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2010 Trip Reports

Lake Merritt
December 22, 2010
Leader(s): Hilary Powers and Ruth Tobey
# of participants: 8
# of species: 45

Brush clearing on the islands is well advanced.  Most of the ducks have gathered at the far end of the lake.  We found the Ring Necked Duck and several Common Goldeneye.  We had excellent looks at a Nuttall’s Woodpecker, but only fleeting glimpses of Townsend’s Warbler and Oak Titmouse.  A male Anna’s Hummingbird put on an excellent diving display.

Corona Heights
December 17, 2010
Leader(s): Hilary Powers and Ruth Tobey
# of participants: 6
# of species: 29

We had an overcast, cold and sometimes rainy morning.  Highlights included a wintering sparrow flock (100+), an “ orestera” Orange-crowned Warbler and a mixed flock of American Robins/Cedar Waxwings.

Valle Vista/Upper San Leandro Reservoir (EBMUD)
December 4, 2010
Leader(s): Steve and Carol Lombardi
# of participants: 8
# of species: 60

Despite a cloudy, drizzly day we found a good number of species including Wood Duck, Ring-necked Duck, Hooded Merganser, American Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Acorn Woodpecker, Western Bluebird and Cedar Waxwing.  Note that an EBMUD trail permit is required to bird in this area.

Jewel Lake
December 3, 2010
Leader(s): Dave Quady
# of participants: 6
# of species: 19

We had a cool, overcast morning for a two hour walk to the lake.  Few birds were seen or heard.  The highlight was a male Varied Thrush seen by all. Other birds included Red-shouldered Hawk, Northern Flicker, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Brown Creeper and Red-breasted Nuthatch.

Lake Merritt
November 24, 2010
Leader(s): Hilary Powers and Ruth Tobey
# of participants: 8
# of species: 49

We had a cold but brilliantly clear morning.  The hybrid Barrow’s x Hooded Merganser is back on the lake again this year. Along with large mixed flocks of Barrows and Common Goldeneyes.  We found the Ring-billed Duck, but the Tufted Duck eluded us this month.  The woods were brimming with birds including an unusual number of Oak Titmice and Townsend’s Warblers.  Three male Nuttall’s Woodpeckers were traveling with one female.

Garretson Point, MLK Shoreline
November 21, 2010
Leader(s): Laura Gobbi
# of participants: 1
# of species: 46

The Burrowing Owl is back in the enclosure.  We saw twelve duck species including Blue-winged Teal, and five species of Grebe, some Cackling Geese and  Common Yellowthroat as well as a good assortment of shorebirds.

Corona Heights
November 19, 2010
Leader(s): Brian Fisch and Dominik Mosur
# of participants: n/r
# of species: 39

It was an overcast, cold and drizzly morning.  Good birds included a White-throated Sparrow, Nashville Warbler and House Wren.  The day was quite birdy considering the miserable weather.

Golden Gate Park-North Lake/Bison Paddock/Lloyd Lake
November 14, 2010
Leader(s): Dominik Mosur
# of participants: 26
# of species: 46

We had a great turnout.  We started with a Common Yellowthroat in the tules followed by a Varied Thrush flying over north and an Osprey flying low south at North Lake.  Red Fox was in the Bison Paddock.  We found a male Hooded Merganser and had a great gull study at Lloyd Lake (Mew/California/Western/Glaucous-winged/hybrids and an all white Western Gull).

Shadow Cliffs Regional Park
November 13, 2010
Leader(s): Steve and Carol Lombardi
# of participants: 12
# of species: 47

Red-shouldered Hawk and Osprey are reliable here.  Double-crested Cormorant and Great Egret breed here.    Today we found Gadwall, Bufflehead, Ruddy Ducks, Common Moorhen, Herring Gull, American Kestrel, Oak Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch and Hermit Thrush.

