Re: Phainopeplas at Lime Ridge, Walnut Creek

Mike Shannon

I saw Phainopepla twice in the past few days, once at Don Castro Regional Park in Fairview and again in Palomares Hills (sitting on a light pole on Villareal).

I wonder if we are having an irruption as I have only rarely seen them around.

Mike Shannon

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------ Original Message ------

From: judisierra via Groups.Io
Sent: May 13, 2019 at 8:28 PM
Subject: Re: [EBB-Sightings] Phainopeplas at Lime Ridge, Walnut Creek

I went looking for the Phainopeplas today. Didn't see them. There were at least two LAZULI buntings, an ASH-THROATED flycatcher and a Red shoulder-hawk that grabbed lunch from the drive range ground. Judi Sierra- Oakland -------------------------------------------- On Sat, 5/11/19, joel.herr wrote: Subject: [EBB-Sightings] Phainopeplas at Lime Ridge, Walnut Creek To: Date: Saturday, May 11, 2019, 9:48 AM I did a quick check this morning and had two Phainopeplas back at their spot on Lime Ridge in Walnut Creek Open Space.From the trailhead across from the Boundary Oaks golf course clubhouse, proceed up the hill and turn left at the first trail junction.The Phainopeplas were along the trail where it passes above the top end of the golf driving range near coordinates 37.92681 / -121.99368.There were also multiple Lazuli Buntings in the area. Happy birding, Joel Herr

Re: Phainopeplas at Lime Ridge, Walnut Creek

Alan Bade

I thought I'd add to the Lime Ridge sightings; we had three Phainopeplas while helping with Save Mt Diablo's Lime Ridge Mangini BioBlitz on May 4th, on SMD's Mangini property. They were fairly vocal. I'm just now getting our lists entered into iNat (SMD prefers iNat for their data over eBird). We also had a Nashville warbler, a Hermit, several Townsend's, Orange crowned, and Wilson's, along with many Ash-throated Flycatchers. Common Poorwill and a Western Screech owl during an evening effort. I attached the ebird checklists here if folks are interested. We were fortunate to have some very experienced birders helping, and it was a lot of fun.

--Alan Bade

Stellar's Jay near Pleasanton, plus some area populations seem lower than last year, and my Nutall's


Saw a Stellar's on the road side and stopped for a bit. It seemed rather animated and moving around on the ground.  Location - Pleasanton - Sunol Road just south of Verona

For some of you this may be a rather common sighting but for me there are much fewer sightings than 40 years ago, similar to the California Quail that used to be more ubiquitous in the SF Bay Area when I was growing up. Maybe I have bad luck but I haven't seen a Stellar's Jay for years despite my hiking around.

On another note, my partner and I have noticed a marked decline in the number of swifts this season around the Thermo Fisher Campus, and a similar decline of Cliff Swallows a bit south where they nest. [ I can pinpoint the location if you like. Just send an email. ]    We were wondering if anyone else has seen similar declines in their local birds. The winter was a bit prolonged and perhaps had a negative effect despite the fact that as someone who grew up in the area, the winter seemed normal for 50 years ago.  On yet another note, the Thermo Fisher campus Canadian geese are now shepherding 9 goslings this year around the grounds, mostly the pond area.

My Laurel neighborhood Nutall's last month seemed to have abandoned their nest, perhaps for another location. We saw this happen a few years back when the male started on a nest across the street from my house, then abandoned it and started a new nest on the same tree. I do hope they come back next year.

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

Swainson's Thrush - Antioch yard - 5/15

Paul Schorr

This afternoon we were delighted to spot a FOS Swainson’s Thrush at our bird bath.

Good birding,

Paul Schorr

FW: Odd weather event--heads up for vagrant shorebirds!


From Yahoo Calbirds
Wed May 15, 2019 6:46 am (PDT) . Posted by:
"Brian Sullivan" heraldpetrel

Odd weather event--heads up for vagrant shorebirds!
Hi Everyone,

We're about to experience a fairly odd weather pattern with 2-3 significant
fronts stacked up very late in the season. It could be nothing, but it
bears keeping our thoughts and eyes open for trans-oceanic shorebirds that
could be affected on their way north. Species such as Bar-tailed Godwit and
Bristle-thighed Curlew come to mind. I wasn't living in California in 1998,
but I did manage to see the Kehoe Beach Bristle-thighed Curlew. The timing
here is similar. There was a lot of discussion then around the fallout of
BTCU from California north through Washington due to odd weather. A
subsequent paper is here:

In any case, it'll be an interesting week. Double-check those Whimbrel on
your local beaches!

New family in town


While sitting upstairs after returning from Heather Farm Park in Walnut Creek, I heard the quiet sound of a baby bird in our patio.  We have been having the baby Juncos come to collect seeds, and I thought this was what I might be hearing. 

But I went downstairs anyway to look out the window.  We had three California Towhees, not the occasional two, and one was being fed.  The fledgling has very faint streaks on the breast, but looks mostly like an adult.  Not a first for us, but still exciting and fun to see.
Hugh B. HarveyWalnut Creek

White-faced Ibis at MLK Shoreline RP Oakland


A White-faced Ibis was foraging on the far side of the first vernal pond as you drive into Arrowhead Marsh (5/17/19).

