Mt Diablo Summit Birding

Jim Chiropolos

I spent Sunday morning birding the Mt. Diablo Summit area. Temperatures were in the mid 90's but with the occasional breeze and active birds, the weather was tolerable and the birds quite interesting. The goal was to find a Black-chinned Sparrow in the burn areas, but I was not successful. My route was parking by Muir picnic area, walking to the Devils Elbow, then to Prospectors Pap and about 1 mile down the road in the burn area that is recovering nicely (maybe 6 or 7 miles round trip).


- A California Thrasher that appeared to be hawking for insects!! I watched the Thrasher fly twice on sallies about 70 feet away where it changed directions and appeared to be chasing bugs in air! There were about 6 Scrub Jays also hawking for insects in this area - could the Thrasher have picked this habit by watching the Scrub Jays? I have seen Scrub Jays hawk and sally for insects several times before in Mitchell Canyon but never imagined a Thrasher would do try to feed like that.....

- A decent late migrant movement with multiple Pewees, Olive-sided Flycatchers and Pacific-slope Flycatchers and a Western Tanager seen before 10 am. (Migrant activity ended at around 10 am).

- A singing Bells Sparrow above the Road.

- Rock Wren, Rufous-Crowned Sparrows, plus Lazuli Buntings.

- Maybe 8 or more species of butterflies.

- Late wildflowers with many Mariposa Lilly's, Globe Lilly and Mt. Diablo Penstemons blooming.

I think in May and early June the Diablo Summit area is the most under-birded, highest potential birding reward location in Contra Costa county with passerine migrants dropping in at the Summit - which is also the highlight time to see wildflowers. I think the Diablo summit area should be birded more. A previous trip to the Diablo Summit in early May this year reinforced my thoughts that this is a good area for migrants when I saw 4 or more Cassin's Vireos within 150 yards of the summit building when the rest of the mountain below was quiet as I had biked up the mountain.

The trails in the summit area are often steep and rocky so be prepared, but the views are worth it even if the birding is slow.

Good Luck,

Jim Chiropolos


Heather Farm Thursday June 7


During my travels, Fred Safier wrote to inform me that there had been some Killdeer activity in Heather Farm Park in the Ygnacio Valley of Walnut Creek.  Today, I looked in the driveway entrance to a city corporation just past the dog park at the north end of the park and where the building is located for washing landscape trucks.  An adult Killdeer called just as I arrived.  next to the little Ygnacio Canal were two Killdeer chicks and up on the pavement was an adult.

Very cool.

Hugh B. Harvey
Walnut Creek

Purple bird

Seema Bangalore

Hi, saw this two beautiful birds one purple and another blue at ygnacio valley park. How do i attach video with this email to send it over.


Heather Farm Thursday June 7


During my travels, Fred Safier wrote to inform me that there had been some Killdeer activity in Heather Farm Park in the Ygnacio Valley of Walnut Creek.  Today, I looked in the driveway entrance to a city corporation just past the dog park at the north end of the park and where the building is located for washing landscape trucks.  An adult Killdeer called just as I arrived.  Next to the little Ygnacio Canal were two Killdeer chicks and up on the pavement was an adult.

Very cool.

Hugh B. Harvey
Walnut Creek

[NBB] Bell’s Vireo Bradford Island Contra Costa County

Logan Kahle

Just a messenger. There are no previous documented county records. Congratulations, Mark and Lucas!


Begin forwarded message:

From: "Mark Stephenson markstephenson4106@... [northbaybirds]" <northbaybirds-noreply@...>
Date: June 8, 2018 at 1:33:18 PM PDT
To: Yahoogroups <northbaybirds@...>,  Sightings <ebb_sightings@...>
Subject: [NBB] Bell’s Vireo Bradford Island Contra Costa County
Reply-To: Mark Stephenson <markstephenson4106@...>


Bell's Vireo

Found and ID’d Singing Bell’s Vireo by Lucas&Mark Stephenson. Audios and Photos will be posted. Heard singing in Taller willow stand approximately 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile to the right and north of the ferry landing. Flew back and forth across a small path many times landing in center of willow trees. Relatively close to the road. Several distant Identifiable photos. Drab gray vireo with Long tail, dull eye ring and white lores. John Blakelock later joined us and we showed it to him..

Bell’s Vireo - Bradford Island

Logan, thanks for passing this along. And much thanks to Mark and Lucas for showing me the bird. I would have totally missed it. I’m still in east county if anyone is interested in chasing the Bell’s Vireo this afternoon I can take you to the exact spot. Last ferry back is at 5. Will try to pin the location on google maps if I can.
Good birding,
John Blakelock

Bell's Vireo - Bradford Island

Here's a link to the exact spot where we stood and observed the Bell's Vireo on Bradford Island.  From here you will easily see the grassy lane that Mark mentioned in his post.

