Treasure Island geese - 11/26/12

Dominik Mosur

Took a detour through Treasure Island on the way back into the City this afternoon with an eye on the goose flocks that hang out in the playing fields and lawns there.

On the ball fields between 11th and 13th Streets there were (5) GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE and a RIDGWAY'S CACKLING GOOSE (ssp. minima). On the lawn next to building "450", east of the intersection of H Ave. and 4th Street there were (4) ALEUTIAN CACKLING GEESE. The "good" geese were all flocking with the larger "naturalized" MOFFIT'S CANADA GEESE.

Dominik Mosur
San Francisco

great-tailed grackle=devil bird


lake merced goose + misc



The Greater White-fronted Goose was seen this morning by Kate, Sean, and me in the grassy area by the Carlos III statue / boat launch area. It was with a group of coots. Orange legs were distinctive, along with size and white vertical blaze mark on the face.

This past Friday, a Pine Siskin landed on a bush in front of a group of us on a bird walk on the Telegraph Hill Greenwich Steps. That was a pleasant surprise.


Bunting ID

David Assmann

Based on the feedback I've received the bunting I saw yesterday was not a VARIED BUNTING, but an INDIGO BUNTING.

RFI Thayer's Gull

robert wardle <rwardleuk@...>

Hi everybody, I am visiting San Francisco for week mid December and hoping to connect with a Thayer's Gull - a bit of a bogey bird for me.  I also have a day in the Bodega Bay/Point Reyes area.
With minimal time I would like to focus on the best spots.  Any help would be very much appreciated.
Rob Wardle

Battery Godfrey, SF, 11/24/12

Paul Saraceni

Back to Battery Godfrey on Saturday morning (6:30-11:55 AM) for a reprise of Friday morning, to see how the flight would develop after NE winds all night, including further inland, and with a rare opportunity to compare 2 morning flights in a row. NE winds were stronger this morning, but the flight was different in overall composition and numbers of certain species, though most passerines were again heading N.

Joined by Hugh Cotter for most of the morning and David Assmann, Dominik Mosur, and Calvin Lou for portions.

Will start out with an intriguing observation that Hugh and I had at around 9:20 AM. We heard a low rattle-like call and got on 2 passerines heading north and flying low just over the bluff, which immediately disappeared behind the lone cypress tree at the western edge of the Battery 20 yards or so in front of us, just below eye level. When they came into view on the other side, we were expecting to ID something finch- or sparrow-like but were surprised to see 2 short-tailed, stocky, Starling-like birds flying away from us in direct flight with bright yellow-tipped tails -- waxwings. But in our brief views they were dark grey above and below -- better for Bohemian Waxwing -- not warm brown above or light yellow/white below, as expected with Cedar Waxwings, and not as slim-looking. The call we heard was not at all like the high-pitched trill of Cedars; while not a perfect match of online recordings of Bohemian Waxwing trill calls, the call was similarly lower pitched. What we observed during our brief flight views favored Bohemian Waxwing over the expected Cedar Waxwing, though we weren't able to observe all the plumage details of Bohemian.

Here's the rest of this morning's flight -- 69 total species, with the following observations of local interest:

