Hawk and the Belted Kingfisher!

    Great birding day!

    • Liza Lee Miller 18 March, 2009 at 4:54 am #

      It was a great birding day, Larry! You’re right! I’ll post more info on Elkhorn Slough today. It was a great day of birding.

  14. Angela Sommers 20 March, 2009 at 7:53 am #

    Liza, it’s great that you would do this training in order to take your class there. I saw something on the web site about an evening event in the education lab. It’s being promoted as an adult field trip. I might have to get there early and go look for sharks.

    Your classes are lucky to have a teacher that cares about the environment and wants to share that with them. Great photos.


  1. Mid March at the Slough « Elkhorn Slough Sightings - 18 March, 2009

    […] […]

  2. Nature Blog Network » Featured Blog: It’s Just Me - 27 April, 2009

    […] be found at Twitter and Flickr as lizalee. A look at two of her posts, A long walk on the coast and Trip Report: Elkhorn Slough, will introduce you to her writing and photography, and give a flavor of her blog. And these two […]

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