Upper Alameda Creek/QuarryLakes/Union City Library Pond Bicycle Trip
November 13, 2010
Leader(s): Kathy Jarrett
# of participants: 9
# of species: 59

The outstanding sighting of a great birding day was the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher at the SE corner of Quarry Lakes; we saw it through the fence in the bushes adjacent to the northern unpaved side of Alameda Creek. From the same point we saw a very cooperative singing Bewick’s Wren.

Nine of us started at Quarry Lakes by biking around Rainbow Lake to Lago Los Osos and Willow Slough before heading up the trail to Shinn Pond and Niles Community Park where we had lunch. During the patching of two flat tires (avoid the Star Thistle!) a flock of Bonaparte’s Gulls landed on the creek adjacent to the park. Continuing up the trail we crossed over to the Niles Staging Area and the end of the trail. The birding was quite good there, with an Acorn Woodpecker, Belted Kingfisher, Spotted Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs and Cedar Waxwings. We thought we saw a Golden Eagle but it was quite far away so I haven’t put it on the list.

Going back downstream on the paved side of the trail, we went north onto Decoto Rd then left on Royal Ann to the Union City Library Pond  where we saw the Wood Ducks and Wood Duck/Mallard hybrid as well as the American Wigeon and what seemed to be an American/Eurasian Wigeon Hybrid. There were also numerous Mallard hybrids that one often sees in parks, including one that seemed to have some Shoveler qualities.

Jewel Lake
November 5, 2010
Leader(s): Alan Kaplan
# of participants: 14
# of species: n/r

We had a cool, cloudy morning for our two hour walk.  We had no unusual sightings.  A Pied-billed Grebe has joined the resident Mallards.

Cosumnes River Reserve/Staten Island Reserve
October 30, 2010
Leader(s):  Rusty Scalf, S. Lombardi, C. Lombardi
# of participants: 13
# of species: 66

Forty thousand Cackling Geese were on Staten Island today.  Typically, there are Tundra Swans at Staten as well, but not on this trip.  Other species included Greater White-fronted Goose, Ring-necked Pheasant, Peregrine Falcon, Sandhill Crane, Wilson’s Snipe, American Pipit, Lincoln’s Sparrow.

Lake Merritt
October 27, 2010
Leader(s): Hilary Powers and Ruth Tobey
# of participants: 12
# of species: 38

We are definitely into migration season.  There were lots of Canada Geese, probably migrants.  The flock included six Cackling Geese.  We found our first of season Scaup, Ring-necked Duck and Tufted Duck and TWO female Redheads.  We had a good show from the Belted Kingfisher as well as a fine diving demonstration from the Brown Pelican.  A Red-breasted Nuthatch worked the pine cones in Lakeside Park.

Lake Merritt
September 22, 2010
Leader(s): Hilary Powers and Ruth Tobey
# of participants: 6
# of species: 34

Today we saw our first of season Eared Grebes, plus a good number of Forster’s Terns and Oak Titmice.  We are not seeing Titmice as regularly as we used to on this walk.  There were still countable White Pelicans in addition to “Hank” the rescue Pelican.

 Hayward Shoreline Bicycle Trip
September 18, 2010
Leader(s): Kathy Jarrett
# of participants: 12
# of species: 50

We had great views of soaring Northern Harriers and hovering White-tailed Kites. Ducks are coming back: Northern Shovelers and American Wigeons were seen in fair numbers. The high tide kept the shorebirds in and easy to see. The day started quite drizzly but by noon the sun was out and we enjoyed our lunch at the Hayward Shoreline Interpretive center. Round trip was 20 miles if from BART and 14 miles from San Leandro Marina.

