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Re: Grizzly Island
Mon, 15 Feb 1999 09:54:20 PST
From: Joseph Morlan

On Sunday, Larry Tunstall wrote:

Harris' Sparrow (1 person was sure they saw it),

Where was this? Who saw it? I was out there the same day and spoke to Robin and one other person on the trip and they were unaware that this bird had been seen. Also this rarity has not been reported to the Birdbox.

The internet directions said to go east on Van Sickle from Grizzly Island for two miles and look around the abandoned building across from the pheasant club. I could not find this place. Van Sickle only seems to go west (not east) from Grizzly Island. We found a number of duck clubs, but nothing that was clearly marked as a pheasant club. Van Sickle ended about 1.8 miles west of Grizzly Island Road before it comes to private property and a gate. Did we not go far enough?

We looked at a lot of sparrow flocks along Van Sickle and around a lot of abandoned buildings but were unable to find either the sparrow or the reported Northern Shrike which had been reported earlier.


Joseph Morlan, Pacifica, CA 94044
California Birding; Mystery Birds:
California Bird Records Committee:

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Weekend birding
15 Feb 99 12:13:51 -0800
From: Les Chibana

On Saturday, 2/13/99, I led a class field trip to Ed Levin County Park in the Milpitas foothills and Coyote Hills Regional Park, bayside in Fremont.

Ed Levin highlights:

Male Ring-necked Duck at Sandy Wool Lake.

Male Selasphorus hummingbird (probably Allen's) at Spring Valley group picnic area parking lot. This individual showed a mostly green back with no rufous flecking. However, we were viewing it on a perch about 30 ft up in a eucalyptus and we didn't have a full view of the back.

1 clearly Yellow-shafted Northern Flicker at the Elm picnic area. This was a male with a bold red chevron on the nape, brown face, gray crown, black moustache, very yellow underwing, undertail, and upper flight feather shafts.

2 male intergrade Northern Flicker. These had red nape chevrons, gray faces, brown crowns, one had a black moustache the other red, orange-red underwings and undertail.

3 Yellow-billed Magpie nests under construction around the Spring Valley area.

Coyote Hills highlights:

One Sora, heard only, in the marsh.

One female Merlin on a snag north of the visitor's center, later flying over the marsh with mouse-sized prey in talons. (Two years ago, we found a female Merlin in the same location. Possible returnee?).

Winter Wren in Hoot Hollow.

2 Varied Thrush in Hoot Hollow.

Tree Swallows were present in small numbers in both locations. American Robins: There were about 100 at the Elm picnic area at Ed Levin; around 30 to 40 at Coyote Hills in the Hoot Hollow area. Northern Flickers: approx. 8 to 10 sightings at the south part of Ed Levin, another 8 to 10 in the Elm picnic area; and 8 to 10 at Coyote Hills.

Also, we had some Western Bluebirds at the Palo Alto High School parking lot.

Also, if anyone is considering a new scope in the higher price range, two of our participants had a new 82mm Kowa scope with fluorite coated lenses and the 20-60X eyepiece. I have to say that this setup is incredible! The zoom retained most of the image resolution up to 60X! We enjoyed many sharp, frame-filling views of the birds through this combination at full zoom. (I wish that Kowa was providing me with promotional consideration for including this note!)

Les Chibana, Palo Alto

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Re: Albany Hill
Tue, 16 Feb 1999 20:51:21 -0800 (PST)
From: Patty Donald

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?

And Larry Tunstall replied:

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 ...


As you know I live next to the hill and walk there at least three times a week. I can see from my back yard up onto the hill and regularly watch Redtail Hawks circling. There is an elusive owl at the top, jays, Wrens, Vireo's, Doves and lots of song birds. The Cerrito Creek is tidal and often we see shore birds, egrets, mergansers, and kingfishers. There are three obvious habitats there. Riparian, oak, eucalyptus, open grass land. We have Monarchs in the Eucaluptus trees periodically.

If you'd like to show me what else is there I can show you all the best trails. Just let me know.

Patty Donald

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Berkeley Aquatic Park, 2/15/99
Wed, 17 Feb 1999 12:27:29 -0800
From: Larry Tunstall

Had a pleasant couple of hours at Aquatic Park late Monday morning. Nothing exciting, but a nice selection of basic birds in a relatively small area:

Pied-billed Grebe, Double-crested Cormorant, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Mallard, Gadwall, Greater Scaup, Lesser Scaup, Common Goldeneye, Bufflehead, Red-breasted Merganser, Ruddy Duck, Red-tailed Hawk, American Coot, Black-necked Stilt, American Avocet, Greater Yellowlegs, Western Sandpiper, Dunlin, dowitcher, Ring-billed Gull, Western Gull, Forster's Tern, Mourning Dove, Anna's Hummingbird, Belted Kingfisher, American Crow, Bushtit, American Robin, Yellow-rumped Warbler, California Towhee, Song Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, House Finch.

Around noon, dropped by Point Emery and Berkeley Pier, but the Bay was very still, and there were few birds in sight. Did add Surf Scoter and Clark's Grebe, but that's about it.

Good birding, Larry

Larry Tunstall
El Cerrito CA

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Re: Grizzly Island
Wed, 17 Feb 1999 12:52:21 -0800
From: Larry Tunstall

Joseph Morlan asked about my report of one person seeing the Harris' Sparrow on Grizzly Island.

The place where this happened was where Robin Leong said the sparrow had been seen before: a long row of coyote bush paralleling the driveway to Grizzly Ranch, on Van Sickle west of the entrance to the Wildlife Area. The driveway is posted, but you can walk through the bushes or along a road on the other side of a small canal beside them. The spot where someone claimed to see the bird was at the north end of this row of bushes.

Unfortunately, after some checking around, it appears that no one knows who made the claim of seeing the bird. I was busy looking for it myself, and simply heard someone state very positively that they had seen the bird and (after discussing field marks with others and consulting a guide) that they were very positive of the ID. However, it appears that nothing more was said about this, and Robin Leong knew nothing about it. Certainly not one for the record books!

Keep searching, Larry

Larry Tunstall
El Cerrito CA

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