Date   

Patterson Pass Hawks (Not) and other birds….

Jim Chiropolos
 

Since my days doing tallgrass prairie restoration and breeding bird surveys in Illinois a long time ago, I have always enjoyed grasslands. In the bay area, the best grasslands are off Patterson Pass and it’s one of my favorite birding and biking routes. Yesterday I biked up Patterson pass from the Cedar Mountain Winery to the county line where development starts in San Joaquim county and back, my standard route.

I was amazed at how few hawks there were. I only saw ONE!!! Red-tailed hawk off Patterson pass road!!. In past years doing the route and bailing due to heavy fog at the pass have seen more redtail-hawks with visibility of 40 feet in fog and visibility yesterday was great with the Sierras in view from the pass. Past checklists for this time when I have biked with good visibility I have counts of 20 or red-tails along the route!!! I think this shows how severely the drought is affecting the prey species of redtails and large raptors (no harriers either). I only saw two 2 TVs, one Golden Eagle and a beautiful rusty Ferruginous Hawk to complete the large raptor count! Astonishing low numbers. It’s a good thing birds have wings as the hawks must be somewhere else to find food. I have suspected all year that it is a very low number of raptors this winter and this is a good example.

I was surprised to see a good number of Loggerhead Shrikes however. I saw at least nine, with what appeared to be four pairs and saw one territorial battle between two pairs of shrikes (the high count for Patterson Pass in eBird is 11). They were quite loud with their fascinating buzzing calls. Their food source must not be as severely impacted as the hawks.

The highlight of the day was a group of 1,000 to 2,000 blackbirds on a cottonwood next to the road near the power plant. Most were trikes (Tri-colored Blackbirds), with some red-shouldered blackbirds. Trikes, a California endemic with plummeting population numbers, are colonial nesters and forage in very tight groups. Watching trike is fascinating, like watching a colony of nesting seabirds as they feed. They put out a lot of noise, and the din from the flock was quite impressive.

At the winery, mountain bluebirds were present as usual. I think I missed the big flock, which were flying away just as I arrived at 10:15.

And I have one more thing for the listers out there. A Cassin’s Kingbird is at the intersection of Tesla and Cross roads on fenceposts and wires – this is a good spot for them as I have seen them here in the past. I am now seeing Cassin’s on a regular basis in the winter in the greater Livermore area over the last two years. Only six or seven years back, a Cassin’s Kingbird would draw large numbers of county listers when found in Alameda county but now to a lister, it’s just another bird. I’m going to predict in the next year or two, a chaseable Cassin’s will be found in Contra Costa county several miles north, as I think they are moving their range north. Its funny, that bird will draw hoards of listers while the same species several miles would be considered not worth watching. What a beautiful bird they are, especially in the winter.

Good birding

Jim Chiropolos
Orinda


7 Black Skimmers at Middle Harbor Shoreline

Megan Jankowski
 

There was a good variety at Middle Harbor Shoreline today, but the highlight were seven Black Skimmers. I arrived just a little after high tide, but it looks like they were seen in the morning and yesterday as well.

Megan Jankowski
Oakland


Re: Black Skimmers on Bay outside Richmond Marina

Ethan Monk
 

You beat me to it... yesterday at 930 am there was also a Skimmer (presumably one of the pair) on Brooks Island just East of the Heron Rookery. Photos in eBird soon. Presumably they will behave like last year and return to Brooks to roost at random and unpredictable hours. 

Ethan Monk

On Jan 31, 2021, at 3:40 PM, Lee Friedman <lfried6@...> wrote:


Yesterday (Saturday 1/30) at around 4:30PM, I was treated to the delightful sight of two Black Skimmers plying the waters along the Bay's coast from the Richmond Marina entrance down to Shimada Park and back again. I was standing at Vincent Park looking out at the Bay side. They may have been heading towards Brooks Island as a resting spot.
 
