Date   

Patio Birds--Good News/Different Good News

rosita94598
 

Yesterday morning I saw what appeared to me to be a fledgling CA Towhee in our patio, north of Heather Farm Park in Walnut Creek. It had some faint streaking on the breast and some dark splotches around the face and head. It appeared again this morning, picking up some seeds from the cement. When an adult arrived, the young bird immediately started begging. Though I had just watched it feeding on its own, the adult had no problems picking up seeds and feeding them to the fledgling.

I decided it was time to buy more meal worms, so this afternoon I rode my bike to Wild Birds Unlimited in Pleasant Hill. It took 20 minutes to ride home, Mike. I put out some worms, but didn't immediately pay attention. A little before 7 PM, I put out some more. In a bit, the young Towhee arrived and started eating meal worms. In different light than this morning, I realized just how gray the back is, too. Right after it came the adult. The adult did its usual trick of picking up 5-6 worms, looking like those photos of Atlantic Puffins with fish sticking out of their bills. The adult did not feed any of the worms to the fledgling, but left the patio. A few minutes later it returned empty-beaked! There must be another young one outside the patio somewhere.

While I watched, I heard what sounded like begging sounds. It was not coming from the young CA Towhee, which was still in the patio. I finally saw two birds on the fence back in the corner. Turns out a male Lesser Goldfinch was feeding a very young Brown-headed Cowbird, about three times the size of the parent. The Cowbird is dark and spotty on the wings, which, along with the tail, are very short. It also had about the brightest yellow gape I can remember seeing.

Hey, I cannot really complain, the Cowbirds are just doing what they do and I am just seeing a little bit of nature from a different perspective.

Hugh B. Harvey
Walnut Creek


Richmond - Elegant Tern and Red Knot etc.

Dominik Mosur
 

Drove out to the end of Canal St. this morning to scope Brooks Island. I didn't refind the skimmer reported by Pat earlier this week but finally did see my first ELEGANT TERNS of the year, 2 adults and 2 juveniles, roosting next to a Caspian Tern.

I then birded the mudflats along the Bay Trail north of Pt. Isabel hoping to find my nemesis shorebird species. While everyone and their grandma seems to have seen at least one Semipalmated Sandpiper this year, I had to settle for a RED KNOT in fading alternate plumage.

I then looked through a couple of hundred peeps on the Albany mudflats from Buchanon street but saw only Western Sandpipers and a few leasts in the mix.

Ended my afternoon at Frank's Dump where (8) WILSON'S PHALAROPES in the southeast corner were a new Alameda Co. bird for me. Other top birders were there or on their way in as I left so hopefully they'll have more to add.

Good birding,
Dominik Mosur
San Francisco


Black-headed Grosbeaks, Antioch

Paul Schorr
 

Today, throughout the day, two adult male Black-headed Grosbeaks came to our feeder and bird bath. They were a very nice addition to the usual suspects in our summer backyard.

Good birding,

Paul and Nancy Schorr
Antioch


Mt. Diablo - Pine Valley Trail

Steve Taylor
 

Today while Carol Mathews and myself picked blackberry's on Mt. Diablo we
were treated to a Coopers Hawk who stood on a branch about twenty feet in
from of us watching two quail who must have had a nest close by as they were
making their sound constantly we guessed in an attempt to drive the hawk
away. After what must have been a good fifteen or twenty minutes the hawk
did move on. It was a real treat to see the hawk up nice and close. We
also saw a few red tails and some smaller birds which we did not identify.
Also in the men's room at Macedo Ranch, Mt. Diablo parking lot, there is a
swallow nest with two little birds in it and mom keeps flying in and out.
Cute to watch.





Steve Taylor


Parrots in El Cerrito on Ashbury Avenue

Alan Kaplan <lnkpln@...>
 

Friends:
And to think that I saw it on Ashbury Avenue! (forgive me, Dr Seuss).
Two parrots flew over, one of them squawking (which is what drew my attention) between Lynn Avenue (El Cerrito) and Thousand Oaks (Albany) on Ashbury Avenue Friday, 10:00 am. July 30, 2010.

They looked like members of the flock I am familiar with from South Berkeley near Hearst and San Pablo Avenues, and certainly sounded like them.

I think people call those Conures of some kind.

