banner

Observations

BRUCE MAST compiles Observations and may be contacted at observe@goldengateaudubon.org

Comprehensive data of the year’s notable sightings to date in the Bay Area, from which the Observations column is drawn, may be viewed in a spreadsheet to the right that can be downloaded and searched by species and location.

 

October 16 – December 31, 2015


This column represents the final rare bird roundup for 2015. It also represents the final Observations column, period, at least in this format. After 13 years and 115 columns, your loyal correspondent is ready to retire. Conversations with the Gull editorial board led to the conclusion that the rise of eBird has rendered this format of systematically documenting rarities obsolete. So with the start of the new year, it’s time to shift my energies to field trips and an occasional blog post of topical interest. I hope to see you in the field! –Bruce Mast

Ducks to Herons

Tufted Ducks visited MRN on Nov. 27 at Abbotts Lagoon, PRNS (MD) and on Dec. 19-25 along the east shore of Tomales Bay (SC; ER, NR). The region’s 3rd Tufted Duck turned up Dec. 17 at Clifton Court Forebay, CC (AL, RB). A seawatch along the Great Highway in SF on Oct. 24 was treated to a Yellow-billed Loon (Gavia adamsii) flying south (PS).

Birders aboard a repositioning cruise located a Laysan Albatross in both SF and SM waters on Dec. 1 (mob). Short-tailed Shearwaters came within seawatching distance of shore on Nov. 1 at Moss Beach, SM (RT) and on Dec. 4 at Bodega Head, SON (SC).

There have been at least 8 Brown Boobies along our coast this fall and Boobies continued to be reported regularly along the SM and SF coasts. The most remarkable sighting was on Oct. 29, when a Brown Booby was photographed perched on the rail of an Alcatraz ferry next to the boat captain (fide CA). Likewise, the Northern Gannet (Morus bassanus) was spotted multiple times in SM waters, including Oct. 27 on the jetty at Pillar Pt. Harbor (DZ), Dec. 2-5 around Egg Rock, seen from the Devil’s Slide Trail (mob), and Dec. 15 from Moss Beach (AD).

A continuing Least Bittern was seen flying across a pond at Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District, MRN, on Nov. 14 (PG, SBe). Along with several Cattle Egret reports from more expected locales, SF birders were treated to a quartet scouting the ball field at Fort Scott in the Presidio, Nov. 27-29 (JCl; mob).

Raptors to Terns

On Nov. 25, a juvenile male Northern Goshawk was unlucky to get snared in a bird bander’s trap at the GGRO hawk banding station on Hawk Hill, MRN (RCi). A group of 15 hawk watchers were lucky to witness its release and flight uphill to the NE. A Harlan’s Red-tailed Hawk was photographed Nov. 21 perched on a post at Tolay RP, SON (JK, RS, LH). The same or another Harlan’s was spotted Dec. 20 perched on telephone pole by Clos du Val pond along Old Sonoma Rd., NAP (MSt, LS).

The Sandhill Crane that first arrived Sep. 24 at Delta Pond near Santa Rosa, SON, was content to remain in residence through at least Nov. 16 (mob). A couple juvenile American Golden-Plovers joined a Pacific Golden-Plover and a flock of Killdeers in the fields along Reclamation Rd., SON, Oct. 23-Nov. 2 (LH; mob). A Ruff was found Oct. 19 at the West County Wastewater District Sewage Ponds for just CC’s 3rd county record. It was then refound on Dec. 15 and observed multiple times through the 18th (AL, LK; mob). In SCL, a Ruff joined the dowitcher flock in New Chicago Marsh next to the EEC entrance road Dec. 20-31 (ST; mob). A pair of Rock Sandpipers was reported from the rocks below Pigeon Pt., SM, on Oct. 26 (JH, KGH).

Black-legged Kittiwakes came ashore Nov. 1 at Moss Beach, SM (RT); Dec. 12 at Baker Beach, SF (PS); Dec. 19-27 at Abbotts Lagoon, MRN (fide SC; MSt); and Dec. 25 over a Half Moon Bay yard, SM (AJ). A Franklin’s Gull was seen sitting with the large gull flock at the Pine Gulch creek mouth in Bolinas Lagoon, MRN, on Nov. 23 (EE). Two more Franklin’s Gulls were located on Nov. 28 from Battery Godfrey, SF (KMK).

Doves to Longspurs

Six counties recorded White-winged Doves this season. In MRN, a White-winged remained at Outer PRNS through Oct. 23 (mob). Another bird joined the Mourning Doves at Keith Hansen’s Gallery in Bolinas Nov. 22-24 (PP; mob). The SCL bird was noted in flight at Ed Levin CP on Oct. 19 (GK). White-winged Doves joined Eurasian-collared Dove flocks Nov. 12-13 in El Granada, SM (DP); Nov. 14 near Salmon Cr., SON (BOC); Nov. 15-Dec. 9 in Benicia, SOL (DSw; EP, RMu); and Dec. 16-31 at Holland Tract, CC (LK, JaL, RFu; mob).

A Yellow-billed Cuckoo provided brief glimpses to lucky visitors to Owl Cyn. in Bodega Bay, SON, Oct. 24-25 (ScS, WA; mob). Day-roosting Long-eared Owls were stumbled upon Oct. 18 at outer PRNS, MRN (DH, JCh); Nov. 5 in dense thicket near Pillar Pt., SM (RV); Nov. 13 in the SF Botanical Garden in GGP (RCu; mob); Dec. 2 in a Half Moon Bay yard, SM (PM); and Dec. 14 in a Coyote brush thicket in Newell Open Space, NAP (RFr).A nocturnal Long-eared Owl called repeatedly Dec. 20 near the entrance to Redwood RP, ALA (DQ, BL, SSt, RMa).

A solo Black Swift was way late on Nov. 25 as it glided and twisted over Hawk Hill, MRN (RCi, oob). On Oct. 25, a female Williamson’s Sapsucker visited the knobcone pines along Loma Prieta’s Upper Mt. Madonna Rd. in both SCL and SCZ (AR). SF chalked up a couple Pileated Woodpecker sightings this season, including an Oct. 26 fly-in to a fir tree in the Cole Valley neighborhood (PS) and a Nov. 13 Golden Gate crossing and landfall near the Baker Beach housing (BF).

A Least Flycatcher at Olema Marsh, MRN, was a great CBC find on Dec. 19 (fide SC). The Pescadero, SM, Eastern Phoebe returned to Stage Rd. for the 5th year, beginning Nov. 8 (AD; mob). Another Eastern Phoebe savored its freedom at the SF Zoo on Dec. 29 (BGu, JBu). A Vermilion Flycatcher photographed Oct. 26 at the Rossi Playground in the inner Richmond would be a 1st SF county record (BGo, fide DM). A Brown-crested Flycatcher was discovered during the eastern CC CBC on Dec. 16 at the Holland Tract (LK, JaL, RFu). A sparse breeding bird at selected SoCal desert locales, this bird is virtually unknown in NorCal.

The Bodega Bay Bell’s Vireo, observed Oct. 2-7 at Hole-in-the-Head, was apparently refound Nov. 7 down the road at Owl Cyn. (SH). A Yellow-green Vireo (Vireo flavoviridis) was located Oct. 23 at the PRNS Fish Docks, MRN (DSi; mob). A 2nd specimen was well described Oct. 31 from Diekman’s Store in Bodega Bay, SON (GB). A birder who happened to be sweeping his roof was surprised to hear and then see a Clark’s Nutcracker on Dec. 9 in the Oakland hills, ALA (JoL). A single Bank Swallow joined Tree Swallows in flight over Big Break RS, CC, on Nov. 10 (RB). An American Dipper returned Dec. 25 to the Leo T Cronin Fish Viewing Area at Shafter Bridge on Sir Francis Drake Blvd, MRN (SBa).

The Dusky Warbler (Phylloscopus fuscatus) that was first reported on Oct. 15 from the PBCS banding station long Redwood Cr. near Muir Beach, MRN (PFS) lingered through Oct. 20. Vagrant chasers generally reported (a) furtive looks, (b) heard-only chip calls, or (c) nothing. In addition to the Mountain Bluebird flock that habitually winters along Patterson Pass Rd., ALA, Mountain Bluebirds were reported Nov. 13 from atop Hayward RS’s Mt. Trashmore (JP, MSi); Nov. 20 from Los Vaqueros Res., CC (mob); Nov. 21 along East Side Rd. at L. Berryessa, NAP (MBe); and Dec.19 from the Walker Cr. delta, MRN (NA, BT).

A Sage Thrasher was a one-day wonder Oct. 23 at Corte Madera Marsh, MRN (JW, JM; Bob Atwood). The value of regularly working one’s patch was amply demonstrated on Oct. 20 when a routine visit to Rodeo Lagoon, MRN, produced a 1st winter female White Wagtail (Motacilla alba) Oct. 20-Oct. 22 (WL; mob). The bird spent 3 days foraging acrobatically on a mudbar along the south shore of the lagoon. Fide, Joe Morlan, this bird “shows characters consistent with M. a. ocularis, the form occurring in the Russian Far East and breeding in adjacent Alaska.”

Snow Bunting by Caroline Lambert

Snow Bunting by Caroline Lambert

Lapland Longspurs were reported in 1s, 2s, and 4s beginning in late Oct at Spaletta Plateau on outer PRNS, MRN (DSh; mob); Byxbee Park, SCL (PD; mob); Hayward RS’s Mt. Trashmore, ALA (BR; mob); Salt Pond A12 in Alviso, SCL (MR, MM); and at Abbotts Lagoon, MRN (BB). A Chestnut-collared Longspur joined the Lapland quartet at Mt. Trashmore on Nov. 12-17 (BR; AM). A winter-plumaged Snow Bunting (Plectrophenax nivalis) arrived Nov. 5 at the Charleston Slough observation platform in SCL, where it provided eye-popping looks as it foraged on the ground (CL; mob).

Wood Warblers to Finches

SE Farallon Island, SF, attracted the season’s rarest warbler, a Cape May Warbler (Setophaga tigrina) that was banded and photographed Oct. 15-26 (KM, oob). A couple Magnolia Warblers lingered Oct. 11-16 at the PRNS Fish Docks (MBu; mob); a 3rd Magnolia Warbler spent Oct. 17-26 at Diekman’s Store (StS, WA; mob)l and a 4th Magnolia frequented the fountain at Ardenwood Farm, ALA, Oct. 21-27 (JT, DD; mob). A Black-throated Blue Warbler was a surprise yard bird in the Berkeley Hills, ALA, on Oct. 21 (PB). Black-throated Green Warblers were ID’d Nov. 10 along Arroyo Leon Cr. in Half Moon Bay, SM (RT) and on Nov. 27 near S. L. Merced, SF (KMK).

Vesper Sparrows were noted Oct. 21 at Shiloh District Cemetery, SON (DS); on Nov. 11 near the Sierra Rd. summit, SCL (AR, DnW); and Nov. 21-Dec. 30 at Tolay RP, SON (GB; mob). A Dec. 27 Black-throated Sparrow at Santa Teresa CP, SCL, was a great addition to the Calero-Morgan Hill CBC list (ST; mob). A Le Conte’s Sparrow (Ammodramus leconteii) that apparently returned to Abbott’s Lagoon, MRN, after a successful 2014 winter, was refound on Dec. 4 for the 1st time since Oct. 5 (JBo, RCi). High tide at Arrowhead Marsh, ALA, flushed a Nelson’s Sparrow on Nov. 22 (DH, JCh).

This El Nino season has brought a remarkable invasion of montane birds, particularly Pine Siskins and Red Crossbills. Crossbills have been reported in every county except NAP and SOL, with large flocks in ALA and SON. Sound recordings suggest most birds are the Type 3, Western Hemlock type. Evening Grosbeaks also appear to be particularly widespread this season, though not as numerous as the Crossbills. Finally, as a reminder to keep checking those Siskin flocks, a Common Redpoll (Acanthis flammea) was discovered Dec. 12 at SE Farallon Island, SF, representing just the 2nd island record (mob).

