Re: Mitchell Canyon on Saturday April 15

Bruce Mast

Good seeing you in the field and thanks for providing a great trip report.

To add to Hugh's report, George and I spotted a male / female pair of Phainopeplas almost as soon as we left the parking lot. They were across the creek on top of a dead snag. They were being harassed by 3 California Scrub-Jays.

Most exciting sighting for us came while we were loitering with the Solis class at the Black Point Trail junction. I happened to notice a soaring falcon that proved to be a Peregrine. As we watched, a second falcon materialized and started harassing the Peregrine. Much whiter below but bigger than a Kestrel and showing the black "arm pits" of a Prairie Falcon. We got to enjoy their dogfight for several minutes.

Also in the raptor department, we got brief but good looks at a soaring Golden Eagle and a female Sharp-shinned Hawk. Also a flash of an accipiter going over the ridge that might have been a Cooper's. And of course Red-tails and Turkey Vultures.

We ran into Bob Dunn and a few other birders who had Calliope hummers staked out along the lower section of Red Road. We got a brief glimpse of a Rufous hummer and heard a couple tantalizing selasphorous clicks and buzzes but nothing diagnostic for Calliope. Definitely not the big pulse of Rufous and Calliope hummers I've seen in the past where dozens of birds are flying around the chaparral and nectaring on Yerba Santa. Indian Paintbrush and Black Sage are blooming well but Yerba Santa is just starting so perhaps the big pulse is yet to come.

Still a number of over-wintering birds in the area. Plenty of Golden-crowned Sparrows and Hermit Thrushes. Not sure if these birds have been over-wintering or are moving through from the south. We also heard a singing Ruby-crowned Kinglet at the junction of the Black Point and Globe Lily trails and spotted a Townsend's Warbler just down the hill.

Heard several Cassin's, Warbling, and Hutton's Vireos but still waiting on Black-headed Grosbeak and Lazuli Bunting.

Bird on,

Bruce Mast

April is Golden Gate Audubon's birdathon month! Please support GGAS's education and conservation mission and help me reach my fundraising goal!

On Sat, Apr 15, 2017 at 9:29 PM, rosita94598@... [EBB_Sightings] <EBB_Sightings-noreply@...> wrote:

It was crowded, at 8:15 I parked in one of the last remaining spaces in the main parking lot.  Lots of birders, including groups led by Juan-Carlos Solis and Joe Morlan.  I intended to walk up Red Road and Black Point Trail, coming back to Mitchell Canyon near the creek crossing, which ultimately I did.  For me, it seemed especially quiet, though there were lots of Bewick's Wrens, Wrentits and some Wilson's Warblers singing.

A short diversion up the north end of Black Point Trail did not produce much of anything.  Lots of Mt. Diablo Globe Lilies were along the main part of Mitchell Canyon before the Red Road intersection, and even up Red Road almost to the top.  Partway up Red Road I found Bob Dunn and Janet Ellis.  Bob had his scope aimed at the spot where a Calliope Hummingbird had just perched.  Janet missed it.  While she walked up the road a bit farther, it came back to a small pine tree, until a couple of horsewomen rode past. 

Bruce Mast, Jim Chiropolos and George Peyton came down the road before Bob, Janet and I continued up.  I kept going and turned onto Black Point Trail.  Not having done this hike for maybe 10 years, I forgot just how high the trail goes.  California Thrashers and Wrentits sang in several areas, an Anna's Hummingbird was doing its courtship flight right over me at one point and two hikers were going the other way, something I had never previously encountered on this hike. 

After starting downhill and going far enough to be back into the oak habitat, I finally found a pair of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers.  A Northern Flicker called from a snag.  Shortly after 8:30 I had heard a Hairy Woodpecker pic call just before the creek crossing in the main canyon.

I caught the City College group with Joe Morlan and we saw Spotted and California Towhees, a Wilson's Warbler, a White-breasted Nuthatch and an Oak Titmouse before returning to the parking lot.

There were  other bird sightings of which I heard including Phainopepla, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Hammond's Flycatcher, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Nashville Warbler and Rufous Hummingbird.  None of these was seen or heard by me, and there may be more sightings about which I did not hear.  It was a very good day for everyone.

Happy Easter.

Hugh B. Harvey
Walnut Creek

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