Corona Heights Park
September 17, 2010
Leader(s): Brian Fitch , Dominic Mosur and Charlie Hibbard
# of participants: 18
# of species: nr

Migrant Savanna Sparrows (2) are rare for this site.  We encountered a modest mix of expected migrants including Western Tanagers, Townsends Warblers, Yellow Warblers and a late Rufus/Selasphorous Hummingbird.  Song Sparrow from last month continues

Jewel Lake
Leader(s): Phila Rogers
# of participants: 24
# of species: 22

Twenty-five of us gathered this morning in the cool canyon – wonderfully refreshing after two hot days.  Dave Quady led the way up to the open lawn behind the Environmental Center where we had good views of the tall, slender Monterey pines, aging and leaning now with ladders of broken branches. In the foreground in an alder, also bathed in the early sun, Dave and others spotted a brilliant yellow Townsend’s Warbler and a Black-throated Gray Warbler actively feeding.  Other migrants may have been concealed by the dense foliage, as the tree was alive with small excited voices.  Someone spotted a flycatcher in one of the pines which after careful observation proved to be a silent Western Wood Pewee, no doubt a migrant as the species is not a common Tilden Park breeder.  In the tops of the tallest pines Pygmy Nuthatches chittered.

Several Red-breasted Nuthatches called from the trees and further off we heard a Northern Flicker and he rattle of a Nuttall’s Woodpecker.  In the grass, Laz, at seven our youngest birder, found several banded flight feathers probably from one of the local turkeys.  Nearby more feathers lay about suggesting that this was not the product of a normal molt, but probably from an unfriendly encounter.

Returning to the Jewel Lake road, we first heard and then saw a male Hairy Woodpecker which gave Dave a chance to discuss the two look-alike species – Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers. Along the way the usually elusive Wrentit in the full sun provided good views.

Lots of other species were either seen or heard – Red-shouldered Hawk, and a brief glimpse of an accipiter, Steller’s Jays, Chestnut-backed Chickadees, Hutton’s Vireo, Spotted Towhees.

The resident Black Phoebe made its usual appearance near the dam.  The real treat was a single Pied-billed Grebe with a strong black band across its thick white bill.  Several Mallards hung out across the lake where willows grow out over the water and Laz mentioned that the male appeared to be in eclipse plumage.

Walking back along the raised boardwalk with his mom, Willow, he described the various species he saw this summer while birding in Florida.  He hopes to bird Peru next summer with the Andean Condor being his target bird.

Though in almost every way this was a perfect early fall morning, Swainson’s Thrushes called soft “whets” informing us that a little of summer still remains.

Lake Merritt
August 25, 2010
Leader(s): Hilary Powers and Ruth Tobey
# of species: 28

The Double-crested Cormorants still have young in nests.  Two female kingfishers perched on snags on the islands for good scope views.  There were a large number of Dark-eyed Juncos near the band kiosk acting like they are at Lakeside Park all the time, which they are not!

 Corona Heights Park
August 20, 2010
Leader(s): Dominic Mosur and Charlie Hibbard
# of participants: 15
# of species: 32

We intercepted a good sized passerine flock that included Yellow/Wilson’s/Townsend’s/Orange-crowned Warblers and locally uncommon Song Sparrows.  Two juvenile Cooper’s Hawks hunted and interacted over the park.  Notable exotics: a fly-over flock of 30 Red masked Parakeets.  Eurasian Collared Doves are rare for this location, but we encountered them today.

 Alameda Creek/Coyote Hills Bicycle Trip
August 7, 2010
Leader(s): Kathy Jarrett
# of participants: 8
# of species: 49

The day started cool and overcast at the Fremont BART station. We saw a Red-shouldered Hawk near the freeway in both directions. By noon the sun had come out and we enjoyed our lunch at the Coyote Hills visitor center where baby Barn Swallows were over the doorway. There were large groups of White Pelicans in the marsh and we found the Chilean Flamingo near the end of the Alameda Creek Trail. There was a large group of Greater Yellowlegs and some Least Sandpipers along the creek near Coyote Hills.

Lake Merritt
July 28, 2010
Leader(s):   Ruth Tobey
# of participants: 4
# of species: 31

July is normally a quiet month at Lake Merritt, but today was full of interest.  Forster’s Terns were diving in the shallow water, catching fish right in front of us.  A lone female Belted Kingfisher dove, then perched for good scope views; later, two males arrived and settled on the middle island.   A group of American White Pelicans  increased in numbers as the morning progressed.  A Green Heron tried to hide in the foliage on the nearest island, but we got good scope views anyway.  A Brown Creeper foraged in the back of the garden near the fence and two Cooper’s Hawks landed in a nearby tree, perching until we got good views.  We found a House Sparrow nest at one of the lanterns lining the lake with busy parents feeding at least two hungry young ones.

