Re: Contra Costa county 7/20 NOT 7/21

Logan Kahle

Hi all,
Realized I got the date wrong. Meant to say that this day was on Sunday, July 20th, NOT Monday July 21st. Sorry for the confusion.
Good birding,


Hi all,
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 walk.
Highlights included:
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 given location,
though Rufous are coming through in numbers already.
Hairy Woodpecker-1
Swainson's Thrush-1
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 and Red-necked
Phalaropes the day before at the Waterbird Way pond, my cursory look
only detected about 100 Wilson's (wish I'd known about the Red Phalarope
at the time!)
Nonetheless, there were some shorebirds including:
Greater Yellowlegs-1
Long-billed Dowitcher-20

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
American Bittern-2
Green Heron-1
Marbled Godwit-1 flying over the channel
Long-billed Dowitcher-2 flying over the channel
Black Rail-2
Black-chinned Hummingbird-1
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 personally
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 resident
Hooded Orioles. Oh well. Off to Holland Tract.

The Holland Tract was little improvement from Bethel, but a
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 Swans were
together in the southeast corner of the forebay. Seven Least Sandpipers
circled around the forebay.

After that, I headed to Byron Airport Preserve. While Savannah Sparrows,
Tricolored Blackbirds, Loggerhead Shrikes, and Burrowing Owls eluded me
on this trip, I did find a Horned Lark and a few Western Meadowlarks.

On to the Byron WTP, I was shocked to see quite a few shorebirds
present, most in the northern pond. They included:
Black-necked Stilt-18
American Avocet-5
Greater Yellowlegs-5
Least Sandpiper-3
Western Sandpiper-11
Long-billed Dowitcher-3

On to Dow Wetlands preserve. The sun was starting to sink, and I
realized I just had a few more stops left. Here, I found eight Cinnamon
Teal and a Green Heron, as well as the ever-present colony of Grackles.

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 birds there,
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 Richmond Sewer
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 Costa for
Semipalmated (the only place for this one?), Bairds, and Pectoral
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 115 species
over 13 hours. Highlights included seeing a small push of passerine
migrants/dispersants and a very nice movement of shorebirds (including,
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 the
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 Costa. Always
something new in store.

Good birding,
Logan Kahle
San Francisco

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