Date   

Birding event of a lifetime--Walnut Creek

rosita94598
 

It is not all that much, really, but while speaking with a park friend in Heather Farm this morning, I though I heard the clucking sound of a Green Heron.  But as the conversation stretched, so did hte sound from the reeds.  I realized i t was more Coot-like or maybe a Common Gallinule.    Well, we haven't seen a Coot in over a month, and the Gallinules seemed to have disappeared before that.

When I made it around the big pond to the large oak with a green bench, I looked across the surface carefully.  Sure enough, at the very south end were two Common Gallinules.  Both of them had their tails raised turkey-fashion, but they were showing lots of white.  The drifted toward the reeds, and suddenly they copulated.  Another one for the list!

I know it  happens all the time, but it is an event we don't really see that much in even the everyday birds.  That made my day.

Hugh B. Harvey
Walnut Creek


Owls in Walnut Creek

rosita94598
 

This morning at 5:20 I heard a pair of Great Horned Owls dueting nearby.  They were immediately followed by a bunch of Crow noise.  The owl sounds stopped, and I returned to sleep.

Hugh


Birding & Running - Wildcat Canyon & Tilden Regional Parks

Zac Denning
 

There's been some nice singing activity with a few migrants for my past 2 Sunday trail runs in which I bird along a roughly 8 mile route. These included Cassin's Vireos, Grasshopper & Lark Sparrows, MacGillivray's Warblers, Lazuli Buntings, Townsend's Warblers, Cal Thrashers and more (descriptions, ebird lists and locations below). 

Last Sunday was pretty unique: while birding, I rescued a California Myotus bat sitting on the dirt on the Conlon Trail, and later the bat and I crossed the finish line of a foot race set up at Inspiration Point (the Tilden Tough Ten Mile). I  wasn't actually a contestant, but with encouragement, I crossed the finish line with arms raised and everyone cheering. They didn't know about the bat, but I bet we were the only human-bat team that day. The tiny bat, nestled very carefully in clothing in a mesh pocket of my pack, was brought to Lindsay. (I took care to avoid direct contact and to disinfect later). Hopefully, it survived - I'm told it's chances weren't high. 

And today, I got my 70th yard bird since officially starting my list 2 years ago at the start of the pandemic - when a group of 10 migrating Barn Swallows flew overhead. For a tiny yard in the densely populated, habitat poor lower Solano Ave neighborhood, this felt like an achievement. 

Tilden / Wildcat Regional Park Highlights: 
  • At least one Csssin's vireo was at the Tilden Nature Area parking lot today near where they were seen / heard last year. There was also one singing near Inspiration Point last week. Not a common bird for Tilden, so always fun to see. 
  • The Tilden MacGillivray's Warblers are also back - I heard several singing last week, and one this week. One location: https://goo.gl/maps/JcT9NFbbTBZzggfy5
  • Grasshopper Sparrows: Last week I heard 9 different birds singing on their usual hillside - a personal high count for singing males in this location.  They've now spread further down the hill, so that you can often hear 2-3 males singing from the Wildcat Gorge Trail - with more spread Eastward and up the hill along the Conlon trail. I got some great looks at them singing, and a few recordings are posted on my ebird lists. Wildcat trail location: 
    https://goo.gl/maps/CZ2LMhEYnSGLRjGR6
  • The lower half of the Conlon trail is also a good spot for Lark Sparrows - I believe at least 3 pairs (recording on my ebird list) - location: https://goo.gl/maps/UA6iQ5nBe1S1ydKR6
  • I got great close looks at an adult Cooper's Hawk today which was quite curious and gave me great looks. 
  • Lazuli Buntings - the males have been singing from prominent perches at a number of points along my route, including one that sang about 15 feet away from me for a few minutes (sound recording on my ebird list). Location: one location is the same as the Grasshopper Sparrow spot above.
  • For the past 2 weeks, there have been lots of Townsend's warblers moving through - I had 6 today - often singing, with many of them moving along the ridge line. One location: https://goo.gl/maps/vi58gFQPj8AzB1Jn7
  • Last week there was also a straggler Yellow-Rumped Warbler singing along Nimitz way 
  • Plus Western Wood Pewees (just arrived in the last week) and the usual riparian and scrub birds (lots of California Thrashers, gnatcatchers, an Ash-Throated Flycatcher and many more)
This week's ebird list (with song recordings): 