 Alviso and Don Edwards NWR Bicycle Trip
July 24, 2010
Leader(s): Kathy Jarrett
# of participants: 8
# of species: 41

Lovely day!  Starting from Santa Clara Amtrak Station 8:30 and Alviso County Park 9:15. We had lunch at the County Park and left about 12:30. We found no Burrowing Owls on Nortech Pkwy but did see them in area to the left of the road into the NWR; on the opposite side of the road on the electric towers we saw a Peregrine Falcon. Lots of White Pelicans. Phalaropes eluded us; last year we had a lot.

Jewel Lake
June 4, 2010
Leader(s): Phila Rogers and John Poole
# of participants: 15
# of species: 31

Because of a family event, Phyla greeted the group and was prepared to suggest a leaderless walk, but expert and affable John Poole was in the group and took over.  Lucky folks!  Highlights included a Mallard with six ducklings at Jewel Lake, a Hairy Woodpecker feeding young in the nest cavity, a Black Phoebe feeding young at the bridge and a Dark-eyed Junco feeding young.  A male Black-headed Grosbeak showed courting behavior.

Lake Merritt
June 23, 2010
Leader(s):  Hilary Powers and Ruth Tobey
# of participants: 12
# of species: 28

The Double-crested Cormorants are still nesting in huge numbers,  and standing shoulder to shoulder on the floats.  Five White Pelicans, all with brownish heads were preening in the enclosed area, including one with the remnant of a breeding bump.  Two Canada Goose families had four goslings trailing along.  About ten Great Egrets were on one of the islands looking like they were creating a rookery, but it’s too late in the year.  We had good brief looks at a Green Heron stalking the shoreline of the farthest island.

 

San Leandro to Hayward Bicycle Trip
June 12, 2010
Leader(s):  Kathy Jarrett
# of participants:
# of species: 28

28 species was pretty good for an exceptionally windy warm day. We battled the wind almost all the way, both bicycling out to the Hayward Shoreline Interpretive Center from San Leandro’s Marina Park and back-and also from San Leandro BART to the shoreline and especially back. Species normally seen on this trip were absent, some of which would be attributed to the time of the year. We were surprised to find a large group of Black-bellied plovers and some Willets just north of Johnson’s Landing (near the Hayward Shoreline Interpretive Center) and pleased to see a large rookery of Forster’s Terns on an island in the marsh nearby.  Avocets and stilts were actively feeding in the bay at low tide and moving into the marshes later. The male Ruddy Duck was brilliant red with the blue bill and accompanied by two females. We saw at least one juvenile stilt and a family of Canada Geese. It was the first time we had seen crabs in the pond off the deck of the Interpretive Center, which might explain a lot of the Forster’s Terns nearby.

Lake Merritt
May 26, 2010
Leader(s):  Hilary Powers and Ruth Tobey
# of participants: 8
# of species: 35

The Double-crested Cormorants are nesting in huge numbers using every available twig  of support for their nests on the islands.  A small flock of Western tanagers were feeding just west of Children’s Fairyland.  We watched a Cooper’s Hawk catch and consume a small bird, probably a chickadee, sparrow or titmouse.   One lone Lesser Scaup female remains at the lake.

Merritt and Lakeside Park
April 28, 2010
Leader(s): Hilary Powers
# of participants: 2
# of species: 27

The Double-crested Cormorants are getting creative about nesting sites.  To make up for the loss of one of their bare trees they are nesting in the shade and on the broken tree stump itself.  The Black Phoebe in the corporation yard has three nestlings near fledging.  An Anna-s Hummingbird has nested near El Embarcadero.

