Holland Tract Sightings Feb 16th

Donald Bauman

We had +100s of Sandhill Cranes; a very large mixed flock of about 50/50 Yellow-headed Blackbirds and Red-winged Blackbirds; many Snow Geese and Greater White-fronted Geese; plus Black-crowned Night-heron, Green Heron. Great Blue Heron, Snowy Egret and Great Egret. 

Don Bauman



Begin forwarded message:

From: "Mark Rauzon via Groups.Io" <mjrauz@...>
Date: February 17, 2019 at 1:51:42 PM PST
Subject: [EBB-Discussion] NELSON'S SPARROW

The long staying Nelson's Sparrow, first found in Dec. at the 51st exit to the Richmond/Albany shoreline, was present today at the high tide, eventually showing itself in the artemsia near the trail. This area is south the bench where shoreline vegetation extends out in the marsh. From here the bird retreats to the shoreline shrubs at high tide. This was my 5th try here and as many at MLK shoreline before connecting with Nelson. Worth it ! 

Heather Farm Monday Feb. 18


I was just a few minutes late, but the Tropical Kingbird was just north of the wooden railing this morning.  It was well seen by Fred Safier and photographed by a mostly non-birder friend, Walter.  At least one Cackling Goose was on the lawn between the concrete pond and the rose garden, four common sparrows and the CA Towhee were all seen, some Buffleheads and Ring-necked Ducks remain, along with the Common Goldeneye.  A Mockingbird came to the ground south of the equestrian rings to investigate the seeds I throw for the sparrows, then looked around as if to say, "That's it?"

Hugh B. Harvey
Walnut Creek

Vincent Park before noon Monday Feb 18


The two male Black Scoters were in the yacht harbor and ween from Vincent Park today.  They were at the far east end of the harbor and it was an easy walk to have a closer view.  Thanks to those who have previously reported them.

Hugh B. Harvey
Walnut Creek

Creekside Park 2-23-2019


Some interesting observations today at Creekside Park which straddles Alameda and Contra Costa County. A count of 27 bushtits in one flock is probably my all time record. While otherwise a pretty standard winter viewing at the park, as I was leaving, a large flock of American Robins flew in, with many bathing in the creek. While enjoying this unusual Creekside spectacle, a sparrow flock came around and I had good looks at a first year White-throated Sparrow. You can view a picture of the sparrow on my eBird report.

Jack Hayden

Lake Merrit -> Coyote hills sightings via bike

Philip Georgakakos

Hi folks,

Teal Fristoe and I biked from north Oakland to Coyote Hills today birding along the way. Our route was Lake Merrit -> MLK Regional Shoreline -> San Leandro Marina -> Hayward Regional Shoreline -> Eden Landing -> Coyote Hills.

Notable Sightings:
  • Greater White-fronted Goose, Lake Merrit, on some grass around Fairyland
  • Barrow’s Goldeneye’s (3, one male 2 female), Lake Merrit outflow
  • Iceland Gull(1), San Leandro Marina
  • Red Knot’s (5), Hayward Regional shoreline
  • Loggerhead Shrike(1), Eden Landing
  • White-faced Ibis (2), Coyote Hills, Continuing birds reported about a week ago

114 bird species on the day.

Good birding!
Phil Georgakakos

Golden eagle stoop at Sunol

Wendy Parfrey

Good morning, birders

Yesterday in Sunol we watched a golden eagle, high in the cloudy sky soaring in broad, leisurely circles.  At least a dozen rotations and not one wingbeat.  Slow, measured, powerful circles. 

Suddenly the eagle folded its wings and entire body into a tiny dark origami box with four small corners and stooped in a spectacular angled descent into a canyon.  

I've been to falconry trials and watched peregrine falcons exhibit their dramatic stoop - this was every bit as spectacular.  Having now researched 'golden eagles stoop', eagles might be less agile than peregrines, but can reach speeds of 150-200 mph and are considered one of the earth's fastest animals in a stoop. The behavior is territorial and also to surprise prey.

In fact, this behavior is immortalized in a famous 6-line poem:

The Eagle by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1851)

He clasps the crag with crooked hands;

 Close to the sun in lonely lands,

 Ring’d with the azure world, he stands.

The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;

 He watches from his mountain walls,

 And like a thunderbolt he falls.


Wendy Parfrey

Oakland Hills

Least Tern and Snowy Plover at MLK - Arrowhead

Frank Fogarty

Hi birders,

While scoping a trio of Snowy Plover at Arrowhead, Julia spotted a pair of Least Tern roosting together on the big gravel pile near the SE corner. Looks like a good nesting spot.

