Interesting meadowlark at Ferry Point...

Noah Arthur

Hi everyone. When I was home in the Bay Area last Sunday, I photographed a meadowlark at Ferry Point (Miller-Knox Regional Shoreline in Pt. Richmond) that shows some characteristics of Eastern Meadowlark. The face is relatively clean and pale, with little dark cloudy coloration on the auriculars. The crown-stripes are dark and contrasting. The tertials have broad, heavy dark barring. And the tail has very extensive white, mostly covering the 3 outermost feathers with a thin white stripe on the 4th. The only counter-point is that there's a little yellow in the malar region. I know male Easterns can have a small amount of yellow there, but how much? Any opinions on this bird's ID, anyone?

This meadowlark was in the grassy field near the old buildings and herring run, with a small flock of "regular" Western Meadowlarks. The bird is individually distinctive because the right half of its tail is missing. When the meadowlarks fly, this one stands out as a bird with a very large amount of white in the 1/2 of a tail that it still has!

Noah Arthur
Lincoln, NE/Oakland, CA

White-winged Dove and Stilt Sand continue


The White-winged Dove continued at the end of Holland Tract Road. It was associating with Eurasian Collared and Mourning Doves in a willow above a chicken coop across the road from the north end of the Holland Riverside Marina. This is almost at the end of the road.  Hundreds of snow and white-fronted geese and sandhill cranes careened by overhead. 

The Stilt Sandpiper continued at the north end of Bethel Island Road in a pond at the east side of the road and at approximately the 7th or 8th telephone pole from the road's end.  When we arrived, it was actively feeding near about 80 dowitchers, but when we returned about an hour later the waders were slumbering with heads tucked.

No Mountain Bluebirds were observed roaming the emerald greenery of Contra Loma Regional Park near the Frederickson/Hansen Drive junction in Antioch.

Susan Mills and Joanne Sidwell joined me today.

Emilie Strauss
Berkeley, CA

Slaty-backed Gull still present


Hi Birders,

The Slaty-backed Gull was seen today early in the afternoon (I'm guessing about 12:30 or 1:00).  About 8 birders watched it for about a half hour.  And then we lost it for a while and it was picked up again about 40 minutes later for about 5 minutes.   It is the adult that has been here before with the abbherant white wing patches on its right wing.  There is still plenty of herring roe on the rocks even though the herring are probably not around any more.  There were lots of gulls, but they did not really appear until the tide was low.  Once they arrived they were present all afternoon.

Lisa Hug

Sebastopol, CA

Ruff in Richmond

Aaron Maizlish

This morning I first stopped at Ferry Point in Richmond.   The herring run seems to be over but there were still a lot of gulls and ducks spread out over a very wide area.  I didn't stick around that long, but just long enough to maintain my perfect lifetime 0-fer record on Slaty-backed Gull.  Someday.

I made a brief stop at the sewage ponds (West County Wastewater Plant in Richmond.)   I was able to re-find the overwintering RUFF in one of the four large ponds to the east of the driveway.   He was with about 300 Least Sandpipers, a few dozen Dunlin, and not much else.   The smaller ponds to the west of the driveway are also full now following the rains. Too full for waders.  I did a quick scan but didn't have the time (nor appropriate attire) to investigate all of them. Wouldn't it be cool if the Ruff went through molt while still here?  I don't know if that's even possible or not. Have to check again in March. 

Aaron Maizlish
San Francisco and Emeryville

Slaty-backed Gull continues

Steven Tucker

Birders -

The Slaty-backed Gull we know from herring runs from past years was present today at Ferry Point, where it showed well for a few minutes before flying southeast and out of sight. This is the same individual Noah reported from yesterday. Other gulls of interest were Glaucous X Glaucous-winged and Glaucous X Herring hybrids. I expect that the gull show will still be pretty good tomorrow as well.

Good birding,

Steve Tucker

Large white gull at Coyote Hills


Rudy Wallen kindly send me a photo of what he believes to be an albino Glaucus-winged Gull taken in San Francisco; a bird which was seen in Golden Gate Park and other spots during the 2009-10 seasons.

