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2008 Trip Reports


Lake Merritt

December 24, 2008

Leader(s): Hilary Powers and Ruth Tobey

# of participants: 3

# of species:  40

Moderate rain  tapered off and we were able to get good close-up views of the Redhead and Ring-necked Duck.  We had good close-up comparisons of Greater and Lesser Scaup.  We had excellent scope views of a large mixed flock of Cedar Waxwings and American Robins feasting on berries.  A noisy flock of American Crows kept the airspace interesting, but the low clouds forced the Oakland Airport planes low overhead, drowning out most of the usual natural sounds.

Arrowhead Marsh, MLK Shoreline

December 12, 2008

Leader(s): Bob Lewis

# of participants: 30

# of species: 49

Today was the highest tide of the year: eight feet at about 10:30 a.m.  This gave us outstanding opportunities to view the marsh birds without their usual cover.  Imagine an eight inch wide, five foot long raft of marsh reeds with two Sora and three Clapper Rails standing on tip toe!  Common Yellowthroat, Marsh Wrens and two Virginia Rails also had nowhere to hide.  Today’s total was conservatively 45 Clapper Rails and 20 Sora.  Other highlights included a Wilson’s Snipe in the restoration area as well as a Merlin and a Peregrine Falcon.

Point Pinole

December 9, 2008

Leader(s): Bob Lewis

# of participants: 5

# of species: 31

By far the most common species today was Greater Scaup; about 400 were scattered in groups around the bay.  We heard a Red-shouldered Hawk calling.  Other species included Canvasback, American Wigeon,  Brown Pelican, Osprey, American Kestrel and Spotted Sandpiper.

Lake Merritt

November 26, 2008

Leader(s): Hilary Powers and Travis Hails

# of participants: 15

# of species:  32

Light rain turned to heavy rain, so our trip was cut a bit short and restricted only to the lake area.  We had good sightings of the Ring-necked Duck as well as Common Goldeneye and Barrow’s Goldeneye.  There were five Grebe species: Pied-billed, Horned, Eared, Western and Clark’s.  We also saw five species of Gulls and Forster’s Tern.

Bodega Bay

November 23, 2008

Leader(s): Rusty Scalf

# of participants: 23

# of species: 60

The clear highlight of today’s trip were  the stunning views of a Yellow-billed Loon.  There were also hundreds of Brant and three additional species of Loon:  Red-throated, Pacific and Common.  We found seven species of Gulls, as well as an excellent assortment of shorebirds.

Milbrae to Foster City Bicycle Trip

November 22, 2008

Leader(s): Kathy and Blair Jarrett

# of participants: 10

# of species: 57

We bicycled 19 miles from the Millbrae Intermodal Station to the Belmont Caltrain Station via the SF Bay Trail, longer than I had estimated it would be. It was a beautiful day as 10 of us left Millbrae at about 9 am and continued so until we got the 2:48 northbound train out of Belmont. The first stop on the bay just south of SFO at Millbrae Ave. gave us great views of shorebirds and ducks. Wandering Tattlers and a Common Goldeneye were the highlights here. We were not happy with the couple of gaps and lack of signage in the Bay Trail in Burlingame but found Ryder Park in San Mateo to be a great lunch stop where we found Least Sandpipers. Continuing into Foster City under the San Mateo Bridge we had some good views onto the bay with Brown Pelicans and shorebirds then Belmont Slough gave us American and Eurasian Wigeons. Thanks for the good spotting!

Arrowhead Marsh

November 10, 2008

Leader(s): Bob Lewis

# of participants: 30

# of species: 46

After the trip, about 6 participants went over to Garretson Point, where we found Green-winged, Blue-winged (5) and Cinnamon Teal, as well as Northern Shovelers and Northern Pintail.  Best birds for the day were probably the Virginia Rails, which flushed out of the grindelia alongside the trail and flew to the adjacent marsh, giving most everyone good looks at their rufous wings.  Greater Scaup and Marbled Godwits were seen in large numbers.

