Date   
CoCoCo Ferruginous Hawk: best bird of Sunday's Oakland Christmas Bird Count

David Quady and Nancy Boas
 

East Bay Birders:

The Ferruginous Hawk seen Sunday on north San Pablo Ridge that was chosen as best bird of the Oakland CBC was also — we learned the next day — seen and photographed on Sunday from the Wildcat Creek Trail, right at the Tilden/Wildcat park boundary, by looking uphill toward the east/southeast. It appears to be a light morph juvenile.

Through a chain of friend to friend to friend emails over the last couple of days I learned of two nearby spots where the same (or perhaps another?) Ferruginous Hawk has been seen off and on since it was first spotted on October 29. This bird apparently spends a lot of time over the newly restored pond at the corner of Castro Ranch Road and Pinole Valley Road, and nearby along Pinole Creek. Its second spot is the vicinity of the Balestrieri Family Farm Vineyard on Alhambra Valley Road. The bird is said to have perched in a dead pine near the road, and is often up in the air over a vineyard starting at the intersection of Periera Road and Alhambra Valley Road.

Wishing you happy Ferruginous Hawk searching ...

Dave Quady
Berkeley, California
davequady@...

Lake Anza: Cackling Goose and Common Mergansers

Lee Friedman
 

At 1PM today (Tuesday), there was a lone Cackling Goose on the grass above the beach at Lake Anza. There were also 8 Common Mergansers on the Lake.


Cackling Goose: https://www.flickr.com/photos/99583878@N06/46377828921/in/dateposted-public/


Common Merganser: https://www.flickr.com/photos/99583878@N06/46377828921/in/dateposted-public/


Good birding,

Lee Friedman

White winged dove Holland tract continues

z.querula@...
 

(37.9730857, -121.5893740) With scads of ecdo in bare stand of cottonwood(?)

For CBC

Ethan Monk

Herring run Richmond

judisierra
 

Reported on the breakwater near Brooks Island. Associated bird activity. It might be worth checking out Miller-Knox Reg Park too.

Judi Sierra
Oakland

Cruiser Haven Orwood Road

rosita94598
 

While visiting the marina yesterday during the MDAS East Contra Costa Christmas Count, eight birders were busy trying to find the recently reported Northern Shrike. We were approached by a man in a pick-up truck with whom we had a very satisfactory conversation.



But here is the deal--Cruiser Haven has recently suffered some vandalism in the form of arson. Birders are no longer totally appreciated on a drop-in basis. Please send a preferred text to Will at 925-752-1697 at least one day prior to a visit. Will would like to have names and car license plate in your text.


Will and some of the others with whom we spoke were very friendly and inquisitive about our finding of "Shrek." We were allowed to stick around until sunset, but they made it clear that things would be different in the future. Will also said that at least 22 feet of clearance must be left on the road by anyone parking at the marina. They occasionally have farm equipment moving along the levee.



We did not find the Shrek yesterday, nor did we find the Northern Shrike.


At the countdown dinner, we tallied over 150 species for the day.



Hugh B. Harvey
Walnut Creek

Heather Farm Walnut Creek Thursday morning

rosita94598
 

In the damp morning, Tracy Farrington found separately, and Fred Safier and I later found together, a Lincoln's Sparrow near the chin-up bars between the two ponds.



From the wooden railing, Fred and I saw a Common Gallinule at the large pond. It was at the extreme right corner of the island across the water. From the Contra Costa Canal trail to the north, we saw a pair of Hooded Mergansers in the pond next to the private Seven Hills School. And at the creek channel to the west of the school, we had a Queenfisher, more commonly known as a female Kingfisher.


Hugh B. Harvey
Walnut Creek

Re: Cruiser Haven Orwood Road

Noah Arthur
 

This is a situation where I would suggest that birders not visit the area at all. For the landowner, birder visits are an inconvenience at best (unsolicited texts, having to check license plates, etc.), even if the call-ahead rule is observed. This situation could easily end badly for the local birds, if the landowner decides to get rid of bird habitat on his property in order to keep away rare birds and therefore deter birders from visiting. 
Noah

On Thursday, December 20, 2018, 10:10:13 AM PST, rosita94598@... [EBB_Sightings] <EBB_Sightings-noreply@...> wrote:

 
While visiting the marina yesterday during the MDAS East Contra Costa Christmas Count, eight birders were busy trying to find the recently reported Northern Shrike. We were approached by a man in a pick-up truck with whom we had a very satisfactory conversation.