Abbreviations for Observers: AD, Adam Dudley; AJ, Alvaro Jaramillo; AL, Albert Linkowski; AM, Aaron Maizlish; AR, Alex Rinkert; BA, Bob Atwood; BB, Brian Browne; BF, Brian Fitch; BGo, Brad Gota; BGu, Bob Gunderson; BL, Bob Lewis; BOC, Brook OConnor; BP, Bob Power; BR, Bob Richmond; BT, Brian Turner; CA, Carlo Arreglo; CL, Caroline Lambert; DD, Davor Desancic; DF, Dea Freid; DH, Derek Heins; DM, Dominik Mosur; DnW, Dan Wenny; DP, Donna Pomeroy; DQ, David Quady; DS, Doug Shaw; DSh, Dave Shuford; DSi, Dan Singer; DSw, Danny Swicegood; DvW, Dave Weber; DZ, David Zittin; EE, Erik Enbody; EG, Eli Gross; EP, Eric Pilotte; ER, Emma Rosen; GB, Gordon Beebe; GK, Gary Kittleson; GM, Ginny Marshall; JaL, Jasen Liu; JBo, Janet Bodle; JBu, Jessie Bushell; JCh, Jim Chiropulos; JCl, Josiah Clark; JH, John Hendrickson; JK, Jered Karr; JM, Jane Medley; JoL, John Luther; JP, John Poole; JT, Jerry Ting; JW, Jim White; KF, Kent Forward; KGH, Kathe Goria-Hendrickson; KM, Kyle Marsh; KMK, Kevin McKereghan; LH, Lisa Hug; LK, Logan Kahle; LS, Lucas Stephenson; MBe, Murray Berner; MBu, Michael Butler; MD, Mark Dettling; MM, Mike Mammoser; MR, Mike Rogers; MSi, Mike Simms; MSt, Mark Stephenson; NA, Noah Arthur; NR, Nick Rosen; PB, Patricia Bacchetti; PD, Pete Dunten; PG, Pauline Grant; PM, Peter Metropolous; PP, Peter Pyle; PS, Paul Saraceni; RB, Russ Bright; RCi, Richard Cimino; RCu, Rob Cullison; RFr, Robert Frescura; RFu, Robert Furrow; RMa, Robert Martin; RMu, Roger Muskat; RS, Ron Storey; RT, Ron Thorn; RV, Reinhard Vehring; SBa, Sharon Barnett; SBe, Stephen Berlyant; SC, Scott Carey; ScS, Scott Sorby; SH, Scott Hoppe; SJ, Sharon J; SSt, Sandy Steinman; ST, Steve Tracey; StS, Stephanie Sorby; WA, Will Anderson; WL, William Legge

Semicolons separate original observer(s) from subsequent observer(s). Abbreviation “mob” = many observers; “oob” = other observers. CBRC review species are shown in bold. Information is compiled from eBird, regional listservs, and BirdBox transcripts; the author apologizes for any errors or omissions.

Abbreviations for Counties and Others: ALA, Alameda; CBC, Christmas Bird Count; CC, Contra Costa; CCFS, Coyote Creek Field Station; CP, County Park; Cr., Creek; Cyn., Canyon; DENWR, Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge; EEC, Environmental Education Center; GGP, Golden Gate Park; L., Lake; MRN, Marin; Mt., Mount; N., North; NAP, Napa; NWR, National Wildlife Refuge; OSP, Open Space Preserve; PBCS, Point Blue Conservation Science; PRNS, Pt Reyes National Seashore; Pt., Point; Rd., Road; Res., Reservoir; RP, Regional Park; RS, Regional Shoreline; S., South; SB, State Beach; SCL, Santa Clara; SCZ, Santa Cruz; SF, San Francisco; SFBBO, SF Bay Bird Observatory; SM, San Mateo; SOL, Solano; SON, Sonoma; SP, State Park; SR, State Reserve; WPCP, Water Pollution Control Plant; WTP, Water Treatment Plant

 

September 1 – October 15, 2015


Ducks to Herons

Warm ocean conditions brought a White-chinned Petrel (Procellaria aequinoctialis) to the Bay Area on Sep. 15; it flew into the wake of a pelagic boat in SM waters, sat on the water and posed for photos for 45 minutes (DSh; mob). Typically found off the southern tips of Argentina, New Zealand, and Australia, this bird would be just CA’s 4th record. More details are available on the ABA blog at http://blog.aba.org/2015/09/abarare-white-chinned-petrel-california.html.

From shore at Moss Beach, SM, seawatches on Oct. 3 and 6 estimated 6,000 and 11,000 Black-vented Shearwaters streaming past (RTh). At least 800 Black-vented Shearwaters cruised MRN waters off the PRNS Lighthouse on Oct. 6 (AC, Christian Schwarz, RTe; mob). Wilson’s Storm-Petrels remained regular fixtures on pelagic trips with birds located in 1s and 4s all month (DSh, AJ; mob). A flyby Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel graced the Sep. 5 pelagic trip through SF waters (AJ; mob). A Leach’s Storm-Petrel was reported Sep. 22 in SM (JW). Black Storm-Petrels were also regular fixtures, with a high count of 437 birds on the Sep. 27 trip out of Half Moon Bay, SM (AJ; mob).

Our 3 Sulid celebrities remained in residence on SE Farallon Island: a single Blue-footed Booby (Sula nebouxii), at least 8 Brown Boobies, and the Northern Gannet (Morus bassanus) (mob). Brown Boobies were also noted fishing over the Cordell Bank and a 2nd year bird staked out a buoy outside the Half Moon Bay harbor. The Gannet wandered regularly afield, with sightings from Half Moon Bay on Sep. 5, 6, and 19 and from the PRNS Fish Docks on Sep. 27 (mob).

Raptors to Terns

With Sandhill Crane flocks returning to the Central Valley, a few drifted coastside as well. Flyover reports of 1 and 2 birds came in on Sep. 6 over Half Moon Bay, SM (JBa, JM; KG), on Sep. 27 near Bolinas, MRN (JM), and on Oct. 5 over Pacific Commons Linear Park, ALA (JBl). A more sedentary Crane touched down Sep. 24 at Delta Pond near Santa Rosa, SON, and lingered a couple days (DK; mob).

A pair of south-bound Bar-tailed Godwits provided fly-by views on Oct. 15 from Sutro Baths terrace, SF (BF). One or more Ruffs made the rounds in west SON and MRN, visiting a farm pond on Valley Ford Rd. near Petaluma on Sep. 4-13, (TB; mob); joining some Yellowlegs at Nicasio Res. Sep. 25 and 26 (JM, DSi; mob); and appearing at Giacomini Wetlands near Inverness, MRN, also on the 26th (GC). A Sharp-tailed Sandpiper was well photographed on Sep. 16 at the base of the cliffs at Pillar Pt. Harbor, SM (JMa). A juvenile Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea) was discovered Sep. 11 from the observation platform on Salt Pond A16, SCL. Over the next 2 days, many observers successfully picked it out of the massive Western Sandpiper flock feeding on the mudflats of ponds A16 and A17 before high tide (WB; mob). On the 13th, an adult bird in New Chicago Marsh was dismissed by many pundits as a Dunlin but photos confirmed the white rump of a 2nd Curlew Sandpiper (BP, JMu; mob).

Jaegers are regular fall visitors to the coast, often in pursuit of Elegant Terns, but the number of Jaegers off Moss Beach, SM, on Sep. 29 was striking: 16 Pomarine Jaegers and 81 Parasitics (RTh). As many as 3 Guadalupe Murrelets were located in MRN and SON waters on Sep. 16 and 18 (BS, DSh; mob). A Black-legged Kittiwake visited Bodega Head, SON, on Oct. 8 (SC). A previously reported Franklin’s Gull remained in the NAP-SON Marsh through Sep. 5 (RR) and a 2nd individual was discovered in the same area on the 12th (MB). A 3rd bird made it to Bolinas Lagoon, MRN, on the 9th (CB).

Doves to Longspurs

A White-winged Dove explored outer PRNS Oct. 6-15, with visits to Spaletta Ranch (C) Ranch and the PRNS Lighthouse (MBu, JK; mob). Another White-winged Dove checked out the Hole-in-the-Head at Bodega Bay, SON, on Oct. 9 (BOC).

Short-eared Owls were on the move Sep. 21 with a bird flying in off the ocean at Rodeo Lagoon, MRN (WL) and another dropping in at Mt. Davidson, SF (DM). Black Swifts were regular passage migrants over Hawk Hill, MRN, Sep. 5-9 (fide BP) and 3 southbound migrants were noted with Vaux’s Swifts over Tolay L. RP, SON, on the Sep. 16th (GH). A Chimney Swift could be heard chirping on Oct. 7 in the funnel cloud of Vaux’s Swifts descending into the chimneys at McNear Brick and Block, MRN (RS, MH).

Migrant watchers at Battery Godfrey, SF, observed a Williamson’s Sapsucker on Sep. 20, flying into the nearby cypresses and then striking out over the Golden Gate channel towards MRN (PS, HuC, KS, AH). For the 1st time in at least 5 years, a Pileated Woodpecker was detected in the Berkeley Hills, heard and seen Oct. 1 and 4 in Tilden RP’s Botanic Garden, CC (ESa, WH; CSp).

A Least Flycatcher was photographed Sep. 24 in Lafayette Park, SF, (HuC) and another Least on Oct. 1 provided good comparisons to a Western Flycatcher in the oaks at Lobos Cr. in the Presidio, SF (JCl; PG). An Eastern Phoebe was spotted Oct. 7 on the Stanford Campus, SCL (WB). Eastern Kingbirds visited Fort Mason Community Garden, SF, on Sep. 2 (MJ) and Rodeo Lagoon, MRN, on Sep. 13-17 (JCh, DH; RB).

A Bell’s Vireo lingered Oct. 2-7 at Hole-in-the-Head at Bodega Bay (GH; mob). Photos appeared to show the nominate (Eastern) subspecies, bellii. Researchers from PBCS’s Palomarin Field Station captured and banded a Yellow-green Vireo (Vireo flavoviridis) at their Pine Gulch station near Bolinas, MRN, on Oct. 1. In the course of trying to refind the bird, observers instead located a Blue-headed Vireo (Vireo solitarius), which hung around through the 3rd (PFS; mob). Completing the Vireo roundup, a Red-eyed Vireo was located Sep. 30 at the PRNS Fish Docks, MRN (MF).

Virtually unknown on the coast despite regular occurrence just 35 miles east, a Yellow-billed Magpie flew across the road on Highway 92 below Skyline, SM, on Oct. 3 (TGr). Scattered Bank Swallows moved through Sep. 16-23, with sightings at NAP wastewater ponds, NAP (MB); Laguna Wetlands Preserve, SON (SC); and Sunnyvale WPCP, SCL (BM). On Oct. 15, a Dusky Warbler (Phylloscopus fuscatus) was mist-netted and banded along Redwood Cr. near Muir Beach, MRN (PFS). This Siberian breeder normally winters in India and SE Asia and has been recorded in CA just 9 times. As of writing, the bird was still skulking in the underbrush, rewarding patient observers with furtive looks.

Townsend’s Solitaires made brief appearances in SF on Sep. 15 at Fort Mason Park (DA) and on the 19th at Battery Godfrey (HuC). On Oct. 3, a Townsend’s Solitaire was located near its traditional wintering spot at the Rock Springs Parking Lot on Mt. Tamalpais, MRN (DSe). Sage Thrashers came looking for sage Sep. 1-3 atop Mt. Davidson, SF (BF; mob) and on Sep. 7 along Hayward RS’s San Lorenzo Cr., ALA (BR). On Sep. 23, a Sage Thrasher assured that there was at least 1 birdie on the Palo Alto Golf Course greens, SCL (DP, EG).

Beginning Sep. 14, Red-throated Pipits kept company with American Pipits at 3 locales: Ellis Cr. Water Recycling Facility, SON (RM); Nicasio Res., MRN (BB; mob); and Abbotts Lagoon at PRNS, MRN (ME; mob). On Sep. 9, a Lapland Longspur flew over Blufftop Coastal Park in Half Moon Bay, SM, giving its “tweew” call and dry rattle (AJ). Another Lapland provided similarly limited fly-over viewing at Abbotts Lagoon, PRNS, Sep. 26 and 27 (JM; ESt).

Wood Warblers to Finches

Mourning Warbler / Photo by Mark Rauzon

Mourning Warbler / Photo by Mark Rauzon

In Oct. 6, an Ovenbird was photographed in the oven at the PRNS Lighthouse, MRN (AC, RTe, Christian Schwarz). On Sep. 21, a Prothonotary Warbler discovered that the Monterey Cypresses at Mendoza Ranch (B) Ranch, PRNS, bear little resemblance to a cypress swamp (HaC; DF, AC). A Virginia’s Warbler at the same location on Sep. 26 may have felt slightly more at home (BT, JuC). In SF, a Mourning Warbler (Geothlypis philadelphia) found favorable habitat in the shrubs of Sue Bierman Park Oct. 6-12 (MR; mob). A bright male Cape May Warbler (Setophaga tigrina) rewarded vagrant hunters at Nunes (A) Ranch, PRNS, on Sep. 26 (CC; mob).

Black-throated Blue Warblers found their preferred swampy habitat on Oct. 7 at Hole-in-the-Head in Bodega Bay (DF) and on the 10th at Drake’s Monument, PRNS (JK).

On Oct. 7-8, a cooperative Pine Warbler was found foraging on the ground with juncos and sparrows at Sunnyvale Baylands Park, SCL (PK; mob). This bird appears to be a 1st record for mainland northern CA. On Sep. 23, a Yellow-throated Warbler helped establish John F. Kennedy Memorial Park, NAP, as a local vagrant trap (MS, AG). A Canada Warbler was banded Sep. 7 at Muddy Hollow, PRNS (PFS). Another Canada skulked around Fort Mason Community Garden, SF, beginning Oct. 15 (BG; mob).

On Sep. 19, a Cassin’s Sparrow (Peucaea cassinii) inspected the habitat restoration efforts on Kent Island, Bolinas, MRN (PP). If accepted, this sighting would be a 2nd MRN county record. An adult Black-throated Sparrow paused Sep. 16 behind the Nob Hill Market in Redwood Shores, SM (RTh) and the next day, another Black-throated Sparrow touched down in Coyote Hills RP, ALA, where it stayed 4 days (BC; mob). A/the Le Conte’s Sparrow (Ammodramus leconteii) was located Oct. 5 in the dunes and scrub at Abbotts Lagoon, close to last winter’s Le Conte’s stake-out spot (TGi).

