Heather Farm Park in Walnut Creek Wednesday


For quite a while in the spring/early summer we see a Caspian Tern flying over the large pond in Walnut Creek's Heather Farm Park.  Usually it is very early, around 7 AM, though sometimes as late as 8.  Today, I went late and the Caspian Tern was present at 10 AM.  Sometimes it is there in the evening, too, but I have not been there lately to check in the evening.
We also have a couple of Green Herons and sometimes a couple of Night-Herons along the edges of the big pond.  The hillside below the houses have some oaks and a Red-shouldered Hawk, sometimes two, also, often sit overlooking the grassy slope.
The city has been having a pond skimming machine clean the big pond.  They have been working since June 30.  This paddle-wheel vehicle has a wide chain-like conveyor which scoops the algae out of the pond and into a hopper.  The eclipse-plumage Mallards mostly swim to another part of the pond to avoid the machine.
Hugh B. HarveyWalnut Creek

Red-necked Grebe Copntinues

Ralph Pericoli

The Red-necked Grebe found by Tony Brake and reported by Phred Benham continues in the Sandpiper Spit area. I saw it this morning at 9 AM and watched it resting and preening on the water until I left 1/2 hour later. It was just off the smallest cove west of Sandpiper Spit. It was an easy spot as it was the only bird on the water at that time.

Photo can be found on eBird Checklist:

Good Birding,

Red-necked Grebe in Pt. Richmond

The RED-NECKED GREBE was still present at the location provided by Phred Benham.

Looking at eBird records, this seems to be very unusual for this date. There are no eBird records in Contra Costa County, and only a handful anywhere in the bay for May-August.

Tony Brake

Red-necked Grebe- Point Richmond

Phred Benham

Hello all,
Tony Brake reported a Red-necked Grebe from Sandpiper spit in Point Richmond to e-bird earlier today.
I stopped by at 8:05pm and easily refound the bird here (37.908197, -122.376542). I observed it for about 10 minutes before it dove and disappeared around the corner.

Some pics are embedded in my ebird checklist for the area:

Good birding!

Phred M. Benham
NSF Postdoctoral Fellow
Museum of Vertebrate Zoology
University of California, Berkeley

11 White Tailed Kites in a tree

Madeline Brane

On the GGA bird hike today at Lafayette Community Center we saw 11 White Tailed Kites in a tree. They’re in a tree you can see from the hill that looks down on the St Mary’s Sports Fields. We assumed that this was 2 families living together.

Madeline Brane

Jewel Lake at Tilden: Pygmy Nuthatch, Swainson's Thrush, and Warbling Vireo

Lee Friedman

There are three different sightings mentioned briefly here, all at Jewel Lake.

1. Alan Kaplan led another excellent GGAS walk yesterday, which led to some terrific views of Pygmy Nuthatches. Here are two photos, one showing a Pygmy with a Ladybug for food that it dug out of the cone on a pine tree (to be submitted to Doug Tallamy’s project “What do birds eat”):

Pygmy Nuthatch:

Pygmy Nuthatch with Ladybug:

1. Anyone who has been to Jewel Lake during the past two months has heard the magnificent ethereal singing of the Swainson’s Thrush (still ongoing). Below is a photo of one singing, and a short 17 second video of it:

Swainson’s Thrush photo:

Swainson’s Thrush singing in video:

1. Finally, I observed a Warbling Vireo nest at Jewel Lake. I discovered it on June 5, when a parent was incubating the eggs:

Warbling Vireo incubating on nest:

By June 18, there were nestlings. I could see the begging open beaks of two, although there may have been other siblings that I could not see. I observed them being fed yellow and green caterpillars, and an insect that I think was a bee (also for Doug Tallamy’s project). Both parents fed the nestlings (sometimes at the same time). Here is a photo of one parent bringing the green caterpillar down into the nest:

Warbling Vireo on nest with green caterpillar:

When I returned on July 5, the nest was vacant.

Good birding all,

Lee Friedman

Pt. Pinole Lazuli Buntings

Sheila Dickie

Yesterday, July 5, at 4 p.m. I saw two male Lazuli Buntings flying back and forth across the Sobrante Trail at Pt. Pinole Regional Shoreline Park. The Sobrante Trail runs along one side of the Atlas Parking lot. The sighting which was a first for me at this park was near the trail's junction with Cooks Point Trail. Also seen, in a large tree at the intersection of the two trails, a Nuttall's Woodpecker, a species that I had not seen or heard in the park for a long time. Very breezy out there yesterday with low numbers except for 14 Double-crested Cormorants out on the old pier pilings at the Point, two Black Oystercatchers also on the old pier, and a flyover of 5 Snowy Egrets. Tree and Cliff Swallows also flying about at high speed out near the Whittell Marsh and Pier.

