I tried out Outwood Valley Trail in the Marin Headlands this weekend. The trail is at the bottom of a gulley, looping around both banks of a stream. Going clockwise from the trailhead, the trail goes uphill as Oakwood Valley Trail and then back downhill as Oakwood Meadow Trail. eBird just lists the whole loop as Oakwood Valley.
My main targets were Bewick’s Wren and Wilson’s Warbler. I saw both, but the photographic opportunities weren’t great.
I saw Bewick’s Wrens on the way up Oakwood Valley Trail. They spent most of their time in the understory on the slope above the trail, so the only shots I had were pointing almost straight up. There weren’t any obvious places for them to perch that I could use to get a good composition.
I found the Wilson’s Warblers on the way back down Oakwood Meadow Trail. Their territory was near a small clearing, so they would flit between dense understory and more open branches. Unfortunately, their favorite perches in the open section were a little far away.
I spent about 30 minutes there and didn’t come away with anything fantastic. It’s possible with more time one of them would have landed on just the right perch. On this particular visit, everything I got was pretty branchy.
These are some of the best images I was able to get (and even they were assisted by branch removal in Photoshop).
One of the warblers had something weird going on near its beak. Wilson’s Warblers of course are well known for their jaunty black caps, but this one’s cap extended all the way to the beak. There’s something weird going on with the feathers above and below the beak. I’m not sure if this warbler is somehow disfigured, or molting, or something else. There’s always something more to learn on every outing.
It felt like the warblers had their territory right near the foot path, so this might be a fairly reliable location for them. It’s just a tough spot to photograph in, what with the dense understory and steep slope up from the path.