Contra Costa county 5/15 NORTHERN PARULA, east county Mew Gull, Lesser Nighthawk

Logan Kahle

Hi all,

Spent an enjoyable day yesterday driving around Contra Costa county with bike in tow. I started in Richmond, working southeast briefly to Redwood Park, and then out to East county. Overall, migrant activity was very low, with the only spot with more than a few migrants being my starting spot of Point San Pablo.

I started the morning at the best migrant trap I know of in western Contra Costa, Point San Pablo. As hoped for, migrant numbers were quite good for this date, highlighted by a singing NORTHERN PARULA in the oaks. This bird was likely actively migrating, and was not found later in the morning by another observer. I worked the point relatively comprehensively, and the area around the oaks/marina was the only place that seemed to have good numbers of migrants, the willows at the county park being pretty much entirely devoid. This follows the pattern I have been noting elsewhere in Richmond at other points this Spring: the willows aren't terribly popping, whereas oaky canyons tend to be where the majority of the birds are. Anyway, highlights at the point included:

White-throated Swift-1 was presumably nesting nearby in Richmond
HERRING x GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL-1 loafing on West Brothers Island was late for this hybrid combo
Pelagic Cormorant-1
Great Horned Owl-1 flushed in oaks was a nice surprise
Western Wood-Pewee-1
Pacific-slope Flycatcher-7 four of which were presumed migrants
Stellar's Jay-2 in oaks, where not resident, likely reflected recent local movement. I tend to see this species in Spring and Fall here, rarely in Winter
WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW-1 singing here is the first summer observation I've had here, likely reflecting nesting. To my ear this bird sounded to be a Nuttall's, but I'm not positive
Hooded Oriole-4 including at least one definite migrant
Orange-crowned Warbler-1
NORTHERN PARULA-1 represented the second Richmond record that I know of, and about the 10th for the county
Yellow Warbler-6
Wilson's Warbler-8 of which several were likely migrants
Lazuli Bunting-3 all of which were presumably migrants

Full eBird list here:

From there I checked a variety of spots around Richmond. First stop was Miller/Knox Regional Shoreline which was comparatively devoid of passerine migrants. Highlights here were:

Red-breasted Nuthatch-5
Orange-crowned Warbler-1
Wilson's Warbler-2
Lazuli Bunting-1

Full eBird list here:

I briefly poked around Point Richmond neighborhoods, which turned up nothing of note.

A brief stop at Sandpiper Spit produced a single Pelagic Cormorant.

I looked at the Brooks Island colony from Canal Boulevard. The Gulls were doing well, and Terns absent. It seems Cal Gulls have totally taken over this season. Numbers at the colony were:

Western Gull-124
California Gull-420
Brown Pelican-134 was an uptick from 55 last week
Great Blue Heron-2
Great Egret-2
Snowy Egret-14

Full eBird list here:

I then hit Booker T Anderson Park, similarly slow for migrants, but did have a single Yellow Warbler.

Creekside Park was slow.

I spent a while on Pinehurst Rd, partially hoping the Pileated Woodpecker would bless me with its presence, partially hoping for a vagrant warbler or something. The highlight was a pair of Black-throated Gray Warblers in seemingly suitable breeding habitat about two miles north of Canyon. The male was singing away. As far as I know, there are only one or two nesting records for Mount Diablo and none for the rest of the county. Could be worth keeping an eye on.

From there I blasted East. First stop was Bethel Island, where I road around on my bike for chunks, and drove for others. The region was pretty slow overall, with the afternoon heat hampering activity. I skipped Piper Slough as it had been covered earlier this day, focusing on the neighborhoods on the Southeast side of the Island, the Franks Tract overlook, and Willowest Marina. Highlights included:

Wild Turkey-1 female was a bit odd. Often when you see turkeys on the island, theyre in flocks
Allen's Hummingbird-1 male was interestingly in the southeastern neighborhoods, where I have not noted this species previously. While there are perhaps half a dozen or more territories on the island, this species remains exceptionally local in the delta as a whole, seemingly tied strictly to scarlet eucalyptus
White-faced Ibis-84 in two flocks
Red-shouldered Hawk-1 was an uncommon bird for this region this late
Hooded Oriole-6
Great-tailed Grackle-1 on a tree near Piper reflects this species expansion into the Delta in recent years
Full eBird list here:

From there I went to Clifton Court Forebay, my final stop of the Day. Large mudflats have emerged lately on the southeast part of the Forebay (!) attracting 1000s of Gulls among other birds. I strongly recommend visiting this part of the forebay, if you have the endurance. If these conditions persist til Fall, it could be phenomenal. Anyway, wind had picked up considerably so I focused almost entirely on waterbirds. Highlights here included:

LESSER NIGHTHAWK-1 northeast bound flyover near the entrance was my first in years at the Forebay. The Lessers here tend to be weirdly challenging, and the location where I found the bird on this day was likely a fluke. If anyone is interested in trying for this, the Lazy Marina about half an hour before sunrise has traditionally been a good place and time to try. Alternatively, the Lazy Marina region scanning North/Northwest over the iodinebush fields post sunset can be a good place to search too
Black-necked Stilt-2 in the southeast corner
Long-billed Curlew-1 in the southeast corner was late for East county (or anywhere in the county away from Richmond)
MEW GULL-1 a very bleached second-cycle in with the California Gull swarms was my first for the forebay, and represents an exceptionally late Spring record for both East county and for the Central Valley
California Gull-1600 was a great count
BALD EAGLE-2 on southeast flats were historically quite uncommon here but have become progressively more common in recent years
Blue Grosbeak-2

Full eBird checklist here:

Great to get out for another full day of CoCo birding.

Good birding,