A bright green bunting found flying around GGP’s West Maintenance Yard on Sep. 26 was determined to be an adult female Painted Bunting (BH, BF, JG). A pair of Dickcissels attempted to blend in with the House Sparrow flock at Fort Mason Community Garden, SF, Sep. 15- 21 (DA; mob). Beginning Sep. 9, the region hosted a half dozen Bobolinks at Abbotts Lagoon (MF; mob); Pillar Pt., SM (CW); Crissy Field and Fort Scott, SF (BF); and Half Moon Bay, SM (RTh). Dickcissel searchers found instead a Baltimore Oriole on Sep. 20 at the Fort Mason Community Garden (DH, JCh). The following week, another Baltimore Oriole scaled Telegraph Hill, SF (MG).

Abbreviations for Observers: AC, Adam Searcy; AG, Alex Greene; AH, Alan Hopkins; AJ, Alvaro Jaramillo; BA, Bob Atwood; BB, Bob Battagin; BC, Bill Chen; BF, Brian Fitch; BG, Bob Gunderson; BH, Bob Hall; BM, Brooke Miller; BOC, Brooke O’Conner; BP, Bob Power; BR, Bob Richmond; BS, Brian Sullivan; BT, Bob Toleno; CB, Courtney Buechert; CC, Chris Conard; CH, Chris Harbard; CSc, Christian Schwarz; CSp, Catherine Spaulding; CW, Chris Wood; DA, David Assmann; DF, Dea Freid; DH, Derek Heins; DK, Don Kirker; DM, Dominik Mosur; DP, Don Pendleton; DSc, Daniel Scali; DSe, David Sexton; DSh, Debi Shearwater; DSi, Dan Singer; EB, Eddie Bartley; EC, Everett Clark; EG, Eric Goodill; ESa, Ellen Sampson; ESt, Emilie Strauss; GC, Graham Chisholm; GH, Gene Hunn; HaC, Hannah Conley; HuC, Hugh Cotter; JBa, James Barnes; JBl, Jeff Bleam; JCh, Jim Chiropolos; JCl, Josiah Clark; JG, Juan Garcia; JK, Jeff Kimura; JM, Jeff Miller; JMa, Juliana Manoliu; JMu, Julio Mulero; JuC, Juli Chamberlin; JW, Jay Withgott; KG, Keith Gress; KS, Ken Schneider; LB, Leonie Batkin; MB, Murray Berner; MBr, M Brown; MBu, Mark Butler; ME, Megan Elrod; MF, Mark Forney; MG, Michael Gertz; MH, Michael Helm; MJ, Mitchell Jarrett; MK, Michael Karpinko; MR, Mark Rauzon; MS, Mike Schackwitz; PFS, Palomarin Field Station; PG, Pauline Grant; PK, Pat Kenny; PP, Peter Pyle; PS, Paul Saraceni; RB, Richard Bradus; RH, Roger Harshaw; RM, Roger Marlowe; RR, Ruth Rudesill; RS, Russell Scalf; RTe, Ryan Terrill; RTh, Ron Thorn; SC, Scott Carey; TB, Tony Briggs; TGi, Ted Gilliland; TGr, Tom Grey; WB, Will Brooks; WH, Wen Hsu; WL, William Legge

Semicolons separate original observer(s) from subsequent observer(s). Abbreviation “mob” = many observers; “oob” = other observers. CBRC review species are shown in bold. Information is compiled from eBird, regional listservs, and BirdBox transcripts; the author apologizes for any errors or omissions.

Abbreviations for Counties and Others: ALA, Alameda; CBRC, California Bird Records Committee; CC, Contra Costa; CP, County Park; Cr., Creek; Cyn., Canyon; DENWR, Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge; EEC, Environmental Education Center; GGP, Golden Gate Park; L., Lake; MRN, Marin; Mt., Mount; N., North; NAP, Napa; NWR, National Wildlife Refuge; OSP, Open Space Preserve; PBCS, Point Blue Conservation Science; PRNS, Pt Reyes National Seashore; Pt., Point; Rd., Road; Res., Reservoir; RP, Regional Park; RS, Regional Shoreline; S., South; SB, State Beach; SCL, Santa Clara; SF, San Francisco; SM, San Mateo; SOL, Solano; SON, Sonoma; SP, State Park; SR, State Reserve; WPCP, Water Pollution Control Plant; WTP, Water Treatment Plant

August 1-31, 2015

 

An enormous warm water blob has been building off the west coast for two years now, a possible byproduct of the high pressure ridge that has blocked rainstorms from reaching California. The shifting wind patterns have disrupted the normal cold water upwelling that brings nutrients to the surface and feeds the Pacific food chain. The result has been starving sea lions and Cassin’s Auklets, record heat along the west coast, and an influx of tropical fish as far north as Alaska. Looking for the silver lining, pelagic birders are watching for tropical seabirds that might follow the warm water north.

Ducks to Herons

Pelagic trip season started in earnest this month with Shearwater Journeys boats sailing from Half Moon Bay on Aug. 2, 8, and 16 and visiting the Farallons on the 9th. Alvaro’s Adventures visited the Farallons on Aug. 1 and 29, plied SF waters on the 23rd, and focused on SM on the 30th. The Aug. 23 Farallon Islands trip produced the season’s 1st Laysan Albatross (AJ; mob). Flesh-footed Shearwaters were noted in both SM and SF waters on the 16th (DSh; mob) and in SF waters off the Farallons on the 23rd (AJ; mob). A southern hemisphere breeder, Wilson’s Storm-Petrels generally spend their summers in the N. Atlantic but they were a regular fixture on pelagic trips this month, with 106 tallied on Aug. 2, 11 more on the 16th, and 2 more on the 23rd (DSh, AJ; mob). The Aug. 2 boat added an impressive 750 Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels and Black Storm-Petrels came in with a high count of 20 on the 30th (DSh, AJ; mob).

Trips to SE Farallon Island were rewarded with 3 (yes, 3) Sulid species: our continuing celebrity Northern Gannet (Morus bassanus) was joined all month by an adult Blue-footed Booby (Sula nebouxii) and as many as 11 Brown Boobies (DSh, AJ; mob). The Northern Gannet has also been expanding its fishing range: it followed 100s of cormorants, gulls, terns, and pelicans to a fishing bonanza in Drake’s Bay, MRN, Aug. 15-31 (MBu; mob). In other news, the Least Bittern pair at Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District, MRN, fledged a couple chicks that made their debut Aug. 3-22 (ST; mob).

Raptors to Terns

Our reclusive Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus) made several public appearances Aug. 21-28 at PRNS Fish Docks, MRN (DSi, LF; mob). The season’s 1st Pacific Golden-Plover paused Aug. 18 at Hayward RS, ALA, near the Grant Ave. access (BD). An Upland Sandpiper (Bartramia longicauda) posed for photos Aug. 21-24 at SE Farallon Island, SF (mob). The City of Hayward ponds at Hayward RS hosted a Stilt Sandpiper on the 8th (BR).

Baird's Sandpiper by Mark Rauzon

Baird’s Sandpiper by Mark Rauzon, http://rauzon.zenfolio.com

The restoration of Crissy Field Lagoon, SF, attracted a southbound Baird’s Sandpiper on Aug. 8 (KS; mob). Beginning the 18th, a Baird’s lingered 2 weeks at Elsie Roemer Bird Sanctuary in ALA (LR; mob). Two more paused on the 20th at Pigeon Pt., SM (RT) and yet another visited Nicasio Res., MRN, on the 26th (RCi, JM). Three Pectoral Sandpipers breezed through on Aug. 26-28: 1 each at Nicasio Res., MRN (RCi, JM); Mendoza (B) Ranch, PRNS, MRN (DF; DSi); and American Cyn. Wetlands at Eucalyptus Rd., NAP (BD). Semipalmated Sandpiper sightings were concentrated in mudflat habitats ringing the bay south of Treasure Island. A lone juvenile Semipalmated Sandpiper joined a peep flock on Aug. 8 at Nicasio Res., MRN (DSi).

Pelagic trips found 1-2 Scripps’s Murrelets in SF waters on the 2nd, 23rd, and 29th (DSh, AJ; mob). The Aug. 23 trip to the Farallons located a Scripps’s Murrelet in SM waters, plus a Guadalupe Murrelet in SF (SB, AJ; mob). Both species are warm-water birds that rarely venture north from Baja CA and So. CA. Tufted Puffins added to the SM pelagic trip excitement on Aug. 2 and 8 (DSh; mob). A Franklin’s Gull was located Aug. 29 at the Huichica Cr. Unit of NAP-SON Marsh, NAP (MBe). Beginning Aug. 18, scattered reports of Common Terns came in from Ballena Cove in ALA (LR); Moss Beach, SM (RT); and Drakes Beach, PRNS, MRN (DSi).

Doves to Longspurs

SF attracted 2 Least Flycatchers Aug. 19 and 20: 1 along the Vista Grande Canal near So. L. Merced (BF; LHC) and another in Fort Mason Park (DA). A 3rd Least was discovered on the 24th at Cloverdale Rd./Gazos Cr. Rd., SM (TMG). A Hammond’s Flycatcher migrated through American Cyn. Wetlands, NAP, on the 18th (JCe). Dusky Flycatchers were reported Aug. 20 at N. L. in GGP, SF (DMu) and on the 28th at the Grant Ave. entrance to Hayward RS (BR).

A Red-eyed Vireo skulked in the thickets of the SF Botanical Garden in GGP, Aug. 14-24 (LHC; mob). A dozen Purple Martins flocked to Inverness Park, MRN, on the 3rd (DW). Solo Martins were reported the 19th at Rd. Forks Pool, PRNS, MRN (DSi) and at Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve, SM (LAA, SM, RF). An unseasonal Varied Thrush joined the robins in Lafayette Park, SF, on Aug. 15 (WG).

Wood Warblers to Finches

Kicking off fall warbler migration, 3 Northern Waterthrushes were reported between Aug. 21 and 28 at Muir Woods NM, MRN (AMa); Redwood Cr. near Muir Beach, MRN (DMa, JW); and in the mist nets at PBCS Palomarin field station, MRN (DLS, MDe). The fountain at Ardenwood Farm, ALA, attracted a Tennessee Warbler Aug. 28-30 (JT, VR; mob). Fort Mason Park in SF featured not 1 but 2 American Redstarts Aug. 15-25 (BG, DA; mob). Another Redstart was banded along Redwood Cr., MRN, on the 19th (RS, DLS, RCo) and Redstarts were located Aug. 21-23 at PRNS Fish Docks, MRN (LF, DSi; mob) and at Lincoln Park’s East Wash, SF (HC). A Chestnut-sided Warbler tarried Aug. 16-29 near GGP’s Log Cabin Trail (LG). Harbingers of the coming warbler wave, a Prairie Warbler spent Aug. 13-15 in the pines near the PRNS Fish Docks, MRN (DF; EC, DSi) and another Prairie Warbler touched down at Battery Godfrey on the 15th (PS, KS).

A FOS Clay-colored Sparrow was located Aug. 26 in Fort Mason Park, SF (DA). A ratty-looking spizella was ID’d as a Brewer’s Sparrow on Aug. 15 at Nicasio Res., MRN (AMe). Another Brewer’s Sparrow joined the House Sparrows on the lawn in Sue Bierman Park, SF, on the 19th (AMe; LG). A female Rose-breasted Grosbeak welcomed visitors to the SF Botanical Garden on Aug. 22 (BT, JCh) while a male Rose-breasted perched quietly in a willow near Muddy Hollow trailhead, PRNS, MRN, on Aug. 25 (RS). A Blue Grosbeak wandered to the willows at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve in Moss Beach, SM, on Aug. 18 (RT). Finally, an Indigo Bunting loitered all month in the SF Botanical Garden (AH, DA; mob) and a 2nd Indigo lingered Aug. 15-16 at Battery Godfrey in SF’s Presidio (HC, PS, AH).

Abbreviations for Observers: AH, Alan Hopkins; AJ, Alvaro Jaramillo; AMa, Andrew Marden; AMe, Alex Merritt; BD, Bob Dunn; BF, Brian Fitch; BG, Bob Gunderson; BR, Bob Richmond; BT, Bob Toleno; CL, Caroline Lambert; DA, David Assmann; DF, Dea Freid; DLS, David L. Sherer; DMa, David Mackenzie; DMu, Dan Murphy; DSh, Debi Shearwater; DSi, Dan Singer; DW, David Wimpfheimer; EC, Everett Clark; HC, Hugh Cotter; JCe, Jason Celaya; JCh, Juli Chamberlin; JM, Jeff Miller ; JS, John Sterling; JT, Jerry Ting; JW, Jim White; KS, Ken Schneider; LAA, Mary Ann Allan; LF, Mark Forney; LG, Michael Gertz; LHC, Lee-Hong Chang; LL, Lisa Lister; LR, Mark Rauzon; MBe, Murray Berner; MBu, Mark Butler; MDe, Mark Dettling; MDo, Matthew Dodder; PS, Paul Saraceni; RCi, Rich Cimino; RCo, Renee Cormier; RF, Robert Furrow; RS, Robert Snowden; RT, Ron Thorn; SB, Scott Bowers; SM, Sonny Mencher; ST, Steve Tucker; TMG, Tristran McGee; VR, Vicki Robinson; WG, William Grant

Semicolons separate original observer(s) from subsequent observer(s). Abbreviation “mob” = many observers; “oob” = other observers. CBRC review species are shown in bold. Information is compiled from eBird, regional listservs, and BirdBox transcripts; the author apologizes for any errors or omissions.