Jewel Lake

November 7, 2008

Leader(s): Phila Rogers

# of participants: 20+

# of species: 29

On this exquisite late fall morning with the air and vegetation refreshed by the recent rains, 20 of us gathered at the parking lot.  Retired head naturalist Alan Kaplan and birder extraordinaire, Dave Quady, joined us.  As usual, some of the best birding of the morning was in the shrubs and trees that edge the lawn.  The big elderberry and higher trees above yielded up a number of birds including a colorful pair of Townsend’s Warblers, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, and a Hermit Thrush who obligingly posed in full view so we could admire his specked chest, eye ring and handsome ‘mustache.’  The group of Douglas firs was equally productive.  Dave managed to pluck out of the dense foliage a Golden-crowned Kinglet. Robins and Cedar Waxwings occupied at he highest branches. And lower down in the shade, a Varied Thrush showed itself briefly and sounded its haunting call.   In the tall pines north of the Environmental Center we had good looks at a Nuttall’s and Hairy Woodpecker, Red-breasted Nuthatch and a Brown Creeper.    Jewel Lake itself, a month ago shrunken away from its shore, once again was a ‘lake’ though brown with silt.  The winter waterbirds have not yet arrived.  At 10:30, with the temperature nearing 70 degrees, a small group of us lingered, unwilling to surrender what may well be the last truly warm day for the season.

Point Reyes

October 25, 2008

Leader(s): Rusty Scalf

# of participants: 17

# of species: 73

The best bird of the day was the Ruff at Limantour Estuary.  Other good birds included Red-throated Loon, Pacific Loon, Common Loon, Red-necked Grebe, Brandt’s Cormorant, Green Heron, Red-breasted Sapsucker, Say’s Phoebe, Varied Thrush,  and Tricolored Blackbird.

Lake Merritt & Lakeside Park

October 22, 2008

Leader(s): Hilary Powers and Ruth Tobey

# of participants: 11

# of species: 34

Today we saw five species of Grebe:  Clark’s, Western, Pied-billed, Eared and Horned.  There were a few female Canvasback, some Bufflehead, and most of us were able to see the Ring-necked Duck as it dove repeatedly in a milling group of Scaup.

San Francisco Botanical Garden

October 5, 2008

Leader(s): Ginny Marshall and Dominik Mosur

# of participants: nr

# of species: 43

Highlights of our trip included a selasphorus (possible Rufous) hummingbird, Western Wood Peewee, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Western Tanager, Clay-colored Sparrow and Black-headed Grosbeak.

Hayward Shoreline Bicycle Trip

September 27, 2008

Leader(s): Kathy and Blair Jarrett

# of participants: 14

# of species:  58

14 people started at Oyster Bay EBRP at 9 am in clear warm weather. Our first major sighting was a Red-shouldered Hawk. We did a fairly quick tour of the park and then rode to the San Leandro Marina where we saw a Brown Pelican and what seemed to be the first American Wigeons of the season. We saw three more raptors in quick succession: White-tailed Kite, Northern Harrier and Red-tailed Hawk. We then entered Hayward Shoreline EBRP where dogs are supposed to be on leash but many were not. Since our visit was timed to be near high tide we saw lots of shore birds north of Frank’s Dump and were treated to quite a display on the pilings in the bay near the sewage treatment plant: Osprey, DC Cormorants, Forster’s Caspian and Elegant Terns. We reached the Hayward Shoreline Interpretive Center about 12:30 and were back at San Leandro BART before 3

Lake Merritt & Lakeside Park

September 24, 2008

Leader(s): Hilary Powers and Ruth Tobey

# of participants: 12

# of species: 29

We saw a few unusual species in the park today, including Bewick’s Wren and Stellar’s Jay.  We got good looks at a Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Townsend’s Warbler and Brown Pelican.  The first Eared Grebes have returned to the lake for the winter.

Lake Merritt & Lakeside Park

August 27, 2008

Leader(s): Hilary Powers and Ruth Tobey

# of participants: 1

# of species: 22

Today’s only surprise was a Downy Woodpecker.  We usually see Nuttall’s Woodpeckers in this location.  A few Greater Scaup have arrived at the lake.

