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Local Egret Colony Thriving on Bay Farm

In the spring of 2011, Bay Farm residents enjoyed the return of an egret colony, with both snowy and great egrets nesting in a pine tree on the main lagoon, according to resident Reyla Grager. This has been the pattern over the past four years, she says, adding that the snowy egret is the official bird of Alameda.

The great egret is considered a federally threatened species, according to Grager, while the smaller snowy egret is listed as endangered – though it’s thriving in Alameda. (She explained issues affecting egrets in the area in the most recent issue of “The Gull’s Call,” a Harbor Bay publication.)

A count in the Bay Area recently found 29 egret nests, including the Bay Farm colony.

Residents who find injured baby or other birds, should contact members of the Bay Farm Nature Connection, including Graber, who can be reached at 510-865-6645.

The Bay Farm birding group is hosting its first bird-watching walk on October 15. Participants will meet at 9 a.m. at Coffee & Tea Traders in the Harbor Bay Landing shopping area.

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Alameda Bird Group Takes Break from Walks

The bird-walking group Bay Farm Nature Connection won’t be staging its monthly birdwalks in April and May.

The next walk should take place in June.

BFNC member Ralf Stinson, who took the pelican photo shown above, needs to tend to other activities.

He, along with fellow BFNC partners  Tim Molter and Harv Wilson, will be traveling to Arizona to bird the area.

Meanwhile, members of the group will be keeping an eye on the local egrets, now building their nests on the lagoon near Bay Farm Christian Fellowship Church.
 
Happy birding.

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Alameda’s Got a Springtime Egret Colony

Many thanks to Ralf Stinson and members of the Bay Farm Nature Connection for news about Alameda’s Egret colony.

As the photo above shows, spring has sprung in one tree, for sure, with 24 inhabitants.

“I made over a dozen counts, and the best number I could come up with is 24 birds — about half Great Egrets and half Snowy Egrets,” explains Stinson. 

“The significant changes from last week is the addition of Snowy Egrets and the increase number of Great Egrets,” Stinson says. ” The most common behavior for both was breeding posture with raised feathers, and breeding colors.”

The second-most common behavior was nest building, according to Stinson, who saw some birds with twigs in their bills.  “There was some nest laying. However, I did not see any sign of tending eggs,” he explains. 

The bird lover captured a beautiful image of a Snowy Egret in breeding posture:

 

So, it looks like we can expect some more “action” a few months from now when some baby egrets are born and tended to.
 
And there could be more news this spring on a Cooper’s Hawk nest in town, though Stinson didn’t see any signs of habitation this week.

Happy birding!

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Time to Join the Bird Watchers!

There’s plenty of excitement on the Main Island and Bay Farm Island these days — within the community of bird watchers.

That’s right, bird watchers.

While many of us stroll around Crown Beach or Shoreline Park to appreciate the sunsets and walk the dog, there are groups of residents paying careful attention to the winged inhabitants of our special community.

Some of them are members of the Bay Farm Nature Connection. The group was formed about three years ago, when several Bay Farm Island residents noticed a large number of egret nestlings in the lagoon, including one infant that had fallen out of a nest.

“They needed monitoring,” said Reyla Graber, one of the group’s organizers.

“This is a big deal,” explained Graber. “We’ve been told by the San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory that we’ve got the third-largest colony of egrets in the Bay Area.”

In addition to tending to the egrets, the Bay Farm Nature Connection organizes bird walks, so that area residents can better appreciate local wildlife. Past walk include parts of Bay Farm, Crown Beach and the nearby Arrowhead Marsh in Oakland.

“We try and do a walk every month or two,” Graber said. “There are all kinds of birds here.”

Members of the group recently organized a successful effort to rescue and treat an exhausted, young red-tailed hawk. Raptor-expert Harvey Wilson, shown above in a photo taken by Ralf Stinson, then released the hawk after a couple days of rest and rehydration. 

Tim Molter, a member of the group who’s been birding for two decades, says that we mainly see residential birds in Alameda who live in the Bay Area and may choose to winter in and around the shoreline, mudflats or lagoons. “This is a great habitat for them,” Molter said, and it’s also a popular breeding ground.

Some birds do go through Alameda between November and March from Alaska and the Artic. “There are a few migratory birds to be seen, but they are just moving through Alameda,” explained Molter.

“We have a large number of species, which makes for an interesting experience for bird watchers,” he said. “The best way to learn about birds in Alameda is to go on one of our field trips.” 

The group’s next outing is set for 9 a.m. on Saturday, November 7. Meet at the Coffee & Tea Traders, 883 Island Drive, Bay Farm Island.

To get on the Bay Farm Nature Connection’s mailing list, send e-mail to dmolter@sbcglobal.net.