Contra Costa county 8/6/2018

Logan Kahle

Hi All,

After an extended hiatus I finally made it back to Contra Costa county. I spent the day with Ethan Monk and, for part, with Dominik Mosur working from Richmond to East county. Migration was well under way but somewhat hard to detect as conditions at shorebird spots were moderate and passerine migrants were rather quiet after 8am.

We started at Point San Pablo, which appears to be the most lucrative migrant trap on the bayside. We started by the Marina and the adjacent oaks, picking through flocks and covering as much of the area as possible. Between 6:30 and 8:00am, we found nearly 40 passerine migrants in this part of the peninsula. Most interesting was seeing a cohort of 5 warblers (including at least 2 yellows and an orange-crown) pick up at the tip of the point and head to Marin. This may indicate that this place is not just an exceptional "trap" but actually a genuine spot for a sort of Morning flight. I have noticed over about a dozen August visits here that the site is extremely productive starting at sunrise for about two hours, and then seriously slows down. If you wish to visit this site, I would strongly recommend early morning for maximum success. Later in the season, this could be one of the best places to find vagrants in the county. For reference, the entire rest of the day we saw less than 5 other passerine migrants.

Highlights/migrants here included:
Pelagic Cormorant-1
Spotted Sandpiper-6 together
Heermann's Gull-1
Pacific-slope Flycatcher-3 in oaks/canyons
Empidonax sp-1 that appeared extremely gray did not appear to be a Pac-slope but seen very briefly. May have heard a "whit" note at this time as well
Warbling Vireo-1 in oaks/canyons
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher-4 was a very good count for this peninsula, all in the in oaks/canyons
Orange-crowned Wabler-3 in in oaks/canyons
Yellow Warbler-9 was the first major push of this relatively late migrant I have heard of from the area. All in oaks/canyons
Black-throated Gray Warbler-2 in oaks/canyons
Wilson's Warbler-8, all but 2 in oaks/canyons
Warbler sp-3 in oaks/canyons
Western Tanager-1 in oaks/canyons
Black-headed Grosbeak-1 in oaks/canyons
Lazuli Bunting-1 flying west high overhead at point
Hooded Oriole-4 in oaks/canyons
Bullock's Oriole-3 in oaks/canyons

Full eBird checklist here:

From there we proceeded to the West county WTP, meeting up with Dominik Mosur and hoping the slack and receding high tide would still have pushed a few birds there from Wildcat marsh. Unfortunately the only migrant shorebird were a couple of Semipalmated Plovers. It is likely one needs at least a 5' high tide for this spot to be truly productive.

Full eBird checklist here:

From there we split to Canal Boulevard. Brooks Island was, incredibly, devoid of all but a couple individual terns, but there was a nice showing of Pelicans and gulls.
Long-billed Curlew-4
Western Gull-400
California Gull-200
Gull sp-300
Brown Pelican-925

Full eBird checklist here:

From there we headed to Miller/Knox hoping for migrants in the trees or activity on the bay, we unfortunately found neither save a calling Black-headed Grosbeak in the willows at Miller/Knox.

Full eBird checklist here:

We then headed to San Pablo Reservoir. It was perhaps the most dull I have ever seen the place, with almost no calling passerines on the way up. Nonetheless, teh reservoir hosted:
Double-crested Cormorant-21
Caspian Tern-2 including juv

After a brief and unproductive stop at Waterbird Regional Preserve, we headed to Waterbird Way Pond, which was loaded with shorebirds. It seems like a good place over the next month to check for Stilt Sandpiper or Ruff. Highlights and shorebirds here included:
Black-necked Stilt-118
Least Sandpiper-9
Long-billed Dowitcher-585
Greater Yellowlegs-6
Lesser Yellowlegs-3
Hooded Oriole-1 appeared to be a migrant

We then headed to the Deer Ridge Golf Course area to test our luck with Roadrunner, but came up dry. According to homeowners it is still alive and well but sporadic as always.

