Cackling Geese, Swallows, et al., NW SF, 11/01/09
Hugh Cotter, Mark Eaton and I birded Crissy Field (CF) and Battery Godfrey (BG) this morning, joined for a time by Dan Murphy and Alan Hopkins at BG.
At 11 AM, we observed a flock of 9 "Aleutian" Cackling Geese flying east from the Pt. Bonita lighthouse, past the Marin Headlands, over the GG Bridge, and continuing NE.
Also of note observed from BG were at least 2 Violet-green Swallows flying N directly overhead and later a single Tree Swallow flying E over the GG Bridge Toll Plaza.
Down at Crissy Field, the continuing Red-necked Grebe was on the Bay out from the "Wildlife Protection Area" (WPA). On the field, the flock of 30+ Canada Geese includes 1 noticeably smaller goose with a short neck that apparently has been present for some time. It is not as small as a "minima" Cackling Goose, nor does it have a stubby bill. It's white cheek patch is separated at the bottom by a black chin stripe. It lacks a white neck ring such as on most "Aleutian" Cackling Goose. We did not spend a lot of time studying it and didn't reach a conclusion on its identity, but perhaps it's a "Lesser" Canada Goose or a "Taverner's" Cackling Goose. (Check out Stephen Davies' website for nice photos and notes re the various Cackling Goose and Canada Goose subspecies < http://www.chlorophonia.com/cago_12302006.htm >.)
Raptor-wise, we had the 3 regular falcons and 6-8 Red-tailed Hawks flying N over the GG channel into Marin, including 1 strikingly-plumaged dark morph, but just 1 accipiter, a Cooper's Hawk flying S over the ocean towards Land's End.
Migrant passerines primarily consisted of Am. Robins, Cedar Waxwings, and Yel.-rumped Warblers, most of which were flying N over BG. There's also a nice flock of 50+ Am. Goldfinches hanging around the WPA that is worth checking throughout the fall/winter.
Other observations of local interest:
Great Egret 10 (1 flock observed by HC/MEa flying E towards the GGB)
Greater Scaup (multiple flocks of 3-5 flying E over GGB)
Surf Scoter (multiple flocks of 5-15 flying E over GGB)
Common Loon 1 (flying below BG)
Peregrine Falcon 3 (at one time over the GGB, 1 of these perched in the S tower)
Merlin 1 (dark subspecies; flying E over CF)
Am. Kestrel 1 m. (flying N over GGB)
Long-billed Curlew 1 (beach near old Coast Guard Pier)
Bonaparte's Gull 30 (2 flocks of 12 & 18 flying E of the GGB)
Herring Gull 3 ad. (flying below BG)
Heermann's Gull 1 (on water in GG channel)
Band-tailed Pigeon 200+ (mostly over Marin Headlands but 1 flock of 100+ flew E over Angel Island)
Belted Kingfisher 1-2 (Crissy Lagoon/old Coast Guard Pier)
HORNED LARK 2 (1 over BG, 1 over CF)
Am. Pipit 20+ (over BG, CF)
Savannah Sparrow 4 (CF)
W. Meadowlark 8 (5 @ CF, 3 @ BG)
Pine Siskin 1 (over BG)
Purple Finch 4 (over BG)
Harbor Porpoise 2 (GG channel below BG)
Monarch 3 (over BG)
Variegated Meadowhawk (dragonfly) 1 (over BG)