Clayton Community Park and Heather Farm Wednesday morning


After reading on eBird of the continuing Yellow-breasted Chat in Clayton Community Park, I decided to give it a try.  Knowing it was probably a day late, I arrived just about 8 AM.  What I did not realize is that the ball field where the Chat has been seen and heard is also a popular morning location for the off-leash dog walkers and a few out for a morning walk.  These folks don't seem to understand the concept of inside and outside voices.

And no, I did not find the Chat, which was pretty much what I expected, but had some nice birds nevertheless.  A Bullock's Oriole was singing when I first arrived, Western Kingbirds chattered and landed on a hillside fence, Ash-throated Flycatchers were in the oaks on the surrounding hills, Acorn Woodeckers, both Towhee species, maybe half-a-dozen Golden-crowned and one White-crowned Sparrow.  A Wilson's Warbler and a Warbling Vireo singing helped me find them fairly easily, too.  I circled the upper ball field and playground area twice over about 40 minutes. 

As I came back toward the bathroom from the playground area the second time, a Lesser Goldfinch landed nearby, reminding me how cute they are.  Then another grayish-brown bird landed on the sidewalk and this one had yellow wings.  It hid behind the curve of the lawn, and as I edged around for a better view, her mate came out into the open--a pair of Lawrence's Goldfinches.  Well, sorry for the Lesser I just saw, but this guy is really a stunning looker.  I enjoyed watching him until some of the human morning visitors came to take advantage of the facilities and these two headed for a nearby tree.

From home I jumped on my bike and made a quick trip to Heather Farm Park.  As I stopped short of the gnarly oak on the west side of the big pond, I saw a friend looking up at the Great-tailed Grackle making all kinds of weird bubbling and popping noises.  Ann told me she had never heard that kind of sound from them.  The Grackle dropped into the reeds and stopped making noise.

Having been told about it, I looked at the now wide-open space above the pond edge to the right of the gravel boat ramp.  Someone has denuded the coyote brush and pretty much whatever else was there.  I noticed a similar activity south of the equestrian area later this past winter.  The sparrow habitat is being removed and some of us wonder why.

Hugh B. Harvey
Walnut Creek