All the best refinding the bird,

John Blakelock

Crab Cove

Bob Richmond

An Arctic Tern was at Crab Cove this afternoon. But a music festival is going on now. I doubt very much that any parking is available.

Bob Richmond

Bradford and notes

Logan Kahle

Hi all,

As I think it is possible (probable??) that many people will want to chase the Bell's Vireos, I figured it's worth explaining a bit of how to bird one of Contra Costa's many isolated treasures.

Bradford Island is relatively unique in that is almost entirely below sea level, most of it by about 12 feet. This means that most of the island consistently floods in winter, making real estate development mostly infeasible. This also means that vast forests of willows and cottonwoods dominate this sparsely populated island, and as such it is one of the region's largest strongholds for Blue Grosbeaks, Chats, and, as I'd always hoped, Bell's Vireos (the former two likely have dozens of territories on the island).

In hopes of it bringing more people both to this island and to chase Mark and Lucas' fantastic find, here are a few tips on how to get to the island, how to bird it, and what might be found.

Getting to the island. This is actually not as trivial as it may sound. Unlike most of the islands in the region, there is no road to get on to Bradford. One must take a ferry that departs on the hour ever hour (of varying schedules) during the day at the end (NE terminus) of Jersey Island road, past the gate with marked hours, here: 38.0547258,-121.6575015 If you Google "Bradford Island Ferry" it will come up. You can purchase tickets for the ferry one of two ways: 1) you can go to the Valero on Cypress Dr north of Knightsen. Here you can buy tickets for $7.75 or 2) you can purchase the tickets for $10 at the dock. There is a sign at the Ferry that says "for property owners only" or similar, but as far as I've been able to ascertain from both friends who own property on the island as well as people operating the ferry this is actually not the case.

Birding on the Island. Birding on Bradford can actually be a little overwhelming. There is a lot of habitat. And a lot of good habitat. To try to break it down a little I've constructed a google map of what spots are good for what:

Ferry Departure/Arrival Times: All the ferry info you need can be seen at this site:

Also remember to be back to the ferry by the designated time. If you miss the last ferry you are stuck on the island for the night.

I hope many people get a chance to chase this awesome bird and also to bird this island in future seasons. It is a spectacular destination and perhaps one of the most overlooked gems of the entire delta.

Good birding,

Logan Kahle
San Francisco/Willows, CA

Bell's Vireo - Pinned location

Thanks Logan for the info on Bradford.  I never would have thought to go out there if I hadn't seen your Bird reports from there.  I agree, it is a special location. 

I just wanted to point out that the location you gave for the Bell's Vireo is a little south of where we saw it.  Here is the exact location where we observed it from the road.

Good birding,

John Blakelock

Access to Bradford Island

Patricia Bacchetti

Logan, et al:

From Google Maps access to the ferry is from the the end of Jersey Island Road.  It's been my experience that Jersey Island from the intersection of E Cypress Road is private property about halfway out and clearly marked.  If that's not passable, how do you get onto the SE side of the slough through Bethel Island to get to the ferry?  I'm looking forward to going to Bradford Island next week-that's for discovering this wonderful piece of the county.

Pat Bacchetti


Lake Del Valle local interest, Saturday, June 9

Bruce Mast

East Bay Birders,
I had the opportunity to bird the south end of Lake Del Valle yesterday for about 4 hours, tallying 60 species. Most tantalizing birds were a fly-over Lawrence's Goldfinch and an unseen Willow Flycatcher giving its "Fitz Pew" call from a willow thicket on an island.

Raptors were in good evidence, with an adult Bald Eagle cruising over the lake, a soaring Peregrine Falcon, Kestrels, a couple Red-shouldered Hawks, and the ubiquitous Red-tailed. I didn't check the Bald Eagle nest this time.

Otherwise, it was a great day for watching fledglings and taking pictures. Full check list is at

Bird on,

Bruce Mast

carpool to Chautauqua?

sharon jue

Anyone from the Bay Area heading out to Mono Basin birding festival and interested in carpooling? I'm in Berkeley, but can meet anywhere locally. Thanks, and happy birding!

-Sharon Jue

Re: Bell's Vireo - Pinned location

Melani King

The continuing Bell’s Vireo was seen yesterday at approximately noon at the location pinned by John Blakelock. It was and moving around in the willows, alternately preening and vocalizing.

Thanks for all the information regarding location, ferry, etc. 

-Melani King
Pt. Richmond

Heather Farm Park Walnut Creek Monday June 11


I saw Fred Safier before arriving to the park today.  He told me he found an Ash-throated Flycatcher on the west side of the large, mostly natural pond.  The bird then flew in the direction of the equestrian rings.  I thanked him and spent quite a bit of time searching there from my bike, pausing, listening and looking.  I could not re-locate this bird.