Last week's ebird list (with song recordings): 

Happy birding, 

Zac Denning


Re: Odd duck at Garin/Dry Creek

 

Sam,

This looks like a domestic Mallard breed known as a(n Indian) Runner. 

Dominik 


On May 20, 2022, at 15:11, Sam Zuckerman <samzuckerman@...> wrote:


At Jordan Pond in Garin/Dry Creek Regional Park this morning, I was astonished to see what at first I took to be a Canvasback. But a closer look showed that, other than the brick red head and white body, it was all wrong for Canvasback--head and bill shape, details of coloration, lack of black in rump and upper chest, etc.I am now officially stumped, except to speculate that it is a domestic hybrid of some sort. If anybody cares to take a stab, the checklist with photo is here: https://ebird.org/checklist/S110782189. I will be grateful for any ideas.  

Sam 





Odd duck at Garin/Dry Creek

Sam Zuckerman
 

At Jordan Pond in Garin/Dry Creek Regional Park this morning, I was astonished to see what at first I took to be a Canvasback. But a closer look showed that, other than the brick red head and white body, it was all wrong for Canvasback--head and bill shape, details of coloration, lack of black in rump and upper chest, etc.I am now officially stumped, except to speculate that it is a domestic hybrid of some sort. If anybody cares to take a stab, the checklist with photo is here: https://ebird.org/checklist/S110782189. I will be grateful for any ideas.  

Sam 


Cathedral of the Great Outdoors

rosita94598
 

Rosita became godmother to triplets today in a private ceremony held in Pine Canyon.  I was just a spectator, but paid attention to the Swifts, Bluebirds and House Wrens along the way.  An Acorn Woodpecker sallied out form one of the trees near the swimming pool and then back, apparently hawking insects on the fly.

I was almost more impressed by the number of flowers which are still blooming despite the dry conditions.  Elegant Clarkia is everywhere along the shaded portion of the trail.  Sticky Monkeyflower is still blooming and along the steep part up and around the dam were many Mariposa Lilies.  Depending on ones field guide, they may be known as Mariposa Tulips.  A Seep Monkeyflower was found in the dry creek bed almost back to the cars.

Though it turned hot while we were out there and walking back, the ceremony was very cool.

Hugh B. Harvey
Walnut Creek


Wilson's Phalarope at Arrowhead Marsh

Travis Hails
 

Yesterday 5/17/22 I observed a Wilson's Phalarope at MLK Regional Park (Arrowhead Marsh).

Sighting was from San Leandro Creek Trail - West, north of the eastmost seasonal pond (now just mud). There is a tidal pool that does not drain at low tides about 50' west of the trail. The bird was foraging/swimming in this pool.

Observation was at 10:00AM. This may be important as the tide was extremely low at this time, and with a higher tide, the bird may locate elsewhere.

Travis Hails


Heather Farm Park and Pine Canyon

rosita94598
 

For two days now, I have been seeing several Western Tanagers inthe eucalyptus trees in Heather Farm Park.  These trees are between the boat ramp and the chin-up bars at the south end of the large pond.  Today I also saw a nice male Yellow Warbler.

Yesterday Rosita photographed a singing male Lawrence's Goldfinch in Pine Canyon.  I have no idea where this bird was.

Hugh B. Harvey
Walnut Creek


Re: Vaux's Swift courtship display in East Bay?

rfs_berkeley
 

I have been wondering about this for years.