Sibley Volcanic Regional Park
April 25, 2010
Leader(s): Rusty Scalf
# of participants: 10
# of species: 51

A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher was apparently on his territory.  A Hutton’s Vireo was gathering nesting material.  We  had a great study of a Pygmy Nuthatch at its nest.  Also seen were Golden Eagle, Northern Flicker, Hermit Thrush, California Thrasher, Western Tanager, Spotted Towhee, Lazuli Bunting.

Alcatraz Island
April 12, 2010
Leader(s):  Allan Ridley
# of participants: 4
# of species: 20

It was a good morning birding the island.  Between participants missing out by not getting boat tickets in time and the very iffy weather, we ended up with four of us: 2 Audubon members, Betsy Berberian and Ken Osborne, NPS water-bird docent Ed Ryken, a docent-in-training and myself.   Weather was dramatic with great clouds, warm sun, periodic showers and strong winds when we came around to the west side at each end of the island.  Ed Ryken, waterbird docent for the NPS on Alcatraz was very knowledgeable of the birds, their behaviors and likely locations and helpful with Alcatraz lore as well.  Western gulls were claiming nesting sites on the parade ground, in the garden beds…just about everywhere!  The gulls were involved with courtship bowing, calling and mating.  Many were up in the wind soaring, joined by the ravens.  We had an intimate view of a Cooper’s Hawk who appeared to have brought down a pigeon but was frightened off the carcass by our group, flew up to a fence post in clear view.  Our only mammal sighting was a harbor seal bobbing head up along the west shore.

Big Break and Marsh Creek Trail Bicycle Trip
April 10, 2010
Leader(s): Kathy Jarrett
# of participants:
# of species:  37

Highlights: Western Kingbirds, Green Heron, Bonaparte’s Gulls, pair of Northern Harriers.  We started at the new trailhead which is the first right just past Vintage Parkway and went out to the new fishing pier to have a good view of the water. The wind was in our faces and there was the threat of rain, so we went nearly to Sunset Rd on the trail before turning back, about 17 miles in all. Between Delta and Sunset Roads the trail passes a sewage treatment plant where we saw the Antioch? Primrose and a Fremontia tree in bloom. The Bonaparte’s Gulls and a large number of Northern Shovelers were at the Ironhouse Sanitary District Sewage ponds which are only a short distance in from the trailhead at Fetzer and Jordan Lanes.   

Coyote Creek Bicycle Trip
April 3, 2010
Leader(s): Kathy Jarrett
# of participants: 6
# of species:  41

The highlights were the White-tailed Kite, Common Goldeneye, the Spotted Towhee, and  the Red-shouldered Hawk. Although the day was cold and overcast we did manage to see 41 species. We rode about 8 miles south from Stonegate Elementary School  near Tully Road on the Coyote Creek Trail, going just beyond Metcalf Park where we had lunch. I have decided not to add this to my list of regular bicycle-birding trips because we had to drive to San Jose, the trail is sometimes annoyingly close to Hwy 101, and the bird density was not high. The number of duck species would probably be higher in the winter, but then the trail might be impassable at quite a few spots.  The SF Bay Trail, the Alameda Creek Trail, and Don Edwards-Alviso are much more rewarding bicycle-birding spots.  I have given up doing the Iron Horse Trail between Dublin and Pleasant Hill because of the encroachment of suburbia and the heart-breaking loss of Burrowing Owl habitat. Six of us barely avoided hypothermia between 9 am and 1:30 pm, only to have the sun come out after our trip. Still it was a good ride.

 Jewel Lake
April 2, 2010
Leader(s): Phila Rogers
# of participants: 15
# of species: 22

Today we had a low bird count, with few songs and calls at a time which is usually very active.  Two female Buffleheads and Common Mergansers were still on the lake.

American River Bicycle Trip
March 27-28, 2010
Leader(s): Kathy Jarrett
# of participants: 10
# of species: 77

It was a magical weekend for Red-shouldered Hawks on the trail, and the weather was perfect. Nine people took the train from the East Bay to Sacramento, and one drove because she could only do one day of the two-day trip. We covered 60 miles during the two days and we either biked or walked to the restaurant about a mile from the hotel.

