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Large raptor (Bald Eagle?) near Orinda
Sun, 30 Mar 2003 10:42:34 -0800
From: Kitty O'Neil

Yesterday at dusk we saw a huge bird with all the field marks of a Bald Eagle (white head and tail, broad shiny black wings, yellow legs and yellow bill) flying over the dam side of Briones dam (we saw it from on top of the dam). We had views for about 5 minutes, some fairly close. I resisted e-mailing since I had read that the bird was not here after the end of February.


Briones Overlook (EBMUD Trail Permit required) off Bear Creek Rd east of San Pablo Dam Rd / Camino Pablo.

Kitty O'Neil
Orinda, CA

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Golden Eagles at Mitchell Canyon, Clayton
Sun, 30 Mar 2003 20:15:41 -0800
From: Dennis & Patricia Braddy


More than a dozen Warbling Vireos were singing along the main trail south of the Mitchell Canyon Rd entrance to Mt Diablo State Park today. 200 yards from the parking lot a vocal Cooper's Hawk flew from its nest to an exposed perch nearby. A few minutes later a Sharp-shinned Hawk flutter-glided high overhead. Wrentits, all male, called from the sides of the canyon. One no-neck Wrentit with long tail erect responded favorably to pishing, coming within 10 feet. We heard a Wilson's Warbler singing and eventually located a pair just off the trail. We saw 2 Hutton's Vireos and heard 3 more. Also scattered along the trail were Hermit Thrush, Bewick's Wren, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Spotted Towhee, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Northern Flicker, and a pair of Purple Finches. At the 2-mile mark where the trail gets steep we turned around. A California Thrasher atop woody brush sang from the hillside across the creek.

Three greedy Anna's Hummingbirds refused a hungry Rufous/Allen's Hummingbird sip one from the ranger's residence feeder. On the porch rail below them a Lark Sparrow sifted through seed feeder spillage left by a Brewer's Blackbird with bad table manners. In or near the parking lot we had Nuttall's Woodpecker, Acorn Woodpecker, Western Bluebird, White-breasted Nuthatch and both races of Yellow-rumped Warbler. The various calls of Oak Titmouse were a constant presence. In the morning when we left the parking lot many Tree Swallows and a few White-throated Swifts swarmed above the vertical rock face of the nearby quarry. When we returned in the afternoon the swallows had departed leaving dozens of swifts who maintained amazing speed with the barest twitch of their wings. It was in this airspace that the greatest drama of the day transpired. Two Golden Eagles slowly glided back and forth across the scarred hillside. Suddenly a feathered missile narrowly missed one of the eagles. First one Red-tailed Hawk and then another stooped on the much larger raptors. One eagle got the message right away and disappeared over the ridge. The more stubborn of the two remained executing half rolls to expose its talons to its attackers. The Red-tailed Hawks were ferocious and relentless. Soon the second Golden Eagle joined the first on the far side of the ridge. Having routed the eagles the two hawks disappeared as well leaving behind an empty sky and two breathless birders.

Dennis and Patricia Braddy
San Ramon

Directions: The Mitchell Canyon parking lot at Mount Diablo State Park is at the end of Mitchell Canyon Rd in Clayton. The parking lot opens at 8:00 AM. There is a $2.00 self-registration parking fee.

P.S. The wildflowers and flowering shrubs were great. We identified over 30 species including Woodland Star, Miner's Lettuce, Scarlet Pimpernel, Henderson's Shooting Stars, California Poppy, Dove Lupine, Blue Bush Lupine, Ithuriel's Spear, Blue Dicks, Serrated Onion, Blue-Eyed Grass, Wild Geranium, Owl's Clover, Indian Paintbrush, Purple Chinese Houses, Yarrow, Blow-Wives, Larkspur, Fiddleneck, Broomrape, Popcorn Flower, Vetch, Sweet Pea, Manroot, Virgin's Bower, California Buttercup, Yerba Santa, Blue Witch, Narrow-Leaf Bush Sunflower, Ceanothus, Field Mustard, and Purple Sanicle. Twice as many species were listed as currently blooming on the whiteboard in the visitor's center.

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