Bradford and notes

Logan Kahle

Hi all,

As I think it is possible (probable??) that many people will want to chase the Bell's Vireos, I figured it's worth explaining a bit of how to bird one of Contra Costa's many isolated treasures.

Bradford Island is relatively unique in that is almost entirely below sea level, most of it by about 12 feet. This means that most of the island consistently floods in winter, making real estate development mostly infeasible. This also means that vast forests of willows and cottonwoods dominate this sparsely populated island, and as such it is one of the region's largest strongholds for Blue Grosbeaks, Chats, and, as I'd always hoped, Bell's Vireos (the former two likely have dozens of territories on the island).

In hopes of it bringing more people both to this island and to chase Mark and Lucas' fantastic find, here are a few tips on how to get to the island, how to bird it, and what might be found.

Getting to the island. This is actually not as trivial as it may sound. Unlike most of the islands in the region, there is no road to get on to Bradford. One must take a ferry that departs on the hour ever hour (of varying schedules) during the day at the end (NE terminus) of Jersey Island road, past the gate with marked hours, here: 38.0547258,-121.6575015 If you Google "Bradford Island Ferry" it will come up. You can purchase tickets for the ferry one of two ways: 1) you can go to the Valero on Cypress Dr north of Knightsen. Here you can buy tickets for $7.75 or 2) you can purchase the tickets for $10 at the dock. There is a sign at the Ferry that says "for property owners only" or similar, but as far as I've been able to ascertain from both friends who own property on the island as well as people operating the ferry this is actually not the case.

Birding on the Island. Birding on Bradford can actually be a little overwhelming. There is a lot of habitat. And a lot of good habitat. To try to break it down a little I've constructed a google map of what spots are good for what:

Ferry Departure/Arrival Times: All the ferry info you need can be seen at this site:

Also remember to be back to the ferry by the designated time. If you miss the last ferry you are stuck on the island for the night.

I hope many people get a chance to chase this awesome bird and also to bird this island in future seasons. It is a spectacular destination and perhaps one of the most overlooked gems of the entire delta.

Good birding,

Logan Kahle
San Francisco/Willows, CA

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