Date   

A few birds at Lake Anza

Claude Lyneis
 

After all the rain this fall, Lake Anza looked a little better than last year when it stopped flowing in June,  but has a ways to go.  Around 2 pm on a clear afternoon, there were only a few birds visible. Some Buffleheads and a male and female Ring-necked Ducks.  They do look a lot like Scaups, but the white bar on their beak seems a good indicator that they are Ring-necked Ducks.  

Flickr photo link.  https://flic.kr/p/2mWzFs6


Cooper's Hawk in North Berkeley

Claude Lyneis
 

This morning I looked out the back window of our house in the 700 block of Keeler and saw a Cooper’s Hawk on the deck railing.  It took me some time to unpack my Nikon, but then it landed on the bird feeder structure.  Luck was with me and
I got  some photos.  It looks like an immature Cooper’s Hawk, probably the one my wife saw take a small bird about three months ago.  A beautiful bird with scary talons.

Link to the photo on Fiickr. https://flic.kr/p/2mWkbd5


Western Flycatcher

rfs_berkeley
 


There was a 'Western' Flycatcher at Berkeley Aquatic Park this morning in the bog about midpoint in the park. About 8:45 a.m.

Rusty Scalf

Berkeley, CA

--
 


Re: Friday in Heather Farm

Jim Roethe
 

I took a quick walk around the natural pond around 11:00 this morning.  Most surprising was a Cooper's Hawk in the trees on the West side of the  Pond and a flyover sharpie.
 
Jim Roethe

In a message dated 1/7/2022 2:07:38 PM Pacific Standard Time, rosita94598@... writes:
 
Walt D and I met in the park this morning and he had a 5-heron day, for me it was 4, and together we had a 2-merganser day.  It was the common waders seen by Walt; he had a Great Blue Heron, in the concrete pond near the private Seven Hills School, while approaching the park entrance over the Contra Costa Canal.  When we looked later together, it was no longer present.  And while I saw the Green Heron, Walt only heard it.
 
We were near the big oak with the green bench on the west side of the large, mostly natural pond, when another birder showed us a photo of a male Common Merganser.  This bird was located in the concrete pond near the community building.  We more or less raced our bikes in that direction and there it was.
 
While we were looking in the other concrete pond for the by then absent Great Blue Heron, we found a male Hooded Merganser.
 
There has been lots of activity this week, with widely varying numbers of birds.  At one point I counted 141 adult gulls on the north ball field, today it was about a dozen on the farthest south field.  They seem to be pretty evenly mixed between Ring-billed and Short-billed Gulls.  The numbers of Canada Geese also varies widely from more than 100 to around 20. 
 
The ducks are doing the same.  One day I had a pair of female Common Goldeneyes, another day a single Ring-necked Duck.  Today it was the mergansers.
 
A new year and new birding adventures . . . .
 
Hugh B. Harvey
Walnut Creek




Friday in Heather Farm

rosita94598
 

Walt D and I met in the park this morning and he had a 5-heron day, for me it was 4, and together we had a 2-merganser day.  It was the common waders seen by Walt; he had a Great Blue Heron, in the concrete pond near the private Seven Hills School, while approaching the park entrance over the Contra Costa Canal.  When we looked later together, it was no longer present.  And while I saw the Green Heron, Walt only heard it.

We were near the big oak with the green bench on the west side of the large, mostly natural pond, when another birder showed us a photo of a male Common Merganser.  This bird was located in the concrete pond near the community building.  We more or less raced our bikes in that direction and there it was.

While we were looking in the other concrete pond for the by then absent Great Blue Heron, we found a male Hooded Merganser.

There has been lots of activity this week, with widely varying numbers of birds.  At one point I counted 141 adult gulls on the north ball field, today it was about a dozen on the farthest south field.  They seem to be pretty evenly mixed between Ring-billed and Short-billed Gulls.  The numbers of Canada Geese also varies widely from more than 100 to around 20. 