Vaux's Swifts nest to the north of us, in places like the Napa Valley;

they nest to the south of us, in San Jose.

Baby Vaux's Swifts found in a fireplace in Martinez were once brought in to Lindsay Museum for rehab.

Nesting in the East Bay would not surprise me.  And there are a number of chimneys in the El Cerrito Hills lacking spark guards.

---
Rusty Scalf


On 2022-05-16 14:41, Cathy Bleier wrote:

On a bird walk in El Cerrito Hillside Natural Area yesterday I saw a pair of swifts swirl around each other and fall through the air. Twice.  I assume this was a courtship fall.  Try as I might, I could not make out a white throat, and the birds weren't that high up.   Could it have been Vaux's Swift?  Would they likely be doing courtship behavior around here?  Thanks.





Vaux's Swift courtship display in East Bay?

Cathy Bleier
 

On a bird walk in El Cerrito Hillside Natural Area yesterday I saw a pair of swifts swirl around each other and fall through the air. Twice. I assume this was a courtship fall. Try as I might, I could not make out a white throat, and the birds weren't that high up. Could it have been Vaux's Swift? Would they likely be doing courtship behavior around here? Thanks.


Re: Grapevine Picnic Area Ridge migration

M
 

Nice find Ethan that's an impressive flight! After multiple visits to the Highland Ridge flight sites this spring that require hiking over a mile and around 800 ft elevation gain to reach, I would much prefer simply driving up to this site. I wonder if Prospector's Gap would also have been active yesterday morning, though that also requires a hike to reach.

Michael Strom
Concord


Re: Grapevine Picnic Area Ridge migration

Ethan Monk
 

Also... I have made this location a hotspot (it should appear on the maps in ~24 hours) so if you do investigate for yourself, please submit all ebird lists for this location to the “Mt. Diablo SP—Grapevine Ridge” hotspot. As stationary lists including birds from only this specific vicinity please.

Thanks! 

Ethan

On May 14, 2022, at 8:57 PM, Ethan Monk via groups.io <z.querula@...> wrote:

This morning close to the summit of Mt. Diablo I fulfilled a long time
dream of mine by stumbling upon a fantastic show of diurnal
migration!—entirely by accident. I’ve spent years now scouring
topographic maps and weather conditions, trying to predict where and
when birds might be seen migrating during the morning like at
Butterbredt Springs in the SoCal desert, or Mt. Soledad on the San
Diego coast, and have had none of my spots really pan out. This
morning driving up the road to the summit of Mt. Diablo, I almost hit
four Western Tanagers that crossed the road in front of me, so I got
out of the car to see what else was around. I ended up following the
flow of birds until I was optimally situated, and from about 720am to
the end of the flight around 915, I ended up tallying somewhere in the
realm of ~350 diurnal migrants with most of this flow from 720 to 820.
I established a rule that I would not tally heard-only birds that I
did not see for fear of overcounting. E.g. I often heard warbler
flight notes but would not count the bird unless I could see it to
ensure it wasn’t a local. I don’t know if this is necessary but I
wanted to be safe.

The weather today was warm, relatively still here (at the summit a
north breeze around 10mph?) and clear. No fog. This is consistent with
conditions observers in the North Bay have found to be conducive for
diurnal migrants. So warm, clear days might be best. This flight was
mostly typical of other sites I am at least somewhat familiar with.
Some key differences were a proportionally large number of diurnal
migrant Swainson’s Thrush, generally relatively easily IDable diurnal
migrant hummingbirds (at least as easy as these can get…), and a west
bound—not north bound--flow of migrants.

This site was on the N-S ridge/saddle above Grapevine Campground. The
best place to stand today seemed to be approximately here: 37.873670,
-121.925763. I accessed this location by parking by the campground and
clambering up from the road. Getting off the road is a bit slick, but
relatively easy past that first 6-8 ft incline. That being said, it
might be easier to park on Summit Rd. above this spot.