Sheila Dickie

Tilden Olive Sided Flycatcher


Speaking of Tilden, I heard (never saw) an Olive Sided Flycatcher both Saturday and Sunday in the general vicinity of Inspiration Point. It seems late—I didn’t think they nested here—but I’m happy to be corrected.

Jay Dodge, Berkeley

Re: Blue-gray gnatcatchers on lower Meadows Canyon Trail, Tilden


On Jul 1, 2019, at 1:16 PM, Pam Young via Groups.Io <> wrote:

Two blue-gray gnatcatchers - appeared to be one male and one female - foraged on and near lower Meadows Canyon Trail in Tilden Park on Saturday afternoon, June 29.

Good birding!

Pam Young

Hooded Orioles and Black-Headed Grosbeak in Hercules

Susana dT

The Hooded Oriole families are hanging out near the feeder. I am replenishing it twice a day now. I have a hard time distinguishing mother from kids, these might be 4 kids and adult male. Video here:

The Black Headed-Grosbeak decided to try the Oriole's menu. Video here:

Blue-gray gnatcatchers on lower Meadows Canyon Trail, Tilden

Pam Young

Two blue-gray gnatcatchers - appeared to be one male and one female - foraged on and near lower Meadows Canyon Trail in Tilden Park on Saturday afternoon, June 29.

Good birding!

Pam Young

Hooded Orioles and Black-Headed Grosbeak in Hercules

Susana dT

We had three pairs of Hooded Orioles at out feeder this season and they are now bringing their kids. There was a little bird bath fight today, video here:

A male Black-Headed Grosbeak has been a regular at the feeder too, I have not seen a female yet. Video here:

Summer Tanager on Mount Diablo

Robert Raffel

A Summer Tanager was spotted today along Green Ranch Road on Mount Diablo. I did not see it when I hiked out, but on my return trip, it flew across the road in front of me. More details on ebird.

Robert Raffel

Re: Chestnut-sided Warbler in North Berkeley


I tried for it for about 90 minutes this morning starting at 7:30
(with Henry Burton) and then again at noon but no luck. I've never
been there before and was surprised how birdy it was. I posted ebird
using the Rose Garden hot-spot which is adjacent to the park and was
included in the area I birded.

Derek Heins

On Sun, Jun 23, 2019 at 8:13 AM Oliver James <> wrote:

Hello East Bay Birders,

An adult male Chestnut-sided Warbler was first detected singing and then located @ 1 pm on Saturday June 22nd in North Berkeley near Live Oak Park. No photos were obtained. I've not checked to see if this bird continues today (Sunday the 23rd).

Location: Cordonices Creek crosses underneath Walnut St. on the eastern border of Live Oak Park in North Berkeley. Bird was heard and seen in the flowering trees in the creek bed just east of where Cordonices Creek crosses under Walnut St.

Good birding,

Oliver James

Chestnut-sided Warbler in North Berkeley

Oliver James

Hello East Bay Birders,

An adult male Chestnut-sided Warbler was first detected singing and then located @ 1 pm on Saturday June 22nd in North Berkeley near Live Oak Park. No photos were obtained. I've not checked to see if this bird continues today (Sunday the 23rd).

Location: Cordonices Creek crosses underneath Walnut St. on the eastern border of Live Oak Park in North Berkeley. Bird was heard and seen in the flowering trees in the creek bed just east of where Cordonices Creek crosses under Walnut St.

Good birding,

Oliver James

Hooded Orioles


While editing my ebird entries from this afternoon's bike ride along
the east bay shoreline, including a pair of Hooded Orioles at Oyster
Bay, i noticed a shadow larger than the usual hummingbird's coming
from outside the front window of my house on Dudley Ct. in Piedmont.
I peeked through the blind to find a female Hooded Oriole a couple
feet away in our grevillea bush. I believe this is the first one in my
yard in a couple years; when seen here it's always been in the same

Derek Heins

Hayward Elegant Tern question


Maybe I missed it with all the postings about terns at Hayward, but are the Elegants breeding there?
If so, is this the first season that Elegants have bred at Hayward?

