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Re: Great-tailed Grackles near Martinez
Sun, 22 Feb 2004 09:20:51 -0800
From: Darrell Lee

A birder friend from Georgia and I saw 10 male Great-tailed Grackles at McNabney Marsh in June 2002. This is a well-established population far removed from the Imperial County and coastal Southern California populations. I don't know why this species still attracts attention when it's reported in California. I saw a male Great-tailed Grackle after Christmas at the Pismo Beach Pier in California's "Central Kingdom," filling in another gap in my personal knowledge of its distribution range.

A Napa-Solano Audubon field trip to the Rio Vista area on January 17 found 62 Cattle Egrets on Main Prairie Road.

I'm waiting for the first bay area report of Eurasian Collared Dove (I've seen it as far north as the Ventura Marina). Has anyone reported this species from the bay area yet?

Darrell Lee
Benicia, CA

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On waxwings, cats, and dogs
Sun, 22 Feb 2004 12:23:25 -0800
From: Dennis Braddy

EastBayBirders,

On our Dog-and-Bird-Walk this morning, Skip and I saw perhaps a hundred Cedar Waxwings - not that unusual in our westside San Ramon neighborhood. Most of them were in one large flock that with the help of a lesser number of American Robins were devouring the berries on a fruit-laden shrub in a neighbor's front yard. As we watched, the flock repeatedly flushed and then returned to the same bush. Predictably it was Skip that first noticed the housecat playing peek-a-boo by sticking its head between the window blinds.

Cedar Waxwings are one of my favorite bird species. I find their silky plumage and subtle yet stylish markings quite appealing. And, of course, I'm always hoping to see among them one of their larger bohemian cousins. No such luck today. In a smaller flock down the street Skip and I observed a pair of waxwings passing a berry back and forth between them. I was fascinated and watched closely to see if either one ever passed a berry to a third bird (they didn't). On the other hand Skip found the display disgusting. Frankly, he doesn't think much of any species that willingly gives up food. Unless, of course, they are giving it to him.

Dennis Braddy and Skip
San Ramon

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Martinez birding
Sun, 22 Feb 104 13:58:13 PST
From: Patrick King

I visited the hillside viewing platform at the north end of McNabney Marsh (Waterbird Regional Preserve, Martinez) yesterday afternoon. A noisy flock of ten Great-tailed Grackles were foraging in the grassy area of the parking lot ­ 7 males and 3 females. They eventually flew over to the railroad cars that you pass on the way into the park. An American Kestrel and Say’s Phoebe were very busy around the fence line. A juvenile Red-tailed Hawk was standing over a kill. A scope view of the far south end revealed an exotic (escapee I guess) ­ an Egyptian Goose ­ just on the edge of the water near some American Avocet. There were fewer water birds than usual. No Common Moorhen sighted today.

At the Martinez Estuary, at high tide, the flotilla of Greater Scaup and Lesser Scaup numbered about 40 birds. Nearby was a group of ten Surf Scoter ­ not very common here. A Clark’s Grebe was around. Along the path out to the flotilla, which is on the north end of the estuary, were Lincoln’s Sparrow and (probably) Savannah Sparrow. On the sheltered side were 4 Gadwalls.

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Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow continues in Oakland
Sun, 22 Feb 2004 21:25:56 -0800 (PST)
From: Bob Power

Hi all:

Thanks to Alan Hopkins for providing the inspiration to get out and go birding on what was supposed to be a rainy day.

The Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow made extended forays into the fields of the four spotting scopes and 9 sets of binoculars pointed at a roughly 36 cubic feet of space at Arrowhead Marsh today (in Martin Luther King Jr Regional Shoreline, Oakland). The sparrow was seen after high tide from approximately 1:30 to 2:15. The site was the northeastern edge of the triangular high ground that has the jumble of concrete blocks described in Alan's report. This area is immediately (20 feet?) west of the beginning of the boardwalk that juts out into the marsh at the north end of the park. The sparrow was located just a foot or two west of a piece of orange garbage at the northeast corner of this piece of real estate.

A Swamp Sparrow was also identified, and was significantly more elusive than the Nelson's. Clapper Rails also provided outstanding, close-up views.

Good birding,
Bob Power

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Eurasian Wigeon hybrid at Arrowhead Marsh, Oakland
Tue, 24 Feb 2004 18:20:29 -0800
From: Don Lewis

At Arrowhead Marsh in Martin Luther King Jr Regional Shoreline (Oakland) Tuesday afternoon there was a male hybrid Eurasian-American Wigeon. It looked more like a Eurasian with a reddish head and grayish back but the underside was more pink than gray. It looked pretty much like the bottom hybrid shown on page 85 of (the big) Sibley guide. There are a lot of wigeon there, so be patient. [Also see next message.]

Unfortunately, the Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow did not appear. Several people looked for it from about 2:00 to 4:00 PM. High tide was about 3:15, although it was about a foot lower than last weekend. Not a single Clapper Rail or Swamp Sparrow appeared either.

Don Lewis
Lafayette, CA

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