Martinez Birds Jan 14


In hopes of seeing a Great-tailed Grackle, I drove to McNabney Marsh and Waterfront Road this afternoon.  I did this after visiting a car wash, also hoping to entice some rain to our area.  The Grackle thing did not work, and I'm not hopeful about the rain, either.       

I spent a good deal of time at the viewing platform at the south end of McNabney Mars on the entry road to Mt. View Sanitary.  It did not look like it just looking out, but the marsh was filled with ducks.  I am guessing there were more than 500 Northern Shovelers, I do not know how to count that many birds over such a widespread area.  A  most interesting behavior observed was most likely some kind of feeding strategy.  I saw group after group, some as many as 20 ducks, swimming in a very tight circle.  They all seemed to rotate in a clockwise direction, if one could look down on them from above.  Maybe I never paid attention before but this really caught my eye this afternoon.

McNabney Marsh seems to be especially full with water, perhaps due to the recent high tide events.  I know there are tide gates north of Waterfront Road, and if they were open all the time the road would be underwater.  It just looked higher than it did last week, though I cannot prove it.  don't know if this might have an affect on the Shoveler behavior.

Lots of other ducks, Buffleheads, Green-winged Teals, Scaups, some Common Golden-eyes and Ruddy Ducks.  The most interesting duck was a hybrid American-Eurasian Wigeon I spotted by scanning with my scope.  This duck had a red head and yellow Mohawk, but the body was all reddish with no indications of gray.

The only Cinnamon Teals I saw were in the small pond immediately behind the Taco Truck at Waterfront Road and Waterbird Way.

An American Kestrel was perched somewhere to the east of there, but before the TransMontaigne Pipeline trail entrance.

Hugh B. Harvey
Walnut Creek