Cal. Thrasher & Green-tailed Towhee @ Fort Funston (north), 9/21/19

Paul Saraceni
 

This morning I birded the norther portion of Ft. Funston (7:00-10:50), beginning at the parking area @ the intersection of Skyline/JFK, and then walking 2 counterclockwise loops, including various cypress groves, the Skyline Grove, dunes atop the bluff, and a brief seawatch from the bluff. Conditions were sunny, low 70s, light NE wind.


Along with small numbers of expected western migrants, I had 2 unexpected observations.


I found a CALIFORNIA THRASHER as it actively fed on the ground in a copse on the west side of the first battery (graffiti-covered) along the paved road up the hill.  To find this location, immediately after passing that battery (on the left as one walks up the hill), turn left on the wide sandy path into an open area and then turn left again. The Thrasher was first observed as it fed in a dirt clearing under some low hanging bushes near there. I re-located it 2 hours later approx. 25 yards further west on the other side of the next group of cypresses, and observed it calling as it perched and preened within a low shrub.


Further west from the Thrasher location described above, I located a GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE in a sunny, brushy patch that includes many "monkey pod" plants with brown, hanging seedpods.  The Towhee popped-up into a sapling, providing a prolonged, perched view before it flew down to the ground and then out of view. I re-located about an hour later in the same area, when it was heard making a light "mewing" call from within the brush before emerging. It was a brightly-marked individual, including bright greenish-yellow edging on its wings, a bushy rufous crown, and well-marked white throat with black malars -- presumably an adult.


Photos of the Thrasher and Towhee can be found at the following report link:

https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S59994444


The migrants around included 6 Red-breasted Nuthatches and singles of W. Wood-Pewee, Say's Phoebe, House Wren, Marsh Wren (in dune scrub atop the bluff away from water), Yel.-rumped Warbler, Savannah Sparrow, and Lincoln's Sparrow.  A brief seawatch from the bluff produced at least 5 Parasitic Jaegers (including a dark-morph) and a flyover ad. Herring Gull.


Later in the morning some skywatching from Battery Godfrey produced 2 Cliff Swallows flying N together and 3 Caspian Terns.


Paul Saraceni

San Francisco

Join SFBirds@groups.io to automatically receive all group messages.