Carquinez Straits Regional Shoreline
Mon, 1 Jan 2001 23:01:46 PST
From: Steve Glover
Today we went out to Carquinez Straits Regional Shoreline near Martinez. To get there take Hwy I-680 north to the Marina Vista offramp. This is the last offramp before the toll plaza, so if you miss it you better either have 2 bucks or a good excuse. Continue through the downtown area to Talbart St and go right. The road will quickly become Carquinez Scenic Drive. Once you pass the old cemetery, you are in the park. We parked at the first lot and walked the road to the end and took the loop trail back.
It was too foggy on the way out to check for Kirk Swenson's Barrow's Goldeneyes, but the birding was somewhat interesting anyway. Common birds along here included Yellow-rumped Warbler (90), Chestnut-backed Chickadee (15), Lesser Goldfinch (145 in several flocks), Bewick's Wren (16), Cedar Waxwing (44), Hermit Thrush (14), Wrentit (8), Oak Titmouse (26), Dark-eyed Junco (85), Steller's Jay (15 - mostly on loop trail), and Ruby-crowned Kinglet (15). Amongst the many Golden-crowned Sparrows there was a White-throated Sparrow just downhill near the end of the road. It was just about at the sign that says "Road Ends 500 Feet" and there is a road going downhill to the IT Corp. Look down into the shrubs.
Birdlife changes somewhat once you head back on the loop trail as there are a few Acorn Woodpeckers, and White-breasted Nuthatch suddenly becomes common. A short distance up the trail the north-facing slope becomes rather densely wooded. In a large flock here there was a single Townsend's Warbler and a Black-throated Gray Warbler, the first I have found in winter in Contra Costa County.
When we got back to the car the fog had burned off enough to view the straits. There are only a few places where you can get a decent view of the straits down below, and at the first pier there were 28 Barrow's Goldeneyes as well as some Canvasback and Greater Scaup. From near the end of the road you can peer through the trees at the large T-shaped pier that Kirk mentioned previously. Here were 54 more Barrow's Goldeneyes with just three Common Goldeneyes on the periphery of the flock. A single Surf Scoter, 3 Green-winged Teal, 2 American Wigeons, 1 Horned Grebe and 1 Western Grebe were the only other birds on the water. A few Western Gulls were on the piers.
A quick check at the north end of McNabney Marsh (also on Marina Vista, but just east of Hwy 680 rather than west) turned up little as the light is horrendous from there in the afternoon, but there were 6 American White Pelicans roosting.
Point Reyes shuttle buses
Tue, 2 Jan 2001 10:04:52 -0800
From: Mike Ezekiel
The Point Reyes shuttle, however, is big fun. We went on New Years Day - when there are normally thousands of people coming out to see Santa Whale on the opening of the gray whale watching season - and waited at most 5 minutes for a bus. Went out the Lighthouse - no pelagics in sight - but did see a gray whale and newborn (within the week, most likely) baby gray whale. Hopped the shuttle, went to Chimney Rock, where some helpful birders told us exactly where the King Eider was by the Fish Docks, and still had time to watch the fantastic elephant seal show. There were more seals in the water from the "official" beach to the end of the point, we saw 3 or 4 Black Scoters (although did not see the Long-tailed Ducks.)
Anyway, plan on the shuttle if you have to and the bird stays there. I think it makes the point feel wilder and more special - you have to work a little but it is a world class "wilderness" experience with great birds, whales and seals.
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Burrowing Owls at Arrowhead Marsh
Tue, 02 Jan 2001 19:04:53 -0800
From: Lillian Fujii
On January 1, Steve Hayashi and I made a quick trip to Arrowhead Marsh off Swan Way in Martin Luther King Jr Regional Shoreline near the Oakland Airport. Certainly not a first, but a first for us - a Burrowing Owl actually in the mitigation area, on the Burrowing Owl mitigation berm, behind the fence (as opposed to being along the side of the road in the first fenced area, or the left side of the road as you enter). Yeah.
We also tried for the redstart in Alameda - no luck, but many other birds. Garretson Point had thousands of ducks but that day we missed the Eurasian Wigeons and Blue-winged Teals.
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