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Upper San Leandro Reservoir on Saturday
Sat, 13 Feb 1999 17:33:01 -0800
From: Larry Tunstall

Rusty Scalf forwards the list from his Albany Adult School's visit to the north end of Upper San Leandro Reservoir this morning. It was a cool beautiful day, but the trails were very muddy, so proper footwear is a must. This area is on EBMUD property, so an EBMUD trail permit is required (you can get one for a small fee at any EBMUD office or most staffed East Bay Regional Parks facilities).

1 Pied-billed Grebe, 20 Mallard, 50+ Ring-necked Duck, 40+ Ruddy Duck, 9 Bufflehead, 2 Common Goldeneye, 4 Turkey Vulture, 1 Cooper's Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk heard, 2 Red-tailed Hawk, 2 American Kestrel, 50 American Coot, 1 Killdeer, 1 Ring-billed Gull, 3 Mourning Dove, 3 Anna's Hummingbird, 1 Allen's Hummingbird, 1 Nuttall's Woodpecker, 1 Red-naped Sapsucker, 1 Downy Woodpecker, 8 Northern Flicker, 1 Black Phoebe, 6 Tree Swallow, 7 Western Scrub-Jay, Steller's Jay heard, 25 Chestnut-backed Chickadee (with bright yellow "pollen-bellies" on some, yellow like a goldfinch!), 4 Oak Titmouse (much singing), Red-breasted Nuthatch heard, 1 Brown Creeper, 3 Bewick's Wren, 2 Winter Wren, Golden-crowned Kinglet heard, 8 Ruby-crowned Kinglet, 6 Western Bluebird, 30 American Robin, Wrentit heard, 1 Northern Mockingbird, 5 European Starling, Hutton's Vireo heard (much singing), 6 Yellow-rumped Warbler, 6 California Towhee, 5 Spotted Towhee, 1 Song Sparrow, 5 White-crowned Sparrow, 50+ Golden-crowned Sparrow, 20 Dark-eyed Junco, 2 House Finch, 20 Lesser Goldfinch.

Another group from the class, led by Bob Lewis, will be visiting the same spot on Sunday.

Posted to EBbird by Larry Tunstall.

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Albany Hill
Sat, 13 Feb 1999 17:50:44 -0800
From: Larry Tunstall

Steve Glover asked:

I've never actually birded Albany Hill and there are very few citations in local newsletters concerning the spot so I was wondering: Are there some oaks buried amongst the eucs up there? Are Oak Titmice and Hutton's Vireos resident there? For some reason I had never considered that there might be more than just eucs. What other species are resident there? Are there breeding Nuttall's Woodpeckers or Creepers?

Although I live not far away, I haven't visited Albany Hill very often myself (in fact, this week was the first time I actually climbed to the top of the hill). I was hoping someone more familiar with it might reply, but I can try to answer a couple of questions.

The eucalyptus grove covers only the upper part of the hill (and some of the western slope). The north and east sides are extensively developed, although there are sizeable steep slopes that are not heavily gardened. The northern slope has lots of non-eucalyptus trees. Some are oaks, but I'm not enough of a botanist yet to tell you what all is there. Cerrito Creek flows in an engineered storm channel at the bottom of the north slope, with residential development and a shopping center parking lot north of the creek. However, there is some riparian habitat there. Unfortunately, a construction project (storm drains, if I remember correctly) has much of that area theoretically blocked off (work seems to be suspended for the rainy season, and the fences are down in many places). This work was delayed by digging into a Native American burial site, so don't be too careless about where you're intruding.

There are lots of trails higher on the slopes, so you can wander pretty much at will. The Friends of Albany Hill group has done a great job of removing invasive plants, so this is good bird habitat. Up in the eucalyptus grove, there is an extensive understory of native plants growing. Alan Kaplan has pointed out on his walks at Tilden Regional Park that eucalyptus groves or forests are nowhere near as devoid of other plant life as many people claim. In fact, he suggested that the eucalyptus are providing shelter and moisture to keep alive a range of native plants that probably wouldn't be able to grow in the "natural" chaparral habitat of these hills.

Still, I didn't see a lot of different birds up in the eucalyptus. Mostly Yellow-rumped Warblers, which seem to love eucalyptus, and a few Western Scrub-Jays squawking about. However, there might be a lot more there if you spent some time watching for it. (The high canopy and thick foliage at the tops of the trees always leads me to give up and move on long before I've satisfied myself that I've identified all of the sounds and movements I detect up there!)

In the past I've come to the lower north slope mainly to find my first Allen's hummer of the year, verifying that they have indeed arrived. The fact that I could identify titmice and vireos this year is probably due mostly to my own improving birding skills. However, this does seem to be the best bit of "woodland" habitat west of the main hills in this area, and as you say it should be a trap for vagrants and migrants. I'd think that it would repay some attention and regular checking by someone. I'll try to visit more often myself. If you'd like to explore the area together, drop me an e-mail!

Happy birding, Larry

Larry Tunstall
El Cerrito CA

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Red-naped Sapsucker
Sat, 13 Feb 1999 17:53:47 -0800
From: Rusty Scalf

The Albany Adult School beginning bird ID class had a field trip today at San Leandro Reservoir where we had wonderful studies of a Red-naped Sapsucker. Very likely this is the same bird noted earlier by Larry Tunsdall at this same location.

My question to the list:

What is the status of Red-naped Sapsucker in the lowlands of central California? I hardly ever see this bird.

Rusty Scalf
Berkeley, CA

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Berkeley Marina
Sat, 13 Feb 1999 19:20:30 -0800
From: Lillian Fujii

We joined Emilie Strauss this morning for a couple hours of birding at the weedy field (called "the meadows" by some) near the Berkeley Marina, between University, I-80, and Ceasar Chavez. Highlights included a Wilson's Warbler (in and near the broom at the corner of University and the I-80 frontage road), 5 Lincoln's Sparrows (there are certainly more), a Common Snipe, and a juvenile Cooper's Hawk. Many loose dogs notwithstanding, this is an excellent area for sparrows. If anyone birds the area, we'd be interested in what you find.

Happy birding.
Lillian Fujii and Steve Hayashi

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