Bay Trail Birding and Biking

Jim Chiropolos

I decided to bike and bird the bay trail unlike looking for warblers which I usually do at this time of year. My ride coincided with a high tide the entire ride with the route Damen Marsh (arrowhead) to Hayward Marsh next to the San Mateo bridge.

One highlight was a pectoral sandpiper in the brackish marsh south of Tony Lema golf course about a mile south of the San Leandro marina trailhead. The bird was not present on the return leg. A single Bairds sandpiper was feeding  at the rivulet slowly letting water into Franks dump. Six snowy plovers were present, two immature but none were banded also feeding at the rivulet.

Lots of yellow warblers everywhere in the fennel and no swallows - they seem to now have departed.. One myrtle warbler.

One interesting spotting was a group of 100 plus elegant terns at the mouth of San Leandro creek. I was on a pelagic yesterday out of half moon bay and not a single elegant tern was seen, and a SF birder told me the big group that roosts at Crissy Field has been a no show so far this year (they fish the water below the Golden Gate Bridge). Emervyille has also held over 100 elegant terns lately - its interesting how they seem to be more in the bay this year and not at more traditional roost locations in SF and San Mateo. Not a single Forsters tern was seen and they have become quite rare thus year. With the Hayward and Alameda Forsters  tern colonies struggling, I wonder if we are seeing a range retraction as this used to be the common tern in this area. It’s interesting how bigger terns are more abundant this year - why? One of the Elegant terns seemed bigger, wasn’t a Caspian but without a scope or big lens I think its a large elegant but might be worth someone to check out at the mouth of San Leandro creek at high tide.

At the end if the ride I was looking at peeps 20 feet at Damon Marsh away when they scattered. I looked up and a brown falcon type bird had just completed a dive. I’m staring at the bird thinking its too brown to be a peregrine, its not a coopers what is this bird?It climbed, spread its wings and dove again - black armpits! A Prarie Falcon hunting peeps! My first Prarie falcon of birding the bay with probably 20 plus trips the last 15 years not counting working in Emeryville. It took off east into over Oakland. Wow, you never know will see! Best bird of the day 10 minutes before getting in the car.

The other weird thing was volunteers planting and watering Monterey Pines at Garretson Point arrowhead. More on that later. Monterey Pines are not doing to well except ridges which get two to three the water of the flat lands plus lots if fog drip.

73 species with 19 species of shorebirds 

Jim Chiropolos