 
Good birding,
Lee Friedman




Black Skimmers on Bay outside Richmond Marina

Lee Friedman
 

Yesterday (Saturday 1/30) at around 4:30PM, I was treated to the delightful sight of two Black Skimmers plying the waters along the Bay's coast from the Richmond Marina entrance down to Shimada Park and back again. I was standing at Vincent Park looking out at the Bay side. They may have been heading towards Brooks Island as a resting spot.
 
 
Good birding,
Lee Friedman


Harris's Sparrow

Jim Yurchenco
 

The previously reported Harris’s Sparrow was seen well again today at midday in Fremont’s Pacific Linear Park along the black chain link fence separating the paved path that dead ends into Noble Drive from the large industrial parking lot to the northwest. The bird seemed to prefer the parking lot side of the fence. It was associating with a large group of White and Golden-crowned Sparrows.

Also seen in the park today were a Golden Eagle, Bald Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, and a Great-tailed Grackle.

James Yurchenco, Amy Lauterbach
Palo Alto, CA


Re: Mallard hybrid at Meeker Slough

Melani King
 

Thanks for the feedback everyone. I’m going to change my eBird report to Mallard (Domestic) for this one. 

I do think it’s a pretty duck!

-Melani King
Pt. Richmond

On Jan 30, 2021, at 8:59 PM, Hilary Powers <hilary@...> wrote:

On 1/30/2021 6:58 PM, Melani King wrote:
Today I saw a Mallard hybrid while birding Meeker Slough in Richmond. Does anyone have any idea what this mallard has hybridized with? Photo is on my eBird report.
https://ebird.org/checklist/S80164267

That russet chestnut is interesting - but I'd be surprised if it's anything but a domestic Mallard mashup.... There are so many many possibilities.

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~            Hilary Powers - Hilary@... - Oakland CA          ~
~  www.salamanderfeltworks.com; www.Etsy.com/shop/SalamanderFeltworks ~
~         Needle Felted Sculpture - Real and Fantasy Creatures        ~





Re: High number of wood ducks @ Valle Vista it’s a.m.

don_quixote72
 

Here is the information I received from ebmud

Hikers along Upper San Leandro Reservoir may notice lower supply levels as EBMUD uses this local reservoir to supply more water than usual to accommodate various construction projects in our water system. In addition, EBMUD is also managing our water supply during a second dry weather year. Our intent is to refill USL later in the spring.


Re: High number of wood ducks @ Valle Vista it’s a.m.

Fred Werner
 

Does anyone have info on why the Upper San Leandro Reservoir has been lowered so much, why EBMUD is cutting so many trees in the Valle Vista area, and what their plans are?  Went to Valle Vista today and was shocked to see the reservoir doesn't even reach there at the moment.  The only water was restricted to the old creek, carving a deep channel through the broad desolate mudflats, with channel banks so steep you can't see the water (let alone the few birds) in most of it.  Very few waterbirds, no grebes or geese, the few ducks and coots mostly confined to the stretch around the farthest bend visible in the distance from the main trail.

Similarly, the creek as it runs under the bridge is very shallow with steep barren banks on both sides.  First time I've been there and not seen a single bird from the bridge in either direction.

Also, lots of trees have been cut along the trials as mentioned earlier.  Even if they're non-native, it seems like another habitat disruption. Would be great to hear some explanation of EBMUD's plans around this normally fabulous spot.

- Fred Werner


On Sat, Jan 30, 2021 at 9:29 AM <rudebuschj@...> wrote:
Hello,

This morning around 9:00 I counted 16 wood ducks at Valle Vista, the highest by far I’ve seen here. The caveat being that a spotting scope is almost certainly required because of how distant they are in that main water channel. The four canvasback also continue, as well as some other mixed waterfowl (again, quite far out).

