West Contra Costa, highlights and then some 10/3-10/4

Ethan Monk

Some highlights from the weekend birding West Contra Costa, definitely not chronologically (most eBird checklists not up yet):

Today, Sunday, from about 11am to 145pm, hawkwatched at Miller/Knox from approx. (37.9144677, -122.3817418), joined by Derek and Cris Heins, Emilie Strauss, and Mike McClaskey. Hawk hill was fogged in, and wind was from the S/SW. The end result was the best hawkwatch I've ever had in the county... nothing rare, but 2 Kestrel, 23 Red-tails, 30 vultures, 5 Sharpies, 2 Coop's, one accip. sp., and both expected swifts. Probably the best conditions for Contra Costa Broad-winged?

At Pt. San Pablo Saturday I tallied 222 Vaux's Swifts, 61 Cackling Geese (one flock), and estimated 35 Meadowlarks actively migrating between 7-830am. Nothing else actively migrating of note. 

Saturday Point San Pablo "County Park" aka Pt. Molate Beach Park, 1 late MacGillivray's Warbler by the parking lot, and two 2 Nashville Warblers in the fennel ("Bridge Pt.") S of the parking lot. Gambel's White crowned Sparrows seem less represented this year than the past two, and at most dry bayside sites, including here, seem to only represent 1/3-1/2 of the White-crowns currently.

Garrity Creek Mouth was productive for the 30 odd minutes I was able to bird the fennel, blackberries, and coyote brush around the baseball field and in the vacant lot on its East side today, until a group of dirt bikers claimed the area. 4 Orange-crowns (2 lutescens, 2 Gray-headed), 4 yellow warblers, 1 Black-throated gray, Lincoln's, Savannah Sparrows, etc. etc. Hands down the best type of scrub/fennel-type habitat we have in the county now, and I'd encourage checking it regularly. Looks great for Clay-c. Sparrow, Palm Warbler, Vesper Sparrow, Black-thr. Sparrow, etc. There is also a hill with good amounts of baccharis on the West side of the baseball field that I didn't get to bird (dirt bikes), but I'm sure would've been great. I've been here 5-6 times now, and I've never had an issue with dirt bikes before. To access, park at the N. end of Tara Hills Dr., and follow the road behind the yellow gate to the MonTara community center and baseball field. 

Booker T. Anderson Park today generally felt the same as it will in December. Two notable highlights--one Audubon's x Myrtle Warbler by the parking lot (Myrtle character dominant), and in the riparian's leaf litter one Poorwill! I never got looks of the Poorwill sitting down, but I was able to flush it up twice. Definite caprimulgid, long & rounded wings, very short tail, brown barring on the outer primaries, etc. More details will be in eBird. This is my first Poorwill outside of breeding areas in the county, and definitely my first in West County. The only spots they've shown up in West co., that I know of, is occasionally as migrants at Miller/Knox during Spring and late winter, when they've been heard singing at night, but I think there are only a couple of records there.

Good birding,
Ethan M

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