CACKLING GOOSE 64 (8:15-27 AM: 1 group flying N offshore, then turned E, flying low over the GG Channel, eventually gaining altitude and flying over the GG Bridge)
Mallard 4 ( 2 sets of 2 flying E high-up)
N. Pintail 202 (7:08-11:11 AM: 4 high-flying groups, 3 of which (14/122/60) headed E from Bay to Ocean )
Greater Scaup 13 (1 group flying E over GG Bridge)
Surf Scoter 227 (multiple groups, flying in and out of GG Channel)
W. Grebe 232
Clark's Grebe 18
Horned Grebe 1 (in GG Channel)
Common Loon 5
Red-thr. Loon 68
Pacific Loon 4
Brown Pelican 38
Pelagic Cormorant 1 (on offshore rock)
Turkey Vulture 4
Osprey 1 (flew S over the bluff @ 7:08 AM; late in the season for this species)
White-tailed Kite 1 ad. (flew in from over Ocean)
Sharp-shin. Hawk 2
Red-sh. Hawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk 12
Peregrine Falcon 2
Black Oystercatcher 1 (on offshore rock)
Willet 42 (on offshore rocks)
Black Turnstone 2 (on offshore rock)
Surfbird 5 (on offshore rock)
Sanderling 18 (on offshore rock)
Least Sandpiper 7 (first spotted by Dom flying E high over GG Channel)
Mew Gull 340+ (many flying NE into Bay)
Herring Gull 10
Thayer's Gull 1 ad.
Glaucous-winged Gull 4
Common Murre 2
Band-tailed Pigeon 790+ (multiple large groups over the Headlands; ~50% crossed into SF)
Eurasian Collared-Dove 1
N. Flicker 3
N. ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW 1 (first spotted by Hugh flying NE over GG Channel; late)
Varied Thrush 54 (multiple groups and individuals flying N)
Am. Robin 39
Hermit Thrush 3
Pacific Wren 2
Golden-cr. Kinglet 1 (in trees E of BG)
Ruby-cr. Kinglet 4
Cedar Waxwing 34 (calling flyovers N)
Am. Pipit 6 (including group of 5 flying NE over GG Channel)
Orange-cr. Warbler 1
Yel.-rumped Warbler 108 (calling flyovers)
Townsend's Warbler 8
California Towhee 1 (infrequent @ BG)
W. Meadowlark 1
Purple Finch 13 (calling flyovers N)
Red Crossbill 10 (calling flyovers N)
Pine Siskin 307 (calling flyovers; many groups, including 60+ in one group)
Lesser Goldfinch 8
Am. Goldfinch 3 (calling flyovers N)

Mammals (in GG Channel):
California Sea Lion 1
Harbor Seal 1
Harbor Porpoise 4

Monarch 1
Red Admiral 2
Painted Lady sp. 1

Paul Saraceni
San Francisco

White-throated in Glen Park garden

Roberta Guise

A White-throated sparrow has been delighting us in our Glen Park garden
(first for the garden), sometimes solitary, often with the Golden Crowns.
It¹s been popping in and out for a few days.

Off topic but too unusual to bypass: A neighbor on Moffett reported that
during the day this past week, one of the Glen Canyon coyotes has been
hanging out on Poppy Lane, which runs by our house and behind it. Her big
dog encountered it. So keep your coyotedar scanning if your little Fido is
off leash when you walk the pooch from Diamond Street east up the lane.

Glorious days for birding,
Roberta Guise

Roberta Guise, MBA
Guise Marketing & PR

Accelerate your marketing results, be visible, and
change the way people think.

Ask me about the Thought Leadership Symposium for Women
Twitter: @robertaguise

5214F Diamond Heights Blvd #223, San Francisco, CA 94131

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the International Council of Management Consulting Institutes.


Re: Bunting could be Indigo - Directions

C Lou

Hi All,
A search from 330 to 430 failed to turn up any bunting . In fact, only black
phoebe and ruby crowned kinglet

Calvin Lou

Connected by DROID on Verizon Wireless

-----Original message-----
From: David_Assmann <david_assmann@...>
To: SFBirds@...
Sent: Sat, Nov 24, 2012 22:40:34 GMT+00:00
Subject: [SFBirds] Bunting could be Indigo - Directions

The California Garden is next to the handball courts south of the California
Academy of Sciences (walk over the hill and down to the right - west of the
AIDS garden). The bird has very faint streaks, so it could be an Indigo, not
Varied, Bunting.

SF Zoo, Nashville and White-throated

Adam Winer

This afternoon, I found a White-throated Sparrow and a Nashville Warbler
both near the Snow Leopard enclosure at the San Francisco Zoo.

On a related note, another White-throated Sparrow in Noe Valley on
Thanksgiving was yard bird #65.

-- Adam Winer

Bunting could be Indigo - Directions

David Assmann

The California Garden is next to the handball courts south of the California Academy of Sciences (walk over the hill and down to the right - west of the AIDS garden). The bird has very faint streaks, so it could be an Indigo, not Varied, Bunting.

Varied Bunting in Golden Gate Park

David Assmann

There's a VARIED BUNTING in the California Garden in Golden Gate Park near the ball courts. I'll post a picture.

Battery Godfrey, SF, 11/23/12

Paul Saraceni

I spent 6:20 AM -12:55 PM atop Battery Godfrey. Joined for part of the time by Hugh Cotter and Dominik Mosur. Steady NE winds produced a diverse flight, including some waterfowl and good numbers of the usual flyover passerines which were mostly moving N, as is typical in these conditions.

