A Brief Visit to Glenwood Open Space Preserve

Katherine and I each had an appointment in Scotts Valley recently and decided to revisit Glenwood Open Space Preserve.

We had been there once before, but it was a brief visit since we had Sam and Sasha with us. We didn’t realize it at the time, but the Preserve is divided into two properties. East Glenwood is open to equestrians and hikers while West Glenwood is open to hikers, dog-walkers and cyclists. So, we could have visited West Glenwood with the dogs.

Katherine and I spent about two hours exploring East Glenwood. I was impressed by how well the trails are maintained and, more importantly for one as navigationally challenged as myself, how well they are all marked.

We had barely begun our hike — and were still on a connector trail — when I paused to photograph a small, olive-gray bird flitting about in a Coyote Bush. Similar to the Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Hutton’s Vireo is distinguished by a larger beak and two white wing bars.

Hutton’s Vireo catching a worm-type lunch

(Just for comparison purposes, here is a photo of a Ruby-crowned Kinglet taken in Santa Cruz in November.)

Ruby-crowned Kinglet with a more slender beak and one white wing bar with black below it. The Kinglet is also smaller than the Vireo (3.9″-4.7″ vs 3.5″-4.3″)

After a short hike, Katherine and I found ourselves at a small pond. The first thing we saw was a Black-crowned Night Heron — standing motionless just a few feet away from us behind a barbed-wire fence.

Black-crowned Night Heron with breeding plume. (The hazy bar across the bottom of the photo is the out-of-focus barbed-wire fence.)

Katherine saw that the heron sported a long, white breeding plume. We later read that the bird’s legs turn bright pink in breeding season. This one is only half prepared for breeding; its legs were yellow.

Katherine had gone ahead while I took pictures of the Black-crowned Night Heron.

“What’s the name of that duck I called the Rainbow Duck,” she called. I hurried over to see to what she was referring.

“That’s a Wigeon,” I said when I saw it. It’s shiny green stripe flashed different colors depending on the light.

“What are these ducks?” she asked, pointing toward the middle of the pond.

“Those are some kind of Merganser,” I said, having recently seen a Common Merganser in the San Lorenzo River when I was downtown.

Hooded Mergansers

As we circled around the pond, I kept the Black-crowned Night Heron in sight, taking more photos of it from different angles. Later, when I was looking at the downloaded photos on my computer, I was stunned to see a second Black-crowned Night Heron in the tree above the first. Neither Katherine and I had even noticed it!

And no birding outing is complete without a photo of the ubiquitous Red-tailed Hawk!

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