We then headed to the Byron WTP which hosted a number of shorebird migrants. Highlights here included:
Black-necked Stilt-3
Semipalmated Plover-1
Least Sandpiper-10
Red-necked Phalarope-1
Greater Yellowlegs-1

Full eBird checklist here:

Heading to Clifton Court, we found the reservoir mostly vacant, but still with a few interesting birds:
Pied-billed Grebe-22 was not an exceptional count, as this species migrates at this season
WHIMBREL-1 was a very rare bird for east county in Fall
California Gull-780
Say's Phoebe-1

Full eBird checklist here:

We headed north to Discovery Bay and were not disappointed. Around the golf course we found:
Green Heron-3
White-tailed Kite-1
BALD EAGLE-1 was a very good bird for East county, and my first
Black-chinned Hummingbird-1
VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW-4 were quite unexpected as this species is relatively rare in East county. It is nearly unrecorded in the Bethel Bradford area, but in the Southeast part of the county they appear to be more regular, at least at this season
Western Bluebird-2 were part of the isolated population at this location
Full eBird checklists here:

From there we headed north to the Holland Tract with a primary focus on the Central Tract marshes. While water levels seemed great, few shorebirds were present, but still we found:
Blue-winged Teal-1 was a rare bird for East county
Cinnamon Teal-2
Green Heron-2
Common Gallinule-4
Least Sandpiper-9
Greater Yellowlegs-3
Eurasian Collared-Dove-75
Mourning Dove-26
Bank Swallow-2 is a now expected species in the region
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher-1 was a migrant
YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD-4 fed into the pattern of late summer occurrence of this species at this site. I previously suspected breeding, but after a May visit turned up none I believe these could alternatively be post-breeding dispersants from elsewhere in the valley
Tricolored Blackbird-1 follows the same pattern as Yellow-headed

Full eBird checklist here:

From there we hit Piper Slough hoping for Dusk Flight and Ibis. Unfortunately no ibis and the only things moving were larids, but we still found:
Pied-billed Grebe-53 were migrants
Caspian Tern-32
California Gull-35
American Coot-350 were likely the first "fall" migrants here

We ended the day with 109 species, about average or perhaps a bit below for this time of Year. Was a nice way to finish my Summer stay in California.

Good birding,


Rossmoor Birders

Emily Serkin

Dear Rossmoor Resident,

I'm going to be moving there and wonder if anyone would be willing to talk briefly with me about the birding (maybe humans) there.

Emily Serkin

Lake Temescal Banded Green Heron

Robert Firehock


A banded green heron is back at Lake Temescal. Some may remember we had 
this last year and, after guidance from a couple of you and help from a 
couple photographer/birders--Doug and Kent--we were able to 'read' the 
full band number with a high degree of certainty and JD Bergeron 
confirmed it as one that his group, IBR, had banded/released.

If you are at Lake Temescal with a camera and see an adult Green, please 
look to see if there is a silver band on its right leg. It would be 
above the first leg joint. It's not always visible and sometimes I don't 
see it but it's in the photos I take. If you can get a full zoom, good 
resolution shot of the leg/band, you may find when you enlarge it later 
you can read some numbers. If so, please share them with me off-thread, 
so as not to clutter EBB further.

Last visit there was a second adult w/o a band, as well as what I took 
to be a juvenile apparently molting to another plumage stage.

Thank you,
Bob Firehock

East Bay Migration, Early Sightings


Its that time of year again!

Last night, when I left work, Elegant Terns suddenly appeared in Emeryville with over 300 roosting on an exposed mudflat off Powell Street! (This will likely happen evenings only when mudflats are exposed by a low tide).

Shorebird diversity is high in the east bay as I have seen 21 species in the last week - no rarities found so far. Passerine migration has been ongoing over the last week in the east bay hills with a slow trickle of 1 to 3 tanagers, warblers or vireos being seen in the yard below Vollmer peak daily the last week.

