East County 3/10 (and a Yellow-billed Magpie question)

Ethan Monk <z.querula@...>

Hi All,

Did a quick afternoon run through some East County sites this Sunday, nothing too extraordinary but a few sightings of note.

Morgan Territory Road:

I drove from the intersection of Morgan Territory Road to around mile marker 4 until turning around, birding in breaks in the rain. The most noteworthy sightings included a large flock of Lark Sparrows (I counted 39) hanging out together in a break in the rain, and several flocks of Lesser Goldfinch, most heard only, but one flock on the road numbered 29. No Lawrence's (yet) but in a few weeks this might be a good area to check for breeding individuals. 



Another fruitless quest for the Yellow-billed Magpies, I believe my 5th or 6th in the past 6 months. I have checked practically all of town at this rate, the school, the Eucalyptus along Knightsen Ave., Hotchkiss Rd., etc., etc. I also know several others that have looked for the Magpies recently and have failed. Does anyone know when these birds were last seen? I am beginning to wonder whether they nest at this locale anymore? eBird's last credible report from this vicinity comes from September 2017 (Dunn). Have they been seen since? Unfortunately, it appears to me that Contra Costa may have lost its last Magpies? 

Deer Ridge Golf Course:

Quick check for the Roadrunner. Last I know of this bird being seen is in the Fall of 2017. I am not sure if this bird still lives in the area, but I only spent 10 or so minutes in the general vicinity of where it hung around back when it was first found in 2014, so I could have easily missed it.

Holland Tract:

Spent around 2.5 hours at Holland Tract. I drove all of the public levee road and then walked into the Central Tract Marshes and out to the first ponds (

37.984710, -121.607795). In these ponds there was one male Wood Duck, probably one of the hundred or so that are resident in the Central Tract Marshes, among Goldeneye, Gadwall, Gallinule, and others. Good groups of geese are present still with about 200 Snows (no Ross's as far as I could tell) and 140 White-fronts. Swans and Cranes were also present. A flock of 30 Snipe flushed out of the flooded fields--quite a large number, for me. Coinciding with Spring, swallows have begun to move in, and there were good numbers of Tree Swallows and Barn Swallows (these mostly male). Two Cliff Swallows and one Violet-green Swallow, quite rare for East County, were flying around, as well. Kingbirds should show up in a week or two.


Ethan Monk

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