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Swainson's Hawks, geese, swans
Sat, 8 Dec 2001 09:03:46 PST
From: Steve Glover

Hello all,

Yesterday, December 7, I birded Palm Tract in eastern Contra Costa County. There is actually no access to the tract, you have to scope it from the distance. From Byron Hwy east of Brentwood go east on Orwood Rd. Near the end of the road you will go up and over the large water pipes that you have been following for a few miles and drop back down. Just beyond this point there is a small oasis-like clump of cottonwoods. Park here and walk up onto the levee by the railroad tracks but do not go past the No Trespassing signs. Scope north.

The waterfowl can be hard to see here as they are well out and buried in the vegetation, but there were good numbers of swans and Greater White-fronted Geese here with some of each in the air at all times. Larger mixed flocks of Greater White-fronted Geese and Snow Geese / Ross' Geese were off to the northeast. There were also lots of raptors here including over 20 Red-tailed Hawks, a Rough-legged Hawk and, best of all, at least 3 Swainson's Hawks. Two dark-morph birds circled directly over my head at one point and later I saw a light-phase bird. Though I have seen wintering Swainson's at this site quite a few times, they have always been dark birds.

Later at Clifton Court Forebay near Byron, there was a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers and a female Barrow's Goldeneye.

There were 125 Long-billed Curlews in a field on Hwy J-4 near the turnoff to Clifton Court Forebay.

Steve Glover

Subject Index

Vaux's Swifts over Oakland Hills in mid-November
Sun, 9 Dec 2001 10:16:00 -0800
From: John Luther

Hi All,

A bit late in responding to Todd Easterla's Vaux's Swift observation in the central valley [CVBirds list, 6 December], but I thought you might find it interesting.

In Oakland on November 14 I saw a flock of at least 110 Vaux's Swift from my home in the Oakland hills. They were high over Skyline Blvd which runs along the ridge (about 1000 feet above sea level) that separates Oakland and the bay from Moraga and Orinda to the east. Migrating birds often are seen following this ridge.

John Luther

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Hooded Mergansers and Ring-necked Ducks
Sun, 09 Dec 2001 11:50:58 -0800
From: Judi Cooper

For the second year now the Hooded Mergansers have returned to the pond at the Moraga Country Club. The male population is higher this year - there are 3 males and 6 females. The males are absolutely fabulous!! This is the first year I have seen a pair of Ring-necked Ducks there and "he" is in beautiful colors. This pond is visible from Moraga Way, Moraga, but is best viewed by turning right onto St Andrews Dr and make an immediate right into the parking lot for the chipping and putting greens.

There are also Canada Geese, Snipe, Killdeer, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Bufflehead, Mallards, Pied-billed Grebe and who knows what else will show up!

Judi Cooper

Subject Index

Bald Eagle and wigeon hybrid at Del Valle
Sun, 9 Dec 2001 18:32:12 -0800
From: Akira So

About noon today (9 December) in the slightly rainy weather, I went to the Del Valle Regional Park (near Livermore) for sparrow watching.

Although I didn't have much luck with sparrows, I was soon rewarded with a great view of an adult Bald Eagle near the bridge at the southern end of Lake Del Valle. (The eagle came from the south, flying along the creek slowly. Then it made a U-turn near the bridge, going back upstream, away from the main body of Lake Del Valle water.)

Also of note was what I believe to be a male American Wigeon X Eurasian Wigeon hybrid, in the lake near the "West Beach" parking/picnic area. It had a light gray body, a brownish head, and a buffy forehead of Eurasian Wigeon, but with American Wigeon-like eye-patch with some green in it. (Somewhat like the hybrid drawing in the Sibley field guide.)

Seen along with the hybrid were regular male and female American Wigeons (one of each). Common Mergansers were also nearby.

Just to the south of West Beach, singing on tall trees along the creek were three California Thrashers.

On the beach were a Spotted Sandpiper and some American Pipits.

Birds seen at the edge of West Beach parking lot include Hermit Thrush, Bewick's Wren, Spotted Towhee, Oak Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, among many others.

Akira So
Pleasanton, CA

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