Lake Merritt Outflow Channel

Jim Chiropolos

I visited the Lake Merritt outflow channel today at lunch and the first bird I saw was the male tufted duck floating under me on a bridge from Laney College. As Mark R, the bird’s finder stated, it seems to not like to be with the adjacent scalp raft but maintain a distance. It then pulled a Houdini act and disappeared when I started looking for Barrows Goldeneyes and other birders appeared. Birding here was bittersweet as it was the first time ever in winter I have birded the outflow channel and not seen a Barrows Goldeneye. When I first started birding the channel 10 to 15 years ago - maybe 10 to 20 Barrows would always be present but every year since they were in a slow steady decline, but you are never ready for the time when you see none.

Scalp numbers are very low on Merritt - another species in decline on Lake Merritt and a second first was no lessor scalp by the nature center. Seemingly so much for the best area in the bay to figure out how to ID both species.

I see birders with big lens by Lake Merritt and I hear people are looking for bird rarities in Berkeley Aquatic Park with big cameras. Over the years, in these areas and other bay front urban areas, birders have been mugged for their cameras. Be careful out there.

On the home front, a bald eagle flew 15 feet over the house below Vollmer at 7:17 am. One of our cats was on the deck - luckily this eagle was traveling and not hunting. I think I don’t need to see any more eagles by the house....

Jim Chiropolos