North Contra Costa county marshes 4/7

Logan Kahle

Hi all,
Today I birded around the North Contra Costa county marshes. My first stop was Mallard Reservoir. On my way there, I saw a Merlin fly over right next to North Concord/Martinez Bart Station. Mallard Reservoir had decent diversity. Just after arriving, I noticed many Bufflehead. There were several very large rafts, and I estimated 75 birds. While scanning the reservoir more intensely, I found a few Eared Grebes, including a raft of a couple dozen. Scanning the distant specks once more, I was pleased to find four Lesser Scaup along with a few Ruddy Ducks. I then was shocked to find a Common Loon roughly in the center of the reservoir. It seemed pretty out of place, and it doesn't seem to be a regular visitor to the region (from eBird). Then, as I was about to leave, I spotted a few Bonaparte's Gulls flying by. There were also massive numbers of Cedar Waxwings in the trees by my scanning location. They flew out in groups, and I estimated that there were originally at least 325 birds there.
Along Laura Alice Way, I found a male and a female Hooded Oriole, who seemed very agitated by my presence. On my way over to McNabney Marsh, I found a couple Western Kingbirds.
As I was approaching McNabney Marsh, I found many Gadwall, American Wigeon, American White Pelicans and other birds expected in this habitat. Then, I found a pair of Cinnamon Teal, one of my targets of the day. Seconds after seeing the teal, I saw an adult male Great-tailed Grackle, another one of my targets, fly by. I soon located at least five more Grackles. At the marsh overlook, I found a few more species. There weren't many shorebirds on my side of the marsh, but there were a few Black-necked Stilts and American Avocets. Every once in a while the huge flock of Long-billed Dowitchers on the opposite end of the marsh would fly up, but for the most part they were out of view. After a while, I found an Eared Grebe, but nothing else of note, so I hiked to the top of the nearby ridge. Unfortunately, all the hummingbirds were Anna's and the only migrant I found was an Audubon's Warbler. However, I found a couple kites, a harrier, and a kestrel over the ridge. Looking into a little pond on the other side of the ridge, I could see some Gadwall, American Wigeon, Green-winged Teal, Long-billed Dowitchers and Black-necked Stilts. I then went back to the overlook, where several more ducks had arrived. In a few minutes, I'd found a Ruddy Duck, a small flock of Common Goldeneye, and, to my amazement, two female Hooded Mergansers. As far as I know, this species is pretty uncommon in the region, especially in April. There was also a Ring-billed Gull and two Forester's Terns. I then went to several other areas in the region, all of which I was denied access. So, I decided to check Mallard Reservoir again to see if there was any turnover. On my way there, I saw 13 Boneparte's Gulls fly by and drop into what appeared to me a Water Treatment Plant. However, I could not look in to see how many others were in there. On the reservoir, I refound the four Lesser Scaup, but the number of Bufflehead and Eared Grebes appeared to have dropped dramatically.
All in all, a good, albeit restricted, day in the north county marshes.
Good birding,
Logan Kahle
San Francisco

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