Other than that and the varied thrush I heard from the parking lot, the overall diversity and quantity here continues to be lower than average. Just one line RTHA as far as raptors go. Water levels in the res are very low. Trails are a little muddy but not bad, and there’s been some tree work done recently. Large oak has toppled over on the Riche Loop but someone has cut a path around it through the brush.

I will have a complete eBird list you can find under my name I’m the hotspot but I don’t have the link at the time of writing this.

Happy birding,

Jane in Orinda, CA




Re: Mallard hybrid at Meeker Slough

Hilary Powers
 

On 1/30/2021 6:58 PM, Melani King wrote:
Today I saw a Mallard hybrid while birding Meeker Slough in Richmond. Does anyone have any idea what this mallard has hybridized with? Photo is on my eBird report.
https://ebird.org/checklist/S80164267

That russet chestnut is interesting - but I'd be surprised if it's anything but a domestic Mallard mashup.... There are so many many possibilities.

--
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~            Hilary Powers - Hilary@... - Oakland CA          ~
~  www.salamanderfeltworks.com; www.Etsy.com/shop/SalamanderFeltworks ~
~         Needle Felted Sculpture - Real and Fantasy Creatures        ~


Re: Mallard hybrid at Meeker Slough

Bob Lewis
 

Hi Melani,

https://terriermandotcom.blogspot.com/2019/01/hybrid-ducks-are-common.html calls this a "Bibbed Mallard" and says it's a cross between a mallard and a domestic farm duck "of some sort." I found a couple of images of very similar ducks on the web, but no good documentation of ancestry.

Bob Lewis
Berkeley

-----Original Message-----
From: EBB-Sightings@groups.io <EBB-Sightings@groups.io> On Behalf Of Melani King
Sent: Saturday, January 30, 2021 6:59 PM
To: EBB-Sightings@groups.io
Subject: [EBB-Sightings] Mallard hybrid at Meeker Slough

Today I saw a Mallard hybrid while birding Meeker Slough in Richmond. Does anyone have any idea what this mallard has hybridized with? Photo is on my eBird report.
https://ebird.org/checklist/S80164267

Melani King
Pt. Richmond


No Dipper

Max Laubstein
 

Hi all,
This morning I went to Sunol regional wilderness to look for the Dipper. I haven't seen any reports since the "atmospheric river" event, and today I continued that trend, not being able to locate the bird after walking the length of the river several times. The water levels were remarkably high, likely flooding over many suitable rock perches. The water additionally smelled quite sulfuric and had an orange tinge–possibly from increased sediment dissolution due to the higher flow rates–factors that may also have played a role in the dipper's disappearance. Nevertheless, if the bird is overwintering, it's likely it's just relocated somewhere else in the stream where foraging conditions are better, and, as the river's level lowers, possibly it will return to the spot it's frequented recently.


Mallard hybrid at Meeker Slough

Melani King
 

Today I saw a Mallard hybrid while birding Meeker Slough in Richmond. Does anyone have any idea what this mallard has hybridized with? Photo is on my eBird report.
https://ebird.org/checklist/S80164267

Melani King
Pt. Richmond


Red-naped Sapsucker - Creek Rd., Brentwood - 1/30

Paul Schorr
 

For a little over two hours this morning Nancy and I searched for the Red-naped Sapsucker that was reported yesterday (1/29) on eBird by Bruce Brown. Finally, Nancy spotted a sapsucker that flew from the riparian area along Marsh Creek across Creek Rd. and into some evergreen trees just north of a small grove of large pepper trees where Bruce saw the bird yesterday. I was also able to get on the bird and was able to get a photo for identification purposes. There is a small Regional Trails Parking lot located at Concord Ave. and Bacchini Lane. From the parking lot, walk about 0.5 miles north to the sighting location.

Happy birding.