A list of migrants—tallied individually to the best of my
abilities—with notes follows:
-4 Calliope Hummingbirds (all males after 8am)
-1 Rufous Hummingbird
-lots of hummingbird sp., but difficult to count due to lots of local Anna’s
-2 Olive-sided Fly (local)
-1 Pewee (apparently local)
-1 Hammond’s Flycatcher (local)
-1 Hammond’s/Dusky—I leaned Dusky. Silent.
-2 Pacific-Slope (local)
-6 Warbling Vireo
-1 Townsend’s SOLITAIRE in view for about 10 seconds as it winged its
way west with the flow of migrants
-36 Swainson’s Thrush (1 local?)
-21 Cedar Waxwing
-2 Pine Siskin
-2 Lawrence’s Goldfinch (headed S)
-1 White-crowned Sparrow (local?? Only present first thing)
-4 Cowbird
-3 O.c. Warbler were not local
-42 Yellow Warbler
-3 Audubon’s Warbler
-121 Townsend’s Warbler
-11 Hermit Warbler
-7 Townsend’s/Hermit
-7 Wilson’s Warbler
-74 “warbler sp.”
-20 Western Tanager
-14 Lazuli Bunting (often had a tendency to perch on the powerline
before shortly after continuing west)

Some miscellaneous notes for the interested reader:

This is challenging birding! Most birds are in good light as they pass
but do not stop flying!

Photography here might be difficult. I didn’t have my camera this
morning, but most birds here tracked against green and gold hills, not
clear blue sky. So focusing might be hard. However, despite the lack
of camera I took a couple videos with my cellphone of birds going by
and was able to digibin a male Calliope that stopped briefly!

Note the Northgate entrance to Mt. Diablo opened today sometime around
650 or perhaps earlier. That late start is really crippling and will
prevent us from ever experiencing day break and early morning at this
spot—when flights are at their most active--unless someone decides to
camp here. But an early start is a must.

It is also worth noting that the flight path taken by the Black Swifts
I observed last year, which took them up the east side of Mt. Diablo,
would not be visible from this location.

Let’s hope this wasn’t a fluke!

Good birding,
Ethan Monk




Grapevine Picnic Area Ridge migration

Ethan Monk
 

This morning close to the summit of Mt. Diablo I fulfilled a long time
dream of mine by stumbling upon a fantastic show of diurnal
migration!—entirely by accident. I’ve spent years now scouring
topographic maps and weather conditions, trying to predict where and
when birds might be seen migrating during the morning like at
Butterbredt Springs in the SoCal desert, or Mt. Soledad on the San
Diego coast, and have had none of my spots really pan out. This
morning driving up the road to the summit of Mt. Diablo, I almost hit
four Western Tanagers that crossed the road in front of me, so I got
out of the car to see what else was around. I ended up following the
flow of birds until I was optimally situated, and from about 720am to
the end of the flight around 915, I ended up tallying somewhere in the
realm of ~350 diurnal migrants with most of this flow from 720 to 820.
I established a rule that I would not tally heard-only birds that I
did not see for fear of overcounting. E.g. I often heard warbler
flight notes but would not count the bird unless I could see it to
ensure it wasn’t a local. I don’t know if this is necessary but I
wanted to be safe.

The weather today was warm, relatively still here (at the summit a
north breeze around 10mph?) and clear. No fog. This is consistent with
conditions observers in the North Bay have found to be conducive for
diurnal migrants. So warm, clear days might be best. This flight was
mostly typical of other sites I am at least somewhat familiar with.
Some key differences were a proportionally large number of diurnal
migrant Swainson’s Thrush, generally relatively easily IDable diurnal
migrant hummingbirds (at least as easy as these can get…), and a west
bound—not north bound--flow of migrants.

This site was on the N-S ridge/saddle above Grapevine Campground. The
best place to stand today seemed to be approximately here: 37.873670,
-121.925763. I accessed this location by parking by the campground and
clambering up from the road. Getting off the road is a bit slick, but
relatively easy past that first 6-8 ft incline. That being said, it
might be easier to park on Summit Rd. above this spot.