As you probably know, Elegant Terns are nesting for the first time at Don Edwards NWR at the west end of the Dumbarton Bridge.

Steve Lombardi
San Ramon

Re: [CALBIRDS] [EBB-Sightings] Sandwich Tern (6/16/2019) - photos

Bob Toleno

As one of the observers who saw a medium-sized dark-billed tern with a
yellowish bill tip yesterday at Hayward Regional Shoreline, i want to lay
out the timeline and my own analysis of the situation as i see it. On 6/15
at 2:40pm, Bob Richmond found, and then later both he and John Luther
observed what they described as an adult Sandwich Tern in the main tern
nesting pond at Hayward Regional Shoreline. Their observations are recorded
in the eBird checklists below:

I can't comment on their sightings other than to note that they were likely
significantly closer than we were for the majority of their observation
time than i and the other observers the next day were. (They are both
permitted to be inside an area where the general public is not allowed.)
Also, i don't know of any photographs that either of them acquired on 6/15.

The next morning (6/16), Jerry Ting, Juli Chamberlin, Bob Dunn, Joel Herr,
and myself spent several hours scoping the tern nesting pond from the Least
Tern sign, the closest publicly accessible spot to view this pond. Jerry
had arrived the earliest, and had already observed a few Elegant Terns
along with one dark-billed tern with a yellowish tip that he obtained a
distant, blurry flight shot of. All of those terns had settled on the far
side of the NE island in the tern pond by the time the rest of us had
arrived. This island is roughly 300-350 meters from where we were standing.
Knowing the bird in question was likely on the back side of that island, we
kept a close watch there.

While we waited, an Elegant Tern or two would occasionally pop up from the
back side of the NE island, then settle back down, sometimes in view,
sometimes out of view. About 70-80 minutes after Juli and i arrived, a
medium-sized black-billed tern with a yellowish tip to the bill flew out
from the back side of that island and landed on the front side, where it
spent the next 15-20 minutes preening and getting us all very excited.
Through our 85mm Swarovski ATX scope with 50x magnification and a 1.7x
magnification extender, we could tell that the bill tip was distinctly
yellowish, with the yellow restricted to approximately the last one inch of
the bill. One oddity was that there seemed to be some pale coloration at
the base of the bill, visible with scope magnification cranked up to the
max (~85x). We knew that some juvenile Sandwich Terns show pale coloration
beyond the tip, but in other respects the bird appeared to be an adult (and
had been described as an adult bird by the two observers from 6/15). The
forehead showed some white, which seemed to indicate it was starting to
transition from alternate to basic plumage, though the black covered the
crown and extended down to the nape. Wing color appeared very pale gray
with darker gray wingtips, and legs were pure black. Crest did not appear
quite as long and shaggy as Elegant Terns.

After approximately 15-20 minutes of preening on the front of that island,
the bird in question flew. It circled around the back of the tern pond then
turned and headed roughly in our direction toward the bay. While flying
past us at a distance of no more than 20-40 meters, Jerry Ting managed to
get a couple of flight shots of the bird, which can be seen in his eBird
checklist here:

Those shots clearly show fairly extensive orange coloration at the base of
both the upper and lower mandible. They also show the yellow coloration at
the tip seeming to blend somewhat with the black coloration and extend
further down the bill instead of ending in a crisp demarcation that would
normally be expected on Sandwich Tern. The structure of the bill also seems
longer and "droopy" at the tip, exactly like the structure of an Elegant
Tern bill. None of this was evident from our distant scope views, but i'm
confident that the bird in the flight shots is the same one we observed
preening on the front of the island. When i shared this photo with Alvaro
Jaramillo, his opinion was that the photographed bird is an aberrant
dark-billed but otherwise pure Elegant Tern, not a hybrid. Other expert
opinions may differ, but it seems clear that either way, the bird we
observed on 6/16 was not a pure Sandwich Tern.

This leaves open the question about the bird observed on 6/15. I see just
two possibilities:
1) There were two medium-sized terns that both have mostly black bills with
a yellow tip, both present in the same area at roughly the same time,
associating loosely with a small flock of Elegant Terns, one of which was
seen by on 6/15 but (probably) not photographed, and one of which was seen
and/or photographed on 6/16 by myself and others, *yet at no time did any
observers see these two dark-billed terns with yellowish bill tips together*
2) There was just one tern with a yellow-tipped black-ish bill, and the
bird seen on 6/15 is the same tern that Jerry photographed on 6/16.

