Mori Point & Sharp Park before the storm

Eddie Bartley

Golden Gate Audubon Field trip: Mori Point (GG National Parks) / Sharp Park
(San Francisco): turned out better than even expected with a great group of
birders and some uncommon sightings.

After being treated to a briefing by Brent Plater on the status of the Sharp
Park restoration plan we ventured over to the pollywog pond spotting crowned
sparrows, Northern Flicker, Pygmy Nuthatches, thrushes, warblers and three
Red-legged Frogs. Returning to the main trail there was a Say's Phoebe
perched up on a home satellite dish diligently dashing out to clean the
adjacent roof of spiders and then Brent discovered a male Common
Yellowthroat in a mixed flock in the chaparral. Next we braved the cold
winds and drizzle whipping across the newly restored pond system and someone
mentioned a snipe hunt then lo and behold a Wilson's Snipe magically
appeared feeding very near but way out in the open for the whole world to
see. Low temps and a serious head wind kept us from lingering very long in
the open so we headed to the west side of Laguna Salada where a bit of cover
made things a tad more tolerable. The usual suspects here, most of them
dozing away. A very lightly colored second cycle Glaucous-winged Gull was
auspicious and a flock of 8 Killdeer wheeled in to bath at the lakeside.

Back up on the eroding levee we turned our attention seaside where there
were huge numbers of Red-throated Loons with some Pacific's mixed in. On the
rocks at the southern end of the beach we were able to find Black
Turnstones, Surfbirds, Black Oystercatchers and Pelagic Cormorants amongst
the Western and GW Gulls. A hike up Bootlegger Steps warmed us up
considerably and took us to some of the best sightings of the day out on the
cape of Mori Point. Howard spotted three BLACK SCOTERS which we scoped and
then another gull drifted into the same view that turned out to be a
hatch-year SABINE'S GULL. While the head of this very interesting Sabine's
was still in juvenal plumage the flight and body covert feathers as far as
we could see had already molted to first adult plumage. We were able to
study the very cooperative bird for 10 - 15 minutes. Very fun! Many, many
more loons, grebes and scoters bobbed in between the water chop. We missed
the hatch-year Peregrine that Noreen and I saw Saturday on the cliffside but
the significant whitewash under the perches we observed it at yesterday
might indicate it has taken up winter residence.

Returning on the coastal trail there was a great flock of sparrows and
Icterids working the hay at the most recent native plantings. The breezes
calmed significantly and passerines began perching up. Jeff Fairclough and
Laurie Graham pointed out the spot they had seen Thrashers back in October
when we noticed Howard down the trail pointing to the scrub just as the
first comic sounds of Thrashers filtered through to our ears. They seemed to
be in a bit of a tiff with some scrub-jays when we reached the area but
eventually perched up so all could admire those crazy curved bills. We
speculated that these birds may have expanded over from the nearly
contiguous habitat at Sweeney Ridge where very mature chaparral hosts big
numbers of this species. About 1/2 of the group so inspired continued on to
the south east side of the park but those of us who had appointments with
veggie burgers amongst other things returned to the starting point via Mori
Rd. which was greatly enlivened compared to our frigid beginnings three
hours earlier. The berry scrubs were getting worked hard by thrushes while
the cypress hosted a large group of Pygmy Nuthatches a few kinglets and a
Hutton's Vireo for comparison. As we were leaving a Downy Woodpecker
squeak-toyed to us a reminder to return to this area and often.

Happy Trails!

Eddie Bartley & Noreen Weeden

12/06/09 8:00-11:00 AM - 62 Species:

Surf Scoter
Ruddy Duck

Pacific Loon
Red-throated Loon

Pied Billed Grebe
Western Grebe
Clark's Grebe

Brown Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant
Pelagic Cormorant
Brandt's Cormorant

Northern Harrier
Red-tailed Hawk
Peregrine Falcon (12/5 only)

American Coot

Black Oystercatcher
Black Turnstone
Wilson's Snipe

Heerman's Gull
Western Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Forster's Tern

Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove

Anna's Hummingbird

Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker

Black Phoebe
Say's Phoebe
Hutton's Vireo
Western Scrub Jay
Common Raven
American Crow
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Pygmy Nuthatch
Bewick's Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Northern Mockingbird
California Thrasher
European Starling
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Townsend's Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Song Sparrow
Gold-crowned Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Brewer's Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
House Finch

Harbor Seals
CA Sea Lion
Brush Bunny

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