Although it is only at most one-half mile away, quite often one is unaware of the surrounding urban environment while on the trail. In addition to 77 species of birds we also saw deer, Jack-rabbits frolicking, an otter, mouse, rattlesnake, a coyote pup losing its winter coat and quite a few squirrels. We saw several rookeries of egrets, Double-crested Cormorants and Great Blue Herons, an intricately woven hanging nest with a House Finch hovering above and a pair of Pie-billed Grebes tending a nest anchored in reeds. From the Yellow-billed Magpies in Sacramento’s Discovery Park to the White-breasted Nuthatch in the oak woodland adjacent to Lake Natoma in Folsom it was a great weekend for bird-watching.

Lake Merritt and Lakeside Park
March 24, 2010
Leader(s): Hilary Powers and Ruth Tobey
# of participants: 11
# of species: 47

The double-crested Cormorants are nesting; many have made their nests in the leafy trees on the islands since there are just a couple of leafless trees left.  The Horned and Eared Grebes are in breeding plumage.  The Ruddy Ducks are entering breeding plumage.  A Cassin’s Vireo was foraging in the oak trees near Children’s Fairyland in a mixed flock with Chestnut-backed Chickadees, Yellow-rumped Warblers, a Nuttall’s Woodpecker and some Townsend’s Warblers.  Bushtits are nesting in the garden, the Black Phoebe is nesting at the maintenance building site where she has been for several years. 

Fremont BART to Coyote Hills Bicycle Trip
March 13, 2010
Leader(s): Kathy Jarrett
# of participants: 8
# of species: 56

We biked from Fremont BART to Coyote Hills on this cold, clear day with water rushing down Alameda Creek and found an explosion of Canada Geese, Mallards, Pigeons and Starlings.. We saw a Red-shouldered Hawk near the freeway where we have seen them many times before. Even at the Coyote Hills EBRPD Visitor Center we did not see that many birds other than the explosion birds. It was only after we biked out on the part of Alameda Creek that extends beyond the park that we saw large numbers of birds which were mostly sheltering from the wind, and we saw the Chilean Flamingo that forages in the salt ponds. On the way back we found a group of Ring-necked Ducks just west of Decoto Rd.

Las Gallinas Sewage Ponds
March 10, 2010
Leader(s): Bob Lewis
# of participants: 20
# of species: 52
Crisp but sunny day, with harriers chasing a Red-tailed Hawk and ravens chasing a kite.  The swallows have returned in force, with 4 species circling over the ponds and meadows.  Notable were two white (probably snow) geese, a Eurasian Wigeon, Green Heron and two posing Lincoln’s Sparrows.
Point Isabel
March 7, 2010
Leader(s): Rusty Scalf
# of participants: 36
# of species: 45

Our walk provided excellent views of shorebirds in good light.  Good bird species included Clapper Rail, Common Merganser, Osprey, Black Oystercatcher, Whimbrel, and Long-billed Curlew.

Jewel Lake
March 5, 2010
Leader(s): Phila Rogers
# of participants: 20
# of species: 21

A good-sized group showed up at the parking lot this morning.  And no wonder.  It was the first mild, rainless day in awhile.  However, the birds were not particularly abundant in numbers or species.  But we were greeted with good views of a Red-shouldered Hawk high in a eucalyptus who called attention to himself with his persistent calls.  Along the way we had frequent views of Ruby-crowned Kinglets who appeared even more active than usual and sang continuously — both sure signs that this well-loved winter resident will soon be leaving us.

Above the ridgeline to the west, we watched a likely Sharp-shinned Hawk beneath a swirl of White-throated Swifts.

At the lake, a number of buffleheads, male and female, are still in residence along with three Common Mergansers.  The male was stunning with his bright white undersides, black head and neck shimmering iridescent green, and his bright orange slender bill.