Given the relative rarity of dark-billed Elegant Terns in general, and the
extreme rarity of Sandwich Terns in California, it seems to me unlikely
that one of each would show up at the same time in the same place, but
never be observed together. In the absence of any other photographic
evidence or further sightings of the putative second bird, i think the most
parsimonious explanation is possibility #2 above. I was not present on
6/15, and the observers on that date were very likely much closer to the
bird than we were, so it is entirely possible that the "two-bird theory" is
true. I'll let the observers from 6/15 make their own case for their
sighting. I've edited my own eBird report to dark-billed Elegant Tern for
the bird i observed on 6/16.

Bob Toleno

On Sun, Jun 16, 2019 at 10:27 PM Todd Easterla <>

Surprised no one, other than John Sterling who is out of the country has
commented whether the TERN seen and photographed today by a small group of
birders was or is a hybrid, or not....? Fritz Steurer and my self did not
actually see the bird, but were shown images of the bird and it seemed to
clearly show a small amount of orange on the bill, about Midway down the
bill mostly on the lower mandible, which would clearly put this bird on the
hybrid side.

Maybe, it was just an artifact of light but in the photo on the back of
the photographers camera it sure seemed to be orange in color, with a
yellow tipped mostly black bill.

Maybe this group and the photographer will post something about it at a
later date ( hopefully sooner than later) so others that don't want to
chase a possible hybrid, will not.


Todd Easterla
El Dorado Hills, Ca.

Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone

-------- Original message --------
From: John Sterling <>
Date: 6/16/19 8:37 PM (GMT-08:00)
Subject: Re: [EBB-Sightings] Sandwich Tern (6/16/2019) - photos

I received a text message from an expert who I totally trust who saw the
bird and determined that it was a hybrid. I’ll let him comment but just
wanted to get the word out. Several records in recent years in California
have proven to be hybrids. I’m in China so I haven’t seen the bird.
John Sterling
530 908-3836
26 Palm Ave
Woodland, CA 95695

On Jun 17, 2019, at 10:26 AM, Jerry Ting via Groups.Io <jtnikon=> wrote:

As Bob Toleno stated in his previous posts, the Sandwich Tern reported
by Bob Richmond and John Luther continued to be seen in the tern colony
pond in Hayward Marsh that can be seen (using a scope) from the Least Tern
sign and spent most of the time preening on the south side of the island
(37.630029, -122.144366) on northeast of the Least Tern island. I have
included 2 distant shots of the bird in my eBird report in which you can
see the yellowish tip on the dark bill and dark legs.

Happy Birding,
Jerry Ting

Re: Sandwich Tern (6/16/2019) - photos

Jerry Ting

Serve as a messenger here.
Bob Dunn finds some information on Sibley Guides website about the juvenile/immature Sandwich Tern bill coloration which might stir up more discussions about this interesting tern found in Hayward Marsh. Here is the link:

And here is the link to images with different colors/shapes of presumed juvenile SATE or possible SATE x ELTE hybrid:

I have changed my eBird sighting from SATE to SATE x ELTE (with the comments that it could be as well a dark billed ELTE) and added 2 more photos. Here is the updated checklist:

Happy Birding,
Jerry Ting

Monday morning in Heather Farm Park


It is not that we have not continued to check birds in Walnut Creek, but there has not been a reason to report anything special until today.  And even the concept of special is subject to interpretation.  Today we had an adult Black-crowned Night-Heron for the first time in a long while, and as we were walking north on the east side of the large pond, Fred spotted something flying south over the water--a Great Blue Heron.   We have not seen one of them in the park for a long time, either.
Otherwise it was plenty of House Finches, Black Phoebes, both Nuttall's and Downy Woodpeckers making noise or being seen, along with some Barn, Violet-Green and Cliff Swallows.  The latter were over the canal bridge spanning the concrete channel of Walnut Creek below the Seven Hills School.  We often see a Red-shouldered Hawk, Song Sparrows are around the entire pond, the occasional Cal Towhee and usually a family of Bushtits, all of which are the regular population in the park and why there has been not much point in reporting.
Hugh B. Harveyalive and well in Walnut Creek

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