Yesterday I did a tour around Richmond and some other areas of Western Contra Costa. With light NE winds and no marine layer I opted out of Pt. Isabel and the southern Bayside and instead worked mostly around the northern parts of richmond.
I started the morning at Point San Pablo. I started at the oaks, worked down to the marina and up some of the adjacent slopes and trails, back through the oaks spending a good amount of time searching through the large Scoter mass that has accumulated north of the point, stopped briefly at the pond, hit the neighborhoods, and finally the county park. At dawn, the continuing WINTER WREN was sounding off around the hairpin turn at (). The bird has been pretty dependable here my last few visits, but seeing it remains nearly impossible. There is a large oak with a hollowed understory on the left (east) side of the road here that you can climb into and theoretically see the bird. Highlights here included:
Lesser Scaup-2 WHITE-WINGED SCOTER-1 or possibly 2 in with scoter swarm. Without a very good scope, at the distance of these scoters it is very hard to pick through them on the water. When they fly, however, it is much easier. LONG-TAILED DUCK-1 female in with scoter flock Red-throated Loon-12 Brandt's Cormorant-23 on West Brothers Island Sharp-shinned Hawk-1 Black-bellied Plover-4 Semipalmated Plover-1 was my first here this winter Killdeer-2 Black Turnstone-11 Dunlin-104 Least Sandpiper-1 Western Sandpiper-8 Spotted Sandpiper-1 Peregrine Falcon-1 WINTER WREN-1 continuing bird
An interesting phenomenon in the past week or so has been the concentrations of RED-THROATED LOONS around the Richmond area. In the past, I have once noted numbers like this, but never for sustained periods of time. I have not spent large chunks of time baywatching, but the largest period (1 hour) on the 23rd produced 54 Red-throated Loons, and most scans of the bay for 10 minutes or so in recent visits have produced upwards of 10 birds. To the best of my knowledge, this is a very very large influx of this species into Contra Costa, and possibly unprecedented in the entire East Bay. According to brief checks of local listservs and eBird, the only concentrations of this magnitude I could find on the Bayside were Ron Thorns tallies from Coyote Point, which got up to 90.
Anyway, I continued on to Miller/Knox, where I was surprised to see very few birds on the bayside offshore. I guess everything is up by Pt. San Pablo! Anyway, highlights here included: Eurasian Wigeon-2 on the pond Red-throated Loon-23 in 10 minutes on the bayside Brandt's Cormorant-1 Sharp-shinned Hawk-1 Killdeer-11 Least Sandpiper-1 Allen's Hummingbird-4 Common Yellowthroat-1 was a good bird for the park
Continuing to Sandpiper Spit, I decided to count the cormorants roosting on the Brook's Island Jetty. Interestingly, essentially all seemed to be Double-crested, quite a difference from the West Brother's Island Roost. Red-throated Loon-5 Common Loon-1 Brandt's Cormorant-2 Pelagic Cormorant-1 Double-crested Cormorant-2700
From there I decided to check out a park I'd never covered before: Kennedy Grove on the north shore of San Pablo Reservoir. The area was quite birdy, with several mixed flocks scattered around, but no goodies mixed in. The reservoir, on the other hand, had plenty of activity: Northern Shoveler-2 Gadwall-3 American Wigeon-1 Ring-necked Duck-68 was a nice count Bufflehead-1 Common Goldeneye-3 Spotted Sandpiper-1 Band-tailed Pigeon-1 House Wren-1 California Thrasher-1 Pine Siskin-22 in a single flock