Abbreviations for Counties and Others: ALA, Alameda; CC, Contra Costa; CP, County Park; Cr., Creek; Cyn., Canyon; DENWR, Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge; EEC, Environmental Education Center; FOS, first of season; GGP, Golden Gate Park; L., Lake; MRN, Marin; Mt., Mount; N., North; NAP, Napa; NWR, National Wildlife Refuge; OSP, Open Space Preserve; PBCS, Point Blue Conservation Science; PRNS, Pt Reyes National Seashore; Pt., Point; Rd., Road; Res., Reservoir; RP, Regional Park; RS, Regional Shoreline; S., South; SB, State Beach; SCL, Santa Clara; SE, Southeast; SF, San Francisco; SM, San Mateo; SOL, Solano; SON, Sonoma; SP, State Park; SR, State Reserve; WPCP, Water Pollution Control Plant; WTP, Water Treatment Plant

July 1-31, 2015

 

Ducks to Herons

One of the first pelagic trips of the fall season, on July 26 out of Half Moon Bay, scored a juvenile Laysan Albatross sporting a red band from Mexico and tracking the boat in both SM and SF waters (AJ; mob). On July 31, a Manx Shearwater flashed its snow-white underparts to a seawatcher at Moss Beach, SM (RT). The Least Bittern pair remained in residence at Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District, MRN (mob).

Raptors to Terns

A vulture swooping past Chimney Rock, PRNS (MRN), on Jul. 18 appeared to be the elusive Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus), which was reported near Mt. Vision Rd., PRNS, on May 10 (CA). Salt Pond A16 near the EEC in Alviso (SCL) attracted a Pacific Golden-Plover on Jul. 9 (MM, VH). The season’s 1st Solitary Sandpiper paused Jul. 22 at Shollenberger Park, SON (EH). A couple Wandering Tattlers wandered inland to San Leandro Marina, ALA, Jul. 24-28 (BRi; BP).

Presumably taking a short-cut from Siberia to Africa, a Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea) stopped over at New Chicago Marsh, SCL, on Jul. 5, where it was briefly refound on the 8th (MM; BRe). Shorebirding on Jul. 25 produced a Baird’s Sandpiper at India Basin Park, SF (AH), and a Pectoral Sandpiper at 25 Stevens Cr. mouth, SCL (CL). A steady trickle of Semipalmated Sandpipers all month offered rewards to patient birders willing to pick through flocks of brighter Western Sandpipers. A July 24 juvenile Semipalmated Sandpiper at American Cyn. Wetlands provided just the 3rd NAP county record (MB, RF; CT).

Coastside, a Tufted Puffin flew north past Moss Beach on Jul. 23 (RT). An apparent 2nd cycle Laughing Gull lingered 4 days beginning Jul. 22 around the mouth of Bodega Bay harbor, SON (RW, KL; mob). A Black Tern visited the east pond at Sunnyvale WPCP, SCL, on Jul. 19 (LKh, VK) and another Black was found roosting with Forster’s Terns on an algal mat on Frank’s Tract near Bethel Island, CC (ES). A Common Tern showed up Jul. 5 at Ocean Beach, SF (PS), followed by an Arctic Tern appearing the next day at Radio Rd., SM (RT). A couple Black Skimmers ranged as far as Kent Island near Bolinas, MRN, Jul. 3-5 (JW; mob).

Doves to Longspurs

On Jul. 3, swift hunters located 3 Black Swifts displaying their aerial mastery over Ano Nuevo SP, SM (MDF, CH, COC). A male Black-chinned Hummingbird remained at Ardenwood Farm, ALA, through Jul. 5 (MP; mob). The unprecedented Acorn Woodpecker invasion of SF last fall and winter resulted in at least a few birds setting up housekeeping and 2 adults feeding fledglings near Fuschia Dell in GGP by Jul. 5 (LHC). Uncommon in summer, a Prairie Falcon provided close-up flight views over Big Rock Ridge parking area, MRN, on Jul. 5 (MS).

Scattered Purple Martins were sighted from Pillar Pt. Harbor, SM (AJ; mob); Pilarcitos Cr. mouth, SM (MDF); nesting along East Side Rd. at L. Berryessa, NAP (MB); SF State Fish and Game Refuge, SM (LF); and their usual haunts over Loma Prieta’s Upper Saddle, SCL (JF). A Bank Swallow joined the insectivore flock over Sunnyvale WPCP, SCL, on Jul. 5 (BM). In CC, similar Bank Swallow reports came from Ironhouse Sanitary District on the 11th (CD, LKa) and from Bethel Island on the 21st (DQ, PB, JD; mob).

Rose-breasted Grosbeak and chick in Pescadero by Joseph Morlan, http://fog.ccsf.edu/%7Ejmorlan/Rose-breastedGrosbeak&chickP1030323.htm

Rose-breasted Grosbeak and chick in Pescadero by Joseph Morlan, http://fog.ccsf.edu/%7Ejmorlan/Rose-breastedGrosbeak&chickP1030323.htm

Wood Warblers to Finches

This month’s warbler action all came on Jul. 10 in SF, with a singing Black-and-white Warbler in GGP (RC) and a bright male American Redstart in Fort Mason Park (DA). An unseasonal White-throated Sparrow celebrated Jul. 4 in a Petaluma yard, SON (SO). The nesting pair of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks along Gazos Cr. Rd., SM, succeeded in fledging at least 1 chick by Jul. 2 (JM, DS). Multiple visits to Newell Preserve confirmed it as the only dependable site in NAP for Blue Grosbeak, though a wandering bird was photographed Jul. 19 along East Side Rd. at L. Berryessa (MB). In SON, a Blue Grosbeak attracted visitors to Willow Cr. Rd. near Jenner Jul. 18-26 (BD, HK; mob). The Loma Alta Indigo Bunting in Lucas Valley, MRN, was last reported Jul. 6 (mob).

Abbreviations for Observers: AH, Alan Hopkins; AJ, Alvaro Jaramillo; BD, Bill Doyle; BM, Brooke Miller; BP, Bob Power; BRe, Bob Reiling; BRi, Bob Richmond; CA, Carlo Arreglo; CD, Cédric Duhalde; CH, Chris Hayward; CL, Caroline Lambert; COC, Chris O’Connell; CT, Cathy Tuley; DA, David Assmann; DQ, David Quady; DS, Dan Singer; EH, Eugene Hunn; ES, Emilie Strauss; HK, Helen Kochenderfer; JD, Jon Dunn; JF, John Facchini; JM, Joe Morlan; JW, Jim White; KL, Kirsten Lindquist; LF, Leslie Flint; LHC, Lee-Hong Chang; LKa, Logan Kahle; LKh, Leena Khanzode; MB, Murray Berner; MDF, Malia DeFelice; MM, Mike Mammoser; MP, Michael Park; MS, Mark Stephenson; PB, Patricia Bacchetti; PS, Paul Saraceni; RC, Rob Cullison; RF, Robert Frescura; RT, Ron Thorn; RW, Rudyard Wallen; SO, Sherri Oster; TH, Thomas Halverstadt; VH, Victoria Heyse; VK, Vivek Khanzode

Semicolons separate original observer(s) from subsequent observer(s). Abbreviation “mob” = many observers; “oob” = other observers. CBRC review species are shown in bold. Information is compiled from eBird, regional listservs, and BirdBox transcripts; the author apologizes for any errors or omissions.

Abbreviations for Counties and Others: ALA, Alameda; CC, Contra Costa; CCFS, Coyote Creek Field Station; CP, County Park; Cr., Creek; Cyn., Canyon; EEC, Environmental Education Center; GGP, Golden Gate Park; L., Lake; MRN, Marin; Mt., Mount; N., North; NAP, Napa; NWR, National Wildlife Refuge; OSP, Open Space Preserve; PBCS, Point Blue Conservation Science; PRNS, Pt Reyes National Seashore; Pt., Point; Rd., Road; Res., Reservoir; RP, Regional Park; RS, Regional Shoreline; S., South; SB, State Beach; SCL, Santa Clara; SF, San Francisco; SM, San Mateo; SOL, Solano; SON, Sonoma; SP, State Park; SR, State Reserve; WPCP, Water Pollution Control Plant

June 1-30, 2015

Ducks to Herons

The Brown Booby invasion continued with as many as 5 seen daily, roosting on Sugarloaf SE Farallon Islands, SF (GMC). A solo Booby joining a Jun. 26 feeding frenzy off of Pilarcitos Cr. mouth in Half Moon Bay, SM (MDF). A couple Least Bitterns stuck around all month at Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District, MRN (PC; mob) where they successfully nested last year. Out at Hole in the Head in Bodega Bay, SON, a continuing Least Bittern was last reported on the 13th (mob), while a heard-only report for Least Bittern came in from Ellis Cr. Water Recycling Facility, SON, on the 30th (GT). A pair of White-faced Ibises returned to Charleston Slough/Coast Casey Forebay, SCL, Jun. 13-16 (RHo; mob).

Raptors to Terns

Jun. 4 and 5 brought a couple Broad-winged Hawks soaring and circling through west MRN, where they were spotted over PRNS Fish Docks (DS) and Five Brooks Pond, PRNS (RHi). Swainson’s Hawks were reported along the coast on Jun. 13 near Mendoza (B) Ranch, PRNS (KK) and on the 22nd over Mt. Tam-Bolinas Ridge, MRN (RDG). A Black Oystercatcher settled in on the levee between Salt Ponds A10 and All in Alviso Marina CP, SCL, where it has resided contentedly since Apr. 14 (mob).

A subadult Franklin’s Gull paused Jun. 19-20 at Steinberger Slough and Radio Rd. ponds in Redwood City, SM (AE; AMa, MDF). An Arctic Tern joined the Forster’s Tern flock at the Least Tern sign at Hayward RS, ALA, on Jun. 7 and a Black Tern did the same thing on the 20th (BR). Back at Radio Rd., a Common Tern joined the roost Jun. 26-28 (RT; mob).

Doves to Longspurs

A White-winged Dove paid a visit to Gazos Cr. Rd., SM, on the 13th (MK). On the evening of the 29th, a check for Common Nighthawks at their historic site in the pygmy forest of Salt Pt. SP, SON, was rewarded with a calling male, making power dives as if to impress a female (EH). A late migrant Black Swift passed high over Gazos Cr. Rd. on the 2nd (RF) and 3 more were observed with a Cliff Swallow flock near their historic nesting site at Ano Nuevo SR, SM, on the 28th (GM, LF, SM). A male Black-chinned Hummingbird frequented a feeder in Alamo, CC, through at least the 3rd (RHi, HH). Another male Black-chinned was located at Ardenwood Farm, ALA, on the 24th (TB; mob).

Vagrant hunters at Outer PRNS located a Dusky Flycatcher on Jun. 9 next to the RCA Building (RCi). A day earlier, an Eastern Kingbird turned up at Nunes (A) Ranch, MRN (GG, MF). A 2nd Eastern Kingbird was discovered Jun. 25 next to Pescadero Marsh, SM (GH). A skulking White-eyed Vireo (Vireo griseus) tantalized admirers at Hole in the Head in Bodega Bay, Jun. 7-8 (DN; mob). The same day, a Philadelphia Vireo visited the New Willows near the PRNS Fishdocks (EC; AMe, JS) and a Red-eyed Vireo dropped into the cypress grove at Nunes (A) Ranch (AMe; EC).

A couple Purple Martins were reported multiple times between Jun. 3 and 12 over L. Temescal in Oakland, ALA (JDB, TH; CS). A single female Martin visited the PRNS Fish Docks on the 11th (DS; RHa, JK) and 6 more cruised Almaden Res., SCL, that same day (JP). Scattered Bank Swallow sightings came in Jun. 6 from Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District, MRN (BD); Jun. 13 from Coyote Hills RP, ALA (KT, BD; BT); and Jun. 29 from Ellis Cr. Water Recycling Facility, SON (MBa). Up to 24 Bank Swallows were tallied Jun. 28 over Ano Nuevo SR, SM (SM).

A very late Varied Thrush was heard singing on Jun. 29 near the PBCS Palomarin Field Station, MRN, and then mist-netted and banded the following day (RCo). On the 16th, the Palomarin Field Station banded a Gray Catbird (RCo) and a 2nd Catbird was found singing near White House Pool in Inverness, MRN, on the 22nd (DeH, DaH). A Brown Thrasher joined the vagrant parade on Jun. 7 at Nunes (A) Ranch in PRNS (MBu; EC).

Wood Warblers to Finches

On Jun. 11-19, a Prothonotary Warbler concluded that the willows surrounding Drake’s Monument in PRNS was as close as it was going to get to a cypress swamp in this part of the world (DF; mob). On the 13th, an Ovenbird was coaxed out of the oven at PRNS Lighthouse, MRN (EC, AMe; KK). Other eastern warblers that visited our west coast this month included 2 Black-and-white, 1 Tennessee, and 2 Hooded Warblers; 11 American Redstarts; 2 Northern Parulas; and 2 Magnolia, 6 Chestnut-sided, and 1 Blackpoll Warbler.