This is my first sighting of them in my neighborhood of El Cerrito.

Best of Birds to you!
Alan Kaplan


Hayward Shoreline (7/29)

Bob Richmond
 

Seen at the shoreline today -

Frank's Dump West
-----------------------------
Black-necked Stilt
American Avocet
Black-bellied Plover
Semipalmated Plover
Snowy Plover - 1
Short-billed Dowitcher
Long-billed Dowitcher
Marbled Godwit
Long-billed Curlew
Lesser Yellowlegs - 1
Willet
Ruddy Turnstone
Black Turnstone
Red Knot
Sanderling
Western Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
Wilson's Phalarope

Other Shorebirds
------------------------
Killdeer
Whimbrel
Greater Yellowlegs
Wandering Tattler - 2 at San Leandro Marina
Surfbird - 6+ at San Leandro Marina

Bob


Heather Farm Sightings

rosita94598
 

Things are a bit of a mess in Heather Farm Park in Walnut Creek, the City is repaving the main road and changing the sidewalk arrangements. Still, last week I was told of an American Avocet at the cement pond and a Spotted Sandpiper on the island in the large, mostly natural pond. The Pied-billed Grebe chicks disappeared after about a week, it is unknown if it was dogs, river otters or a heron predation problem. Up to 4 juvenile Green Herons continue to be seen along the north shore of the large pond.

Last night I waited about an hour watching the Barn Owl box at the downhill end of the Garden Center parking lot. An apparent adult did show its face in the opening about ten after nine, but unless it flew while I turned to sit on a nice soft rock, it was still inside when I left at almost half past.

In the past week I have seen as many as 4 Chestnut-backed Chickadees in our patio just north of the park. We also have sometimes 2 California Towhees, a couple of Oak Titmouses and the other day I again saw the adult Junco with no tail.

Hugh B. Harvey
Walnut Creek


Contra Costa Flickers--Clarification

rosita94598
 

I spent a little time reading the Northern Flicker entry in Steve Glover's Breeding Bird Atlas of Contra Costa County. Here is what he says:

"The perception of commonness long held by the birding community seems to have been based on the species winter status, when it is indeed quite numerous throughout the county.

The Northern Flicker was confirmed in just 8 blocks in the Coast Range and was thought to probably breed in numerous others. The species is not known to breed in either West or East counties."

Steve Hutchcraft's observation that they seem to be absent for a long time in Contra Costa County is true. Steve goes on to point out the lack of knowledge of to their movements. Those of us who do birding around Heather Farm Park in Walnut Creek know, too, that we see them a lot in the winter, then they disappear some time in the spring before returning in the fall.

The Atlas is available from Mt. Diablo Audubon Society. Try this link: https://svr1.marketrends.net/diabloaudubon/atlas.php or start at the MDAS website. $26.80 includes shipping and taxes (cheap!).

Hugh B. Harvey
Walnut Creek


Follow-up on reported American Pipit at Briones Park

Amy McDonald <amymcd@...>
 

Hi all,

Here is a copy of Jeff Acuff's notes on his previously reported American Pipit
at Briones Park; followed by additional notes upon considering the possibility
of juvenile Horned Lark.

Amy McDonald
San Jose

--------------------------------------

The sighting was a single bird found on the Crest Trail just west of the Briones
Road Trail.  The bird was foraging on and alongside the dirt trail and allowed
fairly close approach (30 feet?) until other trail users flushed it at which
time it flew off the trail into the adjacent grasses.  The habitat up in this
area of the park is grassland.

In the same general location I also saw at least 7 horned larks.

I immediately recognized the pipit based on its tan/brown streaky plumage with
white belly and brown back; pale supercilium, narrow, long, straight bill, and
(probably first of all) by its long legs.  Pipits always give me this all-elbows
impression with their high tarsus-metatarsus joint.  I didn't go into a detailed
analysis beyond that at the time.  The bill shape and legs pretty much ruled out
anything else that I thought it might be confused with except perhaps other
pipits. 


The way I separated it from other pipits was, in retrospect, inadequate,
especially since I've never seen another species of pipit.  Since nothing struck
me as out-of-character for American, I did not really consider the rarer
alternates.  When I got back to my car, I did pull out my Sibley though and
noted that the non-breeding bird illustrated was the one that matched what I
saw, which I thought interesting, given the date.