Paul Schorr
Antioch


Hawks but no Mountain Plovers

Cathy Bleier
 

Mountain Plovers continue to elude me on the Robinson/Flannery Road circuit, but it was nice to see the adult male Rough-legged Hawk (https://ebird.org/checklist/S80156780) and 2 Ferruginous Hawks (Zambie Rd at Hwy 12) (https://ebird.org/checklist/S80155875) in addition to many Kestrels, Loggerhead Shrikes and huge Killdeer flock. No Prairie Falcons; oh well. 


Black Throated Gray Warbler in Walnut Creek

fgsafier
 

This afternoon I took a walk in my Walnut Creek neighborhood (north end of Homestead/Seven Hills Ranch Road). Among the mildly unusual sightings I had a large Cooper's Hawk, probably an adult female, and a Red-shouldered Hawk, as well as a Downy Woodpecker in addition to the expected Acorn and Nuttall's. The outstanding bird was a male Black-throated Gray Warbler in the large oak at the very end of Homestead. I reported it to eBird (https://ebird.org/checklist/S80159284)with the following comments:
Warbler shape and bill. Active feeding high in an oak. Strongly marked with black and white stripes on the face, thinner black streaks on the flanks; clearly a male: strongly marked black throat. This was not a Townsend's; I saw no yellow except for a pale wash on the breast. (Also, if it had a yellow spot on the lores, I could not see it.)
If eBird wishes to reject this observation on the grounds of rarity, and the fact that I cannot submit a photograph, that's OK, but I point out that this is not the first time that I have found a BT Gray Warbler in our neighborhood in January, and the last time the sighting was confirmed by m.ob.
Fred Safier


High number of wood ducks @ Valle Vista it’s a.m.

rudebuschj@...
 

Hello,

This morning around 9:00 I counted 16 wood ducks at Valle Vista, the highest by far I’ve seen here. The caveat being that a spotting scope is almost certainly required because of how distant they are in that main water channel. The four canvasback also continue, as well as some other mixed waterfowl (again, quite far out).

Other than that and the varied thrush I heard from the parking lot, the overall diversity and quantity here continues to be lower than average. Just one line RTHA as far as raptors go. Water levels in the res are very low. Trails are a little muddy but not bad, and there’s been some tree work done recently. Large oak has toppled over on the Riche Loop but someone has cut a path around it through the brush.

I will have a complete eBird list you can find under my name I’m the hotspot but I don’t have the link at the time of writing this.

Happy birding,

Jane in Orinda, CA


Pine Canyon Friday afternoon

rosita94598
 

It was a very nice afternoon following our overnight rain, so Rosita and I took a walk to the second meadow in Pine Canyon.  The highlight for me was actually twofold; we had Spotted Towhees under some trees before we reached the first picnic area, and we had a four-thrush day.  The four were Robin, Western Bluebird, Hermit Thrush and Varied Thrush. 

We spent a couple of hours walking and sitting at the benches at the top of the two meadows with a total of 23 species.  Very pleasant.

Hugh B. Harvey
Walnut Creek


Golden Eagle, Wildcat Canyon

Alan Krakauer
 

I just headed out in my neighborhood of East Richmond Heights to look for a rainbow (no luck), but while scanning across Wildcat Canyon I saw a strange dark spot on a hill above the Monte Cresta Trail in Wildcat Canyon Regional Park. My first thought was it was a person in a hoodie hunched over admiring the bay, but after I took a very distant photo and zoomed in as much as possible, I thought, could it be, GOLDEN EAGLE?! A moment later a raven came over to harass it, and it took flight, and yup, it was a Golden Eagle. It circled a couple of times then headed east over the ridge.

This isn't my first Golden Eagle here but maybe only my second, and both were 'waaaaaaay over there' sightings. If I'd been hiking that trail it looks like it would have been an amazing look.

It was pretty hawky as well with 3 Red-tails and a Sharp-shinned also visible in the Canyon and a Red-shouldered screaming overhead.

