Sunday, May 31, 2015


                Story of White tail kite family in eastern Contra Costa. I stated earlier I was monitoring a nest of White tailed kites near my home in Oakley. They have been here a few years and raised youngsters two years ago in a nest formally used by swainson hawks. There nest is high up in a grove of pine trees, I can’t even see the nest though I see the birds perch above the area. They occasionally ran off crows and swains quickly returning leaving little doubt they in protect mode.  From experience, I knew I would be advised when the youngsters take flight as they scream mercifully everywhere they go on the initial flights. Friday 5-29 was the day I heard them first, there were three youngsters up amazingly. White tail young have rust color on their neck and chest area, once older they turn white, easy to determine at this stage the young and the adults. I was fortunate enough to capture these young raptors on training day. Not only do the parents assist with aerial activities, they hand over mice in midair giving youngster the feel of prey in their talons, also the real experience of two other aggressive babes bearing down on the sibling trying to steal the quarry. Everyone learns and at times it sounds like you’re in Jurassic Park. Sharing some of the photos taken during the melee…       Photos 2, 3, 7, and 8.
Anna’s hummingbirds pictures 1 and 9.

Light phased swainson in flight picture 4.
Common titmouse mother feeding her youngsters at Del Valle reservoir photo 5.  This mother must have had 6 or more youngsters she was feeding. They flew in one at a time formed a line and flopped on their butts when she fed them.

White pelican in flight at Los Vaqueros reservoir picture 6.
In honor of Jurassic Park a western fence lizard from my back yard…

Sunday, May 3, 2015

May 2015 Bay Area Local Wildlife Update All photos taken in the Bay Area

A Golden goes home: You may have seen this story on the news. A female golden eagle captured had head trauma and there was speculation of possible ingestion of rat poison. (Rodenticides)  “Tass” (my name for her) based on the area San Ramon fire workers captured her when she was having trouble flying on March 27th. She was taken to Lindsay wildlife hospital in Walnut Creek to begin her rehab process. On May 1st she was released in her homeland area of South Contra Costa County. Thanks to Lindsay museum in Walnut Creek. I was there and will provide those interested in the story and an Email of several photos and short story of the process.
Meet the Swainsons: I have written about the Byron pair of Swains a few times, lately I have visited the Knightsen pair I have watched for a few years. This is a light and dark morphed pair that nest and spend spring and summer in ranch properties within the town of Knightsen. The female has been featured before with a ground squirrel pinned down up on a utility post. She is unafraid of local traffic and usually stares at me when I visit. I admit I talk to her hoping she tolerates me for a second. The male is far less trusting of humans though this year he actually posed for a shot.

Rattlers of Los Vaqueros: Chasing rattle snakes lately at Los Vaqueros reservoir between Contra Costa and Alameda Counties. Something very interesting about the rattlers to me, this year decided to try and locate and observe their actions. At Los Vaqueros this isn’t very hard as they are fairly common. The danger this time of year is the smaller snakes, so small in fact they are hard to see. One needs to look close at the trail and stay in areas that are visibly clear to the eye. Another note: Rattlers don’t look for trouble; they only want to get clear of humans. Accidently stepping on one is a real concern, especially the smaller ones as they are not as smart or forgiving as the larger ones yet are just as poisonous.

The Coyote controversy: There’s a great article written asking the question “Is it time to stop hunting the Coyote in California?” The benefit the Coyote serves in rodent reduction far outweighs the damage they cause in my opinion. Love to hear your opinions, please read…

photos 1- Golden eagle getting ready for release May 1
2- Badger @ south end of Los Vaqueros Alameda Co side
3-Burrowing owls in Alameda County
4- Young Black tail Camino Tass area CC County
5-Coyote profile Alameda side Los Vaqueros
6-Swain profile Lighter phase
7-Swain profile darker phase
8-Rattler N. end Contra Costa
9-Rattler N. end Contra Costa
10-Golden in flight (not the eagle released) Byron area...

Sunday, March 29, 2015

April 2015

Updating spring time wildlife photos with recent views of local wildlife

                Something special about the Swainson hawks. In March after a long flight from the winter down South they suddenly appear in the skies harassing other birds of prey and reestablishing territory they left last year in late summer. The old saying of “If you don’t know the species of hawk in the sky it’s probably a red tail” may not be true in eastern Contra Costa County as this time of year it’s a tossup. The Swains are back and in strong numbers.  Each year I make a point to remember the first day I see them return.  March 17th was the day this year for me and they were doing the same thing this year as they were last year when I observed them. Aerial dog fights with red tail hawks that may have missed them less than me. An even duel I’d say, the reds are arguably stronger but the swains are outstanding flyers and have the same nasty over confident attitude. Included pictures of a dark phased and light phased swainson in flight.   
            Also I am watching a pair of nesting white tailed kites in Oakley. I will attempt to show photos of the youngsters once they are up and flying. Sharing a photo of one of the parents with a field mouse dinner. Including some of the smaller species of birds who live in our back yards and parks, and one of my favorite butterflies near San Pablo.