Other years we have heard early season singing Orange-crowned Warblers, but not today.  We did get good looks at an Allen’s Hummingbird which is one of the earliest-arriving breeding birds.

Next month, we hope to have the new Tilden and Wildcat Canyon bird list available — an authoritative list of what to see in every season put together by Dave Quady with contributions from other expert birders in the area.

Pinnacles National Monument
February 28, 2010
Leader(s): Bob Lewis and Rusty Scalf
# of participants: 26
# of species: 44

We were fortunate to have beautiful weather in the middle of a period of storms.  Seven California Condors, including a copulating pair, were the clear highlights of our trip along with the first park record of a Virginia Rail.  Golden Eagle, California Quail, Yellow-billed Magpie,  California Thrasher were other memorable species.

Lake Merritt and Lakeside Park
February 24, 2010
Leader(s): Hilary Powers and Ruth Tobey
# of participants: 6
# of species: 48
Our morning started with a perfect scope view of a Green Heron at the water’s edge on the nearest island.  Our  resident “rescue” White Pelican has a companion already.  Some Double-crested Cormorants are showing their crests, but are not yet nesting.  A Horned Grebe was entering breeding plumage.  We also got close good looks at Oak Titmouse, Tufted Duck and Ring-necked Duck.
Delta Cruise on Delphinius
February 20, 2010
Leader(s): Bob Lewis
# of participants: 28
# of species: 70

28 GGAS members enjoyed a gap in the rainy weather aboard the Delphinus, on a tour in the Delta from Antioch.  Thousands of Tundra Swans, Snow/Ross’s Geese, White-fronted Geese; Northern Shovelers, Northern Pintail and American Wigeon.  We  had great looks at American Bittern, Beaver, swimming Racoons and a glimpse of River Otter.

Richmond to Berkeley on the Bay Trail Bicycle Trip
February 15, 2010
Leader(s): Kathy Jarrett
# of participants: 8
# of species: 53

With a great deal of fog we started at S 51st St in Richmond, went north to Meeker Slough, then south ending at the Sea Breeze Market in Berkeley in bright sunshine. The wind was practically nonexistent and the water was calm. From Richmond to Albany we saw quite a few Green-winged Teals and a number of other ducks. We had a good discussion about identifying a Bufflehead, finally going to the bird book and seeing that our bird looked exactly like the picture of the 1st winter male Bufflehead; there is a resemblance to the Ruddy Duck, but the bill was wrong and upon closer examination we saw that the feathers on the sides of the head were showing a great deal of white through the black. Near the racetrack in Albany we saw quite a few Surf Scoters. It was then that the fog retreated and we could see birds away from the shoreline. A Loon was spotted, then Ravens. We turned off the trail just north of University Ave in Berkeley and saw a Northern Harrier, Red-Tailed Hawk, White-tailed Kite and a Cooper’s Hawk in that vicinity. The Cooper’s Hawk posed for us for a long time on the top of a telephone pole.

Jewel Lake, Tilden Park
February 5, 2010
Leader(s): Phila Rogers
# of participants: 5
# of species: 16

Five participants in the regular monthly Jewel Lake walk had the pleasure of seeing four river otters cavorting in the lake.  This may well be the “Gang of Four” that spent several days earlier at Jewel Lake.  They may have shown up doing the night, as an early morning walker reported them.  They don’t appear to be feeding at the moment — simply enjoying themselves on this fine February morning.  When they will leave or where they will go next is anyone’s guess, but the best possibility is that they may be coming up from the EBMUD reservoirs over the hill. (In spite of their aquatic preferences and short legs, they can walk long distances overland).  They were sharing the lake with five Hooded Mergansers, several male and female buffleheads and one Green Heron standing on a log on the far side of the lake near the otter haul-out spot.

