Central and Western Contra Costa County


Bruce Mast
 

Did a bit of scouting yesterday with George Peyton in preparation for next Sunday's "Contra Costa Competitive Big 6 Hours" as part of Golden Gate Audubon's annual birdathon fundraiser.

Waterbird Pond in Martinez appears to have been dredged. Most of the cat-tails are gone so we missed Cinnamon Teal. Found 5 dabbling duck species, including a small flock of American Wigeons and one Northern Pintail. There's some exposed mud along the entrance road that attracted some shorebirds. Mostly Short-billed Dowitchers coming into alternate plumage but also a Semipalmated Plover and a Wilson's Snipe. White Pelicans fishing in the deeper water. Dredging doesn't appear to have impacted the local grackles.

Martinez Regional Shoreline was pretty quiet but we spotted a female Belted Kingfisher fishing in the creek just before the parking lot entrance. Out in the marsh, we enjoyed a calling Black Rail near the pedestrian bridges.

After dropping off George at home, I continued to West County Wastewater District's sewage ponds along Canal Blvd in Richmond. Dead as a doornail. A couple ponds have plenty of exposed mud so it's possible that I visited at a time when the birds are all off feeding elsewhere. But it was near high tide so I don't think there would be much mud on the bay. So who knows where the birds are? Your mileage may differ.

Checked the Canal Blvd viewing platform. Ospreys are settled in on the crane but you knew that because you've been closely monitoring Golden Gate Audubon's new webcam. A couple Common Loons in the harbor were sporting beautiful alternate plumage. Caspian Terns and Western Gulls seem to be nesting in great numbers on the long spit and 3 Black Oystercatchers were chasing each other around the big rock offshore of Brooks Island. Also on the spit, I noticed a Sanderling and a lone Brant. 7 more Brants were swimming just behind the spit.

From Vincent Park, I could see 36 Black Turnstones roosting on the rip-rap across the harbor and the Eared Grebes were sporting their beautiful alternate plumage. Still several hundred Greater Scaup on the bay, along with a few Buffleheads and a lone female Surf Scoter.

I ended the evening with a walk along Meeker Slough from Bayside Dr.  A female Canvasback was looking sickly in the creek channel. Shorebirds are all looking fresh and bright. Enjoyed a couple calling Ridgway's Rails as dusk approached.

Bird on,

Bruce Mast
Oakland

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