Big Break Trail - Black Terns, A.Bittern (photo)
On May 5, 2012 ( very windy) I made observations along the Iron House Sanitary District near Oakely (Contra Costa County), among the birds observed, two species deserve special attention.
American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus) I know it may sound hard to believe, quite bizzare, but I counted 1 singing birds (the section from Big Break to end of trail), 8 of these birds I saw and phothographed. At one time four birds were in the air, plus one call on the ground. These four birds in flight for a time formed a pairs and made probably courtship flight (a type of dance in the air). Photo number 5- three birds in the air, photo number 4 - two birds in the air. It should however be mentioned that no bird call before 5pm (during my walking in the direction of IHSD), and the first birds I heard there about 5:15 pm, and during the return toward the Big Break until about 8pm
Black Tern (Chlidonias niger) Behind a picnic area (with restroom) trail suddenly turns abruptly at an angle of 90 degree this is what I observed in this area at least 5 A.Bittern (by the way). After another about 100 meters further trail turn to the right, and there is where the trail is closest to the Big Break, and where I stopped watching about 20 Forster's Terns, and few Caspians I was pleased however,when I saw among them three dark (Black Terns), birds are well known to me, (for many years lived in the area with a large breeding colony). For the next two hours I observed them (scope) and hang on for opportunity to make pictures, unfortunately, the birds did not come close enough to a convenient distance for capturing an image. These birds are easily distinguished from Sterna, there are slightly smaller with a black body and head and dark gray wings. Also, among terns, there were swallows, distinctly smaller and with different type of flight (I suggest to take scope in order to id)
Other birds worth mentioning .. 25 Caspian Terns (17 seated on the edge of the reservoir IHSD, and the rest on the Big Break ), 9 Bonaparte Gulls, 7 Avocets, 2 Stilts, 14 White Pelicans (Big Break), sparrows were represented by Songs and one Grasshopper , warblers by Yellowthroats, also saw four Kingbirds
Attach photos of A.Bittern, as well as Bonaparte Gull.