Was able to spend the whole day in Contra Costa on Sunday.
It was great
to get back in touch with one of my favorite counties.
Started the morning off at 7:00AM at the Orinda Connector
Trail. I was
leading a Mount Diablo Audubon Society Young Birders club
Wood Duck-7, 6 chicks following an adult female
White-throated Swift-1 circling with swallows overhead
Selasphorus Hummingbird-1, Allen's probably more likely
though Rufous are coming through in numbers already.
HERMIT WARBLER-1 early-ish fall migrant
After much debate of whether to head to the West County
Sewer Ponds or
to the North County marshes, I opted for the latter. A
stop at Waterbird
Park was decent. While Albert Linkowski had singleton Red
Phalaropes the day before at the Waterbird Way pond, my
only detected about 100 Wilson's (wish I'd known about the
at the time!)
Nonetheless, there were some shorebirds including:
Next headed to Iron House Sanitary District. The shallow
pond, the one
normally hosting scores of shorebirds and ducks, was
completely dry. I
walked from the entrance all the way out to the plantation
of pines and
back. Even without the shorebird-attracting water body,
the spot was
still very diverse. Highlights included:
California Quail-2 by the entrance. My first here
Marbled Godwit-1 flying over the channel
Long-billed Dowitcher-2 flying over the channel
Orange-crowned Warbler-1 acting like a migrant
CHIPPING SPARROW-1 very early migrant. I was surprised to
find this nice
streaky juvenile flying around the road. My first in
Contra Costa since
2012, and my first for East county.
Blue Grosbeak-8, seemed like a good count since I haven't
seen them here before!
Pumped with a few nice migrants, I headed on to Piper
Slough and Bethel
Island. Dead. Not a single bird of note besides the Summer
Hooded Orioles. Oh well. Off to Holland Tract.
The Holland Tract was little improvement from Bethel, but
Black-chinned HUmmingbird was a welcome find.
Continued on to southeast county, heading straight to
Clifton Court. The
forebay was packed with birds on the far southern side,
but that was too
far away to pick through the smaller species. Six Mute
together in the southeast corner of the forebay. Seven
circled around the forebay.
After that, I headed to Byron Airport Preserve. While
Tricolored Blackbirds, Loggerhead Shrikes, and Burrowing
Owls eluded me
on this trip, I did find a Horned Lark and a few Western
On to the Byron WTP, I was shocked to see quite a few
present, most in the northern pond. They included:
On to Dow Wetlands preserve. The sun was starting to sink,
realized I just had a few more stops left. Here, I found
Teal and a Green Heron, as well as the ever-present colony
I wanted to hit the bayside before the day was out, but as
it was high
tide, I did not know where to go.
I normally avoid Pt. Pinole because I can't seem to find
but I thought maybe it would be a roost site for
shorebirds at high
tide. I was wrong. No birds. Oh well.
I continued onto one spot I thought could be good, the
ponds, as birds pushed off the mudflats on the bay may
come up here. One
hobby of mine on these long days is to count shorebirds.
Not many to
count in the first (southmost) pond, but the next pond
north was packed
with peeps. After I counted about 115 Western Sandpipers
and 25 Least
Sandpipers, my jaw dropped and legs started trembling.
Well, you all
know what happened. I would like to encourage increased
coverage of this
spot in the coming years. It is the best place in Contra
Semipalmated (the only place for this one?), Bairds, and
Sandpipers, and Lesser Yellowlegs, and you never know what
will show up
(wonder how many Asian goodies have passed by undetected
in years past).
All in all, another great day in Contra Costa. Found about
over 13 hours. Highlights included seeing a small push of
migrants/dispersants and a very nice movement of
well, the Red-necked Stint, the obvious highlight of the
day and a FIRST
RECORD FOR THE BAY AREA). Decided lowlights were the
absence of Shrikes
anywhere (I really hope this species holds on for a while
as a common
breeder in east county, but today gave me some doubts) and
increasing Mute Swan population at Clifton Court. I was
stunned to not
see a single Anna's Hummingbird all day, and also did not
see many easy
bayside species (Willet, Long-billed Curlew, etc) as well
as many common
breeders in the dry hills (Diablo Range).
Nonetheless, its always a fun adventure to bird Contra
something new in store.