Eastern Contra Costa 2/22/2018 TUFTED DUCK, Glaucous Gull

Logan Kahle

Hi All,

Yesterday Albert Linkowski and I birded various spots in Eastern Contra Costa county. With blasting westerly winds starting remarkably early in the morning, activity was hampered and birding was tough, but we still managed to eek out a few goodies. 

We started at Iron House Sanitary District, where the once vegetation-choked shallow pond is now starting to open up slightly. Shorebird numbers are still low, but the dabblers are loving it. Anyway, highlights here included:

Ring-necked Duck-33 was a nice count of a species that seems to almost exclusively visit here late in the winter
Hooded Merganser-3
Common Merganser-128 was a high count for here
Sharp-shinned Hawk-2
Cooper's Hawk-1
Virginia Rail-1
Common Gallinule-1 was nice considering this species' declining status
Boneparte's Gull-20
Mew Gull-3
Forster's Tern-6
Great-tailed Grackle-10 were part of this species every-present eastward march in the county
House Sparrow-4 including a couple by the marsh overlook past the deep pond, where scarce

Full eBird checklist here: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S43088787

After that we briefly hit the Ibis rd Pond, and Delta Vista Middle School. We found no Barrow's at the former locations, but had a nice group of gulls at the latter, including 15 Mew, my highest count in East county.

From there we headed to Jersey Island, mostly looking for Flooded Fields. Striking out in that, the only highlights were:
American White Pelican-61
Ferruginous Hawk-1
Full eBird checklist here: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S43091265

Continuing on to Bethel Island we hit Piper Slough, the Harbor rd Fields, Willowest Marina, Frank's Tract overlook, and Willow rd neighborhoods, a new and very productive-looking spot to me. Highlights here included:
Blue-winged Teal-3 were a good bird for East county, and my first
TUFTED DUCK-1 male at Frank's Tract was a first record for the island. Maybe the same bird that was seen last winter at Sherman Island just 6 miles away?
Red-breasted Merganser-1 continuing female at Piper Slough
Allen's Hummingbird-2 males at traditional site at Willowest
Prairie Falcon-1 continuing bird by Golf Course
'Gray-headed' Orange-crowned Warbler-1 at willowestwas likely of the subspecies orestera, and was my first for East county
Full eBird checklist here: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S43096494

We then headed to Discovery Bay. Birding this site can be tricky, and we were not able to get into the Golf Club as I was able to last time. So, we stuck to public roads. The most productive areas seemed to be Cornell Park and Cabrillo Point. Highlights here included:
Mute Swan-1
Sharp-shinned Hawk-1
Forster's Tern-1
Northern Rough-winged Swallow-1 in with Tree Swallows was my first for the season
Tree Swallow-200 swarming off Cabrillo Point in the rain
Barn Swallow-5
Brown-headed Cowbird-1
Full eBird checklist here: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S43098911

We then hit several south county roads with not much to show for it, besides 3 Loggerhead Shrikes at Burns Road.

We proceeded on to Clifton Court Forebay, where I'd prepared 5 store-bought bags of bread for the occasion. We spent almost all of our time sifting through the 16000+ Gulls in hopes of finding the county's first Lesser Black-backed. No game on that Black-backed front, but we did find a huge number and variety of gulls, including:
Ring-billed Gull-50
California Gull-3000
Herring Gull-12000 was a conservative estimate, and a good count for the county
Thayer's Gull-300
Glaucous-winged Gull-600
Western x Glaucous-winged Gull-1
Herring x Glaucous-winged Gull-20
GLAUCOUS GULL-1 second-cycle was the first in a few years at Clifton (and East county) I believe.

Full eBird checklist here: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S43102801

Overall a solid day afield with 110 species records.

Good birding,
Logan Kahle

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