The most interesting sighting was earlier this week, when a swallow swarm was flying high over the house. One of the birds swooping and diving was noticeably bigger and as I brought the bins up, I thought "Purple Martin!" I was wrong - it was a Sharp-Shined Hawk (rounded wings) swooping and diving at swallows maybe 100 yards or so above the ground. I never thought I would see that type of behavior from an accipiter......

Enjoy fall migration!

Jim Chiropolos

Alameda Reserve Elegant Terns

John Luther

Today, Aug 11, during a bird survey (most of which is done in Alameda Co) at the Alameda Reserve we saw at least 1050 Elegant Terns roosting in San Francisco county in and adjacent to the Caspian Tern colony that has over 400 Caspian Terns, some still with very young chicks.  Another 250 or more Elegant Terns were very close roosting in Alameda Co.  

John Luther

Alameda Wildlife Reserve

John Luther

Hi All,

I have been asked again about public access to the Alameda Wildlife Reserve.  Again there is still no public access.  Sorry I forgot to mention this again in my last post.  This area is at the west end of Alameda "island" and the city of Alameda.  It was a part of the Alameda Naval Air Station that closed in 1997.  It has many no trespassing signs and is patrolled on a regular basis looking for trespassers.  It is the area where the large Least Tern colony is located that is monitored by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.  Every summer there is an event when the public can visit the Least Tern colony by bus.  I do not normally report birds here as there is no public access.  Occasionally an unusual species or unusual number (as was the case with the Elegant Terns) show up and I report that to inform folks of things to look for nearby.  If an unusual species is seen that may be seen from outside the reserve (such as with the Brown Booby) I report it immediately.  The extreme SW corner of the Reserve is in San Francisco Co.  This is where the large Caspian Tern colony is located and where the large bunch of Elegant Terns were roosting.  

John Luther

Heather Farm Park, Aug. 14, 2018


This morning I arrived at Heather Farm Park, Walnut Creek, at 7:00am. Bird activity was quiet but I was pleasantly surprised by the appearance of 14 NORTHERN SHOVELERS, mostly female, on the natural pond. They remained in a fairly tight group, in the air and on water, mingling, occasionally, with a few of the local mallards. A bit later I found a single WESTERN TANAGER working the oaks on the west side of the pond. Soon thereafter, I was joined by Hugh Harvey and we got good looks at a male BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER as it worked high in the oak at the northwestern corner of the pond. Fred Safier had both male and female of this species, yesterday, not far from the one found this morning. A while later, Hugh and I found a HUTTON'S VIREO in the willows on the east side. Looking forward to the fall.

Good birding,

Tracy Farrington

Walnut Creek

American White Pelicans, San Leandro Bay

Mark Featherstone

Apart from hundreds of Brown Pelicans, I saw four American White Pelicans on San Leandro Bay this morning about 9:30 (low tide). The location is more or less opposite the Aeolian Yacht Club - meaning the yacht club is on the north shore of the bay, and I was standing on the south shore. The lat/long is 37.748117 - 122.234291. Three of them were quite close to shore and much more amenable to being photographed than the Brown Pelicans which, though plentiful, keep their distance. 

continuing sightings at Heather Farm in Walnut Creek


The Black-throated Gray Warblers first found Monday by Fred Safier were found again this morning.  Fred, Tracy Farrington and I saw them on the west side of the large, mostly natural pond.  Tracy later found a nice group of birds there including Chestnut-backed Chickadees, White-breasted Nuthatches, Oak Titmouse, Bushtits, a Downy Woodpecker, Anna's Hummingbirds and a Bewick's Wren.

Some volunteers from Mt. Diablo Audubon Society have upgraded the exhibits in the display near the wooden railing between the parking lot and the wooden railing.  Thanks to them and the city for permission to do that job.