Point Pinole

October 16, 2008

Leader(s): Bob Lewis

# of participants: 10

# of species: 43

We had a beautiful day at Point Pinole with highlights being eight Black Oystercatchers at the fishing pier, and every piling capped by a Forster’s Tern. Good looks at Lincoln ‘s Sparrows and several raptors. The scaup are just starting to arrive; we saw about 200 Greater Scaup.

GGAS Palo Alto Baylands Bicycle Trip

October 12, 2008

Leader(s): Kathy and Blair Jarrett

# of participants: 9

# of species: 42

We had barely started when Blair met a woman who had just photographed a Phalarope which was still opposite the parking lot just south of the Lucy Evans Baylands Nature Interpretive Center . The Red-necked Phalarope was undoubtedly the bird of the day. We saw large numbers of White-Crowned Sparrows, noting their call, a cheerful upbeat “Here I am” and heard a Golden-Crowned Sparrow with its more mournful downbeat “Oh dear me”. The ducks are back, as are the White Pelicans, both in great numbers; we also saw a Brown Pelican. We did not see any Clapper Rails or Burrowing Owls, but had a great view of a Red-tailed Hawk landing on one of the transmission towers.  The day was warm with a bit of a cool breeze, which made us turn off the SF Bay trail and head west along Mayfield Slough and Matadero Creek on the Adobe Creek Trail. The birds were also escaping the wind there, and we found Northern Pintails, Cinnamon Teals, Canvasbacks, American Wigeons, and at least one Green-winged Teal in addition to the Mallards, Ruddy Ducks and Northern Shovelers we had seen already. We had a big discussion about the sandpipers seen, and after more study I agree with Chris Bard that they were Least Sandpipers. The Semipalmated Sandpiper is not thought to be a common visitor to the West Coast of North America.  We finally got to eat lunch overlooking Mountain View Shoreline Lake and then returned on the SF Bay Trail. Thanks to all participants for their enthusiasm and good spotting!

Heron’s Head/Pier 94

October 11, 2008

Leader(s): Eddie Bartley

# of participants: 20

# of species: 41

Feral cats being fed near Pier 94 was a lowlight. PG&E’s power plant is nearly dismantled. The future of this site next to Hereon’s Head Park and near India Basin is unknown. Smells from Darling International’s rendering plant were invasive. Birds included three Peregrine Falcons, Black Oystercatcher, Spotted Sandpiper, Long-billed Curlew, Mew Gull and Glaucous-winged Gull.

Martin Luther King Shoreline

October 6, 2008

Leader(s): Bob Lewis

# of participants: 8

# of species: 38

As we assembled, the sun was just breaking through the fog, and the tide was moderately high and slack.  We walked over to the boardwalk in hopes of a Clapper Rail.  The US Dept of Fish and Wildlife is working with PRBO on a rail monitoring program here, and one of the rails equipped with a transmitter, visible on its right wing, came into view.  It also displayed a silver band on its right leg.  The bird spread its wings in the morning sun and preened and warmed for about 5 minutes while the group observed feather details.

Jewel Lake , Tilden Park

October 3, 2008

Leader(s): Phila Rogers

# of participants: 6

# of species: 14

Today’s walk, under cloudy skies, was unusual due to the lack of birds. We saw only 14 species. A shrunken Jewel Lake had none of the usual visitors (herons) re even the resident Mallards. The Wild Turkeys were here, and fortunately a Brown Creeper, Bewick’s Wren and Spotted Towhee.

Martin Luther King Shoreline

September 8, 2008

Leader(s): Bob Lewis

# of participants: 10

# of species: 26

The weather was beautiful, and the day was only marred by one of us dumping his scope into the mud alongside the pier.  With three helpers holding his legs, he managed to retrieve it, none the worse (well, a little muddy) for wear.  We met a Clapper Rail census taker with a radio antenna, who assured us one clapper was hiding about 5 feet from us in dense spartina, but it was invisible to us. Birds seen included Elegant Tern, Common Yellowthroat, Savannah Sparrow, Black necked Stilt and Red-necked Phalarope.