The ducks are doing the same.  One day I had a pair of female Common Goldeneyes, another day a single Ring-necked Duck.  Today it was the mergansers.

A new year and new birding adventures . . . .

Hugh B. Harvey
Walnut Creek


male bufflehead with half streaked hood

mrkinch
 

In the slough to the east of the Landfill Loop trail I saw a male bufflehead the back half of whose hood was white streaked just about vertically with gray. The demarcation was sharp and the two areas were about equal. I didn't get a good look at the other side of his head. I'd never seen this but perhaps it's more common than I am aware? It was certainly striking.


Final Tally from Richmond CBC

Derek
 

The eBird Trip Report link below uses new functionality rolled out by eBird just in time for the CBC’s.  It is a very nice way to drill down on the data from our January 2 count day:

 

https://ebird.org/tripreport/29772

 

Some highlights from count week:

·       172 species, 5 better than our original projection.

·       Nine of the 172 species seen on count week not count day.

·       Highlight species of count week include Tundra Swan, Rock Wren, Caspian Tern, Heermann’s Gull, Black Scoter, Golden Eagle, Bald Eagle, Saw-whet Owl, Ferruginous Hawk and Short-eared Owl.

·       Amazingly, despite the king tide not one rail was seen on count day.  Other expected (our first count so a little hard to judge) but missed were Pine Siskin, Wood Duck and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.

·       48,677 birds seen of which 8,172 were not classified down to the species level; for example 4,475 were classified as Great/Lesser Scaup. 

·       180 total participants. We had quite a few cancels, possibly due to this being the first count but also to the Covid surge. But still a great turnout nonetheless as we originally set 150 as our goal.

 

One last thank you to everyone who helped make this event a successful launch.  This was also basically a kick-off of GGAS’s initiative to significantly increase its presence in Richmond and surrounding communities. Look for related announcements in the months ahead and please consider contributing to that effort.

 

Derek Heins and Karen Noel

Co-compilers

 


Port Costa Barrow's and Richmond misc. 2022

Ethan Monk
 

Today I spent a little while birding the town of Port Costa, and then
checking a few spots in Richmond. I've actually never birded in Port
Costa before besides driving McEwen Road for Rough-legged Hawks and
Horned Larks--I would have done the same today if McEwen wasn't in a
cloud. I walked the main drag in town from the pond to the water, and
then a half mile west along the Amtrak tracks. I had little of note
besides at least 17 Barrow's Goldeneyes mixed in with ~300 Common in
the Carquinez Strait. Counting was hard--each time a train went by the
flock would shuffle--but that was the highest Barrow's count I ever
reached in between trains. I wouldn't be surprised if there were more.
It is good to know numbers like this still winter in the county!

At Landfill Loop, two rare-in-Richmond Redhead continue since 12/11
when found by Jack Hayden, and down from a high count of 5 individuals
(12/17-12/19). Also uncommon in Richmond (especially away from
Miller/Knox) was a drake Hooded Merganser at Hilltop Lake. And on
January 2nd on the Richmond CBC covering Point San Pablo, our group
turned up a Gray-headed Orange-crowned Warbler by the turnoff to the
marina and a Rock Wren at Pt. Orient where one wintered 2018-2020,
possibly the same bird.

The best of a new year--
Ethan Monk


Re: Monday at Lake Merritt and Arrowhead Marsh

xaphod1001@...
 

I was so relieved to see your post re the Bald Eagle! I was looking out my Alameda kitchen window Monday at the visible patch of sky and saw--floating above--a huge bird (for Alameda) that could only be an eagle, most likely a subadult Bald from what I could see with my naked eye. But it disappeared behind a roof before I could grab my binocs, and the next thing I saw up there was an airplane on the SFO flight path. I thought I was losing my mind as well as my eyesight. I am reassured. Great to see an eagle over Alameda on its way to/from Arrowhead!