Quite a birdy morning despite the rain,

Frank Fogarty and Julia DeMarines

Heather Farm Monday morning Mar. 4


Things are starting to change, some of the trees are blossoming, some of the ducks are fewer in number.  Today we had Buffleheads and a Common Goldeneye.  The Red-winged Blackbirds are more numerous now and singing.  Lots of the expected sparrows, and while it was not seen today, Fred Safier had the Fox Sparrow yesterday.  Fred and Walt Duncan pointed out to me the first Rough-winged Swallows flying over the large, mostly natural pond.  We also had the Tropical Kingbird today, it was seen from the wood railing to the left under a white-flowering tree.  It flew out to hawk insects a few times.  Some gulls were on the lawn between the parking lot and the railing, Ring-billed Gulls with one Mew Gull.  Fred and Walt saw the Merlin flying away before I arrived.  A Marsh Wren sang in the willows on the west side of the big pond.

Due to the varying weather conditions and approaching spring, every day is different.

Hugh B. Harvey
Walnut Creek

Richmond Black Scoters

Sheila Dickie

With apologies for late post. The two previously reported Black Scoters were seen swimming with 11 Surf Scoters on Saturday afternoon, March 2, 2019 in the Richmond Marina near the large Cal Trans moored boat. They were seen from the overlook to the left of the Anh Restaurant as you are facing the moored boats near the restrooms for the yacht harbor. Also seen in same location but on the lawn the Snow Goose and its eight Greater White-fronted Goose companions.

Sheila Dickie

Heather Farm Friday March 8


Tracy Farrington wrote before 8 AM that he had Violet-green Swallows over the big pond at Heather Farm Park in Walnut Creek's Ygnacio Valley.  I did not leave the house until about 9:30 and by that time it was fairly windy.  No Violet-green Swallows for me, in fact I had a hard time finding my usual sparrows.

But I rode my bike past the equestrian area and around the corner to the entry gate of the private Seven Hills School.  Rough-winged Swallows were flying over this pond, which we call the Seven Hills Pond.  Along the closest edge of this concrete pond is a single smaller oak tree.  While looking at the swallows, I found the Tropical Kingbird perched in the lower right branches of this tree.  It hawked insects several times while I watched.

A couple of Ring-necked Ducks remain on the big pond, along with Buffleheads and a single Common Goldeneye. 

A gorgeous Red-shouldered Hawk landed on one of the light poles along north San Carlos, the street which runs the length of the park.

Hugh B. Harvey
Walnut Creek

Heather Farm Monday Mar. 11


It was cold enough this morning, but that did not stop the newly arrived Barn Swallows and continuing Tropical Kingbird from being active.  I had the Fox Sparrow come out of the bushes across from the dog park.  A Queenfisher flew off a signpost at the north side of the dog park crosswalk. 

If anything good shows in the next couple of weeks, I am sure that Fred Safier, Walt Duncan or Tracy Farrington will post a message.


Hugh B. Harvey
Walnut Creek

Sparrow note


I am posting again, although I did not see the sparrow this morning, but Hugh Harvey explained to me how to make sure that my info also goes to

On my usual morning walk today* (technically one hour later than usual due to the time change) I turned from Cherry Lane east onto the Contra Costa Canal Trail. Normally there is a Cal Towhee pair there, but when a small brown bird flew across the trail it didn't look right. In fact it was a White-crowned Sparrow. It went into some underbrush and I started counting WC Sparrows for my eBird report. But one of the sparrows looked different. Black and white stripes extending back further on the head than on a White-crown, bright white throat, and the clincher: clear yellow spot on the lores. White-throated Sparrow, unmistakable.

* that was yesterday, March 10.

Orange-crowned Warbler

Johan Langewis

I spent about 3 hours at Valle Vista in Moraga today, saw/heard 59 species. Included was a single Orange-crowned Warbler feeding on the white blossoms of a fruit (wild plum?) tree near the trail leading up to the bridge. FOS for me. Also seen was a Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon’s) molting into breeding plumage. A Lincoln’s Sparrow was seen near the horse corral shed, in the brush on the lake side of the trail. Other highlights were 6 Wood Ducks and 11 Common Mergansers. All of the mergansers were female. Complete list on eBird.

Johan Langewis

East County 3/10 (and a Yellow-billed Magpie question)

Ethan Monk <z.querula@...>

Hi All,

Did a quick afternoon run through some East County sites this Sunday, nothing too extraordinary but a few sightings of note.

Morgan Territory Road:

I drove from the intersection of Morgan Territory Road to around mile marker 4 until turning around, birding in breaks in the rain. The most noteworthy sightings included a large flock of Lark Sparrows (I counted 39) hanging out together in a break in the rain, and several flocks of Lesser Goldfinch, most heard only, but one flock on the road numbered 29. No Lawrence's (yet) but in a few weeks this might be a good area to check for breeding individuals.


