Local Interest: Migrants at Fort Mason

David Assmann

This morning there were two WILSON'S WARBLER and two BULLOCK'S ORIOLES in the garden. Found a total of seven WESTERN TANAGERS in different parts of Fort Mason. A NUTALL'S WOODPECKER was in the Battery.



Hello, SF Birders,

Birders on Shearwater Journeys's August 3 trip departing from Sausalito to the Farallon Islands had a fabulous day. In addition to the target bird, TUFTED PUFFIN, highlights included: the continuing NORTHERN GANNET, one of possibly two BROWN BOOBIES that have been hanging around the islands since this past spring, and a LAYSAN ALBATROSS that packed in with the BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSSES. We also enjoyed watching the rafts of PIGEON GUILLEMOTS feeding on juvenile rockfish. It has been a pretty good year for the breeding seabirds at the Farallon Islands. The complete trip report:

A Blue-footed Booby showed up at the islands the day after our trip. 

In addition, our leader, Peter Pyle brought a couple of buddies on board as part of a North American Big Mammal Day. Once again, they broke the record (their own record from 2013), with a total species count of 31 native species of mammals! A big round of applause for the intrepid Peter and his friends! The list and report:

Happy Trails,
Debi Shearwater

Shearwater Journeys, Inc.
PO Box 190
Hollister, CA 95024

Birding Down Under: SubAntarctic Islands, November 9 - 25, 2014 with Debi - SOLD OUT
Russian Far East Voyages: May/June 2016, with Debi

Local Interest: Heron's Head Park

David Assmann

After spending way too much time in the fog on Mount Davidson without much success, Bob Gunderson, Rob Cullison and I spent some time at Heron's Head Park, which had an AMERICAN KESTREL, the continuing WHITE-TAILED KITE, an OSPREY, and three species of terns (CASPIAN, FORSTER'S and ELEGANT0 as well as an assortment of shorebirds.

Early Migrants at Lafayette Park

Richard Bradus

Adding my two cents to other recent posts:

On a casual walk through at Lafayette Park this morning there were a number of early fall migrants, including at least two Western Tanagers (one male with a beautiful orange head), at least two Pacific Slope Flycatchers (one calling), another unidentified flycatcher (possible Pewee), and a male Wilson's Warbler. The last may not be a migrant as I have seen Wilson's here on and off throughout the summer. Also nice cameos by the resident Red-tail female, two pairs of Red-masked Parakeets and a good number of vocal chickadees complementing the usual nuthatches, juncos and bushtits.

Richard Bradus
San Francisco

Bison Paddock and North Lake

Kimberly Jannarone

Hi birders,

I took a quick bike ride to GGP today and was happy to see the eclipse male NORTHERN PINTAIL (first spotted by Dominik on 7/23) placidly swimming among a noisy whirlwind of young Pied-Billed Grebes.

In the woods by the Paddock, I saw 3 male HAIRY WOODPECKERS.  A family?  Two were interacting for 15+ minutes, posing, spreading tail feathers, and making little chirps.  These two both had very dingy outer tail feathers--more yellowish-tan than white.

Everything else expected, including one NUTTALL's WOODPECKER and one DOWNY.  Young Red-tailed Hawks swooped over the paddock, diving into the group of 50+ young House Finches.

-Kimberly Jannarone
San Francisco

More Migrants

Brian Fitch

I started the morning at the Cliff House, where five Wandering Tattlers were together on the rocks south of the building.  The only unusual sighting was a light morph, first summer Pomerine Jaeger, flying high beyond the rocks and heading for the mouth of the Gate.  Also interesting was a Pigeon Guillemot with a fish in its mouth that was nearly as large as its wing patches, causing an odd first appearance as it flew by.

South Lake Merced was migrantless, but three juvenile grackles were very audible along the concrete bridge, and Marsh Wrens seem to have had a good crop, as I saw at least five juvies on both sides of the bridge during a brief visit.

On Mt Davidson, I was surprised (for early August) to find numerous western migrants; five Pacific-slope Flycatchers, a Warbling Vireo, at least ten Western Tanagers (mostly males in full breeding plumage), three Black-headed Grosbeaks, a male Lazuli Bunting, and a female Bullock's Oriole.  Most of the birds were in or along the ravine, on the north slope.
Brian Fitch

Local Interest: First Wave of Migrants at Fort Mason

David Assmann

An OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER, a PACIFIC SLOPE FLYCATCHER, a BULLOCK'S ORIOLE, a NUTTALL'S WOODPECKER and two HOODED ORIOLES were in the Fort Mason Community Garden early this morning.  The Battery had a HERMIT WARBLER, a RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD and a WILSON'S WARBLER.  The abandoned pier in Aquatic Park had two WANDERING TATTLERS and two BLACK TURNSTONES.

