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RFI: Double-crested Cormorants nesting at Lake Merritt
Mon, 26 Jul 1999 10:10:07 -0700
From: Rusty Scalf

Does anyone have nest dates and/or nest counts for Double-crested Cormorant at Lake Merritt during the springs of 1998 & 1999? If so please let me know. The Alameda County Breeding Bird Atlas is trying to round up any info available, and right now we have zero. David Shuford of Point Reyes Bird Observatory is also compiling inland colonial waterbird data and such info would be forwarded to him as well.

Thank you.
Rusty Scalf

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Hooded Oriole in Kensington (again)
Mon, 26 Jul 1999 11:27:21 -0700 (PDT)
From: Peter Rauch

A male Hooded Oriole visited the yards along Ardmore Rd. in Kensington just now. He spent some five minutes in a heavily-flowering 10-foot-tall Abutilon (a variety with flowers that have a orangish-yellow corolla and deep-orange/red calyx, which hangs downward from a long pedicel), apparently drinking nectar by inserting his bill inside the flowers at the level of the calyx (i.e., not into the center of the corolla). He was quite acrobatic about reaching, and getting his bill/head twisted to point upwards and "nosing" his way into the hanging, swinging flowers.

He was accompanied in the Abutilon by some Bushtits and a plain titmouse [Oak Titmouse]. A male Anna's Hummingbird was also hanging around the Abutilon at the same time.

This may be the same individual that I reported here on 19 June 99. This is only the second time I've seen a Hooded Oriole in the yard (in decades, but then I am just a casual yard watcher).

Are they commonly observed in the Oakland/Berkeley/Richmond hills?


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Olive-sided Flycatcher at Tilden
Tue, 27 Jul 1999 22:04:12 -0700 (PDT)
From: Richard Mix

This afternoon (7/27) was my fourth stop this month at Tilden Regional Park's Seaview trail. I had my first Band-tailed Pigeons on the first walk, a quiet Sunday (I think July 4th) around 2:00. A pair flew over, looking a bit like some strange raptor for a second. They were not at all what I expected from the guidebook pictures, being a rather orange-chocolate color rather than purple. The tailband was obvious, but most unmistakable was the very long neck one lowered, looking a bit like a Concorde. I've been hoping for a better look, but only had another distant flyby today.

I've had no luck turning any goldfinches into a Lawrence's, for all the greyish-backed Lessers I've chased. Today I finally saw that black throat, but a yellow back convinced me I was mis-interpreting the angle of the head...

I had feared I'd only be stretching my legs today at 4:30, like Saturday evening which was also very windy. Near the foot of Quarry Trail there was enough shelter to see a few birds, including a singing Purple Finch with brown side streaks (or was this a good mimic? I still can't distinguish these by plumage; is this the coastal variant mentioned in the old National Geographic guide?). An unfamiliar noise sounded at first like a posible American Robin: "quick-quick" every three seconds, very rarely "quick-quick-quick". After a while it seemed to switch to a higher pitch, then stopped and resumed as a more rapid "quer-quer-quer!" right overhead. After finding it and studying the back - faint wing bars, yellow bill with black tip, black moustache, light lemon belly, wing tips more than halfway down tail - I heard the higher pitched song from a differnt tree and my bird turned around to look, showing off a splendid brown vest. Having in the past studied very probable birds in the shade, it was thrilling to have an unambiguous example in the full sun!

It still took a fair bit of imagination to turn the identical sylables into "quick three beers", and the middle note is unlike that on Sander's Bird Songs of California. Is this a common variant? I also note that the Golden guide says 6 to 10 per minute, while I always heard 15 to 20 per minute.

Richard Mix, El Cerrito

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Night-Heron variant?
Thu, 29 Jul 1999 03:32:01 -0700 (PDT)
From: Richard Mix

I had a quarter-hour this Wednesday evening during high tide at the Berkeley Aquatic Park and saw an immature Black-crowned Night-Heron on the south side of the middle pool at the Ashby end. I was startled to notice a bright yellow eye with a large black pupil, even more startled than I was a couple of years ago by the red eye of what would have been my life Bittern! From an angle the eye appeared almost orange compared to the beak, but in profile it was yellow with a hint of green, if anything, and made the beak appear to have changed color to orange. The bill had yellow on both top and bottom, with a pale blue ridge on top and a black spot near the tip of the lower mandible, the bird's back had black patterning against cinamon, the neck, when extended, showed beautiful streaking, and though the bird seemed a bit smaller than nearby adults, the structure, feet and legs were unmistakable.

There was a single Ruddy Duck in the southernmost pond.

Richard Mix, El Cerrito

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Mourning Dove Nesting at Arrowhead Marsh, Oakland
Thu, 29 Jul 1999 05:58:30 -0700 (PDT)
From: Peter Rauch

Dunno what the Breeding Bird Atlas-ers record, but there's a Mourning Dove sitting on its nest now [July 27, 1999] at the top of a tree (Myoporum?) which is located along the left as you drive the gravel entrance road toward the parking lot, 30 yards or so before the left-bearing curve where the Martin Luther King Jr Regional Shoreline sign announces the parking area. (The migitation marsh is to the right.) Some park workers were trimming off the lower branches of the trees, including the nest tree.


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Immature Black-headed Grosbeak in El Cerrito
Thu, 29 Jul 1999 14:21:17 -0700
From: Larry Tunstall

An immature Black-headed Grosbeak just visited my feeders in El Cerrito a couple of blocks north of the El Cerrito Plaza BART station. I had good long looks at it about a foot outside the window, which was a good thing because it had me totally puzzled at first. I even had time to start paging through the guides, until I realized that it looked a lot like a female Black-headed Grosbeak and then looked carefully at the beak. Indeed it turned out to look very much like the painting of a first-fall Black-headed Grosbeak in the new National Geographic Society field guide.

Good birding, Larry

Larry Tunstall El Cerrito CA

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