------------------------------------------------
It is hard now just 3 days later to know in detail how I ruled out horned
lark. I had been watching a small flock of horned larks before I saw the pipit
and had been taking note of the plumage differences between the adult males and
the others, wondering if the duller birds were adult females or young birds and
if one could make the separation. 


The pipit was not associating with any other birds, and its posture was not as
horizontal or low to the ground and I did not instinctively recognize a plumage
relationship between it and the duller horned larks I had just been observing.

However, now I keep asking myself to recall more precise plumage details, and I
just cannot do so. One thing that troubles me is that I do not recall seeing
white outer tail feathers when the bird flushed.

I still feel that the ID was correct, but, given the seasonal expectations and
lack of better documentation, I support the noted reservations. 

Jeff


Such a day at Lake Merritt!

Ellen
 

It was a small group today, however, the birding was fabulous!
As soon as I got out of the car I looked upon the lake and a lone white
pelican was coming in for a drop dead gorgeous, silent, landing in the water and
such a close view. It was breathtaking!

Further out near the big island were a water dance of pied-billed grebes. I learned that they do not have webbed feet. They were diving, diving, diving!

Several Forster's Tern were diving and several made away with nice looking, kind of large fish.

There were the usual birds one expects to find
Snowy Egret
Great Egret
Night Heron
Great Blue Heron

The best sighting for me was a beautiful Green Heron. This youngish bird was
preening in the trees of the closest island. Right out in front too, so we all had a good, long look. I almost missed it, passed by it, thinking it to be a Black-crowned NH. Thank you Ruth Tobey for stopping and putting a scope on this fabulous, beautiful bird! WOW!

We spotted an immature Ring-biled Gull, a very nice specimen, I thought, too.
I think that they are the commonest gull here in North America. This youngster had pretty brown streaking on crown, nape, with a nice white tail with
a small smattering of brown.

We spotted many Western Gulls, so common in the summer here. One was dropping an oyster on the ground, until it cracked, then she swooped in for the goodies!

Other common birds we spotted in the Garden area
(by the cement platform) were:
House Finch
Chestnut-backed Chickadee-a great cavity nester
Bewick's Wren-such outstanding eyebrows
Bushtit-a good sized flock
Brown Creeper

The very best sighting of the day for me was the
Cooper's Hawk with Juvenile! It was in the Garden,
in the BIG Pine next to the flagpole. We suspected a
nest, but were unable to spot it.

Happy Birding all!

Ellen Gierson
Oakland, CA


Re: Briones pipit

Dominik Mosur
 

Hi Mark,
Birding with Zach Baer the other day he mentioned someone reporting a horned lark juv. as a Spragues pipit a few years back at Hayward RS. I don't know Jeff Acuff, he's probably a great birder, but a July report of any Pipit in the bay area seems unusual in my experience.
I'll happily apologize and buy him a cold one if I'm wrong!
Dominik

On Jul 28, 2010, at 12:27 PM, Mark Eaton <marksffo@gmail.com> wrote:

The first American Pipits are scheduled to arrive at the beginning of August, so this would be only a few days early.

Juvenile Horned Lark, to my eye, doesn't look anything like an American Pipit (or just about anything else, for that matter).

Mark

On Wed, Jul 28, 2010 at 12:13 PM, Amy McDonald <amymcd@pacbell.net> wrote:

Hi all,

Jeff had provided me some notes on the Pipit. Since he may still not be able to
access EBB, I'll contact him and ask that he provide a thorough write-up that I
can post for him.

Amy McDonald

________________________________
From: Dominik Mosur <polskatata@yahoo.com>
To: amymcd@pacbell.net
Cc: ebb_sightings@yahoogroups.com
Sent: Wed, July 28, 2010 10:00:06 AM
Subject: [EBB_Sightings] Briones pipit




An American Pipit in July in our region would be highly unusual. Juvenile Horned
Lark anyone?

Dominik Mosur
San Francisco

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]





--
---
Mark Eaton
mark@markeaton.org


Re: Briones pipit

Amy McDonald <amymcd@...>
 

Hi all,

Jeff had provided me some notes on the Pipit. Since he may still not be able to
access EBB, I'll contact him and ask that he provide a thorough write-up that I
can post for him.