Jewel Lake

September 5, 2008

Leader(s): Phila Rogers

# of participants: 18

# of species: 33

We had a delightful walk around Jewel Lake seeing many migrants. As usual we gathered at the Environmental Center parking lot at 8:30 where it was deliciously cool, proving again that Wildcat Canyon has its own microclimate — cold when elsewhere its cool, and cool on the warmest days. The grass wet with dew was an additional refreshment.  As is often true, the area around the parking lot produced some of the best sightings of the migrants — Townsend’s, Wilson’s, and Yellow Warblers perfectly lit by the low morning sun. Swainson’s Thrushes and Black-headed Grosbeaks are still around and you wonder whether these are birds that spent the breeding season in the area, or individuals who are passing through on migration. We were surprised to see two of our winter residents — a Ruby-crowned Kinglet and the Townsend’s Warbler, begging a similar question — early arrivals or migrants moving south? Whatever might be the answer, early September is a wonderful time to be out in the field.  Other migrants included Western Tanagers and lots of Warbling Vireos who have an affinity for the white dogwood berries (as noted yesterday by Denise Wight).  Jewel Lake has shrunk away from its banks, exposing mounds of silt usually covered by water. A Great-blue Heron maintained a statuesque pose on a protruding stump, while a few Mallards paddled around. Dragonflies darted about harvesting insects. At the dam, only enough water oozes out to support bright-green algae in the spillway — a lethargic scene that really makes you yearn for an early rain.  By the time we made the return trip through the oak-bay woodland along Pack Rat Trail, the growing heat quieted both bird watchers and the birds alike.

San Francisco Botanical Garden

August 3, 2008

Leader(s): Ginny Marshall, Dominic Mosur, Allan Ridley, Helen McKenna

# of participants: 35

# of species: 30

Participants shivered through a cool foggy morning. The sightings were mostly resident birds with numerous juveniles in evidence. We sighted two nearly full grown California Quail immatures in the Demo Garden and saw at least 10 juvenile Dark-eyed Juncos.

East Shore State Park Bicycle Birding Trip

July 26, 2008

Leader(s): Kathy and Blair Jarrett

# of participants: 9

# of species: 43

We had beautiful weather today. Highlights were Semi-palmated Plovers and Western and Least Sandpipers. Nine of us enjoyed the ride from the SF Bay Trail from the South 51st Street trailhead north to Meeker Slough in Richmond then to just south of University Ave in Berkeley , doubling back to the bicycle bridge, and ending at Aquatic Park . We were glad to be on bicycles when we saw the cars piling into the Berkeley Marina for the Kite Festival. Nice picnic at the Sea Breeze Market.

Lake Merritt & Lakeside Park

July 23, 2008

Leader(s): Hilary Powers and Ruth Tobey

# of participants: 3

# of species: 27

The Common Goldeneye female remains on the far island. A half-grown Raccoon somehow made it to the second island out from the nature center. We had good looks at Caspian Tern and Forsters Tern.

Alviso Bicycle Birding Trip

July 12, 2008

Leader(s): Kathy Jarrett

# of participants: 9

# of species: 48

The weather cooled to comfortable temperatures after the heat wave earlier in the week, and we had an enjoyable morning with a picnic lunch at the Marina at the end of our tour. We rode 15 miles from the Alviso Marina to the Visitor Center and through the Mallard Slough and Alviso Trails back to the Marina .  Species seen included a huge number of American White Pelicans and quite a few California Gulls. On the slough coming toward the Visitor’s Center we saw the Green Heron and the Black-crowned Night Herons. Quite a few Wilson ‘s Phalaropes were seen on the ponds.

Lake Merritt & Lakeside Park

June 26, 2008

Leader(s): Hilary Powers and Ruth Tobey

# of participants: 4

# of species: 31

Two White Pelicans were keeping company with the rescued Pelican. One Lesser Scaup and one female Common Goldeneye are still here.

Lake Merritt & Lakeside Park

June 26, 2008

Leader(s): Hilary Powers and Ruth Tobey

# of participants: 4

# of species: 31

Two White Pelicans were keeping company with the rescued Pelican. One Lesser Scaup and one female Common Goldeneye are still here.

