Pileated Woodpecker - Upper San Leandro Reservoir

Annie Vargas

Yesterday was a beautiful day to bird the Upper San Leandro Reservoir /
Valley Vista Staging Area. At about noon I spotted a Pileated Woodpecker in
a grove of mixed oak and eucalyptus trees while tracking another bird with
my binocs through some oak trees. The PW was neither vocalizing nor
tapping, but I made a surprised vocalization of my own when I saw it that
unfortunately startled the bird, and it flew before I could take a picture.

I wanted to post the sighting here in case anyone plans to bird or hike
that area in the days to come. From the gate in the Valley Vista parking
lot, turn left and head down the trail a short distance toward the
reservoir. Take the left fork in the path, and just past the curve there
will be a small grove of oak/eucalyptus trees on the left. The PW was in
the middle of the second oak on the left.

There was also a juvenile Cooper's Hawk and White-tailed kite in the same

I have never seen the reservoir so full of ducks (wood, hooded mergansers,
wigeons, scaups, buffleheads, ruddy, shovelers, ring-necked, to name some),
herons (great blue, green), cormorants (double crested), coots, grebes
(eared, pied-billed), egrets (great, snowy), kingfisher (belted), and even
a white pelican. I have seen ospreys there in the past, but not yesterday.
All were vocalizing and feeding throughout the afternoon.

I also observed for the first time a belted kingfisher feeding by rapidly
fluttering its wings above the water to sustain itself, and then plunge
diving. Very cool.

The "usual suspects" also were present in great numbers, including
ruby-crowned kinglets, yellow-rumped warblers, wrentits, wrens (mostly
Bewicks), phoebes (Says and black), chickadees, white-crowned sparrows.
Black-crowned night heron and red-shouldered hawk were visible from the
little bridge just past the aforementioned grove.

Happy birding,

Annie Vargas
Walnut Creek


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