The large white Gull I reported last Saturday seemed really big, but a pure gleaming white gull under heavy, dark clouds is liable to look larger than life, even near a Herring Gull.  And I just cannot reconcile the complete lack of mantle contrast with a real Glaucus. So perhaps what I saw was Rudy's white gull, or one much like it.

  Rusty Scalf
  Berkeley, CA

Slaty-backed Gull at Point Richmond

Noah Arthur

I spent much of the day today gulling at Miller-Knox Shoreline (at Point Richmond), at the herring run, where there were slightly fewer gulls than yesterday, but still thousands. A really great flock. The adult SLATY-BACKED GULL who comes to this herring run every year was back again today -- identified individually by his mostly unstreaked head and 2-3 aberrant white primary coverts. Several possible 'Kumlien's' Iceland Gulls were probably too dark to be CBRC-acceptable, but I need to look at my photos again to decide if I want to go ahead and call them Iceland!

I'll try to post some photos later.

Noah Arthur
Oakland, CA/Lincoln, NE

White-winged scoter at Miller Knox

Chris Hayamizu

At about 2:30 this afternoon a female white-winged scoter flew in to join the gull-a-palooza at Ferry Point/Miller Knox. Accompanied in flight by 5 shiny black surf scoters, it was comparatively gray, with large, squarish white wing patches. It landed far out in the water, blending in with the rest of the crowd.

Chris Hayamizu

Continuing Swamp Sparrow Lafayette

Kai Mills

At around 4:40pm today I finally found the SWAMP SPARROW after searching for 30 minutes. It was about 30 yards down from the last fishing dock (south of Visitor's Center, past the kayaks) below the path down by the reeds, foraging loosely with a couple Fox Sparrows. This is near where Mark Rauzon spotted the bird last weekend except a little further down the trail (southwest). Seems to be moving further and further away from the Visitor's Center. 

The large crowned sparrow flock was nearby on the hill above. Didn't check for the Redhead. 

Good Birding, 

Kai Mills 


STILT SANDPIPER at Bethel Island fide Albert Linkowski

Logan Kahle

Hi All,

Albert Linkowski just texted me saying he's just found a Stilt Sandpiper in the flooded fields in the north end of Bethel Islamd road in Contra Costa county. This represents a long overdue first county record for this species.

Good birding,
Logan Kahle for Albert Linkowski

Something of a Gull-a-palooza at Ferry Point Monday 1.18.16

Alan Kaplan <lnkpln@...>


We saw herring being eaten, but not a lot of eggs laid on rocks yet, at the Ferry Point/Miller-Knox Gull-a-palooza today, Monday, January 18, 2016.

Gulls were mostly Mew and California. Other parties saw 4 Herring Gulls, but no rarities as of noon when we left.

Eurasian and American Wigeons, Pelagic and Double-crested Cormorants, Surf Scoter, Greater Scaup, and a wonderful Brown Pelican round out the list

We had Noah Alper and Denise Wight sightings, too, so they may have more detailed reports.

Thanks to the early reporters on Sunday and Saturday!

Best of Boids!

Alan Kaplan

Herring Run at Miller-Knox Regional Shoreline

Graham Chisholm

Following up on yesterday's message by Tony Brake, I visited Miller-Knox around noon today, at what seemed like a "high" low tide. There were large flocks of gulls, perhaps as many as 3,000 with large numbers of Western, Glaucous-winged, Mew, California, and I picked out a scattering of Herring and Ring-billed. In addition, there was a sizable flock of waterfowl with numerous Surf Scoter, Bufflehead, and Greater Scaup, along with dozens of American Wigeon, 2 male Eurasian Wigeon, 1 Red-breasted Merganser and 5+ Common Goldeneye.  From all the activity including people fishing, harbor seals and sea lions, I'm expecting that it will be worth checking again tomorrow.  

A merlin also flushed the small flock of Western Meadowlarks while we were watching them.