But here is the deal--Cruiser Haven has recently suffered some vandalism in the form of arson. Birders are no longer totally appreciated on a drop-in basis. Please send a preferred text to Will at 925-752-1697 at least one day prior to a visit. Will would like to have names and car license plate in your text.


Will and some of the others with whom we spoke were very friendly and inquisitive about our finding of "Shrek." We were allowed to stick around until sunset, but they made it clear that things would be different in the future. Will also said that at least 22 feet of clearance must be left on the road by anyone parking at the marina. They occasionally have farm equipment moving along the levee.



We did not find the Shrek yesterday, nor did we find the Northern Shrike.


At the countdown dinner, we tallied over 150 species for the day.



Hugh B. Harvey
Walnut Creek


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




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

Eastern Contra Costa county 12/15/18--106,000 Coots!

Logan Kahle
 

Hi all,

On 12/15, I birded at some of my preferred East county spots with Jonah Benningfield, starting early on Bethel Island. The majority of the day was spent checking this island, including Piper Slough, the Harbor road (flooded) fields, the neighborhoods on the south shore of the island, Willowest Marina and the Franks Tract Overlook. We started at Piper at dawn with hopes of high waterfowl numbers, and found expected tallies of geese but very few ducks. The real highlight of the island was the absolutely monumental number of Coots on Frank's Tract. It was impossible to get a truly accurate count, but counting by 1000s I estimated 106,000 individuals on the tract. This is far, far more than I have ever seen there, with a typical winter flock numbering in the 10-20,000 range. The flock extended across the entire tract, approximately 2.5 miles in length. It seems likely this is one of the largest coot concentrations in California at this time. I strongly encourage any experienced counter to go to this site and try to estimate coot numbers at this time. Anyway, highlights on the island included:

American Coot-106000 was an absolutely incredible count
Lesser Yellowlegs-3 in the fields was about the expected number for wintering birds
Western Gull-1
Virginia Rail-3
Sora-1
RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER-1 was a very rare bird in the East Contra Costa county islands
PACIFIC WREN-1 at Piper Slough was my first for east county

Full eBird checklists here: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S50712004, https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S50719211

We continued onto Orwood Road, with the primary intention of finding the NORTHERN SHRIKE originally located here by Dan Kopp and Jose Martinez. We walked around the region and Jonah eventually spotted the shrike on a pole on the north side of the road, where it perched for about a minute. It then flew east, still on the north side of the road, and landed on a wire. We lost it shortly after this point while trying to relocate it.

Full eBird checklist here: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S50730943


Rain was picking up, but I decided to head to Bradford Island to see what was wintering on the island. We found a few interesting birds around the island:
California Quail-1 female was the first I have seen or heard reported on the island. Whether this represents a small, isolated population or moving birds from adjacent islands is unknown
Mourning Dove-130 was a nice flight at the end of the day
Yellow-headed Blackbird-164 in huge blackbird flock on South End of island.
Red-winged Blackbird-15,500 was an estimate of a massive flock on the south end of the island

Full eBird checklist can be found here: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S50730446

Nice to see so many birds in the delta portion of Contra Costa.

Good birding,

Logan

Western Contra Costa county 12/20 returning WINTER WREN, Lark Sparrow

Logan Kahle
 

Hi all,

Yesterday morning I got out to Richmond with Jonah Benningfield, joined for part of the time by Ethan Monk, Lucas Stephenson, and Mark Stephenson. I primarily wanted to bird Point San Pablo, but with overcast to foggy conditions I opted to check some other spots beforehand, letting the fog clear at the Point before we made our way out there.

