Pileated Woodpecker - Joaquin Miller Park
Around 2:00 today, Karen Marcus and I had a Pileated Woodpecker near Sequoia Arena in Joaquin Miller Park. We first found the bird foraging in the shadows of downed trees and stumps near the trail marker for "Sequoia-Bayview". It then flew, calling, to a very tall tree in the middle of the big round lawn area. It perched vertically on the tree trunk displaying in profile the distinctive head shape and color. Over the next half hour the bird flew from tree to tree, farther and farther from us until we lost it.
Summer Tanager at Claremont Canyon
At the end of a nice long hike today, I was surprised to see a male Summer
Tanager, like a bright red heart, high up in the eucalyptus trees between
the first and second switchback at Claremont Canyon (around
37.86613,-122.239573). This is the same general area where a male Summer
Tanager overwintered last year, so it's presumably the same bird. If so,
your best bet to see it might be staking out the oak trees just downhill
from the third switchback (the one with a severed rope swing).
ebird checklist with a terrible photo: https://ebird.org/checklist/S64476328
Happy Valentines Day,
Re: Sherman and Bethel Islands 2/12 Swamp Sparrow, Lawrence's Goldfinch, Sac co Allen's Hummingbird (population?)
The Solano County BBA has Allen's Hummer as 'Probable' clear up to Rio Vista and 'Confirmed' near Collinsville (or across the river from Pittsburg').toggle quoted messageShow quoted text
Another surprising breeding confirmation comes from Vacaville.
My copy of the CC County atlas is out on loan but would be interesting to check.
Sherman and Bethel Islands 2/12 Swamp Sparrow, Lawrence's Goldfinch, Sac co Allen's Hummingbird (population?)
Spent Wednesday, February 12th exploring parts of the Delta in Sacramento and Contra Costa counties, focusing on Sherman and Bethel Islands. Overall diversity was quite high, and passerine activity was good (due to calm conditions) but waterbirds in many of the channels were relatively sparse compared to normal.
The first few hours of the morning were spent at Sherman Island. I started just before sunrise on West Levee Road birding for passerines and hoping to catch a bit of blackbird flight. While I was a little late for Blackbird flight (had fewer than 20k), there were still good numbers of passerines around and a decent raft of waterfowl way out on the river. From there I checked the entirety of East Levee road, checking every patch of habitat that looked solid. Shorebird habitat, primarily on E Levee Road, remains solid but many of the birds were very far out today and hard to ID. Over the course of birding the island, I found the following birds of interest:
Greater Scaup-113 was a solid count here
Common Merganser-20 was a decent count here
Ring-necked Pheasant-3 was a decent count of these quickly declining species in the delta
Mew Gull-3 was way way down from a month ago
Common Gallinule-1 on W levee road was a good bird for sherman
Rufous Hummingbird-1 male was a somewhat early migrant
ALLEN'S HUMMINGBIRD-1 adult male here was the first I have found on Sherman. There were four /Selasphorus/ here, two of which were female-types which I believe were likely also Allen's. If these birds persist through the summer this could represent one of few county breeding records.
Allen's/Rufous Hummingbird-2 at ALHU spot
Red-breasted Sapsucker-1 on east levee road
Acorn Woodpecker-3 at small sherman population on NE side of island
Bewick's Wren-2 were uncommon on the island
'Yellow-billed' White-crowned Sparrow-13
California Towhee-2 represented part of an increasing delta island population
Red-winged Blackbird-19000 in morning flight was a relatively low count for here, likely reflecting my late (circa 7am) arrival
Great-tailed Grackle-14 was part of the expansion of this species into the delta in recent years
Full eBird lists here:
From Sherman I continued onto Contra Costa county onto Jersey Island Road. On the Island, both the road running east along the levee and the road running through the center of the island were open. Along Jersey Island road I found a few surprises including:
Burrowing Owl-2 were the first I've seen in Northeast Contra Costa county
LAWRENCE'S GOLDFINCH-1 south of the island was a very rare bird for the delta
Full eBird lists here:
From there I continued on to Bethel Island where I spent the rest of the day. I started at Piper Slough, went to the flooded fields along Harbor Road, Willowest Marina, checked Frank's Tract, hit both the southwestern and the southeastern neighborhoods and then returned to Piper Slough for dusk. Waterbird numbers on Frank's Tract and Piper Slough were decently high. Despite the time of day I still manage to eek out a good number of passerines. Highlights here included:
Duck sp-2000+ on Frank's Tract. Many Scaup, Ruddies, and Bufflehead mixed in
Allen's Hummingbird-5 males and 2 /selasphorus/ at willowest was a high count here. Males were displaying throughout the typical area north of the parking lot as well as 2 on the south side of the parking lot
American Coot-24000 was an about average count
Glaucous-winged Gull-1 was my first for the island
BALD EAGLE-1 juv was my first for northeast Contra Costa, and the delta islands as a whole. This species is still rare in the region (though increasing)
Red-breasted Sapsucker-1 is a good bird for the island
SWAMP SPARROW-1 very vocal bird here 38.0214482, -121.6095630 was my first for east county. This bird could likely be seen with persistence
Full eBird checklist here: https://ebird.org/checklist/S64411413
Found 126 species bouncing around throughout the day. Always a good day in the delta.