72 total species, with the following observations of local interest:

CACKLING GOOSE 147 (5 groups [6/36/16/28/61] heading NE off the ocean between 6:20-11:40 9:05 AM; the pre-sunrise group of 6 passed through my scope view while I was observing Saturn and its moons)
N. Shoveler 2 m. (flying N high over GG Bridge)
N. Pintail 12 (1 group flying NE over GG Channel)
Greater Scaup 30 (multiple groups flying E, some with Surf Scoters)
Surf Scoter 114 (multiple groups, flying in and out of GG Channel
Red-br. Merganser 2 (flying E over GG Bridge)
COMMON MERGANSER 1 (flying NE over Presidio)
W. Grebe 338
Clark's Grebe 2
Common Loon 6
Red-thr. Loon 18
Pacific Loon 4
Brown Pelican 38
Pelagic Cormorant 2 (on offshore rock)
Turkey Vulture 9
White-tailed Kite 1 (perhaps Crissy Field bird wandered W)
N. Harrier 3 (2 S, 1 N over GG Channel)
Sharp-shin. Hawk 3
Cooper's Hawk 1
Red-sh. Hawk 2
Red-tailed Hawk 21
Peregrine Falcon 1
Merlin 2
Great Egret 1 (flying NE over Presidio)
Black Oystercatcher 1 (on offshore rock)
Killdeer 11 (1 group flying NE over Presidio)
Willet 32 (on offshore rocks)
Black Turnstone 4 (on offshore rock)
Surfbird 2 (on offshore rock)
Mew Gull 370+ (many flying NE into Bay)
Ring-billed Gull 1 ad.
Herring Gull 3
Thayer's Gull 1 ad.
Glaucous-winged Gull 9
Common Murre 3
Band-tailed Pigeon 940+ (multiple large groups over the Headlands; ~50% crossed into SF)
N. Flicker 3
Varied Thrush 73 (multiple groups flying N, many mixed with Am. Robins)
Am. Robin 420+ (multiple groups flying N)
Hermit Thrush 2
Pacific Wren 2
Golden-cr. Kinglet 2 (in trees E of BG)
Ruby-cr. Kinglet 4
Cedar Waxwing 48
Am. Pipit 5 (calling flyovers)
Yel.-rumped Warbler 102
Townsend's Warbler 5
Bl.-thr. Gray Warbler 1 (spotted by Hugh; late-ish)
Red-winged Blackbird 1 m. (flying S)
W. Meadowlark 2
Purple Finch 6 (calling flyovers)
Red Crossbill 35 (calling flyovers in 4 groups; a few "local" calls, most higher-pitched calls)
Pine Siskin 238 (calling flyovers; many groups, including 50+ in one group)
Lesser Goldfinch 3 (calling flyovers)
Am. Goldfinch 1 (calling flyover)

Cabbage White 1
Monarch 2
Red Admiral 2

Also, last Sunday (11/18) morning (but not today) at BG I observed a very interesting-looking leucistic Fox Sparrow in the native vegetation patch. Will post photos of this pied sparrow in a couple of days.

Paul Saraceni
San Francisco

Lake Merced - Kingbird and Goose

C Lou

The (2) TROPICLAL KINGBIRDS continue to be seen along the wires between MH007 and HM6,
south of the concrete bridge at the south end of Lake Merced. The CACKLING GOOSE
continues near north-west beach from the concrete bridge.

Calvin Lou

Local Interest Fort Mason

David Assmann

In addition to great looks at a TROPICAL KINGBIRD this morning shared by several other birders, Fort Mason also had a VARIED THRUSH, three WESTERN BLUEBIRDS, and a COMMON LOON off the shore.

Thanksgiving birds (Mt. Davidson, Sutro Baths)

Jake McCumber

Hi SF birders,

It's a beautiful day to be out in San Francisco today. 

I spent about 1.5 hour birding right around my in-laws' house on Mt. Davidson.  It was mostly the usual (and enjoyable) assortment.  Highlights included finally getting a good flock of Band-tailed Pigeons on Mt. Davidson, Townsend's Warblers, Pine Siskins and a lot of parakeet activity.  Overall the birds were very active this morning.