Alameda Creek/Coyote Hills Bicycle Birding Trip

June 21, 2008

Leader(s): Kathy Jarrett

# of participants: 6

# of species:

We started from the Fremont BART Station at 8:30 with the temperatures already quite warm. At Coyote Hills EBRP we sat in the shade to have an early lunch and got breezes off the bay. We saw several Barn Swallow families in crowded nests over the entrance to the visitor center. There were lots of American White Pelicans at Coyote Hills and we went to the end of the Alameda Creek Trail at the bay and saw the Chilean Flamingo. Confirming the observation in the SFBBO Wingbeats newsletter, there were quite a few California Gulls on the ponds at Coyote Hills. We started back to BART before noon, the earliest return ever on this trip. We drank lots of water on the way back. 37 species seen if we are allowed to include the flamingo.

San Francisco Botanical Garden

June 1, 2008

Leader(s): Ginny Marshall, Dominic Mosur, Allan Ridley, Helen McKenna, Lew Ellingham

# of participants: 34

# of species: 35

We enjoyed a clear sunny morning with cool NW winds. The mostly resident birds were actively foraging to feed young in nests. A Pygmy Nuthatch was feeding young in a nest in a big cypress. A Red-shouldered Hawk tried to nab a gopher, but it proved too heavy to carry away. A Downy Woodpecker parent had two fledglings in tow.

Jewel Lake , Tilden Park

June 6, 2008

Leader(s): Phila Rogers

# of participants: 15

# of species: 21

This was the final GGAS Friday Jewel Lake trip for the season. We plan on regrouping in early September when with luck we’ll see some of the migrants traveling through the East Bay .  This was the morning for thrushes – Swainson’s Thrush singing all around us. A month ago, they had been mostly silent letting us know of their presence only by call notes.  What a difference a month makes. In early May, the dominate singers had been the Wilson ‘s Warbler and the Orange-crowned Warbler. Now we heard only a song or two and not until the end of the walk did we hear Black-headed Grosbeaks.  It was a lovely mild early summer morning with none of the usual canyon chill. All the deciduous trees and shrubs that grow along the stream and around the lake are fully-leafed out into heavy bowers of vegetation. The lake, itself a leaf green, no longer spills over the dam – its still surface disturbed only by ripples made by a pond turtle as it slid off a log into the water.  The day before one of the naturalists jogging along the roadway where Tilden Park becomes Wildcat Canyon Park , had a second recent (or is it third) sighting of a mountain lion.

Garin Regional Park

May 10, 2008

Leader(s): Anne Hoff

# of participants: 17

# of species: 49

There were two species of Oriole – Hooded and Bullock’s on today’s walk. A Warbling Vireo was singing on its nest. Also nesting were Bushtit, Red-tailed Hawk and Barn Swallow. We saw Bewick’s Wren and House Wren as well as Hermit Thrush and Western Bluebird.

Jewel Lake , Tilden Park

May 2, 2008

Leader(s): Phila Rogers

# of participants: 18

# of species: 24

The first-Friday-of-the-Month Jewel Lake walk is billed as a one-mile stroll around Jewel Lake . On this spring morning, overflowing with birds, we only went a few yards on the Pack Rat trail before we were waylaid by a glorious Western Tanager, singing Warbling Vireos, flocks of Cedar Waxwings — the beauties go on and on. And for once, I’m quite at a loss for words to describe the treasures of this spring morning among the oaks, bays, ferns, and flowering Thimble berries of Jewel Lake .  The trip did not begin on a promising note. As I stood at the beginning of the trail trying to relocate the willow where the month before a Downy Woodpecker had been excavating a nest hole, a voice in the bushes called out: “Look, a tree has fallen and you can see the broken eggs and the remains of a nestling.” Alan Kaplan who sees, hears, and smells everything was brought to the spot by the smell of bruised willow leaves on which willow leaf beetles were feeding (I kid you not.) He then delivered up the small, slender beetle and a gnawed leaf with a cluster of tiny eggs.  Our abundance of riches continued with the arrival of Dave Quady who upon seeing and hearing a Pacific-slope (“Pac Slope”) Flycatcher provided us with a mini-seminar about the subtleties of the lower mandibles on various flycatchers. Between Alan and Dave, the woods were forced to yield their secrets (did I mention that they’re both very funny guys which meant that I was more than usual challenged to keep my footing on the narrow trail)?  I suppose ahead somewhere near where the trail drops down to the lake, a Winter Wren was singing, but that will have to wait for another day. The Swainson’s Thrush has arrived announcing its presence with call notes. It appears that these thrushes have to settle in for a couple of weeks before singing.  Additonal sighting: The redoubtable Dr. Gilbert, patron saint for the Wilson ‘s Warblers and responsible for their leg bands, was glimpsed slipping through the trees suited out as usual with his oversized earphones.