Ardith Betts
Alameda


Extra report for Monday Lake Merritt and Arrowhead birds

rosita94598
 

One of the MDAS field trip participants had some kind of Kingbird at the entrance of Martin Luther King Jr. Reg. Shoreline upon his arrival during our trip Monday.  He and I drove back toward the entrance, but of course did not see it.

After the group left Arrowhead Marsh, we birded Garretson Point.  When the group finally left, Alan drove back to the Shoreline entrance off Swan Way.  He was able to re-find the Kingbird and photograph it.  It was on the FedEx fence and in the first parking lot trees.  He sent me a photograph of the Tropical Kingbird later in the evening.

In addition, in the water beyond the first parking lot, he found and photographed a Long-billed Curlew.  Off Doolittle Drive he found a female Barrow's Goldeneye, which he also photographed.  These photos were also emailed to me.

Sorry for the delay in these reports.

Hugh B. Harvey
Walnut Creek


Re: Monday at Lake Merritt and Arrowhead Marsh

Matt Tarlach
 

It was fun running into the MDAS group at Arrowhead. I'd arrived earlier, and wound up staying later---after the king tide flooded the exit from the parking lot with deeper water than I was comfortable navigating in my Chevy Volt. As an addendum to your report:

Shortly after I arrived at the Arrowhead parking area I heard crows going crazy overhead, and looked up to see a Bald Eagle alighting on the tallest pole above the observation deck. It was perhaps a three-year-old bird with yellow beak and eyes, mostly brown with white coming in around the head and neck. The crows were unable to drive it off and eventually seemed to get bored, leaving it to perch there for ~20 minutes. Eventually the eagle flew out and back over the flooded marsh before heading off at low altitude toward the west. Magnificent bird, even in its immature plumage.

Right around high tide I counted an honest 20 rails out in the flooded marsh. Several were wading neck-deep in the water, and a couple of were perched on floating logs. Compared to egrets that I've seen standing nonchalantly on kelp out in the ocean swell, the perched rails appeared unsteady, and I imagined them to be nonplussed. I bet they were relieved when the tide rolled out again.
I think one of the rails on the most densely occupied island was a Virginia Rail. It appeared to be much smaller than the other rails nearby, and though it was long range I was pretty sure about the gray face and more vivid orange bill.

After the MDAS group left Arrowhead, two raptors had an acrobatic confrontation. One was certainly a Peregrine, the other had similar coloration but was much smaller, and I thought had a more delicate look. It might have been a large female Peregrine vs a small male but I thought the smaller bird might be a dark-backed Merlin. I was too far away and they were flying too acrobatically to be sure of its marks.

While waiting for the tide to ebb so I could escape the parking lot, I walked around the path to see the geese. Foraging in a grassy picnic area with ~40 Canadas were 2 Greater White-fronted Geese, and a Brant. In the trees along the dry-land spine of the park there were Yellow-rumped Warblers, another Yellowthroat and CA Towhee. I also had some Savannah Sparrow and one Fox Sparrow, on and near the little dry island west of the pier. There were a dozen Black Turnstone on the pier, among the larger shorebirds.

When the tide finally receded I drove out to Ballena Bay. Along with more of the same species we'd seen earlier there was a Common Loon fishing in the choppy bay, and a few Surf Scoters. While I was there 30 or 40 Brown Pelicans flew low past by the marina breakwater, heading east. I didn't think of pelicans as unusual but EBird popped up a red exclamation mark for the sighting, demanding an explanation, so thought I'd mention them.

--
----
Matt Tarlach
Walnut Creek


Monday at Lake Merritt and Arrowhead Marsh

rosita94598
 

Mount Diablo Audubon Society did a field trip today to the lake and marsh.  We do not understand it, but there seem to be fewer and fewer birds on Lake Merritt.  Of course, it is like that in lots of places.  We did have three gull species, including a very close Glaucous-winged Gull, a fair number of Scaups of both species, and even some female Hooded Mergansers.  A Queenfisher was in a bare tree on the right-hand island.  We could not find a Barrow's Goldeneye.