Graham Chisholm 

Graham Chisholm
c. 510-409-6603

Mew Gulls


As of ~1 PM, San Pablo Park in Berkeley was carpeted with Mew Gulls.
Hundreds of them.  

   Rusty Scalf

Re: Herring run Miller-Knox

Like Mike, I saw a little activity at Ferry Point/Miller-Knox Shoreline in Point Richmond yesterday about noon-1PM. Today about 1 PM, I saw much activity along the breakwater extending west from Brooks Island, so headed over to Brooks Island. The Herring run was in full swing, with folks pulling nets full of Herring from the Ferry Point Pier. Many gulls now lined the shore along with offshore Brown Pelicans, cormorants and ducks, as well as CA Sea Lions and Harbor Seals. There were only a few eggs onshore. I also checked Pt. Molate but did not see any such activity. There is a 6.3 ft. high tide at about 5:50 AM tomorrow, so the outgoing tide should expose roe being laid overnight.


Tony Brake

Pt. Richmond

Glaucus Gull at Coyote Hills Reg Park


This morning at Coyote Hills our group was on the trail overlooking the North Marsh, looking due north, when a very large all white gull appeared from the NW. Larger than a nearby Herring Gull. It circled the marsh then flew SW and disappeared.

The bird seemed pure white; the bill was not bi-colored but big and yellow.

What bothers me is the lack of mantle contrast to the rest of the bird. I saw none. An adult Glaucus Gull should have a light gray mantle, albeit lighter than Herring or Glaucus-winged. I saw no such contrast; just immaculate white top and bottom. So I'm puzzled.

The sky was socked in with dark gray clouds and perhaps that accentuated the overall whiteness (seems to do that with Snow Geese which glow under such skies). Could light be the problem?

In the  North Marsh among the denizens of Wigeon were two Eurasian drakes.
Lots of birds everywhere:

  swarms of Robins feeding on Toyon
  a Loggerhead Shrike
  an adult female and immature male Harrier
  two Green Herons along the canal
  a pair of Great Horned Owls in Eucalyptus just east of Hoot Hollow

Lots of water, lots of birds.

  Rusty Scalf

Contra Loma Mountain Bluebirds and Bald Eagle

Jeff Acuff

Previously reported mountain bluebirds (5) remained along Fredrickson, and previously reported bald eagle (adult) remained at the reservoir this morning.

Good Birding,
Jeff Acuff 

American Widgeon Walnut Creek

First for me: Saw an American Wigeon yesterday along the Boundary Oaks Canal between Valley Vista and Arbolado. It's a male among a group of mallards and gets picked on by them.  It's been there the last 3 days  at around 3 - 5:30 pm.  There is a "Duck Crossing" sign on the home's fence.

Bobbie & Walter Schmidt

Herring run Miller-Knox

Michael Carnall

Noted the first signs of the herring run at Ferry Point this afternoon.  Moderate gathering of ducks, gulls and cormorants diving near shore and several pelicans working the outer fringes.  Usually picks up pretty quickly after these signs. 

Mike C.

Alameda Shoreline Ballena Bay Continues

Sandy Steinman

I was at Ballena Bay in Alameda today between 11 and 12.  I didn't observe a feeding frenzy but did see thousands of birds with Scaup being most numerous and also lots of Surf Scoters. Afterwards went to Elsie Roemer where the shorebirds were also likely in the thousands with Western Sandpipers and Black-bellied Plovers most numerous. See photos and birds lists at

Sandy Steinman



Round Valley Red-naped Sapsucker.

Russ Bright

    Seen early this afternoon by myself and Bob Dunn: a bright male loosely associating with a Red-breasted Sapsucker mainly in the old orchard (almond?) trees surrounding the yellow park residence. First found just outside the first gate flycatching from a Creekside cottonwood near the beginning of the the Hardy Canyon trail in front of the yellow park house. By excellent chance bumped into Bob in the parking area, and we were soon able to refind the bird.
Russ Bright

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