Palm Springs , Morongo Valley , Joshua Tree

April 25, 26, 27, 2008

Leader(s): Rusty Scalf and Emilie Strauss

# of participants: 15

# of species: 73

The days were unseasonably warm, about 96 degrees in Palm Springs , which presented difficult conditions for all. We found many of the anticipated bird species including Scott’s Oriole, Verdin, Summer Tanager, Gambell’s Quail, Cactus Wren, Vermillion Flycatcher and Bell ‘s Vireo. In addition we found eight species of lizard and one snake species (Coachwhip). The wildflower display at Joshua Tree was a wonderful bonus.

American River Trail Bicycle Trip

April 10 and 11, 2008

Leader(s): Kathy and Blair Jarrett

# of participants: 9

# of species: 72

Seven people took the Capitol Corridor train to Sacramento , arriving around 10:30 am. As usual, the view from the train between Richmond and the Suisun Marsh was great. The highlight of the trip up to Folsom was seeing male and female Wood Ducks on the river just south of Discovery Park in Sacramento . Some walked and some rode their bikes to Dos Coyotes restaurant from our hotel, Larkspur Landing. On Saturday morning two more people joined us for the ride to Sacramento from Iron Point Light Rail station in Folsom. The oak woodlands just above Nimbus Dam were teeming with bird life and we saw a rookery of Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets and Double-crested Cormorants across Lake Natoma . There were swarms of Cliff, Tree, and Violet Green Swallows and rafts

of Common Mergansers. The weather was warm but pleasant on the trail and we saw the Wood Ducks again. We made it back to Sacramento for the 2:15 train back to the Bay Area, having started the morning’s ride at 8:30. We biked about 60 miles in two days and saw 72 species.

Martin Luther King Shoreline/Arrowhead Marsh

April 7, 2008

Leader(s): Rusty Scalf

# of participants: 17

# of species: 62

We observed a good number of diving ducks, many transitioning in plumage. Western Grebes were performing their ballet. Shorebirds such as Dowitcher and Willet were also transitioning. All three Teal species were seen as well as Caspian Tern.

Jewel Lake , Tilden Park

April 4, 2008

Leader(s): Phila Rogers

# of participants: 15

# of species: 30

We had a delightful morning at Jewel Lake , starting our walk to the cheerful chorus of robin song. At the beginning of the Pack Rat Trail we watched a male Downy Woodpecker customizing the entrance to a nest hole in a small tree to right of the trail. Below his chiseling, a cone of sawdust was collecting where the tree forks Wilson ‘s Warblers and Pacific-slope Flycatchers were the dominante singers along the wooded trail. From the willows below, newly-arrived Black-headed Grosbeaks were singing. Alan Kaplan pointed out that in the park Grosbeaks arrive when the box elder trees bloom. And for those confused by the robin and grosbeak songs, he says: “You can march to a singing robin (with its even phrasing), but not to the Black-headed Grosbeak’s song. “  Last month’s dominate singer, the Orange-crowned Warbler, now has receded into the background. Absent on this morning were Warbling Vireos and Swainson’s Thrushes who are usually the last to arrive. The wintering water birds have departed leaving the lake to the resident Mallards and pond turtles.  In an alder at lakeside, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, soon to depart, belted out his big song, and a kingfisher clattered by. Overhead we saw a pale Cooper’s Hawk and a molting Turkey Vulture showing a big gap in its primary feathers.  A regularly walk to Jewel Lake is a wonderful way to experience the changing seasons where a variety of riparian bird life and deciduous vegetation makes each month a distinctive experience. Next month, on the first Friday, the bushes and trees will be fully leafed out and all the choristers, including the Swaison’s Thrush, should be in full voice.