At Arrowhead Marsh, the marsh was almost non-existent.  There were lots of Ridgeway's Rails visible through scopes at the far north (?) end.  One other observer said he had counted 14 of them.  We also had a couple of Sora's pretty close to us at the wooden pier, which was covered with Dowitchers, Godwits and Willets.

Derek Heins rode by and we talked about his Richmond CBC.  He found a Brant farther along the trail there, but most of the group had already left for Garretson Point.  He and I did see 6-8 Blue-winged Teals in the mitigation area behind the fence.

A Peregrine Falcon came over the pond at Garretson Point, and a young Cooper's Hawk was harassed by Crows.

Hugh B. Harvey
Walnut Creek


A Common Loon at Emeryville Marina Park

Claude Lyneis
 

Monday around eleven AM I saw my first Common Loon at Emeryville Marina Park.  There were many Scaups, a few Pelagic Cormorants and Turkey Vultures, but adding a Loon to my photo list was a plus.

Link to the Loon Photo.  https://flic.kr/p/2mVdF5S


Richmond CBC preliminary results - the real one...

Derek
 

In cold, clear weather today’s teams in the field found 158 species, with highlights being Rock Wren, Redheads at two locations, Caspian Tern, Lark Sparrow, Heermann’s Gull, Black Scoter, Golden and Bald Eagle.  Despite a mid-morning king tide not one Sora, Virginia Rail or Ridgeway’s Rail was reported.  Wow.  Other misses were Cinnamon Teal, Semipalmated Plover and Pine Siskin. 

Our count week started on Thursday and in those 3 preceding days we picked up Ridgeway’s Rail, Barn Owl, Semipalmated Plover, Ferruginous Hawk, Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Surfbird, Barn Swallow, Short-eared Owl and Tundra Swan, putting us at 167 species with the next 3 days to pick up more.

We don’t have previous years for comparison, but I had projected 167 species based on eBird history in the circle, etc. Some targets to be on the lookout for through the end of our count week Wednesday include Cinnamon Teal, Short-billed Dowitcher, Sora, Pine Siskin, Virginia Rail, Red Knot, Pacific Loon, Red-necked Grebe, Barrow’s Goldeneye, Wood Duck, Western Screech-Owl, Northern Saw-whet Owl, and Blue-Winged Teal.  If you do see something you think might be new to our count and don’t report on eBird please either post it on EBB or email me at dlheins@....

Lastly, a big thanks to everyone who joined today, many who were first time CBC participants.  We have the next twelve months for next steps in our long-term goal of engaging with organizations (environmental, community gardens, schools, etc.) in Richmond and its surrounding communities to spread the joy of birding and engaging with nature.  Please join in these efforts as they are announced by GGAS.

Derek Heins


Richmond CBC preliminary results

Derek
 

Tonight we wrapped up our inaugural Richmond CBC with a Zoom session.  We had slightly over 200 people scheduled to participate which was great and we’ll wait for a final count.

 

Regards species seen, we


Empidonax flycatcher (likely Pac-slope), Tilden nature area just now

Zac Denning
 

I just found a small Empidonax along the Wildcat gorge trail at 4:25pm this evening, in the willows on the West side of the trail, 30 feet North of the fire road that runs behind the Tilden Nature Center (leading to staff buildings / maintenance area). 

Due to circumstances, I was not able to spend long (and had no camera), but got enough of a look through binoculars to see what *looked* like a Pac-slope. From a brief look, it appeared to have perhaps an oval shaped eye ring, and a fairly short primary projection (wrong build and too short wings for a Wood-pewee etc) - but I wouldn’t rule out another Empidonax without more time / further views of the face. The olive-green coloration above, wing bars, tail length, slight Empidonax head crest, small/medium dark Empidonax bill with pale lower mandible base etc would all seem to fit Pacific-slope Flycatcher. I’ve left it as an Empidonax Sp for now on my list below. 

Ebird list:


I was on a walk with my kid who has high needs / a disability - so I only had a few minutes to stop and observe. 

Maybe someone else will be able to find it and get a photo. 