Hugh B. Harvey
Walnut Creek

Native garden in OAK hills and bumper crop of fledglings from 15 common bird species

Wendy Parfrey

Hi all,

I just saw a juvenile Nuttall's WP at my deck feeder which was a first, so I decided to go back and count the number of fledglings I've seen this year at my house.  The number is 15 species so far. 

Two years ago I planted a native garden, mostly sages, ceanothus, manzanitas and other CA drought tolerant species.  First came the bees, butterflies, hummers and goldfinches picking off all the seeds.  Since spring this year, I've seen fledged young from all these common species:  chickadee, house finch, robin, raven, scrub jay, lesser goldfinch, Bewick's wren, bushtit, towhee, red breasted nuthatch, pygmy nuthatch, song sparrow, juncos, titmouse and this morning's Nuttall's woodpecker.  

Is everyone else getting bumper crops of juvenile birds this year?  I would love to be able to attribute this abundance to all the native plants that are in full bloom and the mass of insects that followed the plantings. We also have oaks, pine and bay which promote nesting birds.  It's just that this year was quite unusual with so many breeding birds.

A happy birder/gardener, 

Wendy (Colton at Heartwood)

Hermit Warbler at Vollmer Peak area of Tilden

Lee Friedman

Yesterday morning at about 10AM there was an immature female Hermit Warbler in the conifers along the Seaview Trail in the Vollmer Peak area (the relatively flat portion of the trail). A photo of it is here:

There were also Red-Breasted Nuthatches galore, Pygmy Nuthatches, and Pacific Slope Flycatchers among others--plenty of nice birds to enjoy finding.

Good birding,

Lee Friedman

Heather Farm Tuesday August 21


Some good birds were in the park today, including a Black-necked Stilt near the big oak tree across the pond form the wooden railing.  To the left of the railing were at least 10 Northern Shovelers.  A Queenfisher was flying around and making noise, a Cooper's Hawk looked like it was interested in the Stilt, but thought better of it, and a female Black-throated Gray Warbler was along the gravel trail on the east side of the large, mostly natural pond.  A Pied-billed Grebe was out on the water, too, and a Green Heron was present along the edge.

Hugh B. Harvey
Walnut Creek

FOS Townsend's Warbler at EBMUD Valle Vista

Lee Friedman

I was birding yesterday morning at EBMUD's Valle Vista (permit required) and saw my first Townsend's Warbler of the season off of the Redwood Trail (the loop that starts uphill from the Staging Area and quickly turns left), about .25 mile from the Staging Area. Last report of one at Valle Vista was from 3/24.

The eBird checklist of 34 species with some photos attached including the Townsend's is here:

Good birding,

Lee Friedman

San Leandro Marina (8/22)

Bob Richmond

Seen at the marina

2 Wandering Tattler
1 Western Wood Pewee - earliest fall record for me along the bay.
1 Willow Flycatcher
1 Pacific-slope Flycatcher


Western Kingbird at Lake Merritt

Hilary Powers

In the sensory garden, using the near-leafless birch trees as a hunting perch. This is only the second Western Kingbird I've seen there - and the first was in 2012.

The sighting was the conclusion to a wild 4th-Wednesday Golden Gate Audubon walk at the lake: 37 species (as opposed to 27 last August), including all five heron-type birds, lots and lots of baby bluebirds, and the only Wilson's Warbler spotted on the walk since 2013.

- Hilary Powers - hilary@... - Oakland CA -
- "Making Word 2010 Work for You" - -
- Needle Felting:; -

Coyote Hills (8/22) - Black-throated Sparrow, Willow Flycatcher...etc.

Jerry Ting

This (8/22/2018) afternoon around 5:30pm, I found a juvenile Black-throated Sparrow on the Quarry Staging area hill side (37.551059, -122.087927).  The bird is very shy and moving around in the area and often hid in bushes.  The flying call is similar to junco.  A distant shot of this bird can be seen in my eBird report: 

This will be the 5th Alameda county sighting and the earliest fall record on eBird if accepted.