Big Break and Marsh Creek Trail Bicycle Trip, Oakley

March 29, 2008

Leader(s): Kathy Jarrett

# of participants: 9

# of species: 45

We started at 10 am at the trailhead at Fetzer and Jordan Lanes in Oakley with cold, windy and overcast weather. A short distance from the trailhead are the sewer ponds of the Ironhouse Sanitary District. Here we saw a large number of Bonaparte’s Gulls,

many of which already had the black head and some still had the white head with the black spot behind the eye characteristic of the winter bird. The bright orange legs could be seen on those standing on the islands in the pond. At about 1 mi. from the trailhead is a toilet and a few picnic tables. From here we saw a Ferruginous Hawk fly into a nearby field and White Pelicans flying over. Near where the trail crosses East Cypress Road we saw a Western Kingbird, a Red-shafted Flicker, and a Kestrel. We had lunch on the banks of Marsh Creek somewhere near Delta Road , where the sun finally came out and we watched the sheep, turkey and chickens in a local backyard. We got back to the trailhead at 2 pm having covered about 10 miles. The number of birds is similar to what we saw last year about the same time. On this trip we saw 45 species; the Sandhill Crane and the Red-tailed Hawk were seen from the car on the way into Oakley and the rest on the EBRPD Marsh Creek Trail.

Lake Merritt and Lakeside Park

March 26, 2008

Leader(s): Hilary Powers and Ruth Tobey

# of participants: 14

# of species: 37

We had a beautiful morning despite the forecast of showers. The Double-crested Cormorants are finally nesting in their rookery on the island, but they are in smaller numbers than in past years. The trees are completely barren of leaves, so the nests are totally exposed to the elements. There are no nesting egrets yet, but it is still a bit early. We were surprised to find a Saffron Finch (escaped cage bird) foraging tamely near Children’s Fairyland. The Black Phoebe is renovating her nest. The Tufted Duck is still here.

Corona Heights

March 21, 2008

Leader(s):Brian Fitch, Charlie Hibbard, Lew Ellingham

# of participants: 20

# of species: 26

We had a still, sunny day and encountered American Crow, Common Raven, White-crowned and Golden-crowned Sparrows, Cedar Waxwing, Orange-crowned Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler and Townsend’s Warbler.

Point Pinole

March 15, 2008

Leader(s): Bob Lewis

# of participants: 17

# of species: 50

We took the shuttle out to the point, and checked the fishing pier for ducks. Notable were a Wild Turkey scuttling across the path in front of us, and a nice male Red-breasted Merganser. Three Black Oystercatchers and four Spotted Sandpipers shared a small shoal, and a Pelagic Cormorant occupied one of the old pier posts. An Osprey flew over us as we started back down the trail. At a damp spot full of blackberry brambles, we found several glowing Allen’s Hummingbirds involved in courtship flights, rocking back and forth over the bushes. Western Bluebirds were seen at several stops, and returning migrants included both Barn and Tree Swallows.

Jewel Lake

March 7, 2008

Leader(s): Phila Rogers

# of participants: 12

# of species: 25

The first singers of the morning were Orange-crowned Warblers singing from several locations. These warblers are usually the first arrivals to begin singing on their breeding territories and according to Joe Morlan’s list are about on schedule. The only other warbler observed was a colorful male Townsend’s Warbler, a lingering winter resident. That common winter resident, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, treated us to a brief burst of song – loud and vigorous out of proportion to the diminutive size of the singer. Resident birds singing included Hutton’s Vireo, Wrentit, Song Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco and the warbling song of the Purple Finch.  We all had good long looks at a selasphorous hummingbird – glowing orange and copper in the sun – probably a Rufous Hummingbird because it lacked green on the back. Winter birds remaining on the lake included Bufflehead, a female Common Merganser, and a female Common Goldeneye.

San Francisco Botanical Garden

March 2, 2008

Leader(s): Allan Ridley, Helen McKenna, Ginny Marshall, Lew Ellingham, Dominik Mosur, Josiah Clark

# of participants: 60 (divided into three groups)

# of species: 46

We enjoyed a beautiful and birdy morning. The many beginner bird watchers on the trip today had good looks and repeated observations. Many species were singing/calling including a singing Hutton’s Vireo. Three, quite distinct, song sparrow dialects were heard. Lots of Red-shouldered Hawk action including collecting nest twigs. A Raven was also collecting twigs. Dive displays by both Anna’s and Allen’s Hummers were observed.