We started at Wildcat Creek, walking the section of riparian between the railroad tracks to the marsh. It seems that some birds follow the riparian downslope into the lowlands, as there are certain species uncommon in parts of Richmond that are more fully represented here. Some highlights along the trail included:
Hairy Woodpecker-1
American Pipit-1
Lincoln's Sparrow-2
Townsend's Warbler-2
Orange-crowned Warbler-2
Full eBird checklists here: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S50821341, https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S50821099

We continued to Point San Pablo, where we spent the rest of the morning. With low overcast (remnants of the morning's marine layer) and mid-low temperature it was less than ideal conditions in my experience for this spot. Optimal is normally sunny, perhaps better when it is foggy to the west of the point. In any case, we covered the ship hull overlook, the county park, the oaks, and the marina area. Overall activity was moderate, with a few distinct highlights. Highlights included:
Horned Grebe-40 was slightly high for this sight
Eared Grebe-2 were very good birds for the point. This species has a somewhat patchy distribution in Richmond, and it is possible that the waters off San Pablo are not as shallow or calm as they prefers
Black Oystercatcher-1
Black Turnstone-1 at the Marina was a surprisingly low count for the typically very large high tide roost
Pelagic Cormorant-1
Merlin-1 very pale male
Peregrine Falcon-1
PACIFIC WREN-1 was my first for the point, and overall a very rare bird in richmond. This bird was in the first gully in the oaks, just past the first hairpin turn. Birders chaing the Winter Wren should be wary that there is a Pacific Wren in the oaks as well
WINTER WREN-1 returning bird from last winter calling at the same place as last year (37.9630959, -122.4224836) in the poison oak-filled canyon just passed the second hairpin turn on the north side of the point. The bird was about halfway from the hairpin turn to where the road next turns at the top of the gully. It was quite vocal, calling spontaneously every 5 or so minutes. I have found this bird is most vocal in the early morning, but on an overcast day like yesterday it was loudly calling at 10am.
LARK SPARROW-1 high-flying, calling northbound flyover at the top of the hill just before the oaks was a very rare bird in Richmond. It seemed like the bird started to drop down towards the tip of the point, possibly angling toward the gravelly patch at the very tip of the point. This bird appeared to me, given time of day and year, to be a (late) active migrant. Fall isn't quite over...

A full eBird checklist can be found here: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S50826523

Was great to get back to some of the more interesting spots around Richmond for a drizzly morning, with 90 species observed.

Good birding,
Logan

eastern contra costa, Saturday, 12-22

Bruce Mast
 

Good evening EBBers,
Spent the day with Holly Bern poking around east CoCo in search of some
recent rarities. Started the morning at Clifton Court Forebay with gulls
and ducks. Driving into the forebay parking lot and to the end of the
peninsula where the fishermen congregate, the gulls were mostly roosting on
an island to the south. Lots of Herring and California Gulls, a noticeable
number of Iceland (Thayer's) Gulls, and a few Glaucous-Winged Gulls.
Nothing rare. The fishermen were using a novel casting technique, which
consisted of using a drone to tow their bait offshore and then drop it.
Beats casting by hand, I suppose. We also scanned for ducks, with thousands
to choose from but, again, nothing rare.

https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S50865522

We then headed north to Orwood Road. We birded its length to the marina
(having texted Will in advance that we would be coming, to which he replied
"ok, have fun". See Hugh Harvey's note from 12/20.). Logged a couple
Loggerhead Shrike and 4 Lark Sparrows with Zonotrichias at the marina but
nothing rare.

https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S50869877

We finished up at Holland Tract, where the highlight of the day was to
refind the continuing WHITE-WINGED DOVE, associating with a large flock of
Eurasian-Collared Doves. I believe the technical term is "scads". Also
noteworthy was 1 scad of Mourning Doves.

https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S50871941

Bird on,

Bruce Mast
Oakland

NELSON’S SPARROW RICHMOND

z.querula@...
 

Nelson’s sparrow found yesterday by Rebecca Matsubara continues (37.9091807, -122.3305854) on the bay trail, best accessed by parking at S 51st St. High tide peaks in about one hour.
First County Record

Ethan Monk

Re: NELSON’S SPARROW RICHMOND

Dawn Lemoine
 

There was also a Nelson's Sparrow at MLK Arrowhead Marsh yesterday. We saw it from the boardwalk, in the shrub on the west side.