Here's a distant photo-

Re: Chabot Regional Park--Clyde Woolridge Entrance


Taking Judith's recommendation, I went up to try out this route and
the resulting attached trip report #41 added Northern Pygmy-Owl to
species seen there. Thanks Judith for suggesting this spot as I was
really surprised how interesting it was. Before this hike I made
fairly quick stops at Elsie Roemer (no shorebirds, no Brant) and
Arrowhead Marsh (2 White-faced Ibises, 3 Red-necked Phalaropes and a
single Western Wood-Pewee.

The Pygmy-Owl had a dead bird in it's grasp. I'd be interested to hear
opinions on what species folks think it might be.

Derek Heins
Piedmont, CA

On Tue, May 7, 2019 at 3:09 PM judith_dnhm <jldunham@...> wrote:

I stumbled upon another spot in the East Bay hills with little eBird coverage. The Clyde Woolridge Staging Area of Anthony Chabot Regional Park had only 39 checklists over all years. Lydia Huang and I made it 40 this morning with our 5.8-mile hike.

We started at the staging area where Skyline Boulevard meets Grass Valley Road. From there we went down Jackson Grade to the Cascade Trail, which we took all the way to the northern arm of the lake. The habitat is diverse, typical of Chabot: grassland, oak woodland, and bay trees and dense vegetation filling the canyon through which Grass Valley Creek flows.

Our FOS species were SWAINSON'S THRUSH and CASSIN'S VIREO. Birdsong was continuous: Black-headed Grosbeak, Wilson's Warbler, Warbling Vireo. The bonus was a nice selection of wildflowers, including a number of globe lilies.

Judith Dunham
Berkeley, CA

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Kay Loughman

For the *tenth* year since 1997, we've had a Rose-breasted Grosbeak visit our feeders!  Likely some of the sightings, as in consecutive years, were of the same bird - no way to know.  Mostly it's been males, but in at least two years there was also a female. Our yard has for decades been "grosbeak central", and we have several pairs of Black-headed Grosbeaks visiting our feeders again this year.  This morning's special guest was here only briefly before he was chased off by one of our highly territorial scrub-jays.    Fortunately, my camera was close by.  See a few photos <> here.

Kay Loughman
in the hills on the Berkeley-Oakland border
Note new email address: kayloughman@...

Cormorant Nests at Lake Merritt

Hilary Powers

The Double-crested Cormorants are back! This morning the nests on the bare trees all had cormorants sitting in them or beside them or arranging new sticks that others were bringing in.

Dunno why this year's breeding season had a hole in it....

~ Hilary Powers - Hilary@... - Oakland CA ~

~; ~

~ Needle Felted Sculpture - Real and Fantasy Creatures ~

Bald Eagle 680 near Stoneridge My first Bay Area sighting


After 64 years,/10 months and 4 days I finally get to see a Bald Eagle in the Bay Area. I have seen them elsewhere from Lassen to Coco Beach, FL where they are as ubiquitous as the local night herons in Oakland hanging at KFC.. Had just gotten onto 680 from the Stoneridge on ramp (just after 6:25pm) and by the grove of Eucalyptus trees there were up to a dozen turkey vultures flying around and over the freeway which is pretty unusual, so I looked around and on my left over the canal I spotted a small bird harassing a larger one, thinking it might have been another vulture except it was moving around a lot, then I noticed the lighter head and then the white tail. YaYYYYY!! I wish I could have pulled over, was very tempted, but drove on. The smaller bird was really letting the Bald Eagle have it. My gf works in the area and thinks that she has seen it around as well. Finally!!!!

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

Look up everyone

Aaron Maizlish

There are dozens and dozens of White-throated Swifts and a few Vaux’s Swift flying with the swallows around Berkeley Meadow. With this low cloud cover this morning in the middle of migration, the swifts are low. It might be our best chance to find a Black Swift in migration. I haven’t found one yet but please look up everybody if you’re on the eastshore.

Aaron Maizlish

Precarious Oystercatcher nest at Ballena Bay, Alameda


A pair of Black Oystercatchers has nested for years on an section of boat decking moored as a bird refuge next to a seawall. The Ballena Bay Marina was purchased by a new company and they have removed the deck. The pair resorted to making a precarious nest on the seawall.
As of this photo they had laid two eggs (one has a shadow crossing it) and a day later there were three.
I think their chances of a successful brood are minimal.

Photo with two eggs:

Lawrence's Goldfinches on Mt. Diablo


Jim Chiropolos and I biked to the summit of Mount Diablo from the
north gate side with some well-timed rest stops for birding. Our final
stop was Muir Picnic Area which is roughly 2 miles from the summit,
where we had good looks at three Lawrence's Goldfinches for a few
seconds before they flew off. The goldfinches, like us, were
likely using the area as a rest stop before moving on.

Links below from our ride.

Derek Heins

Red Phalarope at Lake Merritt

David Robinson

Yesterday afternoon, two friends separately texted me to ask if I could
identify an unusual bird at Lake Merritt. Each sent a pic:

Red Phalarope!