Lake Merritt and Lakeside Park

February 27, 2008

Leader(s): Hilary Powers

# of participants: 9

# of species: 41

The Double-crested Cormorants are not nesting yet. This is a little late, but not yet cause for alarm. We had a good array of grebes with five species and five species of Gulls as well. The Tufted Duck is still here.

Eastshore State Park/Aquatic Park – Emeryville to Richmond Bicycle Trip

February 18, 2008

Leader(s): Kathy Jarrett

# of participants: 13

# of species: 63

13 of us started at the south pond of Aquatic Park at 8:30 and most of us finished at Meeker Slough around 2:30. It was cold and foggy to start and sunny although not really warm at the end. We all enjoyed the Great Blue Heron and the Surf Birds at Point Emery and the Red-Tailed Hawks and the Cooper’s Hawk in the Berkeley Meadow. The Sharp-shinned Hawk on a light standard on Powell Street was stunning, and the closeness of many birds, especially the Sanderlings and Surf Scoters along the Bay Trail was amazing.

Tilden Park

February 10, 2008

Leader(s): Della Dash

# of participants: 27

# of species: 28

The group was too large for the habitat, a narrow trail. The bird list included Brown Creeper, an excellent California Thrasher and Spotted Towhee. Heard only were Northern Flicker, Nuthatches and Goldfinches.

Sacramento Delta

February 8, 2008

Leader(s): Bob Lewis

# of participants: 30

# of species: 73

30 birders enjoyed great Delta weather (after a morning fog burnoff!) aboard the Delphinus, with Barbara and Captain Ronn. We toured the meandering sloughs and channels out of Antioch, and were rewarded with skeins of geese, swans and cranes, as well as numerous raptors, ducks and flocks of Bonaparte’s Gulls. Special were four Great Horned Owls and two American Bitterns.

Arrowhead Marsh

February 4, 2008

Leader(s): Bob Lewis

# of participants: 20

# of species: 47

The tide was moderately high, and we found three Clapper Rails along the boardwalk. There were great views of some roosting shorebirds along the western shoreline, including two Whimbrels with numerous Godwits and Willets. Sharp-eyed participants spotted a Burrowing Owl along the entry road in the remediation area, at the first artificial mound.

San Francisco Botanical Garden

February 3, 2008

Leader(s): Ginny Marshal and Dominik Mosur

# of participants: 25

# of species: 40

We had a good walk today. Dom found the best bird of the walk, a Hairy Woodpecker in the John Muir section. We all got scope views. Also had several quick looks at a Sharp-shinned Hawk, including a chase right over our heads after a pigeon. It was a nice wet, but birdy day.

Jewel Lake

February 1, 2008

Leader(s): Phila Rogers

# of participants: 5

# of species: n/r

Water, water, water everywhere! Today was very cold with ice on the railings and planks of the bridges. We had a low bird count. The best sighting of the day was a Green Heron in the reeds at Jewel Lake .

Lake Merritt and Lakeside Park

January 23, 2008

Leader(s): Hilary Powers and Ruth Tobey

# of participants: 6

# of species: 44

Today’s walk was during a brief dry spell in the midst of rain and showers. We watched the Tufted Duck and the Ring-necked Duck participate in the feeding frenzy with the scaups right at our feet at the edge of the lake. We had good long looks at an Oak Titmouse and long scope views of a Red-breasted Sapsucker. We had excellent comparisons of Barrows and Common Goldeneye. An immature Red-tailed Hawk perched low and close in a tree.

Corona Heights

January 18, 2008

Leader(s): Brian Fitch, Dominik Masur and Charles Hibard

# of participants: 10

# of species: 32

The North forest has been entirely quiet since goats were brought in two months ago to eat all the underbush. We had four raptors today: Cooper’s hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel and Merlin. We also had three warbler species: Orange-crowned Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler and Townsend’s Warbler.