On December 23, 2018, at 10:17 AM, "z.querula@... [EBB_Sightings]" <EBB_Sightings-noreply@...> wrote:

 

Nelson’s sparrow found yesterday by Rebecca Matsubara continues (37.9091807, -122.3305854) on the bay trail, best accessed by parking at S 51st St. High tide peaks in about one hour.
First County Record

Ethan Monk



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Arrowhead Marsh Sunday Dec 23

kathy jarrett
 

Starting at the EBRPD Tidewater staging area we bicycled along the Bay Trail to Arrowhead Marsh, taking advantage of the high tide to see a Sora, a couple of Ridgway's Rails and a large number of Great Blue Herons hoping to catch a meal. We were surprised to see no Surf Scoters in the channel when we began but there were large numbers on the return trip. There were large rafts of Ruddy Ducks and Scaups. Thanks to Ken who let us use his scope to see the birds in Pond #3 at the southeast corner of the park; there we saw Wilson's Snipe, Green-winged and Blue-winged Teals, American Wigeons and Black-necked Stilts and more.


Pied-billed Grebe

Horned Grebe

Eared Grebe

Western Grebe

Brown Pelican

Double-crested Cormorant

Great Blue Heron

Great Egret

Snowy Egret

Black-crowned Night-Heron

Canada Goose

Green-winged Teal

Mallard

Northern Pintail

Blue-winged Teal

Cinnamon Teal

Northern Shoveler

American Wigeon

Canvasback

Greater Scaup

Lesser Scaup

Surf Scoter

Common Goldeneye

Bufflehead

Ruddy Duck

Turkey Vulture

Northern Harrier

Ridgway's Rail (Clapper)

Sora

American Coot

Black-necked Stilt

Greater Yellowlegs

Willet

Spotted Sandpiper

Long-billed Curlew

Marbled Godwit

Wilson's Snipe

Ring-billed Gull

Forster's Tern

Rock Pigeon (I)

Anna's Hummingbird

Black Phoebe

American Crow

Marsh Wren

Northern Mockingbird

Cedar Waxwing

European Starling (I)

Song Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow

Golden-crowned Sparrow

Western Meadowlark

House Finch

Slate-colored Junco - Antioch yard - 12/23

Paul Schorr
 

Today we had a FOS Slate-colored Junco in our yard.

Good birding,

Paul Schorr
Antioch

Slate-colored Fox in the yard

Noah Arthur
 

This afternoon a very distinctive Fox Sparrow that appears to be a ‘SLATE-COLORED’ FOX SPARROW showed up at my Oakland Hills backyard feeding station. Soft, relatively pale medium gray face and back, contrasting with reddish wings — very unlike the dark, muddy, uniform upperparts of ‘Sooty’ Foxes (which have also been frequenting the yard). 
Unfortunately this was just before I left for the airport to fly down here to Ventura for Christmas. I think I’ll be back home by the end of the week though; I’m hoping the bird sticks. If anybody wants to come see the bird if it’s still around by then, give me a call or email!
Noah Arthur (Oakland)510-967-2179semirelicta@...

Rough-legged Hawk

Steve Huckabone
 

Today at approx. 9:15AM I found a Rough-legged Hawk in eastern Alameda
County. I stopped at a pullout on N. Midway Rd where the old railroad line
crossed the road. From here you can see much of the valley to the west and
all the high power towers. Scanning with my scope I spotted the RLHA perched
about hallway up a tower to the south-west of my position. It's been a few
years since a RLHA has been reported but this is the general location were
they have been seen in past years. I cam back about an hour later and it was
still in the same location.

Ebird report here with a few very distant pics.

https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S50927071





Steve Huckabone

Alameda County

Livermore, CA

McNabney Marsh, Mallard Reservoir, Meeker Slough

z.querula@...
 

