Record-setting S.F. Big Day, 04/16/07

Paul Saraceni

On April 16, Josiah Clark, Hugh Cotter, Alan Hopkins and I ran a San Francisco
County Big Day. We had a very good day and ended up with 149 species, eclipsing
the prior SF Big Day record of 140 species set on 4/17/02 by a team consisting
of Rich Ferrick, Kevin McKereghan, Jay Withgott and me.

This was the 3rd effort by our team (139 sp. in 4/04, 131 sp. in 4/05) and all
things came together for us yesterday -- well-honed route, reasonably
cooperative weather, scattered migrants, success in finding most of the species we
needed to observe (including some tough local resident species), and some good luck along the way.

Best bird of the day: at 7:15 AM, while we birded atop Mt. Davidson, we were
stunned when Hugh and Josiah yelled "SHORT-EARED OWL" -- and we watched a
high-flying individual of this species heading east over the City, south of Mt. D. When last observed the owl was flapping over Mclaren
Park and heading in the direction of the Bay. This was a 1st record for Mt. D. and, I believe, a 1st spring record for the City.

Other highlights:

- migrants heading north over the Ocean including: 5 Brant; 30+ Red-necked Phalaropes; 3 Bonaparte's Gulls

- lingering waterfowl including: 1 Wood Duck (concrete bridge @ s. L. Merced); pair of Gadwall (Mallard L., GGP); 1 f. Lesser Scaup (Yosemite Creek); 1 m. HARLEQUIN DUCK (continuing @ Heron's Head); 3 WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS (off of s. end of Ocean Beach); 1 f. Com. Goldeneye and 1 f. Red-br. Merganser (Candlestick Pt. basin); 2 imm. m. Hooded Mergansers (South L., GGP)

- 1 Osprey perched @ n. L. Merced

- 1 COMMON MOORHEN @ s. end of s. L. Merced

- 30+ Short-billed Dowitchers, most in fine alternate plumage, including 1 flying along Ocean Beach, 2 @ Crissy Field lagoon, 1 @ Candlestick cove, and 30+ @ Yosemite Creek

- 1 Wilson's Snipe @ Crissy Field lagoon

- Eur. Collared-Dove: 2 nr. concrete bridge, 3 @ Ft. Scott, Presidio (perhaps this is better characterized as a low-light??)

- 1 COMMON BARN-OWL flying pre-sunrise nr. Park Presidio/MLK Drive, GGP

- 1 Yellow-billed Magpie at the usual location nr. India Basin

- 1 m. W. Bluebird @ Lobos Dunes

- 1 Chipping Sparrow @ Kobbe/Upton

- 1 White-thr. Sparrow singing nr. South L., GGP

- scattered migrant passerines including: Olive-sided & Pac.-slope Flycatchers; W. Kingbird; Warbling Vireo; House Wren; Yellow Warbler; Bl.-headed Grosbeak; Lazuli Bunting

- scattered lingering winterers including: Ruby-cr. Kinglet, Hermit Thrush, Fox & Lincoln's Sparrows

(The 2 owl species, White-winged Scoters, and Com. Moorhen were observed before 9:00 AM so qualify for the "Birdiest City" composite SF list.)

And like most Big Day efforts, we missed some species we expected to get, e.g., the "stake-out" Com. Merganser @ Lloyd L., which was not present during our multiple visits; Brown Pelican; Am. Kestrel; Com. Murre; N. Flicker; Hutton's Vireo; Pine Siskin.

Paul Saraceni
San Francisco

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