Maybe it’ll be back today.

Happy Memorial Day!
Sent from an iPhone or iPad. Blame Apple for any errors in spelling,
phrasing, content, layout -- any errors whatsoever. And since I'm using
Gmail, feel free to blame Google too.

Jean Richmond in memoriam


Bob Richmond phoned us this morning to say that his mom, Jean Richmond, passed away last night.  For many years now, Jean knew that I would introduce her as the world famous author of the 1985 book, Birding Northern California.  It would bring a chuckle to her to hear it.  She was 92 years old and was predeceased by her husband, Morland, better known to the world as Rich.
Jean's involvement with the Mt. Diablo Audubon Society is generally well known.  In the late 70s and the 80s, she was the editor of our newsletter, The Quail, for 10 years.

Hugh B. HarveyWalnut Creek

Black Tern continues at Hayward Regional Shoreline

Bill Clark

The Black Tern, reported since around May 7th and seen daily by Bob Richmond, continues at Hayward Regional Shoreline. It has a black body and head, with gray wings, helping it stand out from the Forster's and Least Terns.

Despite been reported daily, this is NOT an easy bird to find.
From the Interpretive Center (off Hwy 92), walk north about 1.2 miles, then right at an intersection for 0.1 miles to the Least Tern sign. There's a barrier there to prevent people from disturbing the nesting birds. Do not cross the barrier.
From that vantage point, looking south-east, about 200 yds away is a long island covered with white shells or rocks. This island is home to about 30 Black Skimmers. Those are really cool birds, but right now, they are a distraction.
Just beyond that island, is a small muddy unremarkable island in the middle of the pond. This island has terns. Unfortunately, between the distance, the heat shimmer, and your shivers from the cold and fog, you can't make out any of the terns. If you wait long enough, they take flight. After 30 minutes of waiting, a Black Tern took off, hovered tantalizingly, and then flew behind the damn island. After another 30 minutes of shivering, he took off again... a gust caught him, and he flew 5-6 ft above the island, and I was able to get a picture. Note, I went at 6:30am in hopes that the cold would prevent heat shimmer and enable better pics.
Here's a pic, with a bunch of Skimmers in the foreground.

Bill Clark
Livermore, CA

Black-necked stilt chicks at Garretson Point

Megan Jankowski

There is a pair of stilts with at least two chicks in the seasonal wetland
at Garretson Point. I am watching one fluff ball exploring while one adult
broods and the other adult forages. They are pretty close to the fence line
but there’s a good amount of foliage in the way, especially if you are

Directions: walk down the paved path next to the seasonal wetland. Stand
just past the first bench where the bushes open up slightly and look in.
The adult is sitting on a tuft of green grass amongst much browner stuff.
If you walk past where the bushes end you can look back and see them too.

The chick just came and got under the adult. And another chick was
visible. Since they are mobile no guarantee they’ll be in the same spot
very long.

Megan Jankowski

Re: Red Phalarope at Lake Merritt

Teale Fristoe

I went to Lake Merritt this morning in hopes of catching the Red Phalarope.
Unfortunately it was no where to be found, but what I did find was a bunch
of Least Terns. 14 at once was my highest count. I used to live near Lake
Merritt but never saw this species there. I see on ebird that they seem to
be regular in May as of 2017, which is exciting news since the lake is
otherwise a bit of a wasteland in the summer.

If anyone's interested in seeing these charismatic birds at an accessible
location, they were frequently out on the buoys, easily visible from the
benches near the geodesic dome. I also spent some time on the other side of
the lake from this location, and the terns would sometimes fly very close
to shore while foraging.

My full ebird checklist:

Happy birding,
Teale Fristoe

On Mon, May 27, 2019 at 6:37 AM David Robinson <dvdrobinson@...>

Yesterday afternoon, two friends separately texted me to ask if I could
identify an unusual bird at Lake Merritt. Each sent a pic:

Red Phalarope!

Maybe it’ll be back today.

Happy Memorial Day!
Sent from an iPhone or iPad. Blame Apple for any errors in spelling,
phrasing, content, layout -- any errors whatsoever. And since I'm using
Gmail, feel free to blame Google too.

Tuesday in East Contra Costa


Paul and Nancy Schorr and I drove to Piper Slough this morning to see what we could find.  They were unable to attend the MDAS field trip earlier this month.  We had some good birds in the Piper Slough area including a Black-chinned Hummingbird on the wires and a Great Horned Owl chick to the west at a nest.  We certainly heard Bullock's Oriole and Black-headed Grosbeak, but never found one.  We debated whether we heard parts of a Yellow-breasted Chat song.

We had a couple of Western Kingbirds around the Bethel Harbor area, but we did not climb the stairs and levee to look out over Frank's Tract.

We also stopped along Marsh Creek just after noon, using the access at Frank Hengel Way and Monet Drive.  Almost directly across from us we found a singing male Blue Grosbeak. 

The temperatures were pleasantly mild and the breeze was refreshing.
Hugh B. HarveyWalnut Creek