Western Contra Costa county 7/31 SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS, Richmond PYGMY NUTHATCH
Had an awesome morning in Richmond and Tilden with Emily Milano today. Tides seemed like they would not be in our favor, though still we managed to pull out a good diversity of shorebirds on the bayside, with lots of turnover from last week.
I started the morning not entirely sure where I wanted to hit, but (despite the mid-tide) a healthy chunk of mudflat at Point Isabel made me opt to go to Meeker Slough (still yet to find any good shorebirds at Pt. Isabel...) So after picking up Emily in Richmond we headed to 51st st. Like my previous trip, the two mudflats south of Meeker were completely submerged. So, I headed to Meeker to see what the fringes could hold. As I walked up, a small flock of peeps flew around and landed on the mudflats. Looked for a Semipalmated among the Westerns but with no luck. They then picked up and landed closer, and I was surprised to find that there was a single SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER in the mix (it may have been on the mudflat already). After photographing this bird I wandered up, looked at the other birds on the other side of the trail (more peeps!) and then came back to the bird for more extended views. I quickly spotted it as one of the only (2) peeps left on the receding flat west of the trail. It then walked next to the other peep, which I realized was also a Semipalmated! I know just one other record of two Semipalmateds together in the county! However, both birds picked up and headed way south, and it seemed not even directly over the bay, and I lost them when they were likely almost a mile away and maybe over about Pt. Isabel or nearby neighborhood. However, at some point while trying to train the scope on them flying away I lost them and quickly refound "them" (two birds flying away at the same distance in the same area of sky) but the one I followed with the scope turned out to be a Kestrel, so I never did get on where they put down. There were no shortage of good birds here, and highlights/shorebird numbers included:
Least Sandpiper-3 was many fewer than two days ago
SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER-2 together. Photos in eBird list
Western Sandpiper-28 including juvs was a drastic increase from 2 two days ago!
Long-billed Dowitcher-2 calling
American Kestrel-1 (see above)
Full eBird checklist here: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S30920433
We then headed up to Jewel Lake. It was quite quiet, but a few dispersing groups of Wilson's Warblers kept us occupied. Highlights here included:
Full eBird checklist here: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S30920434
We then continued on to Canal Boulevard. Viewing conditions were pleasant, and we managed to pull out some nice numbers (though significantly down from last visit):
Full eBird checklist here: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S30920516
We then continued on to Miller/Knox Regional Shoreline. I had noted the immense lack of geese in comparison to recent visits with just 12 or so present. We walked along the south side of the pond when I heard the diagnostic 'pik'ing of a PYGMY NUTHATCH!! I then got decent views of the nuthatch as it flew off to the north (description in my eBird checklist). While common in the Berkeley Hills, this may represent the FIRST RECORD ever for Richmond/Contra Costa coastal plain, and perhaps all of the coastal plain East Bay north of Berkeley or Oakland or so. I walked over to the pines the bird flew into but could not refind it. It is possible it was a migrant, as previous visits to this locale in the past week did not locate this bird. Highlights here included:
Hooded Oriole-1 adult male. Nesting (!) was confirmed here by John Harris a week ago (presumably second brood), and it is possible that this bird is from that nesting pair. I have never previously seen an adult male Hooded Oriole at Miller/Knox though I have seen many female/juvenile-types.
Full eBird checklist here: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S30921736
All in all a fun morning in West county with 59 species seen. Its a good time for more goody shorebirds to be dropping in!