Amy McDonald




________________________________
From: Dominik Mosur <polskatata@yahoo.com>
To: amymcd@pacbell.net
Cc: ebb_sightings@yahoogroups.com
Sent: Wed, July 28, 2010 10:00:06 AM
Subject: [EBB_Sightings] Briones pipit

 
An American Pipit in July in our region would be highly unusual. Juvenile Horned
Lark anyone?

Dominik Mosur
San Francisco




[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]


Briones pipit

Dominik Mosur
 

An American Pipit in July in our region would be highly unusual. Juvenile Horned Lark anyone?

Dominik Mosur
San Francisco


Forwarded post : Contra Costa sightings - Sunday, July 25

Amy McDonald <amymcd@...>
 

Hi all,

I'm forwarding these notes (from Sunday, July 25) on behalf of Jeff Acuff, who's
having some difficulties posting to the EBB group.  

-------------------------------
At Briones Park on the Crest Trail just west of the Briones Road Trail, I had a
single AMERICAN PIPIT foraging on and alongside the trail.  In the same general
location there were also at least 7 HORNED LARKS.

Earlier in the day, there was a calling BLACK RAIL in the cattails immediately
west of the aerating ponds at the Oakley Ironhorse WTP.  At least a couple of
CINNAMON TEAL were in the large pond further on.

Two dark morph SWAINSON'S HAWKS were in a tree along Holland Tract Rd in the
Holland Tract.  Other SWAINSON'S HAWKS were found soaring in Knightsen and just
east of Antioch seen from Hwy 4.

Lastly, I found a BLUE GROSBEAK on Bethel Island Road just north of Harbor Road.

Good Birding,
Jeff Acuff
Lafayette


Re: Early for Flickers? & Odd Scrub-Jay Behavior

Phila Rogers <philajane6@...>
 

Hi Steve:

Based on my observations over the years, Northern Flickers are year-round residents in Northern California with maybe a few more here in the winter.  With nesting session over, some of the birds may now be dispersing which is why you're seeing them

About that jay -- was it on or near an ant hill?  I have read that some birds 'invite' ants into their feathers as the formic acid helps eliminate certain parasites.

Phila Rogers

--- On Tue, 7/27/10, Steve Hutchcraft <steve.hutchcraft@comcast.net> wrote:

From: Steve Hutchcraft <steve.hutchcraft@comcast.net>
Subject: [EBB_Sightings] Early for Flickers? & Odd Scrub-Jay Behavior
To: "EBB_Sightings"
<EBB_Sightings@yahoogroups.com>
Date: Tuesday, July 27, 2010, 6:49 PM







 









Hi all,



I've noticed a couple of Northern Flickers for the last couple of

weeks in Alamo. I don't keep track of comings and goings, but it

seems awfully early for them to return.



Also, I saw what I thought was a dead Western Scrub-Jay this afternoon

in Danville. It was face down in the dirt, with both wings spread out

on the ground. I walked towards it and it stood up, completely fine.

I've seen egrets and herons spread their wings to the sun; same with

vultures. But never a Scrub-Jay or other little bird. A first for

everything, I guess.



Anyway, Happy Birding!



Steve

Alamo























[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]


Black Skimmer, Common Murres in Richmond

Patricia Bacchetti
 

I went to Miller Knox Regional Shoreline for a previously posted Brant this afternoon between 4:30 and 6:30. Didn't find the Brant, but there were 2 hatch-year California Gulls in the gull flock at the lagoon.

Then, because I'd never been there before, I drove around the point and out to the end of Canal Dr. In the parking lot next to the Red Oak Victory Ship, there's a nice view of the shipping channel and the NW end of Brooks Island. Scoping the channel, there was an adult COMMON MURRE with a chick following it, who was begging and vocalizing. They remained in the channel for 1/2 hour, until they disappeared out into the bay. Scoping across to Brooks Island, a single BLACK SKIMMER was among the large flock of CASPIAN TERNS, WESTERN GULLS with begging young, and CALIFORNIA GULLS. Try as I might, I didn't find any Elegant Terns in the group. There were also a few LONG-BILLED CURLEWS, WILLETS, MARBLED GODWITS, and peeps too far away to identify.