Hi All,


Today (12/24) I visited Waterbird Regional Preserve and McNabney Marsh from around 11 to 12. The undoubted highlight of the visit were 12 (yes, 12) Blue-winged Teal. This is, to my knowledge, the second highest count in the county ever, the highest being Steve Glover's count of 13 in the year 2000, the one year Blue-winged Teal bred in the county. I find that scoping the preserve from the South viewing platform (accessed off Arthur Rd) allows for a better chance at spotting these birds. Most of the Blue-winged Teal were male. Mute Swan numbers were low at 2 birds and there were several American White-Pelicans. There were also 3 Lesser and over 25 Greater Yellowlegs in the preserve and an astounding and painstakingly counted 83 Snowy Egrets. There were 6 Hooded Mergansers and the familiar Peregrine Falcon was soaring over the refineries.


Yesterday, I headed out to the Meeker Slough area to look for the Nelson's Sparrow at high tide. Joining me in the search were John Luther, Jim Lomax, Melanie King and others. The bird was elusive yet present, best seen at high tide (around 11:30am). For more details and GPS coordinates please refer to my eBird checklist: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S50900040 https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S50900040. Other notable sightings included a flyby Common Loon on the bay, rafts of several hundred scaup, a pelagic cormorant swimming around happily in the marsh, and distant scope views of the herring run on Brook's Jetty. Even from the great distance I was at, it appears that numbers of birds have increased from several days ago and several thousand cormorant lined the jetty and many gulls swum in the water. I encourage everyone that can to head over to Miller/Knox shoreline or Canal Blvd. viewing platform and check out the herring run for possible Long-tailed duck, Harlequin duck, Slaty-backed gull, Pacific Loon and others.


Two days ago, I headed over to Mallard Reservoir at around 11, an often unjustly underbirded reservoir in Martinez. There was nothing rare around, but bird numbers were high. Mallard reservoir currently has both mudflats, shallow water, and deep water. The king tide pushed in good numbers of peeps to forage. Around 85 Least Sandpipers, 6 Westerns, 16 Dunlin and about 30 dowitchers foraged together. A snow goose (quite rare outside of East county) flew around over the reservoir with two Canada Geese. 15 Mute Swans graced the reservoir, disappointingly along with 13 Forster's Terns. Other notable sightings included several Canvasback rafts, one Bonaparte's Gull, one possible and distant female Eurasian Wigeon and zero scaup. There were also around 600 gulls in the reservoir, most close enough to ID with binoculars. The lack of Glaucous-winged (2) and Iceland (0) gulls was disappointing, but there were easily over a hundred Herring Gulls. At dusk these numbers could greatly increase providing for good gulling. If anyone wishes to check it out, bring a scope, as there are only a few vantage points along Bates Ave. and the birds can be far away.


Good birding,
Ethan Monk

Re: Slate-colored Junco - Antioch yard - 12/23

Wendy Parfrey
 

Another slate-colored junco is on my deck today in the Oakland Hills. Last time I saw one here was December 2014.

Happy holidays,
Wendy
Colton at Heartwood, Montclair

________________________________
From: EBB_Sightings@... <EBB_Sightings@...> on behalf of Paul Schorr pkschorr@... [EBB_Sightings] <EBB_Sightings-noreply@...>
Sent: Sunday, December 23, 2018 9:08 PM
To: EBB
Subject: [EBB_Sightings] Slate-colored Junco - Antioch yard - 12/23



Today we had a FOS Slate-colored Junco in our yard.

Good birding,

Paul Schorr
Antioch

House Wren - Contra Loma R. P., Antioch - 12/26

Paul Schorr
 

Today we spent several hours birding at Contra Loma R. P.. It was a beautiful post-Christmas day with vistas of the snow-covered Sierra in the far distance. Near Loma Island we spotted a House Wren. In addition to the wren we had the following notable sightings:

California Quail - covey of about 12
Five sparrow species: White-crowned, Golden-crowned, Lincoln’s, Fox and Song Sparrow.
Say’s Phoebes (5)
American White Pelican (7)
White-tailed Kite
Common Gallinule
Common Goldeneye
Bufflehead

Good birding,

Paul Schorr
Antioch

Surf scoter San Leandro marina

judy mcdonj
 

Observed 2 Surf scoters at San Leandro marina near bridge that goes over to dog park