Birding Mitchell Canyon/Mt. Diablo

Jim Chiropolos

I birded Mt. Diablo and Mitchell Canyon Saturday and Sunday. Areas birded included Mitchell Canyon, Deer Flat (over three miles from the Mitchell Canyon entrance station up 1,500 feet of steep trails), Pine Canyon and North Gate Road.  

Mitchell Canyon and  Deer Flat were the best birding with Deer Flat being the best birding with migrant flycatchers and warblers literally in every tree. I saw more warblers in 30 minutes at the non-prime birding time of noon compared to 2 hours birding the Globe Lily and White Canyon Trail hotspots beginning at 8:30 am of lower Mitchell Canyon. It was like birding in the east during a warbler fallout.

The ebird lists for the two areas are included below for comparison:

I was very fortunate to get some really great looks at the more uncommon birds 15 feet away or closer in one of those rare birding days where the species you hope to see are very cooperative. Highlights included a singing Bells Sparrow 10 feet off the White Canyon Trail (!!!), a MacGillivrays warbler singing in the shrub 3 feet away from the sign at the Black Point trail intersection to the White Canyon Trail (!), a singing Canyon Wren in the slog up to Deer Flat, at least 12 Hermit Warblers at Deer Flat (Hermit warblers are high elevation migrants - they are common high and rare low....) and a posing Dusky Flycatcher at Deer Flat. Pine Canyon and North Gate Road held orioles and kingbirds in comparison with Mitchell Canyon, but very few warblers.

No one saw any Calliope Hummingbirds that I knew of on Saturday, and hummingbird numbers were very low. 

I wonder how many rare birds pass by unnoticed high up on Diablo at an area like Deer Flat - my favorite area to bird on Diablo .

Good Birding,

Jim Chiropolos

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