A singing Brewer’s Sparrow was discovered Jun. 3, flitting about the coastal scrub near PRNS Drakes Beach, MRN (MF). A singing male Summer Tanager visited Bayview Park, SF, on the 8th (KL) and a 2nd Summer Tanager popped into Ed Levin CP, SCL, on the 22nd (BB). A bright male Scarlet Tanager attracted visitors to Ardenwood Farm, ALA, Jun. 19-21 (BD, BC; mob).

At least 10 Rose-breasted Grosbeaks were reported regionally this month, with the most interesting report being of a nesting pair along Gazos Cr. Rd., SM, complete with begging baby chicks (CM; mob). An Indigo Bunting turned up near the grosbeak nest on Gazos Cr. Rd. on the 6th (KR; RT, LB) while the Lucas Valley Indigo Bunting maintained his lonely territorial vigil along Loma Alta Fire Rd. through at least the 14th (mob). Finally, a Yellow-headed Blackbird wandered to the Interpretive Center at Hayward RS, ALA, on the 20th (BR).

Abbreviations for Observers: AE, Al Eisner; AMa, Aaron Maizlish; AMe, Alex Merritt; BB, Bill Bousman; BC, Bill Chen; BD, Bob Dunn; BR, Bob Richmond; BT, Bob Toleno; CM, Carol Miller; CS, Cuyler Stapelmann; DaH, David Hamilton; DeH, Denise Hamilton; DF, Dea Freid; DN, Dan Nelson; DS, Dan Singer; EC, Everett Clark; EH, Eugene Hunn; GG, Gary Glenn; GH, Garth Harwood; GM, Ginny Marshall; GMC, Gerry McChesney; GT, Gabriel Tarantino; HH, Hugh Harvey; JDB, JD Bergeron; JK, Jeff Kimura; JP, Janna Pauser; JS, John Sterling; KK, Keith Kwan; KL, Kevin Liberg; KR, John Robinson; KT, Jerry Ting; LB, Leonie Batkin; LF, Leslie Flint; MBa, Mario Balitbit; MBu, Michael Butler; MDF, Malia DeFelice; MF, Mark Forney; MK, Mark Kudrav; PC, Peter Colasanti; RCi, Richard Cimino; RCo, Renee Cormier; RDG, Ryan DiGaudio; RF, Rob Furrow; RHa, Roger Harshaw; RHi, Jean Richmond; RHi, Russell Hillsley; RHo, Joseph Rothstein; RT, Ron Thorn; SM, Steve Miller; TB, Terri Bostater; TH, Travis Harrell

Semicolons separate original observer(s) from subsequent observer(s). Abbreviation “mob” = many observers; “oob” = other observers. CBRC review species are shown in bold. Information is compiled from eBird, regional listservs, and BirdBox transcripts; the author apologizes for any errors or omissions.

Abbreviations for Counties and Others: ALA, Alameda; CC, Contra Costa; CP, County Park; Cr., Creek; Cyn., Canyon; GGP, Golden Gate Park; L., Lake; MRN, Marin; Mt., Mount; N., North; NAP, Napa; NWR, National Wildlife Refuge; OSP, Open Space Preserve; PBCS, Point Blue Conservation Science; PRNS, Pt Reyes National Seashore; Pt., Point; Rd., Road; Res., Reservoir; RP, Regional Park; RS, Regional Shoreline; S., South; SB, State Beach; SCL, Santa Clara; SF, San Francisco; SM, San Mateo; SOL, Solano; SON, Sonoma; SP, State Park; SR, State Reserve; WPCP, Water Pollution Control Plant; WTP, Water Treatment Plant

 

May 1-31, 2015

 

Ducks to Herons

An Eider, most likely a female King Eider (Somateria spectabilis), was glimpsed May 12 with a small group of Surf Scoters flying north through the ocean swells off Pigeon Pt., SM (RT). The Lexington Res. (SCL) Red-necked Grebe lingered through at least May 17 (mob). A 2nd Red-necked Grebe sported its breeding plumage on May 2 near Cesar Chavez Park in Berkeley, ALA (MS). Repositioning cruises off the continental shelf on May 6 and 7 reported 4 Murphy’s, 2 Hawaiian, and 3 Cook’s Petrels, all in SF waters (JS, PL).

On the 25th, resident Northern Gannet (Morus bassanus) ventured out from its regular roosts on SE Farallon Island and Alcatraz Island to join a feeding frenzy off of Ocean Beach, SF, where it then moved south into SM waters off Thornton SB (JC). On the 30th, a Pelagic Cormorant wandered south to the Alviso Marina Salt Ponds, SCL (MDF). A Least Bittern skulked in the cattails at Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District, MRN, beginning May 16th (JTh, RW; mob) and 2 more did the same at Hole in the Head in Bodega Bay, SON, beginning the 24th (PC; mob).

Raptors to Terns

The MRN Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus) was most recently spotted May 10, loosely associating with several Turkey Vultures and a pair of Ospreys riding a thermal above Inverness Ridge and Mt. Vision Rd., PRNS (AM). A Broad-winged Hawk floated over SF on May 3, where it was remarked over SF Botanical Garden, GGP, and Mt. Davidson (DM, PG, SB; mob). Calling Black Rails were reported this month from Alviso Marina CP, SCL (mob); Coon Island, NAP (ME; JG); and Coyote Hills RP, ALA (JTi).

The SCL Black Oystercatcher loitered all month on the Salt Pond A10/A11 levee at Alviso Marina CP, SCL (Mike Rogers; mob). Two more camped out at Benicia Pier SOL, May 3-16 (KP; mob). A north-bound Pacific Golden-Plover fought the wind over Pigeon Pt., SM, on May 12 (RT). More common in fall, a Semipalmated Sandpiper was located May 11 at the Pilarcitos Cr. mouth in Half Moon Bay, SM (MDF, CH). An Ancient Murrelet was reported May 2 from a Great Highway seawatch in SF (PSa).

Kelp Gull by Alvaro Jaramillo, www.alvarosadventures.com

Kelp Gull by Alvaro Jaramillo, www.alvarosadventures.com

Pilarcitos Cr. mouth was a bit of a rare gull magnet this month, starting with an adult Laughing Gull, photographed May 4-5 (AJ; mob). The rarity highlight was unquestionably an adult Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus), seen sporadically between May 20-May 27 at Pilarcitos Cr. mouth and SE Farallon Island (AJ, PW; CH, MDF, GMC). This South American resident would be a first for California if ratified by the CBRC. Late Glaucous Gulls were reported May 6 from Mori Pt. in Pacifica, SM (PD) and May 11from Pilarcitos Cr. mouth (MDF, CH). In other gull news, an adult Franklin’s Gull was found feeding on Salt Pond A16 in Alviso, SCL, on May 21 (EM; GZ).

Doves to Longspurs

A White-winged Dove was found on May 28, foraging with ground-feeding birds at Cobb St. and Royal Ave. in San Mateo, SM (MA). A Long-eared Owl was heard hooting at dawn on May 6 from a thick riparian ravine in Las Trampas Regional Wilderness, CC (MRe). On the 29th, a Lesser Nighthawk was found roosting in the oaks at Blue Oak Picnic Area in Mt. Diablo SP, CC (HF, KH). Black Swifts began migrating through along the mountain ridges, with 4 spotted May 8 above Skylawn Memorial Park, SM (RT); 2 more on May 12 over Napa Ridge, NAP (MB); and a flock of 20+ on the 30th over Skyline Ridge OSP, SCL (BR, PK).

A Gray Flycatcher was located May 19 foraging in sage scrub at Carnegie SVRA, ALA (AG). Another Gray was reported May 31 from Fort Funston, SF (PSa). Dusky Flycatchers were located May 1 along Pine Flat Rd., SON (SC) and on the 19th along Mines Rd., ALA (BD). A female Vermilion Flycatcher was well described on May 20 along the Santa Rosa Cr. Trail, SON (DSh). Late Tropical Kingbirds lingered through the 5th at the Concrete Bridge area of L. Merced, SF (PSe; SB, BG) and through the 14th at Seal Pt. Park, SM (RM; RT, LB). A Cassin’s Kingbird continued through the 24th at Carnegie SVRA, ALA (DK; AG, SH).

The vagrant trap at Sem Lane Public Path in Belmont, SM, produced a Bell’s Vireo on May 15 (RT; mob). Red-eyed Vireos turned up on May 9 at Pioneer Log Cabin in GGP, SF (AH); on the 28th at PRNS Fish Docks, MRN (DSi; LK); and on the 29th along Tunitas Cr. Rd., SM (RT). Migrant Bank Swallows were noted May 2 at Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District, MRN (AM); on the 16th at Sunnyvale WPCP, SCL (JL); and on the 27th at Coyote Hills RP, ALA (JTi). A lingering Townsend’s Solitaire was heard calling on May 2 from Aetna Springs Rd., NAP (MB).

Wood Warblers to Finches

A male Prothonotary Warbler was in apparent distress at Hole in the Head in Bodega Bay on May 30 (MH). A skulking Kentucky Warbler was photographed May 28 at PRNS Fish Docks (DSi; LK). A Yellow-throated Warbler was found singing along Eastshore Rd. in Bodega Bay on the 27th (DN). Other good warbler sightings included 2 Northern Waterthrushes; 4 Black-and-white, 1 Magnolia, 1 Chestnut-sided, and 3 Tennessee Warblers; and 2 Northern Parulas.

A survey through the Lick Fire burn area on May 16 recorded 11 Black-chinned Sparrows singing on territory along Bear Mountain Rd. in Henry Coe SP, SCL (Mike Rogers, RJ). Back at Sem Lane Public Path in Belmont, a Summer Tanager lingered May 15-18 (RT; mob). Birders reported at least 10 Rose-breasted Grosbeaks this month, mostly from coastal migrant traps but also from Lexington Res., SCL (NA) and from Ardenwood Farm, ALA (JTi). Beginning May 2, a male Indigo Bunting returned for the 2nd year to Loma Alta Fire Rd., San Rafael, MRN (SB). Elsewhere, Indigos were noted May 18 near the Crocker Gate on San Bruno Mountain, SM (DA) and May 19-21 at Blufftop Coastal Park in Half Moon Bay (AJ; DP).

A female Yellow-headed Blackbird visited Santa Rosa Cr. trail at Willowside Rd., SON, on the 6th (RS) and up to 11 Yellow-headeds camped out at S. County Regional Wastewater Authority ponds, SCL, May 6-14 (MM; BR). On the 31st, an Orchard Oriole added to the vagrant bonanza at the Sem Lane Public Path in Belmont (RT, LB). A male Baltimore Oriole was found feeding on flowers in Owl Cyn., Bodega Bay on May 26 (RR; mob) and then a female was found down the road on the 27th (DN).

Abbreviations for Observers: AG, Aaron Gabbe; AH, Alan Hopkins; AJ, Alvaro Jaramillo; AM, Alex Merritt; BD, Bob Dunn; BG, Bob Gunderson; BR, Bob Reiling; CH, Chris Hayward; DA, Doug Allshouse; DK, Dan Kopp; DM, Dominik Mosur; DN, Dan Nelson; DP, Donna Pomeroy; DSh, Doug Shaw; DSi, Dan Singer; EM, Emily Moffitt; GMC, Gerry McChesney; GZ, Gena Zolotar; HF, Hank Fabian; JC, Hugh Cotter; JG, Jason Gregg; JL, Jasen Liu; JS, John Sterling; JTh, Jason Thompson; JTi, Jerry Ting; KH, Kevin Hintsa; KP, Ken Poerner; LB, Leonie Batkin; LK, Logan Kahle; MA, Mike Aicardi; MB, Murray Berner; MDF, Malia DeFelice; MDF, Matthew Dodder; ME, Megan Elrod; MH, Mike Heffernon; MM, Mike Mammoser; MRe, Mike Resch; MRo, MIke Rogers; MS, Mark Stephenson; NA, Nancy Asquith; PC, Peter Colasanti; PD, Paul Donahue; PG, Pauline Grant; PK, Pat Kenny; PL, Peter Leahy; PSa, Paul Saraceni; PSe, Peter Seubert; PW, Pete Warzybok; RJ, Richard Jeffers; RM, Roberta Manian; RR, Ruth Rudesill; RS, Richard Stradford; RT, Ron Thorn; RW, Rudyard Wallen; SB, Stephen Berlyant; SC, Scott Carey; SH, Steve Huckabone

Semicolons separate original observer(s) from subsequent observer(s). Abbreviation “mob” = many observers; “oob” = other observers. CBRC review species are shown in bold. Information is compiled from eBird, regional listservs, and BirdBox transcripts; the author apologizes for any errors or omissions.

Abbreviations for Counties and Others: ALA, Alameda; CBRC, California Bird Records Committee; CC, Contra Costa; CP, County Park; Cr., Creek; Cyn., Canyon; GGP, Golden Gate Park; L., Lake; MRN, Marin; Mt., Mount; N., North; NAP, Napa; NWR, National Wildlife Refuge; OSP, Open Space Preserve; PBCS, Point Blue Conservation Science; PRNS, Pt Reyes National Seashore; Pt., Point; Rd., Road; Res., Reservoir; RP, Regional Park; RS, Regional Shoreline; S., South; SB, State Beach; SCL, Santa Clara; SF, San Francisco; SM, San Mateo; SOL, Solano; SON, Sonoma; SP, State Park; SR, State Reserve; WPCP, Water Pollution Control Plant; WTP, Water Treatment Plant

 

April 1-30, 2015

 

Ducks to Herons

A male Tufted Duck resurfaced at Abbotts Lagoon, PRNS, MRN, on Apr. 24 (AJ, TS; oob). A female Harlequin Duck hunted shell fish off Fort Baker, MRN, on the 29th(JT). The recurring Black Scoter at Richmond Marina, CC, apparently found a mate on the 1st (Es). The Bodega Bay (SON) Long-tailed Duck was last seen near Doran Beach on the 4th (CT; mob). Birders aboard repositioning cruises from S. CA on the 27th and 28th recorded 18 Murphy’s, 3 Hawaiian, and 4 Cook’s Petrels in SF and SON waters (NH, PL).

