Yellow Rail at Waldo's Dike
A YELLOW RAIL took several minutes to swim to the cover of roadside
vegetation at Waldo's Dike just before noon today in full view of 25+
thrilled birders. The exhausted rail staggered and flailed about at the
edge of the flooded marsh revealing its white secondaries before
struggling deeper into cover.
Parking for Waldo's Dike is on the right side of Sir Francis Drake Blvd
just north of Inverness Park in Marin County about 0.1 mile past
Drake's View Drive.
Dennis and Patricia Braddy
Contra Costa County
During yesterday's (1/9/05) high tide on the dike there were probably 2
different Yellow Rails seen. The high tide was rushing up over the dike
wall in a rushing wall of water that arched over the edge, so that we walked
over to the berm in 18 inch deep rushing, swirling water. Incredible. You
could hear the water's roar from the street. One Yellow Rail flew up close
to where I was standing off away from the 20+ birders on the (berm i.e.
dike, and disappeared in the grass near me, as did a Black Rail. Another
Yellow Rail stood in the grass and tried to "do a bittern" by staying
motionless, trying to belnd in among the blades of grass, with 8 birders
sanding around it in a circle. Last night while perusing my various bird,
mammal, and tree field guides in my motel room, I realized how these rails
One of the flooded-out mammals at the dike was a California Vole
(erroneously labeled a Meadow Vole by one of the people on the dike, but
Meadow Vole does not occur in in coastal California). Voles construct
tunnels in the grass in a manner to the the tunnel systems of Prairie Dogs.
It appears that the various rails, along with other birds that run in a
mouse-like manner know these tunnels, and use them for escape routes.
It's a pity that one fleeing Black Rail that we saw captured in midair
in front of us (20 birders screamed "Ooh! Aaah! Wow! Look at that! Holy
S###!" all at once) by the Peregrine didn't take that route. It was quite a
sight. The little guy was finger food for the Peregrine.
In my personal opinion, the National Geographic Field Guide drawing of
Yellow Rail in flight is more accurate i.e. it shows the well-defined white
trailing edge wing bar on the secondaries, as opposed to Sibley. I say this
in the sense that while Sibley's drawing of a hazy sort-of wing bar on
juvenile Sora is technically accurate, it could lead to unnecessary
quibbling over a Yellow Rail vs Sora. There was an obvious Yellow Rail in
flight yesteray morning, but somebody was being overly cautious (I don't
believe this person actually saw the bird, or at the very least was furthest
from it), and he declared it to be "a Sora-like rail" which surprised me, as
its (the Yellow rail's) well-defined white wing bars were screaming at me.
Interestingly, Nat Geo doesn't show a Sora in flight. Too bad.
There was also a Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow at the end of the dike, by
the radio antenna. It looked like the nominate race to me, but my glimpses
PS# 1 There was a male Harlequin Duck at the pier at Candlestick Park, San
Francisco, but no Oldsquaws. Aaargh (kind of, Harlequins are beautiful).
PS# 2 Stop by the Cosumnes River Preserve off the 5 near Stockton, and get
the Eastern Phoebe if your driving north or south. This preserve is awsome.
A gew miles away Woodbridge Road had a good 500 Tundra Swans. We only saw
200 Sandhill Cranes (both races), but there are probably many times that.
Thomas Geza Miko
653 S. Indian Hill Blvd., #C
Claremont, CA 91711
home (909) 445-1456
cell (626) 390-1935
work (323) 226-7855
----- Original Message -----
From: "Dennis Braddy" <dbraddy@...>
To: "Calbirds" <email@example.com>
Sent: Monday, January 10, 2005 2:16 PM
Subject: [CALBIRDS] Yellow Rail at Waldo's Dike
> A YELLOW RAIL took several minutes to swim to the cover of roadside
> vegetation at Waldo's Dike just before noon today in full view of 25+
> thrilled birders. The exhausted rail staggered and flailed about at the
> edge of the flooded marsh revealing its white secondaries before
> struggling deeper into cover.
> Parking for Waldo's Dike is on the right side of Sir Francis Drake Blvd
> just north of Inverness Park in Marin County about 0.1 mile past
> Drake's View Drive.
> Dennis and Patricia Braddy
> San Ramon
> Contra Costa County
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