Western Contra Costa county 12/20 returning WINTER WREN, Lark Sparrow
Yesterday morning I got out to Richmond with Jonah Benningfield, joined for part of the time by Ethan Monk, Lucas Stephenson, and Mark Stephenson. I primarily wanted to bird Point San Pablo, but with overcast to foggy conditions I opted to check some other spots beforehand, letting the fog clear at the Point before we made our way out there.
We started at Wildcat Creek, walking the section of riparian between the railroad tracks to the marsh. It seems that some birds follow the riparian downslope into the lowlands, as there are certain species uncommon in parts of Richmond that are more fully represented here. Some highlights along the trail included:
Full eBird checklists here: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S50821341, https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S50821099
We continued to Point San Pablo, where we spent the rest of the morning. With low overcast (remnants of the morning's marine layer) and mid-low temperature it was less than ideal conditions in my experience for this spot. Optimal is normally sunny, perhaps better when it is foggy to the west of the point. In any case, we covered the ship hull overlook, the county park, the oaks, and the marina area. Overall activity was moderate, with a few distinct highlights. Highlights included:
Horned Grebe-40 was slightly high for this sight
Eared Grebe-2 were very good birds for the point. This species has a somewhat patchy distribution in Richmond, and it is possible that the waters off San Pablo are not as shallow or calm as they prefers
Black Turnstone-1 at the Marina was a surprisingly low count for the typically very large high tide roost
Merlin-1 very pale male
PACIFIC WREN-1 was my first for the point, and overall a very rare bird in richmond. This bird was in the first gully in the oaks, just past the first hairpin turn. Birders chaing the Winter Wren should be wary that there is a Pacific Wren in the oaks as well
WINTER WREN-1 returning bird from last winter calling at the same place as last year (37.9630959, -122.4224836) in the poison oak-filled canyon just passed the second hairpin turn on the north side of the point. The bird was about halfway from the hairpin turn to where the road next turns at the top of the gully. It was quite vocal, calling spontaneously every 5 or so minutes. I have found this bird is most vocal in the early morning, but on an overcast day like yesterday it was loudly calling at 10am.
LARK SPARROW-1 high-flying, calling northbound flyover at the top of the hill just before the oaks was a very rare bird in Richmond. It seemed like the bird started to drop down towards the tip of the point, possibly angling toward the gravelly patch at the very tip of the point. This bird appeared to me, given time of day and year, to be a (late) active migrant. Fall isn't quite over...
A full eBird checklist can be found here: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S50826523
Was great to get back to some of the more interesting spots around Richmond for a drizzly morning, with 90 species observed.