The city is starting to clean the pond, having the large pond skimmer machine brought in today.  This is an annual event, sometimes it happens a second time later in the summer.  On occasion, the machine seems to be abandoned near the gravel boat ramp for long periods of time.  They ususally work on the concrete pond too.

Hugh B. Harvey
Walnut Creek

Continuing Bell’s Vireo on Bradford Island, CC County

Patricia Mahoney

I visited the Bell’s Vireo on Bradford Island in Oakley, CA, this afternoon from 1:30 - 4 pm. I parked on the road shoulder near the ferry dock and walked onboard (alternatively, you can drive on to the ferry and on Bradford Island). It’s a short hop and a fun ride from Jersey Island to Bradford Island. After a half-hour stroll on the flat road I reached the aforementioned dropped-pin spot (OK cell signal) and heard the Bell’s Vireo singing! From the road, I walked down the grassy slope (a narrow birders’ “goat path” and a magenta sock tied to some grass were helpful visual aides!) to the edge of the fennel patch that’s in front of the willows and stood next to the barbed wire fence (cows are on the other side). The vireo was actively moving around the willows but sang persistently which helped me find it- and get a few good scope views, too. In between vireo sightings: Common Yellowthroat, Hooded Oriole, Bullock’s Oriole, Western Kingbird, Blue Grosbeak, Chat (several sang along the road and one flew out of the fennel and into the willows), American Goldfinch, Brewer’s Blackbird, House Finch, Raven, and Barn, Cliff and Tree Swallows... and Great Egrets and Black-crowned Night Herons along the water’s edge. While I waited for the 5 pm ferry, a river otter swam by, a Caspian Tern flew over and a Northern Harrier soared overhead.

I bought a ferry ticket ($8) at Gas N Save (Valero) on E. Cypress Road. From E. Cypress Rd. take Jersey Island Rd. to its (northeast) end for the ferry dock. As Logan mentioned, the ferry is on the hour and the last one’s at 5 pm. The ferry’s dockhand asked me if I’d found The Rare Bird: Yes!

A big Thank You to Mark and Lucas for finding the special vireo- and thanks to everyone for sharing info! It was my first visit to Bradford Island and I look forward to returning.

Pat Mahoney

Bradford Is. Bell's Vireo and access

Dave Weber

After some early morning birding in Amador County, I planned to make the 10 am ferry crossing to Bradford Island, but construction on Cypress Rd prevented that. While waiting for the 11 am ferry two vehicles with Bradford residents got in line. I asked one gentleman about the island. He gave a lot of info, including that the residents on Webb Island are not so tolerant of strangers. He was intrigued by the vireo and apparently was unaware that birders had been visiting. No one said anything about Bradford being non-accessible, not even the Sherriff who was also there or the ferry deck hand or the guy at the Valero who sold me the ticket. At noon I found the Bell’s Vireo. It was almost exactly 8/10s of a mile from the ferry. A barbed-wire fence pointing downhill and a black pipe parallel to it point almost exactly to the vireo spot. I got in line for the 1 pm ferry back. One of the vehicles from earlier pulled up and a woman who was friendly wanted to know if I was DFW. Just birding I told her and said that birders had been informed that being on the island was OK. She said it was not, and that they pay a huge assessment to the county for their privacy. I totally agreed with her and said I would pass it on. Me… I won’t go back.  Thanks to those who found the bird… but just wondering who besides residents are actually allowed on the island? I could ask a lot more questions but won’t.


Dave Weber,


San Leandro Marina

Bob Richmond

Seen today -

1 Yellow-billed Cuckoo in some eucalyptus trees on the golf course opposite the south parking area for Marina Park. The trees are SE of the grove of poplars that had a Yellow-throated Vireo in early June of 2017.

Bob Richmond

Re: San Leandro Marina


Since this is a threatened species in Calif. it's probably not a great idea for hoards to descend on it.

On Tue, 6/12/18, Bob Richmond bobrichmond94544@... [EBB_Sightings] <EBB_Sightings-noreply@...> wrote:

Subject: [EBB_Sightings] San Leandro Marina
To: "EBB Sightings" <ebb_sightings@...>
Date: Tuesday, June 12, 2018, 4:53 PM


Seen today -
Yellow-billed Cuckoo in some eucalyptus trees on the golf
course opposite the south parking area for Marina Park. The
trees are SE of the grove of poplars that had a
Yellow-throated Vireo in early June of 2017.

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Hutton's Vireo Nest

Anne Krysiak

A pair of Hutton's Vireos built a nest on the crossbeam under my patio roof. We first noticed the birds working on the nest in early May. On May 25, the mama began sitting on the nest full-time. The male bird was hanging around. When he would call, she would leave the nest. This past Saturday, I noticed feeding behavior for the first time. It looks like both birds are feeding the chicks although only the mom sits on the nest. There were three eggs that I could see, but I have only seen two heads sticking up from the nest. 

I have pictures to share but am not certain how to upload them.