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Jaeger at Clifton Court Forebay
Sat, 16 Sep 2000 21:28:27 PDT
From: Denise Wight

Hi EB Birders,

Today was Point Reyes Bird Observatory's annual Bird-a-thon. As I have done for the past 5 years, I ran around Contra Costa County like a mad person trying to tick as many species as possible. My total was 126 species with the highlight being a dark-morph jaeger on Clifton Court Forebay in East Contra Costa. It was right at the end of the long spit, floating mostly by itself, or with coots and a Ruddy Duck (good size comparison).

I didn't ID it to species, but I tend to lean towards it being a Parasitic Jaeger. If anyone sees this bird, please call me and tell me what you think. I never saw it fly.

Good Fall Birding to You,

Denise Wight
Martinez, CA

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Parasitic Jaeger at Clifton Court Forebay
Sun, 17 Sep 2000 17:24:10 PDT
From: Steve Glover

Hello everyone,

This morning at about 11 AM I refound Denise Wight's juvenile jaeger at Clifton Court Forebay near Byron. I was fortunate enough to see it in flight although only twice in about an hour and neither time for more than about 30 seconds. The bird is a pretty dark juvenile and looks just solid brown on the water. In flight it was clearly not bulky enough for Pomarine. At least 4 and possibly 5 white primary shafts on the outer primaries on the upper wing were visible (this is what gives jaegers their characteristic white wing flash). This would be a low-end number of white primary shafts for Pomarine but effectively eliminates Long-tailed.

On the water the bird also showed conspicuous white tips to the outer primaries in a scallop pattern, this apparently being nearly diagnostic for Parasitic. Also a useful field mark for Parasitic was the lighter brown, almost golden-brown, back of the head and nape.

This is the first record of Parasitic Jaeger for eastern Contra Costa County.

Also of interest was a female Common Goldeneye on the forebay.

Both birds were easily visible from the levee. From Hwy j-4 south of Byron turn east on Clifton Court Rd (watch for a large sign for the Lazy M Marina). Drive to the edge of the water and turn right onto the levee that forms a peninsula. The bird spent most of the hour less than 100 yards from the tip of the peninsula and I at one point had the Common Goldeneye and the jaeger in the scope at once. The light would be most ideal here late in the afternoon when the sun will be behind you.

Good luck,
Steve Glover

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Clifton Court Forebay
Mon, 18 Sep 2000 22:48:25 PDT
From: Bob Richmond

The juvenile Parasitic Jaeger was seen in flight from 10 to 12 feet away as it flew along the dirt road on the west side. There were several pairs of both Western and Clark's Grebes near there, with one of each appearing to work on a nest. This seems rather late for this, especially in this area of marginal habitat. There is some emergent vegetation next to the road. I have no idea what they are doing. Also across the road, near the water, was a Bobolink.

Good Birding

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Re: Parasitic Jaeger at Clifton Court Forebay
Tue, 19 Sep 2000 00:34:47 PDT
From: Kathy Robertson

The Parasitic Jaeger was still at Clifton Court Forebay tonight. I got long and very close looks of it in flight and on the water. I arrived at the end of the levee at around 6:15 PM this evening. As I exited my truck the bird was flying directly towards me. It circled above the levee and back towards the road, then settled on the water east of the levee. Eventually it drifted to the east shore of the levee and spent a couple of minutes picking at a dead fish that was nearly its own size, although it didn't appear to actually consume any of the fish. It then took flight, once again passing almost directly over me and returned to the water beyond the end of the peninsula.

This was a lifer for me - never would have expected to get it in east Contra Costa County! Thanks to Denise for finding it and to Steve for helpful description and directions.

Kathy Robertson

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Re: Parasitic Jaeger at Clifton Court Forebay
Tue, 19 Sep 2000 11:45:25 PDT
From: Steve Glover

Hello all,

This morning I went out to Clifton Court Forebay for a little while and the Parasitic Jaeger was still present. Unfortunately I am not sure it will be hanging on much longer. I refound it on the levee along the south side of the forebay loosely associating with a small gull flock. It allowed me to get way too close for a healthy bird and rather than get up and fly away it simply uttered some strange guttural noises. I got much better looks at it today and was able to study the bill in some detail as well as the folded wings and mantle.

If anyone else wants to see it I would get out there soon.


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Re: Parasitic Jaeger at Clifton Court Forebay
Tue, 19 Sep 2000 21:09:21 -0700
From: Mike Feighner

East-Bay Birders:

The Parasitic Jaeger was still present at Clifton Court Forebay at 6 PM this evening at the extreme southwest corner of the forebay. To reach this location, you have to hike four miles around the entire forebay or find a boat to get across the other side of the channel. The jaeger was not associating with any other birds but was being watched by three Great Blue Herons. One of the herons did spook the jaeger into flight but after circling around once quickly landed to rest on the water's surface. Steve is right. Go see it now. You may be lucky to see it tomorrow morning, but I wouldn't expect to refind it again later.

Just checked my records for adjacent Santa Clara County. There was a Parasitic Jaeger at Sunnyvale Baylands September 17 to 18, 1998.

Mike Feighner, Livermore, CA

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