Good Birding, 
Alan Krakauer
Richmond, CA


High Tide at Arrowhead Marsh Jan. 28

rosita94598
 

What a great day at Arrowhead, and I was all alone.  Between the sun, the moon and the rain, the tide was extremely high.  Yes, it was raining even harder as I turned off the freeway and toward the airport  By the time I was parked around 10 AM and preparing to walk, it was raining but not quite as hard and an umbrella sufficed.  There was no wind at all, and after a short while it stopped raining altogether.  I walked back to the car, left the umbrella and returned with my scope.

Four Ridgeway's Rails were easily visible from the sidewalk as I walked out to toward the boardwalk.  No going between the bushes, no binoculars required.  Two more were seen out in the marsh beyond the boardwalk, first seen with my binoculars, then the scope.

Two pairs of Blue-winged Teal were close to the boardwalk, which was covered with Willets and Marbled Godwits, and some Black Turnstones and Dowitchers.  Some Greater White-fronted Geese were on the lawn near the wooden viewing structure, and a few Canada Geese were closer to the boardwalk.

Common Yellowthroats and Marsh Wrens were in the bushes along the edge, along with a number of White- and Golden-crowned Sparrow, and at least one each of Savannah Sparrow and Song Sparrow.

Way out in the flooded arrowhead, were four Great Blue Herons just sitting there, and a very wet looking female Northern Harrier.  Another female Harrier was eating something in the mitigation area beyond the fence as I drove out.  I could not believe how much trash was floating in the water today, it was more than disheartening.

I stopped briefly at Garretson Point, but there is no water in the pond at the end of the road.  I did find a Spotted Sandpiper along the edge of Damon Slough.  When I started home on the freeway about 12:30, it started raining again.

Hugh B. Harvey
Walnut Creek


Oh No - It’s a Dowitcher!

Graham Chisholm
 

Thanks Jim, I would recommend a on-line presentation by Jon Dunn to the Los Angeles Birders on exactly this issue -- Dowitcher identification -- it is archived and available for your viewing pleasure:  https://www.labirders.org/webinars/dowitchers.html

Graham Chisholm
Berkeley, CA



---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: Jim Chiropolos <jnc@...>
Date: Wed, Jan 27, 2021 at 4:58 PM
Subject: [EBB-Sightings] Oh No - It’s a Dowitcher!
To: <EBB-Sightings@groups.io>


Oh No! It’s a Dowitcher!

As I look at eBird reports (I am not an eBird reviewer) but I know many of them, I think there is no bigger problem in the birding community of identifying dowitchers. Most people who see a dowitcher positively identify it as either a long-billed or short billed dowitcher. Other birders, somehow, presumably ones who like big lists, whenever they see dowitchers, they always seem to identify both species of dowitchers if there are more than one. Obviously, there are some big problems in dowitcher ID - especially if they are not calling. I rarely see both species of dowitchers together, although it does happen, especially on migration.

If you do not know for sure which dowitcher “sp” it is, it is best to identify it as dowitcher, “sp”. My experience is many of the dowitchers on the bay are short billed, and dowitchers on freshwater ae more often than not long-billed. Birding my Emeryville patch, aside from migration where there is occiaisionally several long billed dowitchers when birds are moving, its almost always short billed.
Ebird lists are meant to be a tool for conservation, so mis id-ing dowitchers is a problem as it is showing their range incorrectly and population trends will not be based on actual information. Do not be part of the problem. I know that when I look at dowitchers, and I have stared at a lot, unless they are feeding and close-up I am not comfortable with their ID. So think about this email next time you are looking at dowitchers and you want to put the identity down as a dowitcher species. These lists are looked by many people who all have their ideas based on their observations, and the people that accept that they cannot positively identify every bird are accorded more respect than lists with poorly identified birds. If you are a photographer, take good pictures and send them to someone who knows feather patterns. (please not me however).

Its hard being a citizen scientist - but pretty cool too.

Good Birding!
Jim Chiropolos
Orinda





--
Graham Chisholm
c. +01-510-409-6603

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