An adult Brown Booby was spotted Apr. 18 at Pigeon Pt., SM (MK). The resident Northern Gannet (Morus bassanus) has resumed its use of Alcatraz Island, SF, as a favored roost site, much as it did last summer (fide JM; LK). A flock of 7 White-faced Ibises passed overhead at 19th Ave. and Winston, SF, on Apr. 10 (AH) and a lone bird touched down at Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District, MRN, on the 19th (SP).

Raptors to Terns

The Bolinas (MRN) Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus) returned to the vulture roost near the school on Apr. 25 after more than a month’s absence (EC, PP; DH). Broad-winged Hawks pushed through in mid-month, starting with 2 birds over Battery Godfrey, SF, on the 16th (HC, LK, BF); followed by at least 4 on the 18th over Buena Vista Park and Corona Heights, SF (BF; KJ, KSc) and another over the Belmont Hills, SM (RT); and finally a solo Broadie on the 19th over Loma Prieta, SCL (JBa, Jm, DW; SM). Scattered Swainson’s Hawks were reported around the region, including at least 1 bird that has returned to a nest site in Coyote Valley, SCL (RP; mob).

A lonely Black Oystercatcher took a snooze on a salt pond levee at Don Edwards NWR, SCL, on Apr. 14 (JSP). The NAP Solitary Sandpiper lingered through Apr. 6 near Jack’s Bend in NAP (AG). Migrant Solitary Sandpipers moved through Apr. 16-18 at Battery Godfrey, SF (HC, LK, BF); in Petaluma, SON (RW; mob); and at Chesbro Res. in Morgan Hill, SCL (PD; BH). A Ruff was a one-day wonder on Apr. 19 at Hayward Marsh, ALA (BRi). A Pectoral Sandpiper was described at Elsie Roemer Bird Sanctuary, ALA, on the 17th (BS). A Semipalmated Sandpiper foraged in the mud along Ravenswood Trail, SM, Apr. 23-26 (RT; mob).

Doves to Longspurs

Beginning Apr. 4, up to 6 Black-chinned Hummingbirds visited various feeders in SON, while single birds were reported in NAP, ALA, and CC (mob). An Alamo (CC) feeder hosted both a Black-chinned and a Costa’s Hummingbird on Apr. 15 (JR, HH; oob). Calliope Hummingbirds moved north all month, with reports from every county except SF and SM. A few out-of-range Pileated Woodpecker reports suggested that some dispersal may be occurring. CC produced 2 sightings: Apr. 14 in Briones RP (KH, fide WC) and Apr. 19 near Morgan Territory Rd. in Clayton (JBr). The most surprising report was of a female Pileated at Battery Godfrey in the Presidio, SF, on the 16th (HC, LK, BF).

Among the Empidonax flycatchers that migrated through in April came reports of a Gray Flycatcher at Patterson Pass Rd., ALA (SH) and on NAP Ridge, NAP (MB); a Dusky Flycatcher at Modini Ranch, SON (DK) and along the Morgan Trail in PRNS, MRN (RC); and a singing Cordilleran Flycatcher at Bishop’s Ranch, SON (GB). A Bike Big Day on Apr. 18 was rewarded with an Eastern Phoebe near Bolinas Lagoon, MRN (BT, JC). On the 27th, a Cassin’s Kingbird was located along Tesla Rd., ALA (AM). More surprisingly, a Cassin’s Kingbird wandered out to the PRNS Lighthouse, MRN, on the 30th (DS). A pair of Bank Swallows hawked insects on their way north over Hayward RS, ALA, on the 25th (BRi).

The Vintage Park L. Townsend’s Solitaire lingered in SM through the 13th (mob) and another Solitaire was discovered on the 27th along the Oat Hill Mine Trail, NAP (EP, JS, LK). A tough bird to find in MRN, a California Thrasher was heard singing at dawn on Apr. 18 along Pine Mountain Fire Rd., MRN (JC, BT). The Fisk Mill Cove Sage Thrasher attracted birders to Salt Pt. SP, SON, through the 9th (mob).

Wood Warblers to Finches

Yellow-breasted Chat by Caroline Lambert , http://www.kittiwakenaturephotography.com

Yellow-breasted Chat by Caroline Lambert , http://www.kittiwakenaturephotography.com

The GGP Black-and-white Warbler lingered in the SF Botanical Garden through Apr. 6 (mob). Beginning Apr. 21, migrant Yellow-breasted Chats paused briefly in a Moraga bottle-brush tree, CC (KSp); along Mines Rd., ALA (SH); and at the UC Botanical Garden in Berkeley, ALA (SML). By the 27th, Chats were confirmed at their regular nesting grounds along S. Llagas Cr. near the Gilroy WTP, SCL (BRe; mob).

A Brewer’s Sparrow was documented on Apr. 19 along Patterson Pass Rd., ALA (SH). By Apr. 12, Black-chinned Sparrows returned to their nesting territories along Mt. Madonna Rd. on Loma Prieta, SCL (MD; mob) and on the 19th another Black-chinned Sparrow was detected in the White Cyn. chaparral at Mt. Diablo SP, CC (EP, JH, LK). A Harris’s Sparrow completed its pre-alternate molt by Apr. 18 in the Bean Ave. neighborhood along Salmon Cr., SON (LH; BOC).

A female Summer Tanager turned up at Webb Ranch in Portola Valley, SM, on Apr. 24 (RT). Fallout conditions on Apr. 16 produced a 1st year Orchard Oriole at the Presidio’s Battery Godfrey (HC, LK, BF). A male Cassin’s Finch visited a suet feeder in Cole Valley, SF, on the 20th (PS). A pair of Evening Grosbeaks flew over the Sharon Heights neighborhood of Menlo Park, SM, on the 24th (PM).

Abbreviations for Observers: AG, Alex Greene; AH, Alan Hopkins; AJ, Alvaro Jaramillo; AM, Aaron Maizlish; BF, Brian Fitch; BH, Bob Hirt; BOC, Brook O’Connor; BRe, Bob Reiling; BRi, Bob Richmond; BS, Brian Steger; BT, Brian Turner; CT, Colin Talcroft; DH, Daphne Hatch; DK, Donald Kirker; DS, Dan Singer; DW, Dave Weber; EC, Everett Clark; EP, Eric Pilotte; Es, Estamman; GB, Gordon Beebe; HC, Hugh Cotter; HH, Hugh Harvey; JBa, James Barnes; JBr, Jerry Britten; JC, Josiah Clark; JH, Jeff Hoppes; Jm, Jeff Miller; JM, Joe Morlan; JR, Jean Richmond; JS, John Sterling; JSP, Jason St. Pierre; JT, Jerry Ting; KH, Kevin Hintsa; KJ, Kimberly Jannarone; KSc, Ken Schneider; KSp, Kathryn Spence; LH, Lisa Hug; LK, Logan Kahle; MB, Murray Berner; MD, Matthew Dodder; MK, Mark Kudrav; NH, Nathan Hentze; PD, Pete Dunten; PL, Paul Lehman; PM, Peter Metropulos; PP, Peter Pyle; PS, Paul Saraceni; RC, Richard Cimino; RP, Ryan Phillips; RT, Ron Thorn; RW, Robin Winning; SH, Steve Huckabone; SM, Shirley Murphy; SML, Sarah MacLean; SP, Simon Perkins; TS, Tate Snyder; WC, William Chilson

Semicolons separate original observer(s) from subsequent observer(s). Abbreviation “mob” = many observers; “oob” = other observers. CBRC review species are shown in bold. Information is compiled from eBird, regional listservs, and BirdBox transcripts; the author apologizes for any errors or omissions.

Abbreviations for Counties and Others: ALA, Alameda; CC, Contra Costa; CP, County Park; Cr., Creek; Cyn., Canyon; DENWR, Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge; GGP, Golden Gate Park; L., Lake; MRN, Marin; Mt., Mount; N., North; NAP, Napa; NWR, National Wildlife Refuge; OSP, Open Space Preserve; PRNS, Pt Reyes National Seashore; Pt., Point; Rd., Road; Res., Reservoir; RP, Regional Park; RS, Regional Shoreline; S., South; SB, State Beach; SCL, Santa Clara; SF, San Francisco; SM, San Mateo; SOL, Solano; SON, Sonoma; SP, State Park; SR, State Reserve; WPCP, Water Pollution Control Plant; WTP, Water Treatment Plant

 

 

March 1-31, 2015

 

March heralded the departure of some of our over-wintering rarities, along with the sometimes early return of summer breeders. New pelagic birding opportunities also shed additional light on seabird distributions during a season that has largely gone overlooked.

Ducks to Herons

A continuing Tufted Duck sported his showy head tuft at Stafford L., MRN, through Mar. 9 (BD, Br). Booby hunters visiting Chimney Rock Trail, PRNS, MRN, on Mar. 2 reported a Long-tailed Duck on Drake’s Bay (DSh; mob). Another Long-tailed Duck, this one a female, graced Bodega Harbor (SON) waters near Tides Wharf Mar. 20-22 (BM; DSw, RS). A Sooty Grouse was heard hooting on Mar. 23 about 10 miles up Rockpile Rd. above the L. Sonoma dam, SON (GHu). In SCL, the Calero Res. Red-necked Grebe was last reported Mar. 9 (AB, RP) whereas the Coyote L. Red-necked Grebe continued all month (mob).

A March 20-21 repositioning cruise aboard a Princess cruise ship between Los Angeles and Vancouver netted several highlights and some surprises off the central CA coast, including 7 Laysan Albatrosses (1 SM, 5 SF, 1 SON); 1 Dark-rumped (Hawaiian), 1 Murphy’s, and 4 Cook’s Petrels, all in SON; 2 Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels (1 MRN, 1 SON); and a Leach’s Storm-Petrel in SM (PL; mob). By far the biggest surprise of the month was the recovery of a freshly killed Tristram’s Storm-Petrel (Oceanodroma tristrami) on Mar. 18 at SE Farralon Island, SF (RB, oob). A victim of Burrowing Owl predation, this specimen would be only the 3rd N. American record. This find provides further evidence of warm water conditions in the Gulf of the Farallones this year and the corresponding occurrence of more tropical species. This bird’s unfortunate demise also highlights the ongoing challenges Burrowing Owls pose to the Farallon storm-petrels.

The Brown Booby extravaganza continued through March off the coast, with 1-3 birds reported from Chimney Rock, PRNS, through the 16th (mob); 3 immature birds joining a feeding frenzy below Sutro Baths, SF, on the 3rd (BF; DA); and individual birds moving north past SM seawatch posts at Pigeon Pt. on the 17th and at Moss Beach on the 24th (RT).

Raptors to Terns

The Pine Gulch Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus) remained in the Bolinas area, MRN, through the 23rd (mob). Swainson’s Hawks started moving through this month, with a pair noted soaring over the Napa River south of Butler Bridge, NAP, on the 21st (DM, oob) and singletons northbound over Carlmont Summit in Belmont, SM, on the 25th and 27th (RT). Black Rails began vocalizing this month from Huichica Cr. Unit of the NAP-SON Marshes, NAP (MuB); Miwok Meadows marsh at China Camp SP, MRN (MP); Alviso Marina CP, SCL (FV; mob); and Martinez RS Park, CC (JMu; TF). A rail at the latter site even provided a brief photo op.

A Solitary Sandpiper that was originally discovered on Jan. 19 was relocated on Mar 4 on a small sandbar below the 3rd St. Bridge in Napa, where it lingered through the 28th (MuB; mob). A Common Murre was spotted in ALA waters on Mar. 6 from the interpretive center at Hayward RS (VR) and again on the 21st from the Shoreline’s Grant Ave. access point (RN). An Ancient Murrelet flew north past a Mar. 4 seawatch at Moss Beach, SM (RT).

Birders aboard the Princess repositioning cruise located a Tufted Puffin in SM waters and up to 70 Sabine’s Gulls, all heading north and most in adult alternate plumage (PL; mob). An adult Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus) was discovered Mar. 12 at L. Elizabeth in Fremont, ALA (JTi). The 1st cycle Glaucous Gull at Ogier Ponds, SCL, was last reported on Mar. 2 (mob). A courting pair of Elegant Terns was a surprise find on Mar. 20 on Kent Island near Bolinas, MRN (PP).

Doves to Longspurs

A White-winged Dove remained in residence at the end of Water Lane in Pescadero, SM, through the 7th (mob). A Long-eared Owl made up a pre-dawn owling quartet on Mar. 22 along Gazos Cr., SM (AD). Over-wintering Vaux’s Swifts remained regular users of the McNear Brick and Block (MRN) chimney roost (JW, JMe). Early migrants appeared Mar. 17 over L. Temescal in Oakland, ALA (DBe, TB). A Black-chinned Hummingbird returned on Mar. 29 to its traditional nesting grounds near Piper Slough on Bethel Island, CC (CS, AL). A 2nd Black-chinned Hummingbird visited a Willow Glen (SCL) feeder on the 31st (BM).