I also spent about 2 hours at Sutro Baths and Land's End.  Again, it was the typical assortment of birds, though perhaps a bit less shorebird activity right there than usual with all the people out enjoying the day.  There was a lot on the water that was beyond my binocular and/or abilities, but there were three species of loon, lots of birds in the woods, and a lot of gulls.

I have two questions: one from each location. 

The parakeets on Mt. Davidson really appeared and sounded like Mitred rather than Red-masked, but looking at eBird, this seems off.  They had varying red in the face, no obvious red patches at the bend of the wing, and sounded almost like gulls, which seemed to fit recording for Mitred better.  There were ten birds altogether moving about sort of as two flocks of five at times and one flock at others.  How likely or unlikely is this?  I did put these on my eBird list, but can be persuaded to change it.

There were a lot of gulls at Sutro Baths.  Mostly Western, of course, but some California, a couple of Glaucous-winged, Ring-billed, Mew, and a Thayer's by my best determination.  I'm far from a gull expert.  However, I felt pretty certain that I had a Glaucous Gull fly over very close and right over my head when at the lookout just above and north of the ruins.  It had a lightly smudgy head and was by far the whitest gull I've ever seen, both above and below.  It had a very faint line demarcating the edge of the underwing coverts, otherwise it was completely white below.  When briefly viewed above it was extremely pale overall with the wingtips and tail being the whitest, but with very little contrast with the pale back.  The wingtips were white above and below without any darker gray.  Does the faint line along the underwing coverts suggest it is not a Glaucous?  It looks like none of this species has been reported in the area this fall so
far.  I did not eBird this individual, though do feel it fit Glaucous best.  I know there is a fair amount of hybridization along the coast here.

Any help or thoughts are much appreciated.  Enjoy this beautiful Thanksgiving!

Jake McCumber
Austin, TX

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

Fort Mason - Tropical Kingbird

David Assmann

In garden - right now.

Lake Merced


I went birding at Lake Merced after school today. I started at the concrete bridge where no ibis were present (somewhat disappointing). However, the two Tropical Kingbirds arrived around 4:45 and perched atop the conifer at the west end of the bridge. I then went to the boating house area where the Greater White-fronted Goose was present. This wonderful sighting however was ruined by my truly unfortunate discovery. As I was photographing two playful Raccoons, I realize that the back window of my car was shattered and my backpack was missing!!!!!!! I had just gotten robbed. What truly puzzles me is the fact that my 200$ scope was right by its side, but wasn't taken, along with other valuable stuff. Now I have to take a math test on monday without studying because all my books are gone. If anybody happens to be birding in that area, and they come across a black-and-gray Swiss backpack, please contact me at either allaboutbirds@... or my cell number (415-342-9290).
Thank you, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Cédric Duhalde

Local Interest - Mystery Grebe/Loon, White Tailed Kite, Peregrine

David Assmann

Just got back from a walk on the pier at Aquatic Park (without binoculars) where a smallish almost entirely grey bird was periodically visible (it spent most of its time underwater). It had the shape of a loon, was somewhat smaller than the Western Grebes around it, but definitely much bigger, and a different shape than Eared or Horned Grebes. It appeared to have a greenish/yellow bill (hard to tell without binoculars), and definitely had gray on the front of its throat. RED-NECKED GREBE?

Earlier in the day (with binoculars), I observed the WHITE-TAILED KITE at Crissy Lagoon, along with the BLACK-NECKED STILT, which seems to have taken up seasonal residence, and a female COMMON GOLDENEYE. There were still a few ELEGANT TERNS on the pier (numbers have dropped dramatically over the last few days), and one SNOWY PLOVER in the protected area. A RED-THROATED LOON was close to shore on the ocean side.

Later I had a flyover PEREGRINE FALCON at Fort Mason.

Sue Bierman Park - Yellow-Throated Warbler and Palm Warbler 11/21/12

Jack Hayden

The Yellow-Throated Warbler and Palm Warbler continue this morning in the maintenance yard poplars, along with Townsend's and Yellow-rumps, Bushtits, Chestnut-backed Chickadees and Ruby-crowned Kinglets.

Jack Hayden

Re: WFIbis @ Conc. Bridge, nope



My plans to see Ibis this morning were thwarted by their absence. However, a stunning and cooperative Belted Kingfisher and two achingly cute Eared Grebes commanded my attention.