San Francisco, CA
Mt. Diablo Audubon Grizzly Island field trip clarification
The Grizzly Island field trip of the Mt. Diablo Audubon Society tomorrow, February 13, will be leaving the carpool location at 7 AM, as it correctly says in the description in our online calendar. It will not leave at 7:30 as it says in the headline of the same description.
Hugh B. HarveyWalnut Creekfield trip leader
Birds at Lake Merritt today, Feb. 11, 2020 around 2 PM
King Tide at MLK Shoreline
After the extreme winds yesterday, I couldn't resist giving a king tide at
MLK Shoreline's Arrowhead Marsh one more try this winter. While I once
again missed Nelson's Sparrow, I had quite a few other noteworthy sightings.
- A Sora has been hunkering down near the boardwalk during this round of
king tides. The bird can be tough to find but gives good views once it's
found and isn't too skittish.
- There have been Horned Larks in the Burrowing Owl enclosure. Today I saw
two near the southern corner of the enclosure.
- There were a good number of gulls, ducks, and shorebirds in the pond in
the eastern corner of the Burrowing Owl enclosure. I haven't seen much
activity in that area lately, so it was a nice change. The most surprising
bird seen there was a first cycle Iceland Gull.
- The Brant that has been at MLK Shoreline for the past eight or so months
continues. I often see it near the visitor's center but today it was in the
field nearest Arrowhead Marsh. Additionally, a small flock of 16 Cackling
Geese flew in while I was there.
- Though duck numbers are down in general, diversity is still high. Today I
saw all three Teal species including more than a dozen Blue-winged Teal in
the channel immediately east of the Arrowhead Marsh parking lot.
- I didn't check the western shoreline area today, but recently I've seen a
large group of around 25 American Pipits in the lawn south of the visitor's
center. Additionally there have been two female Barrow's Goldeneyes with
bright orange bills south of the visitor's center around
Tide levels are currently dropping, but I imagine they'll be high enough
over the next few days to push out rails if anyone still hasn't seen the
spectacle this winter.
White throated sparrow Pleasant Hill
This morning we made our breakfast on camping equipment due to the power outage, and greatly enjoyed a White-Throated sparrow returning to our yard! It's been hanging out with a group of white-crowned sparrows and forages under our seed feeders. It has been visiting us every once in a while since just before Christmas. Photos here; https://ebird.org/checklist/S64326056
southern Pleasant Hill
Heather Farm after the big wind
Since most of our street did not have electricity for almost 24 hours, I had breakfast at the Black Bear Diner today. After I came home, I rode my bike past the leaning power pole south of us and headed to the park. PG&E had a boom truck propped against the pole overnight so it would not fall across the street.
The birds were pretty good in the park today, including a Cackling Goose on the north ball fields, and the continuing Tropical Kingbird in a tree between the concrete and mostly natural ponds. It was actually at the intersection of the walkways between the ponds. One walkway, from that intersection to the bottom of the big hill is being replaced by the city, so we had to walk partway up the hill and come down through the fenced Gardens area.
When Fred Safier arrived by car today, three Black-crowned Night-Herons were on the lawn near the wooden railing. He showed me a photo. We had a Lincoln's Sparrow on the west side with many Crowned and Song Sparrows. The ball fields also had both Mew and Ring-billed Gulls, along with plenty of Crows.
Cedar Waxwings and Robins have been at the north entrance to the park, near the bridge over the Contra Costa Canal. There are plenty of berries along the canal trail, and there is bathing at the corner of the dog park for the birds. By 9 or 9:30, they are pretty much gone.
Two River Otters were in the pond making the Ring-necked Ducks and Buffleheads nervous.
Hugh B. HarveyWalnut Creek
Bald eagle over north Oakland
I'm a bit late on this, but this last Thursday I'm pretty sure I saw a bald
eagle high in the sky over our place in north Oakland (59th St,
between Shattuck & MLK). By the time I could grab my binoculars, it was
gone, so I can't be absolutely sure of the ID. It was a sizable bird, dark,
with a very obvious white head.
I know this isn't a really rare sighting, but I was rather surprised to see
it up there.
Sapsucker at UC Botnical Garden
Sorry for the late posting on this sighting and thanks to Marsha for posting it earlier. I was waiting for photos from someone on the walk, but don’t have them so far. The bird was, as Marsha notes, a Red-naped female or Yellow-bellied male. and clearly not a Red-breasted Sapsucker which are relatively common in winter in the Garden. The bird lacked the red nape spot, had no yellow wash on the belly as far as I could tell, and had a prominent red throat, though I did not focus on the white chin patch of a female Red-naped.