Happy birding,

Zac Denning


Re: 2 Pelagic Cormorants off the small point between Crab Cove and Ballena Bay in Alameda

Doug Elinson
 

Spotted one yesterday at Emery Cove along Powell St.


Re: A plethora of Yellow-Rumped Myrtle's Warblers?!?!

Bill Bousman
 

Folks,

The distribution of the two subspecies groups has long been a subject of discussion with many interesting comments in Audubon Field Notes and American Birds in the late 1960s and the 1970s.  In Am. Birds 27:660 1973, the Regional Editors remarked that a "coordinated effort was made by the Region's observers this winter to accurately determine the relative abundance of Myrtle and Audubon's races of Yellow-rumped Warblers."  Based on CBC data, they tabulated the numbers of Yellow-rumped Warblers on CBCs in five regions that they referred to as the "Outer Coast," "Inner Coast," "Inner Coast Range," "Central Valley," and "Sierra."  [They did not include the names of the CBCs that were the basis of the data.]  The total tallies of Yellow-rumped Warblers were respectively 2089, 440, 625, 2229, and 11.  The percentage that were Myrtles were 42.0%, 11.6%, 3.8%, 0.7%, and 0.0%.

Observations based on a single year may be not be sufficient to define the longitudes of these races as wintering birds in Central California.  I have new-capture banding data from the Coyote Creek Riparian Station in Alviso for the years 1986-1996.  The total numbers of fall Myrtles was 352 over the 11 years and the number of spring birds was 40.  The year-to-year variance as measured by the range of values by was 3 to 131 in individual falls and 7 to 114 in individual springs.  The equivalent numbers for Audubon's were totals of 1807 fall birds and 1040 spring birds, the range of values were 9 to 688 in individual falls, and 23 to 933 in individual springs.

I think more might be learned if long-term data sets (CBCs) are used.

Bill Bousman
Menlo Park

On 1/1/2022 5:19 PM, Alexander Henry wrote:
They look like Myrtle to me with the clean white throat with the corners which wrap around the cheek a little bit, and the noticeable whitish supercilium.

Myrtle Warblers seem to me to be common in some places in California in migration and winter, sometimes actually more numerous than Audubon’s - although they also seem more localized. 

I generally think of Myrtle as being the eastern subspecies and Audubon’s being the western one. However like many “eastern” birds which breed in boreal forest, Myrtle Warblers breed much farther west as you go north into Alaska. Species with (roughly) similar ranges include Solitary Sandpiper, and Northern Waterthrush. While the majority of individuals of these species tend to migrate east of the Rockies, a few of them (presumably mostly the individuals which breed in the northwesterly portion of their range in Alaska) instead migrate down the Pacific coast and in some cases winter along the Pacific coast.

So, since some of the Myrtle Warblers breed very far west in Alaska, some of them migrate along the Pacific coast, since it is a much shorter migration than going, say, all the way to the southeastern US. And since the weather is generally pretty temperate year round on the Pacific coast, and there are plenty of food sources for them even in the middle of winter, many of them stay for winter.

Another thing to note is that Myrtle Warblers are aptly named - they are actually attracted to Myrtle plants. So places with Myrtle plants along the coast in California can sometimes have more Myrtle Warblers than Audubon’s.

I might be wrong, but I’d think that Myrtle Warblers are probably less common east of the coast ranges, and probably much less common east of the Sierras (but west of the Rockies).


One interesting place to observe this is Coyote Hills down in Fremont. Coyote Hills tends to have a TON of Myrtle Warblers in winter, and also many of the Red-winged Blackbirds I see there in winter are the Red-winged type, rather than the California Bicolored type which are generally more common in this area.



On Saturday, January 1, 2022, Cathy Bleier <csbleier@...> wrote:
I see Myrtle’s YR Warblers regularly at Hilltop Lake Park, but NEVER in such abundance.  I believe I saw at least 10 yesterday, but listed 7 because photos eluded us for several individuals.  The attached photos reflect  6 or different 7 individuals (check out differences in eye rings and breast striping; location; and timing, but note that there were more than one Myrtle in several spots at once, so photos of different birds were shot in rapid succession in a couple cases).  We tried for more at other places around the lake but didn't get good shots. 