Both the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and the Eastern Phoebe remained through Mar. 8 along Stage Rd. near Pescadero, SM (mob). Additional Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers continued at Don Castro Regional Recreation Area, ALA (mob) and turned up on a San Rafael (MRN) yard list (DSi). Over-wintering Tropical Kingbirds continued at multiple locations around the bay and a pair of Cassin’s Kingbirds returned on Mar. 5 to their now-traditional nest site in the tall eucalyptus trees along San Felipe Rd., SCL (GHa; mob).

Returning Purple Martins appeared as early as Mar. 7, with a lone bird on a wire at Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District, MRN (MaB, HB) and another loner over Fort Mason Park, SF, on the 16th (DA). SF’s 1st Bank Swallow of the season showed up Mar. 27 at Fort Mason Park (DA). They typically nest in the sandy banks overlooking the beach at Fort Funston. The sometimes elusive Townsend’s Solitaire at Vintage Park L. in Foster City, SM, was last seen on Mar. 3 (JTh). A Sage Thrasher wandered to the SON coast at Salt Pt. SP on Mar. 31, where the lupines at Fisk Mill Cove passed as a reasonable proxy for sage (BM, PB, SB).

Wood Warblers to Finches

The L. Merced (SF) Northern Waterthrush remained regular at the Concrete Bridge area through the 29th (mob). In addition to continuing Black-and-white Warblers at Heather Farm Park, CC, SF Botanical Garden, GGP, and Stinson Beach Recreation Area, MRN (mob), a new individual was located Mar. 25 at Telegraph Hill, SF (MG). The overwintering Lucy’s Warbler in SON continued to draw visitors to Diekman’s Store in Bodega Bay through the 22nd (mob).

Rustic Bunting by Aaron Maizlish, https://www.flickr.com/photos/amaizlish/15978897041/

Rustic Bunting by Aaron Maizlish, https://www.flickr.com/photos/amaizlish/15978897041/

A Bell’s Sparrow took up territorial singing on the 21st in Shell Ridge Park in Walnut Cr., CC, (DG). A couple wintering Nelson’s Sparrows made high tide appearances at Arrowhead Marsh in MLK Jr. RS, ALA, through the 27th (mob). Swamp Sparrows were discovered Mar. 2 at Nob Hill pond in Redwood Shores, SM (RF) and on Mar. 29 at Palo Alto Baylands, SCL (BBo).

The GGP (SF) Rustic Bunting (Emberiza rustica) was content to remain all month at the Big Rec Ball Fields (mob). According to eBird data from Asia, Rustic Buntings remain on their wintering grounds through April (S. Korea) and May (Japan) so perhaps this bird will stick around another month or two. In SF, the Fort Mason Orchard Oriole was last reported Mar. 5 and the Lafayette Park bird was last reported on the 13th (mob). The Sunnyvale (SCL) Evening Grosbeak flock found a new crop of chinese pistache berries on Mar. 11 (MS).

Abbreviations for Observers: AB, Andy Bradshaw; AD, Adam Dudley; AL, Albert Linkowski; BBa, Bob Battagin; BBo, Bill Bousman; BDBr, Donna Bray; BF, Brian Fitch; BM, Brooke Miller; CS, Catherine Spaulding; DA, David Assmann; DBe, Diane Bennett; DG, Doug Greenberg; DM, Dominik Mosur; DSh, Dave Shuford; DSi, Dan Singer; DSw, Doug Shaw; DW, Dave Weber; FV, Frank Vanslager; GC, Graham Chisholm; GHa, Garth Harwood; GHu, Gene Hunn; HB, Holly Bern; JMe, Jane Medley; JMu, Julio Mulero; JTh, Jason Thompson; JTi, Jerry Ting; JW, Jim White; LI, Loretta lchen; LK, Logan Kahle; MaB, Martin Bern; MF, Mark Forney; MG, Michael Gertz; MP, Matt Perry; MS, Mike Sabin; MuB, Murray Berner; PB, Phillip Barlow; PL, Paul Lehman; PP, Peter Pyle; PW, Patrick Woodworth; RB, Russ Bradley; RF, Rob Furrow; RN, Rich Nicholson; RP, Ryan Phillips; RS, Ron Storey; RT, Ron Thorn; SB, Suzanne Barlow; TB, Tom Bennett; TF, Tracy Farrington; VR, Vicki Robinson

Semicolons separate original observer(s) from subsequent observer(s). Abbreviation “mob” = many observers; “oob” = other observers. CBRC review species are shown in bold. Information is compiled from eBird, regional listservs, and BirdBox transcripts; the author apologizes for any errors or omissions.

Abbreviations for Counties and Others: ALA, Alameda; CC, Contra Costa; CP, County Park; Cr., Creek; Cyn., Canyon; GGP, Golden Gate Park; L., Lake; MRN, Marin; Mt., Mount; N., North; NAP, Napa; NWR, National Wildlife Refuge; OSP, Open Space Preserve; PRNS, Pt Reyes National Seashore; Pt., Point; Rd., Road; Res., Reservoir; RP, Regional Park; RS, Regional Shoreline; S., South; SB, State Beach; SCL, Santa Clara; SF, San Francisco; SM, San Mateo; SOL, Solano; SON, Sonoma; SP, State Park; SR, State Reserve

 

Feb. 1–28, 2015

 

The theme for this month is “continuing” since many of our regional rarities were well-known over-wintering birds (if one can call this weather “winter”).

Ducks to Herons

A family group of Tundra Swans made the circuit of farm ponds and flooded fields in northern MRN and southern SON all month, with reports from Carmody Pond (mob), Ellis Cr. Water Recycling Facility (CO), and Fallon-Two Rock Rd. (MB; DSi). The Stafford L. (MRN) Tufted Duck remained all month in the company of Ring-necked Ducks and Scaup (mob). Another male Tufted Duck was located Feb. 15 on L. Hennessey near Conn Valley Rd., NAP (DEh, DaH). A couple Harlequin Ducks continued mussel-hunting around Mile Rock, SF, on Feb. 12 (BF). A herring run at Miller/Knox RS, CC, attracted a Long-tailed Duck Feb. 8-10 (LK; AL).

In SCL Co., a Red-necked Grebe lingered all month at Coyote L. CP (mob). A Feb. 27 seawatch from Pigeon Pt., SM, recorded a Short-tailed Shearwater, (RT). An adult female and 3 immature Brown Boobies maintained their regular roost at Chimney Rock, PRNS, MRN, where at least one has been present since Nov. (TF; mob). Out at the Farallons, there was a Feb. 12 report of 7 Brown Boobies, some apparently engaged in courtship displays and carrying nesting material (fide DSh). The monthly report would not be complete without confirmation of our now resident Northern Gannet (Morus bassanus), still roosting on Farallon Island’s Sugarloaf, SF (BW).

Raptors to Terns

The Pine Gulch Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus) made regular use of the Turkey Vulture roosting in the eucalyptus grove behind the school on Olema-Bolinas Rd., MRN (JM; mob). The resident female Common Black Hawk (Buteogallus anthracinus) was reported periodically from private property near Laguna de Santa Rosa, SON (mob). A Rough-legged Hawk visited Hudeman Slough, SON, on Feb. 28 (DoS).

On Feb. 25, 3 Black Oystercatchers were noteworthy for wandering so far inland to Benicia Pier, SOL (EP). A couple Pacific Golden-Plovers camped out at Nunes (Historic A) Ranch, PRNS, MRN, Feb. 13-25 (JW, JN; DSi). A Feb. 21 pelagic trip to SM waters located 2 pairs of Scripps’s Murrelets and a Tufted Puffin, among other goodies (AJ; mob).

A booby hunt at Chimney Rock, PRNS, on the 6th produced a bonus Black-legged Kittiwake (JS). An adult Slaty-backed Gull (Larus schistisagus) was last reported at Vasona L. CP, SCL, on Feb. 2 (CL). In the Glaucous Gull department, both 1st and 2nd cycle birds were ID’d at Ogier Ponds, SCL (SRt, BBo; mob); a 1st cycle bird joined the gull frenzy at the Miller/Knox herring run (LK; mob); and adult bird was noted in flight past Pt. Richmond, CC (JM). A 1st cycle Royal Tern wandered north past Moss Beach, SM, on Feb. 2 (RT).

Doves to Longspurs

A continuing White-winged Dove kept the company of piglets, lambs and Eurasian Collared Doves at the end of Water Lane in Pescadero, SM (GH; mob). A pair of Long-eared Owls hooted back and forth near the Redwood Gate entrance to Redwood RP, ALA, and on nearby Pinehurst Rd., CC, on the nights of Feb. 14-16 (ML; GC, BT, BS). A rather tame Common Poorwill was both heard and seen at dusk near the trailhead parking lot in Tennessee Valley, MRN, Feb. 20-24 (MP, BF; mob).

A small flock of Vaux’s Swifts appear to be over-wintering at McNear Brick and Block, MRN, where has many as 18 were counted descending the chimney at dusk, Feb. 18-28 (RS). Small groups were also reported foraging over Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District and surrounding areas. The continuing female Williamson’s Sapsucker lounged at the Flamingo Conference Resort and Spa in Santa Rosa, SON, through the 16th (mob). A juvenile Yellow-bellied Sapsucker turned up Feb. 22 in a Lafayette yard, CC (DSc) and an adult probed the eucalyptus trees near the Eastern Phoebe stake-out spot along Stage Rd. in Pescadero, SM, beginning Feb. 24 (DR, SRs; mob). At least 9 different Sapsuckers with varying degrees of Red-naped genes were reported in 6 different counties this month.

A Crested Caracara (Caracara cheriway) was discovered on Feb. 10 tending to a cow carcass along Higgins Cyn. Rd. near Half Moon Bay, SM (MK; IS, AR, mob). It was last reported on the 26th, by which time the carcass had been reduced to leather and bones. Continuing over-wintering birds included the Eastern Phoebe along Stage Rd. near Pescadero (DPo; mob) and Tropical Kingbirds at Heather Farm Park, CC (mob); L. Merced, SF (mob); and Mariners Island Park, SM (DPe). An intriguing report on Feb. 28 of a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher-like bird perched on a wire next to Highway 280 in Redwood City suggests that the Half Moon Bay bird may still be lurking in SM (MB).

A continuing American Dipper clung to rocks all month in Lagunitas Cr. near the Leo T. Cronin Fish Viewing Area, MRN (mob). Several Townsend’s Solitaires were reported from their expected high elevation haunts in the N. Bay. More out of range was a Solitaire that loitered Feb. 10-25 in a camphor tree along Cherry Ave, in San Jose, SCL (BM; mob) and another that chose Vintage Park L. in Foster City, SM, beginning the 11th (AW; mob).

Ovenbird by Gail West, https://www.flickr.com/photos/hockeylover/

Ovenbird by Gail West, https://www.flickr.com/photos/hockeylover/

Wood Warblers to Finches

Both the Ovenbird and the Northern Waterthrush remained at Charleston Rd. Marsh, SCL, all month (mob). In addition to continuing Black-and-white Warblers at Heather Farm Park, CC, and at SF Botanical Garden, GGP (mob), a new individual was located Feb. 28 at Stinson Beach Recreation Area, MRN (BBa). A Tennessee Warbler was refound Feb. 7 near Twin Dolphin Dr. in Redwood Shores, SM (RT). A Lucy’s Warbler remained in the tangles below Diekman’s Store in Bodega Bay, SON (mob). A female American Redstart joined a mixed flock on Feb. 4 at Edgewood Park, SM (MC). A Black-throated Blue Warbler graced the Los Gatos Cr. Trail south of Main St., SCL, Feb. 9-20 (MS; mob).

A Vesper Sparrow stuck to the field along Olema-Bolinas Rd., MRN, through the 15th (KH; mob). A Lark Bunting mingled with Lark Sparrows along Flannery and Robinson Rd., SOL, Feb. 10 (ELP, JR, NR). A wintering Nelson’s Sparrow made high tide appearances at Arrowhead Marsh in MLK Jr. RS, ALA, through the 22nd (mob).

The GGP Rustic Bunting (Emberiza rustica) lingered all month with the junco flock at Big Rec Ball Fields (mob). The Santa Rosa Rose-breasted Grosbeak was well along with its 1st pre-alternate molt by Feb. 16 (DD). SF hosted 3 Orchard Orioles, a Hooded, and a Bullock’s Oriole this month, while additional Hooded Orioles over-wintered in SCL and SON. A solo Evening Grosbeak joined a Goldfinch at a backyard feeder in the Rockridge neighborhood of Oakland, ALA, Feb. 11 (PT).