We watched the bird for about 20 minutes starting around 9:30 on Thursday, 2/6. It was in one of the two large evergreen Mexican oaks by Julia Morgan Hall. The main trunks are riddled with holes, though I don’t think any of them are active this winter.
I returned this morning and turned up no sapsuckers.
Richmond and Miller Knox
The White-throated Sparrow reported a couple of months ago is still in my garden and was seen this morning, February 8, in the company of White-crowned Sparrows. It typically likes to perch atop my holly tree. Location 29th Street & Roosevelt, Richmond.
Yesterday at Miller Knox Regional Shoreline Park in Richmond one Eurasian Wigeon was on the lagoon in the company of well over one hundred American Wigeon and assorted ducks. Two Black-crowned Night Herons were on the lagoon island, one adult and one juvenile. Also, one Allen's Hummingbird was briefly seen atop a Eucalyptus Tree near the restrooms at the North End of the park.
Unusual sapsucker at U.C. Botanical garden
This morning on the U.C. Botanical Garden bird walk we saw a sapsucker in the Quecus rugosa near the Julia Morgan building at the garden shortly after 9:30 am. It was either red-naped or yellow-bellied. Chris Carmichael thought it was more likely red-naped.When I get photos from the person who took some I will send them.Marsha
Exceptionally early Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Feb 2nd, Concord, CoCo County.
I recorded the first of this year's Northern Rough-winged Swallows. Three exceptionally early northbound no-shadow Phils or Phillipas (perhaps both) were seen and photographed at Ellis Lakes Park in Concord, Ca, February 2nd, 2020. This record represents this year's first occurrence of this species in the Bay Area and the second for all of Northern California ( 20th January, Santa Cruz Co.)
Compared with other years it is also the second to earliest for Contra Costa County, Jeff Acuff reported one individual in early January, 2015, ( also from Concord, Central Contra Costa).
Generally for the whole Bay Area, over the years there are some observations from early Winter, i.e. from December and January, however, these observations (at least some of them) may possibly also apply to wintering birds.
For Contra Costa County, usually the first individuals (migrants) appeared after February 17-20, while our local birds return about two weeks later, usually around mid-March.
Good pre-Spring Birding,
Albert W. Linkowski
Osprey at Lake Merritt today
Today at noon, an Osprey was perched in the bare tree full of fallow cormorant nests on the islands near the Nature Center. I watched it for a long time. I hope it was digesting.
Other sightings: many common goldeneyes, Bufflehead, and Scaup, Ruddy Ducks, PB and Eared Grebes. Lots of Western and Ring-billed Gulls, minor numbers of California and Glaucous-wings. No Mew Gulls.
Lots of Ruby-crowned Kingslets, Yellow-rumps, and hummers displaying too.
White-faced Ibis at Coyote Hills
The nonbreeding adult or immature White-faced Ibis continues at Coyote
Hills Regional Park.
Around noon today I watched it feeding for quite a while, among coots and
various ducks, in the Main Marsh on either side of where Muskrat Trail
becomes like a little bridge, with a low stone wall along one edge.
Here's my ebird list <https://ebird.org/checklist/S64072227>. I'll be
uploading photos later this evening.
Things some might be interested in
A few quick notes from my day out today--
The herring run in Point Richmond reported earlier was relatively young but good for gulls: About 1000 were observed eating herring roe from along the Point Richmond shoreline. The predominant taxa were California and Glaucous-winged Gulls, with large numbers of Mew and solid numbers of Olympic and Cook Inlet, as well. I spent a little over an hour with the gulls at low tide which allowed approach within 15 feet, until the activity started to die down with large numbers of gulls hauling out on the Chevron Long Pier. Gull movement was constant throughout my visit. Duck and cormorant numbers seemed unaffected by the spawning, but that should change if the spawning action continues. The spawn across the bay in Sausalito will steal some gulls and waterfowl, of course, but I still expect *significantly* more waterfowl than there were today. To access, there is a set of stairs to the beach at Western Dr. x Cliffside Ct.
I dipped on skimmers at Brooks Island, despite them being reported approx 2 hours earlier. I assume they were foraging or on the S side of the island where I could not see.
The skimmer in Pinole/Hercules at Bayfront Park was also absent around 230, but a male/female pair of Barrow's Goldeneye and a Montana ssp. Song Sparrow were nice consolations.
All the best
Pt. Richmond: Possible herring run
Hundreds of gulls in the bay at the end of Western Drive. They seem to be waiting for the tide to go down.
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Black Skimmers along the Richmond Breakwater
On Jan 28, I observed 5 Black Skimmers resting on the shoreline from our hole in Pt. Richmond. It seems others have seen the same group and posted checklists to eBird. Since I see that none of these have been "confirmed" yet,despite documenting photos, I thought I would post the sightings here. On the "Rare Bird Alerts" there are also sightings of Snowy Plover along the same breakwater, and Black Scoter at Marina Bay.