A list of migrants—tallied individually to the best of my
abilities—with notes follows:
-4 Calliope Hummingbirds (all males after 8am)
-1 Rufous Hummingbird
-lots of hummingbird sp., but difficult to count due to lots of local Anna’s
-2 Olive-sided Fly (local)
-1 Pewee (apparently local)
-1 Hammond’s Flycatcher (local)
-1 Hammond’s/Dusky—I leaned Dusky. Silent.
-2 Pacific-Slope (local)
-6 Warbling Vireo
-1 Townsend’s SOLITAIRE in view for about 10 seconds as it winged its
way west with the flow of migrants
-36 Swainson’s Thrush (1 local?)
-21 Cedar Waxwing
-2 Pine Siskin
-2 Lawrence’s Goldfinch (headed S)
-1 White-crowned Sparrow (local?? Only present first thing)
-4 Cowbird
-3 O.c. Warbler were not local
-42 Yellow Warbler
-3 Audubon’s Warbler
-121 Townsend’s Warbler
-11 Hermit Warbler
-7 Townsend’s/Hermit
-7 Wilson’s Warbler
-74 “warbler sp.”
-20 Western Tanager
-14 Lazuli Bunting (often had a tendency to perch on the powerline
before shortly after continuing west)

Some miscellaneous notes for the interested reader:

This is challenging birding! Most birds are in good light as they pass
but do not stop flying!

Photography here might be difficult. I didn’t have my camera this
morning, but most birds here tracked against green and gold hills, not
clear blue sky. So focusing might be hard. However, despite the lack
of camera I took a couple videos with my cellphone of birds going by
and was able to digibin a male Calliope that stopped briefly!

Note the Northgate entrance to Mt. Diablo opened today sometime around
650 or perhaps earlier. That late start is really crippling and will
prevent us from ever experiencing day break and early morning at this
spot—when flights are at their most active--unless someone decides to
camp here. But an early start is a must.

It is also worth noting that the flight path taken by the Black Swifts
I observed last year, which took them up the east side of Mt. Diablo,
would not be visible from this location.

Let’s hope this wasn’t a fluke!

Good birding,
Ethan Monk


Lawrence’s Goldfinch pair Brionnes

Jim Chiropolos
 

Mountain biking Brionnes today, I saw a Lawrence’s goldfinch pair south of the highpoint of the Old Brionnes trail about 75 yards south on the crest trail. I saw them several times on the fence - they were associating with a larger lesser goldfinch group. There may have been two pairs. I wonder with the droughts, Lawrence’s goldfinch are becoming more common on the northern edge of their range. This is the third location I have seen them in the east bay so far this year.

Its been awhile since I have birded Brionnes and it features a good assortment of grassland birds and forest birds with a good number of Lazuli Buntings in the weedy edge habitat, especially by the Bear Creek entrance.

Jim Chiropolos
Orinda


Heather Farm Park in Walnut Creek

rosita94598
 

Not being home much the last three weeks, it was nice to be back in my stomping grounds yesterday and today.  The park was really quiet Friday, I have no idea.why.  It was a little better today, but most of the song was from either the Song Sparrows or the House Finches.

David K found me and told me he had seen a Yellow Warbler around the corner of the large, mostly natural pond.  I told him that as hard as it is to believe, I think I had a Myrtle Warbler near the crosswalk near the dog park.  It was not out on the reeds very long, but it looked to have yellow on the sides and a bright white throat.  Then it was gone.  It should not be around at this time, all the warblers left a month ago.  I don't know, everybody has their own list.

The Chickadees seemed to be busy; what seemed to be several family groups were also vocal and active.  I could not find any swallows today, but a Red-tailed Hawk was perched on a utility pole on the Hale Property, next to the private Seven Hills School.  This is the open area above the equestrian ring parking lot.