Other highlights from this afternoon in the park include:
1 Willow Flycatcher (seen on hill side sage bushes in Quarry Staging area)
5 Pacific-slope Flycatchers (2 in nectar garden, 2 at Diary Glen and 1 in Quarry Staging area)
1 female Townsend's Warbler (nectar garden)
1 Swainson's Thrush (nectar garden)
1 adult molting Peregrine Falcon (No Name Trail)

Happy Birding,

Jerry Ting

Buff-breasted Sandpiper 8/24/2018 fide A. Maizlish

Logan Kahle

Hi all,

Just got a text from Aaron Maizlish who was just looking at a Buff-breasted Sandpiper with two Baird’s Sandpipers at the Richmond WTP. He has good and diagnostic photos. It is in the series of 4 ponds closest to the highway (east side of the facility) and he last saw it a couple minutes ago in the second-from-northmost pond in the series.

This represents an overdue first county record for Contra Costa county.

Congratulations on a great find, Aaron.

Logan Kahle for Aaron Maizlish

Re: Buff-breasted Sandpiper 8/24/2018 fide A. Maizlish

John Cant 793-5216

Is the Richmond WTP open to birders on the weekend?




John Cant


From: EBB_Sightings@... On Behalf Of Logan Kahle logan@... [EBB_Sightings]
Sent: Friday, August 24, 2018 3:24 PM
Subject: [EBB_Sightings] Buff-breasted Sandpiper 8/24/2018 fide A. Maizlish



Hi all,

Just got a text from Aaron Maizlish who was just looking at a Buff-breasted Sandpiper with two Baird’s Sandpipers at the Richmond WTP. He has good and diagnostic photos. It is in the series of 4 ponds closest to the highway (east side of the facility) and he last saw it a couple minutes ago in the second-from-northmost pond in the series.

This represents an overdue first county record for Contra Costa county.

Congratulations on a great find, Aaron.

Logan Kahle for Aaron Maizlish

NO Buff-breasted Sandpiper


At 6:50 PM, I (Ethan Monk) showed up at Richmond wtp to look for the buff-breasted sandpiper. I scoped the three full ponds from the road for close to an hour and a half until scoping was impossible. Jeff Hoppes showed up around 7:15. We found 3 Baird’s Sandpipers, several Least Sandpipers, many killdeer, several Yellowlegs but unfortunately no Buff-breasted Sandpiper. Maybe the bird has just gone to roost, hopefully it hasn’t left. Good luck to everyone else.

Good birding,
Ethan Monk

Buff-breasted Sandpiper in Richmond

Aaron Maizlish


Many thanks to Logan Kahle for getting the word out earlier.  At least a dozen birders were able to see the bird this afternoon.

Now that I’m back home I’ve been trying to catch up on some of that August shorebird-migration magic.  This afternoon after leaving work I decided to check out the Richmond sewage ponds, formally the West County Wastewater District Treatment Plant.   After signing in at the office I went off to survey the ponds and was disappointed with the lack of bird activity.  In the second large pond (east of the office), there were just three distant medium-sized sandpipers with buffy breasts on the mud that caught my eye.  I went back to my car to get the camera and was shocked to realize that I was looking at one BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER associating with two BAIRD’S SANDPIPERS. 

The three pipers were very mellow and cooperative for the two hours that I stayed on site -eventually joined by a third Baird’s Sandpiper and a small number of peeps.   The Buff-breasted is a first year bird with crisp plumage, bright yellow legs and white edges on the wing feathers.

I have put up six photos on my flickr feed starting here:  - I also included most of them on the eBird report.  This was probably my most desired life-bird and it was quite exciting to stumble about it.  According to Logan this is a first county record for Contra Costa County.

I do not know if the WCWD is open on the weekends.  You need to sign in at the office - the staff and workers are always extremely friendly to birders on the few times I have interacted with them.

Aaron Maizlish
San Francisco, CA