Monday, April 4, 2016

Black Skimmers of Radio Road

BlackSkimmer Composite
Radio Road is birders term for some sewage treatment ponds located in Redwood Shores California. It's a popular destination for birders and bird photographers in the Bay Area.

On its website, the Sequoia Audubon Society says that SBSA’s landscape impoundment “is a perpetual favorite among local birders, for its fabulous numbers of waterfowl and shorebirds, and the constant hope, often fulfilled, of rarities. It is not uncommon to see over 10,000 birds from the security of your car, all close enough to be identified with binoculars (although a scope is a spectacular asset at this location. The popular SBSA “pond” that greets visitors to the plant at 1400 Radio Road, Redwood City – at the southeast end of Redwood Shores – is technically called a landscape impoundment. It was created in 1998 on the west side of the treatment plant to eliminate dust from the dry barren dirt in the area. 

The ponds at radio Road were drained sometime in 2013 due to a bird die off. It's believed the birds had the avian cholera  and thus the ponds were drained to eliminate this threat. Recently the ponds have been filled again and many birds have returned. However it looks like the sewer plant is going to rearrange their property and these ponds will be drained it about two years! That certainly looks like the end to this wonderful avian spot. 
Radio Road

Black skimmers have been observed in the Bay Area since 1994. They were first observed in California in 1962 and in 1971 in bodega Bay the first Northern California sighting. It's estimated that there is a small resident population of maybe 30 to 50 birds in and around the south bay. The radio Road area is perhaps the northern most boundary. I did observe 2 skimmers one time at the pillar point Harbor.  They have been hanging around radio road for at least the last seven years at least that's the first time I've seen them. It's been pretty certain that a visit to radio Road will be rewarded by seeing these birds.

Mixed Flock Skimmers and Shoveler.

Black Skimmer in Flight!

Skimmers hang together on little Islands!

Time for a big swallow of H2O!

Skimmers love flying in mixed flocks!

Sometimes they fly in formation around the ponds!

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