Abbreviations for Observers: AJ, Alvaro Jaramillo; AL, Albert Linkowski; AO, Andrew Ontano; AR, Andrew Rush; AW, Andrew Waltman; BBa, Bob Battagin; BBo, Bill Bousman; BF, Betsey Finn; BF, Brian Fitch; BM, Brooke Miller; BS, Catherine Spaulding; BT, Bob Toleno; BW, Bryan White; CL, Caroline Lambert; CO, Chet Ogan; DaH, David Hamilton; DD, Debbie Drechsler; DEh, Denise Hamilton; DM, Dominik Mosur; DoS, Doug Shaw; DR, Diane Rose; DSc, Daniel Scali; DSh, Debi Shearwater; DSi, Dan Singer; ELP, Eric LoPresti; EP, Eric Pilotte; GC, Graham Chisholm; GD, Gary Deghi; GH, Garth Harwood; GZ, Gena Zolotar; IS, Irene Steves; JM, Jeff Miller; JN, Jane Medley; JR, Jason Riggio; JS, John Sterling; JT, Jack Tomlin; JW, Jim White; KB, Karen Burnson; KH, Keith Hansen; KO, Kurt Ongman; LF, Leslie Flint; LK, Logan Kahle; MB, Matt Bango; MB, Michael Burns; MC, Mark Clegg; MK, Mary Keitelman; ML, Maureen Lahiff; MP, Matt Perry; MS, Marty Sidor; NL, Neal Leeman; NR, Noah Reid; PT, Peter Trueblood; RS, Rusty Scalf; RT, Ron Thorn; SK, Stephanie Klein; SRs, Steve Rose; SRt, Steve Rottenborn; TF, Tom Fletcher

Semicolons separate original observer(s) from subsequent observer(s). Abbreviation “mob” = many observers; “oob” = other observers. CBRC review species are shown in bold. Information is compiled from eBird, regional listservs, and BirdBox transcripts; the author apologizes for any errors or omissions.

Abbreviations for Counties and Others: ALA, Alameda; CC, Contra Costa; CP, County Park; Cr., Creek; Cyn., Canyon; GGP, Golden Gate Park; L., Lake; MRN, Marin; Mt., Mount; N., North; NAP, Napa; NWR, National Wildlife Refuge; OSP, Open Space Preserve; PRNS, Pt Reyes National Seashore; Pt., Point; Rd., Road; Res., Reservoir; RP, Regional Park; RS, Regional Shoreline; S., South; SB, State Beach; SCL, Santa Clara; SF, San Francisco; SM, San Mateo; SOL, Solano; SON, Sonoma; SP, State Park; SR, State Reserve; WPCP, Water Pollution Control Plant; WTP, Water Treatment Plant

 

Jan. 1–31, 2015

 

By far the most amazing rare bird report this month came not from the Bay Area but from Crescent City in far northwestern CA. On the 25th, Bill Bouton photographed what he believed to be a young Black Scoter in the harbor. Closer scrutiny of his photos later revealed it to be a Common Scoter (Melanitta nigra), a bird that has never before been seen in N. America outside of Greenland. Common and Black Scoters were recognized as distinct species by the BOU in 2005 and by the AOU in 2010.

Ducks to Herons

An adult male Tufted Duck returned on Jan. 20 to Stafford L., MRN, where it has wintered for 3 of the past 4 years (DSi; mob). In CC, a Long-tailed Duck joined Surf Scoters offshore at Martinez RS Park on New Year’s Day (mob); 2 White-winged Scoters worked the Ferry Pt. waters in Richmond on the 8th (JHo); and a male Black Scoter stayed through the 24th at the Richmond Marina (mob). In SCL Co., continuing Red-necked Grebes lingered through the 11th at Calero Res. and stayed all month at Coyote L. CP (mob). Elephant seal docents spotted a Brown Booby on Jan. 3 and 8 on the outer island at Año Nuevo SR, SM (PM, oob; COC) and 2 more Boobies recurred at Chimney Rock, PRNS, MRN, on the 25th (EB). The continuing Least Bittern skulked in Pond C at Foothill RP, SON, on Jan. 8 (DSh).

Raptors to Terns

A Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus) was discovered soaring with some Turkey Vultures over Bolinas Lagoon, MRN, on Jan. 31(RDG, MD; mob). Possible Black Vulture sightings were previously reported from the Larkspur and Sausalito areas and a Black Vulture appeared sporadically last spring in SON Co. The resident female Common Black Hawk (Buteogallus anthracinus) was reported periodically from private property near Laguna de Santa Rosa, SON (mob). A Rough-legged Hawk was discovered Jan. 4, sitting in a power line tower along Midway Rd. in eastern ALA Co. (SHu; BD).

A Pacific Golden-Plover visited a pond at Suisun Wildlife Preserve, SOL, Jan. 1-2 (TL; JR) and another was spotted Jan. 17 at Tubbs Island, SON (DSh). A Solitary Sandpiper was located Jan. 19 along the NAP River in NAP (LC) and again on Jan. 29 at a seasonal pond near Petaluma, SON (RW). A Wandering Tattler waited for the ferry near the ALA terminal on Jan. 21 (SHa). A Pectoral Sandpiper joined a mixed sandpiper flock on the mudflats near the Westin SFO Airport Hotel, SM, on Jan. 9 (TY). Marbled Murrelets staged a mini-invasion on Jan. 13, with 45 birds patrolling the waters below Sutro Baths, SF (BF).

A couple Black-legged Kittiwakes lingered along Ocean Beach, SF, through Jan. 6 (DA) and another Kittiwake visited Drake’s Estero, PRNS, MRN, on the 15th (DG). An adult Slaty-backed Gull (Larus schistisagus) at Vasona L. CP, SCL, showed off its distinctive “string of pearls” wingtip pattern on Jan. 28-30 (GZ). Glaucous Gulls were reported Jan. 10-12 at Lucchesi Park, SON (NA; SS); Jan. 30 at Abbotts Lagoon, PRNS, MRN (mob); and Jan. 31 at Coyote Hills RP, ALA (RN).

Doves to Longspurs

The wintering White-winged Dove was relocated Jan. 3-11 at Water Lane in Pescadero, SM (mob). The Long-eared Owl in Redwood RP, ALA, was heard spontaneously calling Jan. 4 and 23 (JH; GC). Beginning the 15th, a day-roosting Long-eared Owl attracted sometimes unwelcome attention near the Coyote Hills RP Visitor Center, ALA (CT; mob). On the 1st, 5 Vaux’s Swifts hawked insects over Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District, MRN (AM). An adult female Williamson’s Sapsucker chillaxed near the pool at the Flamingo Conference Resort and Spa in Santa Rosa on Jan. 29-31, providing just the 2nd SON county record (SMA; mob).

Continuing over-wintering birds included the Eastern Phoebe along Stage Rd. near Pescadero (DPo; mob) and Tropical Kingbirds at Heather Farm Park, CC (mob); L. Merced, SF (mob); and SamTrans Marsh, SM (DPe). On Jan. 14 a wade upstream at the Half Moon Bay WTP, SM, was rewarded with a Cassin’s Vireo sighting (CD).

Single Clark’s Nutcrackers were heard and seen on Jan. 15 near the summit of Mt. St. Helena, SON (BOC, DSh) and again on the Jan. 21 below the summit at Hood Mtn. RP, SON (DSh). Both locations also produced Townsend’s Solitaires. More Solitaires were reported regularly from other high elevation locations, including Mt. Tamalpais, MRN (ER, JC; mob); Armstrong Redwoods SP, SON (CD); Annadel SP, SON (KW); Gates Cyn. Rd., SOL (AC, CG; mob); and Occidental, SON (MH). An American Dipper entertained visitors all month at the Lagunitas Shafter Bridge, MRN (mob). A Mountain Bluebird from St. Helena, NAP, made the Angwin CBC list on Jan. 1 (fide MB).

Wood Warblers to Finches

An Ovenbird teeter-tottered through the undergrowth near Charleston Rd. Marsh, SCL, beginning Jan. 11 (MRo; mob). The same locale hosted a continuing Northern Waterthrush. Another Waterthrush remained through the 17th near the Concrete Bridge at So. L. Merced, SF (DM, MP). Black-and-white Warblers continued at Heather Farm Park, CC (mob); at the Children’s Garden in the SF Botanical Garden (KJ; mob); and at Half Moon Bay WTP, SM (DPo; mob). Yet another Black-and-white Warbler turned up Jan. 13-18 at the Rustic Bunting stake-out in GGP (SL; JS). A skulking Lucy’s Warbler drew birders to Diekman’s Store in Bodega Bay, SON, beginning Jan. 15 (DF; mob).

Le Conte's Sparrow at Pt. Reyes by Ron Storey, onstorey.com/LeConte'sSparrow/

Le Conte’s Sparrow at Pt. Reyes by Ron Storey, http://ronstorey.com/LeConte’sSparrow/

The Green-tailed Towhee continued at Flatiron Marsh in Benicia, SOL, through Jan. 4, where it was first seen on the Benicia CBC (PG, RL). A Vesper Sparrow was located along Olema-Bolinas Rd., MRN, Jan. 18-25 (Keith Hansen; MD). The Pt. Reyes CBC Le Conte’s Sparrow (Ammodramus leconteii) stuck around through the 30th at Abbotts Lagoon, PRNS, MRN (mob). A Grasshopper Sparrow joined the Le Conte’s Sparrow at Abbotts Lagoon on the 1st (CH). Grasshopper Sparrows were also reported Jan. 4-6 at the Calero Res. dam, SCL (DN; GZ) and on the 8th along the Stanford Dish Trail, SCL (JL). King high tides flushed 2 Nelson’s Sparrows from the pickleweed at MLK Jr. RS’s Arrowhead Marsh, ALA, Jan. 20-24 (MRa; mob). A Harris’s Sparrow was located in Bodega Bay along Bean Ave. near Salmon Cr., Jan. 3-22 (mob). The GGP Rustic Bunting (Emberiza rustica) lingered all month with the junco flock at Big Rec Ball Fields (mob).

A Summer Tanager enjoyed the ripe persimmons along Dearborn Park Rd., SM, Jan. 3-11 (GH; mob). Another Summer Tanager was located Jan. 21in a tall pine at Hood Mtn. RP, SON (DSh). On the 11th, a Rose-breasted Grosbeak was drawn to the potato vine berries in the Santa Rosa Junior College (JC) neighborhood, SON (DD). A Yellow-headed Blackbird posed in a pasture at Joseph D. Grant CP, SCL, on Jan. 27 (CL). Baltimore Orioles continued at Lafayette Park, SF (mob) and along Shoreview Ave. in SM (ADM; MDF, RT). Along with the Nutcracker and Solitaires, Hood Mtn. RP produced 4 Cassin’s Finches on Jan. 21 (DSh). The Chinese Pistache trees in Sunnyvale and Mountainview remained big draws for flocks of Evening Grosbeaks (mob).

Abbreviations for Observers: AC, Ashley Casey; ADM, Al DeMartini; AH, Alan Hopkins; AK, Alexander Koonce; AM, Alex Merritt; BD, Bob Dunn; BF, Brian Fitch; BOC, Brook OConnor; BP, Bob Power; CD, Cédric Duhalde; CG, Cory Gregory; CH, Clifford Hawley; CL, Caroline Lambert; COC, Chris O’Connell; CT, Chingling Tien; DA, David Assmann; DD, Debbie Drechsler; DF, Dea Freid; DG, Dan Gesualdo; DM, Dominik Mosur; DN, David Nickerson; DPe, Donald Pendleton; DPo, Donna Pomeroy; DSh, Doug Shaw; DSi, Dan Singer; DT, Daniel Thompson; EB, Ellen Burroughs; EG, Eugene Hood; ER, Erica Rutherford; GC, Graham Chisholm; GH, Garth Harwood; GZ, Gena Zolotar; JC, John Colbert; JH, James Holmes; JHo, Jeff Hoppe; JHu, Lisa Hug; JL, Jasen Liu; JM, Jeff Miller; JR, Jim Rowoth; JS, John Sterling; KJ, Kimberly Jannarone; KW, Kerry Wilcox; LC, Jason Celaya; LK, Logan Kahle; MB, Murray Berner; MD, Mark Dettling; MDF, Malia DeFelice; MH, Mike Heffernon; MP, Michael Park; MRa, Mark Rauzon; MRo, Mike Rogers; NA, Noah Arthur; PG, Phil Gulley; PM, Peter Metropoulos; RDG, Ryan DiGaudio; RL, Robin Leong; RN, Rich Nicholson; ROB, Rob O’Donnell; RT, Ron Thorn; RW, Robin Winning; SHa, Steve Hampton; SHu, Steve Huckabone; SL, Steve Lombardi; SMA, Sean McAllister; SS, Scott Sorby; TL, Tim Liguori; TY, Tom Younkin

Semicolons separate original observer(s) from subsequent observer(s). Abbreviation “mob” = many observers; “oob” = other observers. CBRC review species are shown in bold. Information is compiled from eBird, regional listservs, and BirdBox transcripts; the author apologizes for any errors or omissions.

Abbreviations for Counties and Others: ALA, Alameda; AOU, American Ornithological Union; BOU, British Ornithological Union; CBC, Christmas Bird Count; CC, Contra Costa; CP, County Park; Cr., Creek; Cyn., Canyon; GGP, Golden Gate Park; L., Lake; MRN, Marin; Mt., Mount; N., North; NAP, Napa; NWR, National Wildlife Refuge; OSP, Open Space Preserve; PRNS, Pt Reyes National Seashore; Pt., Point; Rd., Road; Res., Reservoir; RP, Regional Park; RS, Regional Shoreline; S., South; SB, State Beach; SCL, Santa Clara; SF, San Francisco; SM, San Mateo; SOL, Solano; SON, Sonoma; SP, State Park; SR, State Reserve; WPCP, Water Pollution Control Plant; WTP, Water Treatment Plant