Re: Yellow-billed Loon and property issues

David Yee

Dear Birders:

I would like to make some additional comments regarding access issues to those that are hoping to observe and photograph the Yellow-billed Loon.  ALL of the levees surrounding the waterways where the loon has been observed since being found on Thursday, Jan 14, are private property and not open to public access either by vehicle or on foot.  That being said, there are always "gray" areas to the rule.  But do note that these "gray spots" from where the loon can be observed are only on the levees of Terminous Tract.  Terminous Tract is where Tower Park and Westgate Landing are located.  Staten Island (to the north) and Bouldin Island (the west side of the Hwy 12 bridge) are totally off limits with NO exceptions, regardless if there is no "Private Property" signage.  Birders have NEVER had access to the levees of these two Delta islands without special permission from the landowners.  In recent years special permission for birding-related purposes to Staten Island has been allowed for specific bird surveys, and to Bouldin Island for the Stockton CBC.  Birders trespassing onto these levees threaten the continued existence of those important projects in those areas.  

With regards to Terminous Tract, the only spot with true public access to the levee is through Westgate Landing Regional Park.  But do note that the Park owns only a small section of levee, and observing the loon from this small section of levee would probably be extremely lucky at best based on its current movements.  This leaves the levee from Tower Park Marina (under the Hwy 12 bridge) to Westgate Landing RP as the "gray" area of access.  Because of its location next to the marina where there are many residents and customers, there has always been a small presence of people on this portion of the levee, whether it be for fishing or taking their dog for a walk.  And there appears to be a local understanding of who is a local/regular, and who isn't.  In other words, this is their turf with an inside set of rules with the landowners.  As has already been mentioned on various listserves and within people's eBird posts, always be respectful and compliant to any resident or person in charge.  I would strongly suggest to not get anywhere close to the white house with the cars on the levee just down from the bridge.  Attempt to stay under or as close to the bridge as possible.  Once you see the bird, do not linger for any length of time, especially if there is a number of birders present.  Numbers of people will always draw more negative responses than ones or twos.  

The Yellow-billed Loon has been a real crowd pleaser and is an exceptional record for San Joaquin County and the entire Central Valley.  I hope it sticks around and is enjoyed by all that attempt to see it.  Stay safe, stay healthy and please be good birding citizens.

David Yee

ps - I would appreciate it if this is posted to other applicable listserves

On Sun, Jan 17, 2021 at 9:53 PM Ralph via <> wrote:
I also saw the YELLOW-BILLED LOON this afternoon, with several other birders. Just before I left the bird was moving upriver toward Westgate Landing Regional Park. At one point it was very close to the near shore so I and a few others started walking in that direction to try for better photos. The fellow who lives in the house on the bend north of Tower Marina told us that the levee is private property and that we were not supposed to be there. He said he had told someone the same thing yesterday. We asked if some of us could stay a bit longer and he said that would be OK but I think he may not be so accommodating in the future if large groups continue to look for the bird from the levee. One alternative would be to scope from Westgate Landing. When I left the bird was rounding the curve and may have been in view from the park.

On the way home I saw 36 Long-billed Curlew on the ball field at Escalon High School. I've seen Cattle Egrets there on several occasions in the past but never curlew.

Ralph Baker, Riverbank

Join to automatically receive all group messages.