If you are not a user of eBird or interested in topics related to the subject, no need to read on. If you are a user of eBird and bird in Contra Costa county, the following changes may slightly effect your birding.
In the past week I have been thoroughly examining some of the more controversial hotspot regions in Contra Costa county, and merging them as seems fit. I have also been elevating certain localities into hotspot status. So, here are a few changes that may change how you bird around the county a bit:
Castle Rocks Park and Diablo Foothills RP: These spots are now merged. The Definition of Castle Rocks Regional Recreation area extends just .6 miles past the parking lot. I looked at about 50 checklists from this park, and well over half were between 1.5-3 miles in distance, which IMHO clearly means the lists were outside of the park boundaries. As such, there was no meaningful distinction between the two spots' usage. On a similar note, the Pine Canyon Hotspot remains in tact, and should be used if a birder hikes far enough up the trail to leave the area of Diablo Foothills RP, about 5 miles each way. Keep this in mind during all-day hikes.
Jewel Lake/Tilden Nature Area: The Tilden Nature Area--vicinity of Little Farm area and the Packrat Trail have both been merged with Jewel Lake. This is because the area commonly referred to as "Jewel Lake" (from the parking lot to the lake and vicinity) includes these hotspots. The jury is still out on the larger Tilden Nature Area hotspot, but so far it looks like most checklist in this region are used to detail a list to Jewel Lake as well, and not the larger area of the Tilden Nature Area as a whole.
Big Break Area: This region's hotspots now pertain to three main areas: 1) Big Break Regional Shoreline--Observation and Fishing Pier . This is the area around the visitor center and the pier proper, not the Big Break trail. 2) Big Break Regional Shoreline--Big Break Visitor Center to Jordan Lane. This newly-created hotspot is supposed to cover every area west of Iron House along the Big Break trail. 3) Iron House Sanitary District. This refers to any area along the trail east/north of the Jordan ln entrance. The general Big Break Trail hotspot still exists, but I urge that people please use one of the other three locations when birding this area. The trail hotspot is all-encompassing, and as such much less precise than the other hotspots.
Additionally, I have been trying to make new hotspots in places that have received coverage. So, locations like Discovery Bay, Concord Naval Weapons Station, and Vasco Caves, to name a few, now all have hotspot markers. If you have eBirded at any of those locations, it would be very much appreciated if you could merge your current list with the hotspot at the designated spot.
I'm happy to answer any questions or concerns about these changes, but may be unreachable for the next couple weeks.