Sightings and corrections

Ethan Monk

A couple quick observations of note from the past half a week or so.. Full coverage of Bradford Island Saturday turned up a couple birds of note, including 1 very rare in the delta Golden-crowned Kinglet (in the willows where the Bell’s Vireos were in 2018) and 3 siskin--also quite rare in the delta—an island first. 2 Mute Swan on the West side of the island are now seemingly residents here. Who wants to go hunting? Also noteworthy was an oddly high 1:1 ratio of Cackling to White-fronted Goose. 

Earlier this week a flock of 5 crossbills flew over the meadow by the Brazil Room in Tilden, and 3 more were over Inspiration Pt. Friday. Both groups were type 2 by sonogram. Wednesday, 6 Chipping Sparrows returned to the Gallery Walk neighborhood in Pleasant Hill on the EBMUD trail, and later I observed one Chipping Sparrow off the EBMUD trail in the restricted access Gallery Walk apartments. The main Chipping Sparrow flock here seems to vanish over the fence into the businesses on the other side. I think a mechanic’s employee parking lot? 

No sign of Short-eared Owls yet in Martinez on Waterfront Road (they should have arrived by now), but the Tree Swallows are back streaming W to E at dusk. About 80 of them. One has to wonder where they come from, as I’ve never seen Tree Swallows in winter in the Martinez Area West of Waterfront Rd. eBird makes it look like no one else has either. Also, about 2000 gulls and 4000 scaup in the bay/strait, but too far out to effectively pick through.
Another negative report: No sign of the Kingbird at Alhambra Highschool reported yesterday. This bird should be looked for some more. Seems like a decent chance there is a wide-ranging Tropical about. 

Some corrections need to be made.  Earlier this month I reported a Costa’s Hummingbird in Richmond off a brief glimpse and snippets of call. Today, Melani King sent me photos of what appears to be a hybrid Costa’s x Anna’s Hummingbird from the next block over, but better photos are needed for confirmation. It's presumably the same bird. Thanks, Melani! And sorry for the mess up--hybrid didn't even cross my mind in the field. 

And concerning my previous reports of Cassin’s Finch… I managed to record one call of the first bird that flew over, which maybe called 10 times in total. This recording I sent around to a group of birders I trust with this ID. I received two types of responses: Definitely a Cassin’s, and can’t tell if the recording is of a Cassin’s or a House Finch/poor audio. I had more of the former than the latter. Personally, I believe I most likely had Cassin’s Finch fly over, but the recording I took is not good enough for me to make that call if I were to use the recording alone. 
When I consider A) the rarity of Cassin's Finch, B) the quality of my observations (a heard only flyover), and C) the aforementioned inconclusive media, I become uncomfortable counting them on my list, even though I am still mostly confident in my sighting. In my book, "mostly confident" isn't good enough to count, especially since I myself cannot tell for sure what I recorded; therefore, I am retracting my Cassin's Finch reports. I would rather have a smaller list I am completely comfortable with than a larger list I have some doubts about. 
That being said, it is an irruption year, and there are multiple other reports from the East Bay hills, so they are theoretically around. Hopefully they will winter in the area, and there will be more chances to find them.

Good birding,
Ethan Monk

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