House wren at Black diamond mines S/O Antioch
White crested nuthatch also at the mines

Dark phase swain in flight at Holland tract (one of two darks building nest together, monitored this pair for two years) May have talon issue
Resident burrowing owls in Oakley.

White tailed kite nesting near flood basin
Pipevine swallowtail at San Pablo dam

Male northern harrier near Jersey IS
Red wing black bird Alhambra Valley

Coyote EBM property near El Sobrante
Light phased swain in Byron this pair I have told many stories of in the blog. Pictures of the young last year and other times. Seven, maybe eight years of watching. Feel like family, warms the heart to see them return…

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Bay Area Local wildlife     March 2015

 “Birds of the California Delta” Farewell to the Ferruginous Hawks who will depart soon northeast to breed, making  room for the Swainson hawks in the delta region assuming all went well with the southern migration. I was able to gather some decent looks at the Ferruginous one special day on the delta. The color phases of these hawks were amazing to me largely because I usually only see one or two at a time. On this day after a decent rain storm moved through there were many aggressive hungry Ferr’s hunting in the same area along a particular levee road. Also present were the usual’s; red tails, northern harriers, kestrels, white tail kites and others. But for once “outnumbered by Ferruginous hawks”  this is something in this region I have not witnessed before.  I returned several times and never was able to catch them all together as like usual the Ferruginous were spread like a windblown dandelion across the Delta. (Lucky if you see one or two) Included examples of the Ferruginous color phases which include one nearly black hawk rarely viewed out here as far as I know.  

 Pictures all from the Delta Area;

Western king fisher (cover your pond if you have small fish) these loud little monsters are dive bombers with attitude…
Ferruginous hawk in white

Green heron this one in a boat harbor dodging cats and people
Red tail mates flying over Oakley, this shot made the face book page for (Raptors are the Solution)

Ferruginous Hawk rust iron most common phase
Double crested cormorant

Coopers hawk usually likes to hide and sneak up on prey, once in a while loves to soar with the big boys stretching the wings in the warm air currents
Dark phased Ferruginous this flying monster was actively hunting both from the sky and on the ground

White tailed kite always seen fluttering over fields with decent grass growth, my guess is they will have a good year
Kestrel the ultimate mouser, fast enough to harass all those soring hawks. And loving it.

*Also spotted out there was a Peregrine falcon at a considerable distance. If someone wants, I would Email the picture…


Thursday, January 29, 2015

   February 2015                                           Sightings of Winter Bay area local wildlife

            Dry January brings rain concerns again. Let’s just hope February and March produce adequate snow and rain around these parts. The good start and moist mornings have kept most areas green though we could use water in the reservoirs and snow stored in the mountains.
               Thanks to the wildlife emergency responders who responded to the recent news story of water birds coated with mysterious gray substance in the San Francisco Bay. For those interested in becoming a volunteer emergency responder there is training available in February. In the world of wildlife protection and making a true difference, these people are the real heroes…  

February 20th 10:00am to 4:00pm
Fort Mason Center-Room C260 San Francisco class fee of $60.00 

Register with Wildlife Emergency services at
Or email   or just call them 866-945-3911

Sending out photos of bay area local wildlife viewed recently in our area…  
1 ruby crown kinglet- East CC County

2 Pair of Red Shouldered hawks in Byron- I have watched these for over 10 years in this area. There are a few families along the drainage ditches in the area. Mouse catching must be good here…

3 Golden Eagle with small coyote-Did not see if the bird killed the song dog.

4 Gray fox at Del Valle reservoir Livermore area - ground squirrels alerted me to the intruder.
5 Black necked stilt in Knightsen.

6 Ferruginous hawk in eastern CC County – They will head north soon, better get it in the mix while they are still here…

7 Red tailed hawk again- This one in Kaiser Antioch parking lot watching a group of doves.
8 Robin at my backyard pond - Looking for a decent bath.

9 Vulture at Del Valle reservoir- Many are spending the winter at this vacation spot.
10 Lewis Woodpecker- thrown in partially because I have seen so few in our area. This was taken near EBM property between Crockett and Martinez…