Lake Merritt and Lakeside Park
January 27, 2010
Leader(s): Hilary Powers and Ruth Tobey
# of participants: 13
# of species: 42

The clear highlight of today’s trip was the first-ever sighting of a Red-necked Grebe at the lake; we got great scope looks at that bird.  But a close runner-up was a single tree with three woodpecker species: Downy Woodpecker, Nuttall’s  Woodpecker and a Red-breasted Sapsucker.    The Canada Geese are pairing up.  We watched two female Common Goldeneye fighting each other  near a displaying male.   Groups of male Common Goldeneye were practicing their displays.  The White Pelican is starting to get his breeding bump on his beak.

Cosumnes Preserve
January 10, 2010
Leader(s):  Rusty Scalf
# of participants: 46
# of species:  77

It was a cool day with some fog.  We sighted great numbers of Tundra Swans as well as Greater White-fronted Goose, Snow Goose, Ross’s Goose, Virginia Rail, Common Moorhen, Sandhill Crane, Wilson’s Snipe, Yellow-billed Magpie and Horned Lark.

San Francisco Botanical Garden
 January 3, 2010
Leader(s): Ginny Marshall, Dominic Mosur and Allan Ridley & Helen McKenna
# of participants: 45
# of species:  40

Participants on the regular first-Sunday bird walk at the SF  Botanical Garden enjoyed a mostly sunny morning with a cool breeze  from the west. As usual the weather in January was much better than  August in the Botanical Garden. We split the 45 participants into
three groups that observed a total of 40 species throughout the  Garden. A small flock of golden-crowned kinglets and a turkey  vulture fly-over were the more exceptional birds of today’s walk.

 ArrowheadMarsh/MLK Shoreline Bicycle Trip
January 1, 2010
Leader(s): Kathy Jarrett
# of participants: 12
# of species:  53

Soras and Clapper Rails were highlights of the mid-day high tide, with about 5 Soras visible at one time. A Virginia Rail was lurking under a gum plant but eluded us. The seasonal wetlands at Garretson Pt had ducks, Avocets and Stilts. Surf Scoters and ducks were on the bay, and also a Common Loon. Burrowing Owls were at mounds 1 and 2 but were not visible from the main drive into the park but from the trail next to the handicapped parking near the entrance.

 Jewel Lake, Tilden Park
January 1, 2010
Leader(s): Phila Rogers
# of participants: 11
# of species: 22

I was surprised and delighted to pull into the parking lot at Jewel Lake to discover a group of about 10 people assembling on this first day of the new year.     Dave Quady was once again able to join us and because he completed the walk, I’m sending along his notes and comments.

“On Friday, January 1, 2010 I helped Phila Rogers with her regular first Friday of the month bird walk to Jewel Lake, in Tilden Park.  We began at 8:30 am.  Phila left at about 10:00 am, and I continued with most of the group until nearly 11:00 am.  Today we lingered at the end of the road, then walked slowly down the fire trail to the Jewel Lake dam.  I took the group a short distance west along the dam, then we retraced our steps.  I met George Peyton who was there to begin his year list.  Today I recorded only 19 species on the trip.  Others reported hearing a Northern Flicker and a Song Sparrow that I missed.  Otherwise I believe I recorded everything that anyone else did.

On our walk back to the parking area I saw a small bird foraging beneath the low vegetation on the east side of the road that I believe was probably a Winter Wren (by size, quickness of movement, habitat and foraging behavior, and overall coloration — warm reddish brown above, unspotted, but seen only with my naked eye at about 20 ft range because I had lent my binoculars to a participant.  I chose not to count it.  I was surprised that we did not encounter any sparrow flocks (except for a few juncos), or many warblers.

Weather was fine: a few sprinkles early that posed no difficulty, calm, mostly cloudy, about 50 degrees.   The Mallard flock (10) on Jewel Lake included one female that quacked enthusiastically. Other ducks on Jewel Lake included:  Bufflehead 3 (two females and one male), Common Goldeneye 3 (two females and a male whose face pattern was only faintly developed so its white mark looked crescent-like by it head profile screamed “Common”), Hooded Merganser (three females).  A White-tailed Kite, a surprising flyover, heading northeast.  My park bird!”