Finally, looking back toward the restored Ford Plant, a beautiful COMMON LOON was swimming near the shore. This is an interesting spot to get a good look out to the island, and the victory ship and old warehouse are picturesque.

Directions: From I 80 east, take I 580 toward Richmond; take the Canal St. exit and go left; continue along Canal until the end of the paved road (there are hand-lettered signs to the victory ship) and park behind the old Neral Warehouse next to the victory ship. From that spot, Brooks Island is right in front of you.

Good birding,

Pat Bacchetti
Oakland


Early for Flickers? & Odd Scrub-Jay Behavior

photohutch
 

Hi all,

I've noticed a couple of Northern Flickers for the last couple of weeks in Alamo. I don't keep track of comings and goings, but it seems awfully early for them to return.

Also, I saw what I thought was a dead Western Scrub-Jay this afternoon in Danville. It was face down in the dirt, with both wings spread out on the ground. I walked towards it and it stood up, completely fine. I've seen egrets and herons spread their wings to the sun; same with vultures. But never a Scrub-Jay or other little bird. A first for everything, I guess.

Anyway, Happy Birding!

Steve
Alamo


Hayward Shoreline (7/26)

Bob Richmond
 

Seen at the shoreline today -

Shorebirds at Frank's Dump West include

   Pacific Golden-Plover - 1 in non-breeding plumage. All of the plovers were
here and not in Ora Loma Marsh.

   Ruddy Turnstone - 10.

   Black Turnstone - 1.

   Surfbird - 1, with about 20 more seen at San Leandro Marina.

   Red Knot - 80-100.

   Sanderling - 6, but several dozen were seen on the mudflat at the mouth of
San Lorenzo Creek.

Other unusual shorebirds were

   Wandering Tattler - 2 seen at the San Leandro Marina.

   Lesser Yellowlegs - 1 seen on the east side of Ora Loma Marsh.

Other birds

   Black Skimmer - 3 seen south of the Least Tern sign. The young one will
fledge shortly.

   Pelagic Cormorant - 1 seen flying off shore from Frank's Dump West.

   White-tailed Kite - 7, 2 adults and 5 fledglings on the eastside of Ora Loma
Marsh.

Bob


Richmond Bayside and Berkeley Pier 7/26/10

Dominik Mosur
 

Birded the tidal marshes and mudflats between Shimada Park and Pt. Isabel between 10 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. today. Good numbers of 13 species of shorebirds present though no rarities. I did add LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER (calling) and WHIMBREL for my Contra Costa County list and saw my first juvenile WESTERN SANDPIPER and juvenile WILLET of the year.

Later I walked out to the end of Berkeley Pier and strained my eyes for 15 minutes looking through the "fenced off" end toward the broken pier before getting distant looks at a pair of PIGEON GUILLEMOTS flying low over the water and disappearing in the swells as they landed. (thanks to Zach Baer for the tip on finding these)

Ironically, as I walked back to my car, I saw a PIGEON GUILLEMOT no more than 40 yards north off the pier, parallel with the 7th lightpost (about 120-140 yards out) The guillemot dove, came up with a fish in its bill, then flew back out toward the end of the pier, presumably to feed a chick (?)

There were also (4) HEERMANN'S GULLS loafing in the parking lot of the HS Lordship restaurant south of the pier parking area.

Good birding,
Dominik Mosur
San Francisco


Semi Sandpiper @ Hayward Shoreline on Friday

Lori Arthur <loriarthur61@...>
 

Hi everybody; sorry for the late post. Anyway, on Friday I briefly visited
Hayward Shoreline and found the SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER hanging with the flock of
WESTERN SANDPIPERS at Frank's Dump. It occasionally wandered away from the
(mainly sleeping) flock, usually with one or more Westerns that were not as
sleepy as the rest. It appears to be a worn breeding adult, to me, but I'm not
sure, like a Least with dark legs and large, untidy scalloped markings on the
scapular area. I mainly made the ID by shape, because the heat-haze interfered
with seeing much plumage pattern. Other shorebirds included WILLET, SANDERLING,
AMERICAN AVOCET, and others, but I didn't have much time and mainly focused on
the peep flock. Also FORSTER'S TERN and CLIFF SWALLOW on the walk from the
parking lot.

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