IF ANYONE DISAGREES WITH THESE IDs, PLEASE LET ME KNOW NOW BEFORE I ADD THEM TO MY CBC LIST.  

If agreed, are there any other places with so many???

Thanks, Cathy


--
Alex Henry





Re: A plethora of Yellow-Rumped Myrtle's Warblers?!?!

Jim Chiropolos
 

Mrytle warblers seem to be very common high up right now. Several days ago - I walked around Vollmer peak and saw 4 big myrtle warbler flocks of at least 50 myrtle - no Audobon warblers. Same pattern during my Christmas count one week ago in Siesta valley next to Vollmer. All Mrytle warblers are foraging low within 10 feet of ground typically in coyote bush/scrub.

Interesting, at my house 1 mile and 700 feet below Vollmer in a live oak ecosystem- I have not seen a yellow-rump warbler in two weeks.... and this area is birded intensely.

Unlike most other warblers, yellow-rumps will eat berries which must be a major food source in the recent cold snap. The bird bath water froze last night my house and the ice never melted - so its severe weather for insectivores right now.

Jim Chiropolos
Orinda


Re: A plethora of Yellow-Rumped Myrtle's Warblers?!?!

Alexander Henry
 

They look like Myrtle to me with the clean white throat with the corners which wrap around the cheek a little bit, and the noticeable whitish supercilium.

Myrtle Warblers seem to me to be common in some places in California in migration and winter, sometimes actually more numerous than Audubon’s - although they also seem more localized. 

I generally think of Myrtle as being the eastern subspecies and Audubon’s being the western one. However like many “eastern” birds which breed in boreal forest, Myrtle Warblers breed much farther west as you go north into Alaska. Species with (roughly) similar ranges include Solitary Sandpiper, and Northern Waterthrush. While the majority of individuals of these species tend to migrate east of the Rockies, a few of them (presumably mostly the individuals which breed in the northwesterly portion of their range in Alaska) instead migrate down the Pacific coast and in some cases winter along the Pacific coast.

So, since some of the Myrtle Warblers breed very far west in Alaska, some of them migrate along the Pacific coast, since it is a much shorter migration than going, say, all the way to the southeastern US. And since the weather is generally pretty temperate year round on the Pacific coast, and there are plenty of food sources for them even in the middle of winter, many of them stay for winter.

Another thing to note is that Myrtle Warblers are aptly named - they are actually attracted to Myrtle plants. So places with Myrtle plants along the coast in California can sometimes have more Myrtle Warblers than Audubon’s.

I might be wrong, but I’d think that Myrtle Warblers are probably less common east of the coast ranges, and probably much less common east of the Sierras (but west of the Rockies).


One interesting place to observe this is Coyote Hills down in Fremont. Coyote Hills tends to have a TON of Myrtle Warblers in winter, and also many of the Red-winged Blackbirds I see there in winter are the Red-winged type, rather than the California Bicolored type which are generally more common in this area.



On Saturday, January 1, 2022, Cathy Bleier <csbleier@...> wrote:
I see Myrtle’s YR Warblers regularly at Hilltop Lake Park, but NEVER in such abundance.  I believe I saw at least 10 yesterday, but listed 7 because photos eluded us for several individuals.  The attached photos reflect  6 or different 7 individuals (check out differences in eye rings and breast striping; location; and timing, but note that there were more than one Myrtle in several spots at once, so photos of different birds were shot in rapid succession in a couple cases).  We tried for more at other places around the lake but didn't get good shots. 



IF ANYONE DISAGREES WITH THESE IDs, PLEASE LET ME KNOW NOW BEFORE I ADD THEM TO MY CBC LIST.  

If agreed, are there any other places with so many???

Thanks, Cathy


--
Alex Henry

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