I yelled at a woman yesterday who had a dog running around the ball fields chasing the Canada Geese and a Killdeer.  These fields are all posted no dogs, as they are used by kids, softball players and soccer players.  Today I called the police on some poaching fishermen at the large pond.  Probably nothing came of that, either.  I am just becoming crotchety, reminding myself of my dad.

Hugh B. Harvey
Walnut Creek



Good migrant movement this morning

Jim Chiropolos
 

Great diversity moving, flycatchers, vireos, warblers, tanagers and grosbeaks - and the accipiters that follow them. No big waves but a steady stream this morning.

Moving warblers are females, males usually are seen earlier in the season to set upterritory before females arrive.

Jim Chiropolos
Orinda below Vollmer


20 Western Tanagers in Ken Mercer Sportspark in Pleasanton

ireddy@...
 

Hello,
I was very surprised to find at least 20 Western Tanagers in the Ken Mercer park. They were in groups of 2 to 8 in different areas, mostly going from eucalyptus trees to pine trees.
Here is my ebird listing for photos- https://ebird.org/checklist/S109926754
Isabelle Reddy


The Powers of Bird Observation!

Jim Chiropolos
 

I am continually amazed by how good observers birds are. The yard suet feeder went empty. Before filling it I looked around . No birds in sight or calling. I filled it, stepped back 10 feet and started the timer. The feeder had been empty for at least two hours.

A chickadee was at the feeder - calling -within five seconds. In another five seconds, perhaps (likely) alerted by the calling chickadee - a scrub jay was at the feeder.

Wow - birds are so very alert to the status of their food sources!

This year has been a very good year for chickadees by my house. I check a route 150 yards long or so every morning in spring. At least 4 separate chickadee groups are present along the route with fledged young. I have an idea where their territory starts and stops. The family group chatter is audible from the entire route.

Jim Chiropolos
Orinda


Mt. Diablo State Park - Juniper Parking Lot

Sjbu@...
 

Sorry for the late post.

On 5/10 AM on my way to the summit, I ran into a flock of 63 Swainson's Thrushes and 9 West Tanagers in the parking lot. I could not find any other birds in the flock.

See eBird checklist for photos.

https://ebird.org/checklist/S109558384

Happy Birding
Steve Buffi


A very good day along Mines Road!

Jim Chiropolos
 

The weather has been tough for weekend birders like myself with every weekend day but one this spring a cold front has moved in and dispersed migrants that have moved, and no active migration on a big scale seems to be occurring (except for one day - not a dedicated birding day for me). With the showers forecast, mountain biking was out, as the east bay trails turn to quicksand with minimal moisture, so I had to make a plan for Sunday birding.

I decided to bike Mines road, always a favorite - and aside from the coast, the best place to find an usual bird in the east bay. It was windy and cold with gusts up to 30 mph to battle on the bike on the way back.

Up high on Mines Road, Chinese house flowers and owl clover have solid blooms (at lower elevations in the east bay owl clover blooms disappeared in the middle of April). Amazingly, some of the valley oaks are just starting to leaf out - in May!

Only two migrant flocks were found on the 50 mile round trip route. One was in Santa Clara county - interestedly - birds moving in chaparral habitat. The other was in Alameda. As I sorted through the flock, a chat stating calling, but it did not pop up for a view. A pair of Lawrence’s goldfinches were seen perching on the metal fence of the cattle enclosure by mile marker 17.7.

The best birds of the day were a pair of pygmy owls together. It has been a long time since I have seen one! They are so tiny - smaller in length than a bluebird! They must be amazing predators to take down birds their own size. The owls were very reddish tan - brighter than the birds illustrated in Sibley. I enjoyed them for 15 minutes. On the return, they had moved, and I did not see them. I’m intentionally not posting the location and no playback was used.

Funky weather and good birds - often a good formula. A good day to be out.

Jim Chiropolos
Orinda

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