Las Gallinas Sewage Ponds.
These three ponds in northern Marin County, hold many avian riches. On one side of the trail, you have the ponds with ducks, egrets, pelicans, and cormorants. On the other side you have fields with hawks, falcons, harriers, rails, and owls
The mammalian fauna is also rich with coyotes in the fields and river otters in the waters.
On one Sunday I circled the ponds with binos and sketchbook. A treat was a Merlin perched along the “Merlin Highway”. You rarely see merlins perched in trees, because these small feisty falcons are always on the move, always moving with a purpose. So a stationary Merlin perched in a tree, scanning the fields for its avian prey, is a temptation that a birder-sketcher cannot pass up!
I then added two more field sketches of a great egret hunting in the reeds and a line of double-crested cormorants drying their feathers in the winter sun. To this I drew a map as a visual journal of my day at Las Gallinas.
I’ve seen a few life birds in and around the ponds at Las Gallinas. One was a juju bird, that is a bird that I have consistently whiffed on. This bird is seemingly a mystic ghost that has never filled the lens of my binoculars. This bird had evaded my life list for years, but a visit to Las Gallinas never let’s me down. This was the secretive and diminutive least bittern. I saw this bird in the reeds on the eastern end of pond one. Whenever I see a life bird I create a journal spread, and United States life bird No. 452 is the subject of the sketch above.