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Re: Berkeley Aquatic Park, 2/15/99
Thu, 18 Feb 1999 17:45:14 -0800 (PST)
From: Patty Donald

Larry Tunstall wrote:

Had a pleasant couple of hours at Aquatic Park late Monday morning.

To those birders who know the Park:

The City of Berkeley is considering giving the waterskiiers an extended period of time to utilize Aquatic Park for waterskiing. A question came up from the Waterfront Comission on how this will affect the birds in the Park. Does anyone out there feel they know the park well enough seasonally to give advice to them? I can't because I am not unbiased here. When they cut the times and hours before, the waterski club cut the dates we could bring kids to ski free (from five days in the summer to three). They are also probably going to utilize a harvester to clear out the grasses. This will have an impact....I probably should ask international bird rescue for their opinion, after all they are there. Any thoughts?

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Lake Merritt
Sat, 20 Feb 1999 22:20:34 PST
From: Joseph Morlan

East Bay Birders,

Despite the rain, this morning's Introductory Ornithology class trip to Lake Merritt was a great success with close views of many land and water birds. We added three new species to our February composite list of birds seen on this trip since 1985: Herring Gull, Thayer's Gull and Turkey Vulture. Other highlights included Redhead and the perennial Cattle Egret. A distant Barrow's Goldeneye was seen before the class started. The full list is at:

The Herring and Thayer's gulls were both first year birds right at the duck feeding area at the Rotary Natural Sciences Center. The Turkey Vulture appeared to be a north bound migrant flying high overhead.

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

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Re: Turkey vulture migration
Sat, 20 Feb 1999 22:50:08 -0800 (PST)
From: Tom Condit

Joe Morlan's mention of the turkey vulture over Lake Merritt raises two questions for me.

1) I know turkey vultures migrate, at least in some places, because there's a spot in Ohio which is a famous breeding grounds - kind of their equivalent of the Klamath Basin, but with somewhat less exciting birds. Is there any literature on this? How much migration do we get here?

2) First February sighting of this bird at Lake Merritt should remind us that what's common one place is a "rare bird" in another. I recall park rangers at Lassen being quite surprised that Marsha and I had seen three t.v.s at Manzanita Lake - turns out they hardly ever show up there.

Tom Condit

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Bethel Island
Mon, 22 Feb 1999 22:49:52 -0800 (PST)
From: Graham J Etherington

Hi all, Sorry about this late posting, I've been away from a computer for the past few days.

I made a visit to the north side of Bethel Island to visit the area Steve Glover described as Piper Slough (I couldn't actually find a Piper Slough on the map, but there is a Piper Rd. and it seems like the same place that Steve has described in the past).

Unfortunately, you can't see the birds feeding on the fields, you can only see them when they fly up, usually commuting between various feeding sites. The highlights of the afternoon were:

Tundra Swan - 45 birds in 2 flocks, flew across the islands, but never came very close.

Sandhill Crane - small groups of up to 10 birds regularly flying in and out of the nearest feeding fields.

Snow/Ross's Goose - at least 5,000 birds, occasionally all flying up in the air in one big 'spook'. Always pretty distant.

Greater White-fronted Goose - About 200. These came a little closer than most of the Snows.

Tree Swallow - many birds moving through the area (about 100).

Barn Swallow - 1 bird in with the Tree Swallows.

That's it for now. I'm off to the east coast for 10 days starting Wednesday, so don't find anything too rare whilst I'm away!

Good birding,
Graham Etherington
UC Berkeley

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Rails at Alviso on Sunday
Tue, 23 Feb 1999 20:54:43 -0800
From: Bill Scoggins, via Larry Tunstall

Hi Larry,

My computer had a very bad crash and I lost my address book. Would you please post this for me to save time? Thanks.

Happy Birding,
Bill Scoggins

21 Feb. 1999, Sunday, 9 AM - Noon.

Hello East Bay Birders,

Two Clapper Rails highlighted a walk from the Environmental Education Center to the floating platform at Don Edwards SF Bay National Wildlife Refuge at Alviso. I joined the NWR birdwalk with 4 other birders. From the platform we saw five rails including a Virginia and two Sora. One Clapper Rail was identified by Peg, trip leader and naturalist for the NWR, by its very noticeable limp. We watched the other clapper forage in the open within 15 feet of us; this sighting lasted for 12 minutes, then ended as the clapper took flight across the creek. During the flight a Virginia Rail came down to the water to take a bath. It was a magical morning as Common Yellowthroat males and females interrupted our rail viewing.

As if this wasn't enough, a Snowy Egret caught a large fish (about 6 to 7 inches long) and flew near us; for about 15 minutes, try as it might, the egret could not get the fish down his throat. A Western Gull arrived to "help" just as the egret tired and dropped the fish. The gull made quick work of the fish. The egret rested for a few minutes, cleaned up, and went back to the water to catch a small fish and eat it.

Here is the list for the morning.

2 Pied-billed Grebe, 19 Eared Grebe, 9 Ruddy Duck, 38 Canada Goose, 35 American Wigeon, 2 pair Gadwall, 23 Mallard, 65 Northern Shoveler, 2 female Common Goldeneye, 1 Snowy Egret, 17 Black-crowned Night-Heron, 3 Turkey Vulture, 1 White-tailed Kite, 1 Cooper's Hawk, 2 Red-tailed Hawk, 1 Ring-necked Pheasant, 30 American Coot, 2 Long-billed Curlew, 3 Willet, 6 Long-billed Dowitcher (ID by voice), 28 American Avocet, 1 Anna's Hummingbird, 1 Belted Kingfisher, 1 Black Phoebe, 1 Hermit Thrush, 5 Marsh Wren, 9 Bushtit, 5 Ruby-crowned Kinglet, 3 House Sparrow, 5 House Finch, 2 Yellow-rumped Warbler, 5 Common Yellowthroat, 16 White-crowned Sparrow, 28 Golden-crowned Sparrow, 1 California Towhee, 6 Red-winged Blackbird, 4 Western Meadowlark, and 2 Brewer's Blackbird.

Happy birding,

Bill Scoggins
What's going on at Coyote Hills?

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