Another fruitless quest for the Yellow-billed Magpies, I believe my 5th or 6th in the past 6 months. I have checked practically all of town at this rate, the school, the Eucalyptus along Knightsen Ave., Hotchkiss Rd., etc., etc. I also know several others that have looked for the Magpies recently and have failed. Does anyone know when these birds were last seen? I am beginning to wonder whether they nest at this locale anymore? eBird's last credible report from this vicinity comes from September 2017 (Dunn). Have they been seen since? Unfortunately, it appears to me that Contra Costa may have lost its last Magpies? 

Deer Ridge Golf Course:

Quick check for the Roadrunner. Last I know of this bird being seen is in the Fall of 2017. I am not sure if this bird still lives in the area, but I only spent 10 or so minutes in the general vicinity of where it hung around back when it was first found in 2014, so I could have easily missed it.

Holland Tract:

Spent around 2.5 hours at Holland Tract. I drove all of the public levee road and then walked into the Central Tract Marshes and out to the first ponds (

37.984710, -121.607795). In these ponds there was one male Wood Duck, probably one of the hundred or so that are resident in the Central Tract Marshes, among Goldeneye, Gadwall, Gallinule, and others. Good groups of geese are present still with about 200 Snows (no Ross's as far as I could tell) and 140 White-fronts. Swans and Cranes were also present. A flock of 30 Snipe flushed out of the flooded fields--quite a large number, for me. Coinciding with Spring, swallows have begun to move in, and there were good numbers of Tree Swallows and Barn Swallows (these mostly male). Two Cliff Swallows and one Violet-green Swallow, quite rare for East County, were flying around, as well. Kingbirds should show up in a week or two.

Ethan Monk

Richmond: Snow Goose & Eurasian Wigeons continue, oyster-harvesting Oystercatchers

Lee Friedman

Tuesday at the Richmond Marina the Snow Goose with the 8 Greater White-fronted Geese continue in the lawn areas.

At Miller-Knox, two Eurasian Wigeons continue in the pond. Also, the Black Oystercatchers seem to be harvesting oysters from the bay. Perhaps this is due to the restoration efforts that began several years ago around the Richmond Harbor area.

Here are a few photos:

Snow Goose:

Eurasian Wigeon:

Black Oystercatchers with Oyster:

The full list of species with additional photographs are on the checklists:


Richmond Marina:

Good birding,

Lee Friedman

Nutall's woodpecker returns. Oakland Laurel


Late morning, a few minutes of banging on the tree.  Extra loud.  Then flew away. Signal time?

I was correct about the local plum blossoms. They did not burst out until teh last week of February and it took then a while to fully bloom so indeed a more normal start to the year - as global warming did indeed push thing earlier except for this year.

Marcus Pun
Video Editor / Producer/Editor / Camera
C: 510-384-8085 | H: 510-530-2507
Oakland, CA

Possible Kamchatka Gull in CoCo County


Yesterday (13/3/2019) at West County Wastewater District - Sewage Ponds, located by Richmond Pkwy just west of San Pablo. Contra Costa County (exact address include in attached  eBird checklist), I found, this interesting and quite untypical I think Mew Gull. The Gull was relatively large, almost  Ring-billed Gull size  (side by side for cf) with conspicuous unmarked large / long yellow bill and strikingly bright (pale gray) eyes what in my opinion may be the basis to consider it as the so-called Kamchatka Gull. Adult bird (in winter plumage) was together with another Mew Gull (2nd Winter immature, also photographed). During observation I also saw the third Mew gull (not affiliated with these two)  clearly smaller, and with an obvious smaller bill   Albert W. Linkowski

Nutall's woodpecker returns. Oakland Laurel - the Female has arrived


This morning, heard the tapping and grabbed my camera and checked. No bird but did hear a distant tap. Then a few minutes later the female showed up and started tapping around the same places the male was yesterday, paying particular attention to one spot.  So question here, to they smell freshly pierced wood, does the male leave a scent or taste?

No construction debris yet. I do have pics but can't deal with them until later.

Marcus Pun
Video Editor / Producer/Editor / Camera
C: 510-384-8085 | H: 510-530-2507
Oakland, CA

On Wednesday, March 13, 2019, 4:28:34 PM PDT, Marcus <scrod2000@...> wrote:

Late morning, a few minutes of banging on the tree.  Extra loud.  Then flew away. Signal time?

I was correct about the local plum blossoms. They did not burst out until teh last week of February and it took then a while to fully bloom so indeed a more normal start to the year - as global warming did indeed push thing earlier except for this year.

Marcus Pun
Video Editor / Producer/Editor / Camera
C: 510-384-8085 | H: 510-530-2507
Oakland, CA

Harris's Sparrow in walnut Creek


Tracy Farrington asks me to post his sighting of a Harris's Sparrow in the Castle Tree picnic area, across from the ball field lawn in Castle Rock park, Walnut Creek.

Fred Safier