Blue-footed Booby on Farallones today

Peter Pyle

via Pete Warzybok.

Heron's Head Park



Work and being out of town has gotten in the way of SF birding so it was good to be back and checked out Heron's Head. The White-tailed Kite continues, 2 Osprey were visible. Struck out on the Ridgway's Rail but we were treated to the surprise sight of a female American Kestrel mixing it up with a juvie. Cooper's Hawk before both beat a hasty retreat. Quite a size difference between the two!
Carlo Arreglo
San Francisco

Local Interest: Yellow Warbler, etc.

David Assmann

Bob Gunderson and I found a YELLOW WARBLER, a WILSON'S WARBLER and a RED CROSSBILL in with a hundred + finches and goldfinches on the hillside above El Polin Spring this morning. At Crissy Field Lagoon, two BELTED KINGFISHERS were at the eastern end of the Lagoon.  There were six shorebird species, including a SEMI-PALMATED PLOVER, KILLDEER, MARBLED GODWIT, WILLET, WHIMBREL and LONG-BILLED CURLEW.  Yesterday Dan Murphy and I spotted a GLACOUS-WINGED GULL at Lake Merced.

Play Day at the Beach

Brian Fitch

Yesterday morning, my wife and I spent a couple of hours with our grand kids on the coast, at the foot of Lincoln in SF.  While digging a wind shelter/sand castle, I looked up and saw a juvenile Elegant Tern swooping down on a Sanderling flock at the edge of the surf.  The tern continued its apparent play for several minutes, each time sending the shorebirds running in various directions, but never making any contact, or landing.  I've never witnessed this behavior, and it ended only after passing humans flushed the Sanderlings.

Shortly afterward, we noticed three Bottlenosed Dolphins just beyond the breaker line, and proceeded to watch them lolling and sometimes frolicking in the swell.  Two were apparent adults, and the third was noticeably smaller, at most 3/4th's regular size.  After watching for a while, my wife surmised that the adults might be involved in the continuation of the species.  With that possibility in mind, I soon proved her right, as the pair were seen at the top of a breaking wave, belly to belly, and the male broke away in time for me to see his anatomical details through my binoculars.  Another first, and while we kept the young humans (ages 7 & 4) in the dark concerning what type of play the dolphins were taking part in, it left us wondering about the third, smaller individual, and sex-ed among cetaceans.

Around 12:30, as we were preparing to leave, I stood up to scan for any tubenoses on the horizon, and instead discovered the huge flipper of a Humpback, as it splashed back and forth slowly, but repeatedly.  For several minutes, nothing but the flipper or an occasional spout were visible, until the leviathan finally turned upright, showed its hump, and dove out of sight.

Other avian species were as described in previous reporters' posts.
Brian Fitch

Hermit Warbler at Pier 94 restoration area (3 August)

Ken Schneider

I visited Pier 94 and Heron's Head Park this afternoon, mainly looking for shorebirds.  I didn't find anything unusual, but was pleased and a bit surprised to see a migrant HERMIT WARBLER foraging in the shrubs at the Pier 94 restoration area.  I even managed a decent digiscoped photo - my eBird checklist is here:

I think the Hermit Warbler is either a HY male or an AHY female based on limited black on the throat (seen best in other photos)...

Good birding!

Ken Schneider
Noe Valley

Farallons - Brown Booby and Northern Gannet

Alvaro Jaramillo

SF Birders,


   Our Alvaro’s Adventures trip to the Farallons today was a great one! After seeing a bunch of Tufted Puffins, murres, and guillemots as we drove up to the island excitement broke out when we saw the Northern Gannet flying over sugarloaf. Eventually it landed, and began displaying to a Western Gull. So cool that he decided to be there for us, instead of at Alcatraz!


The complete unexpected bird was just a couple of hundreds of yards away, an adult female Brown Booby! After looking closely at the photos I decided it was a female. The bill is yellow based, and there is a dark area in the blue face right before the eye.


We are back on the Farallons next week. The next trip with spots are SF offshore birding on Aug 16th, and Monterey Bay on the 23d.


Good Birding.




Alvaro Jaramillo



Sutro Baths and Cliff House. Point Lobos Closure.

Lori Lee

Head's up: Point Lobos Lookout is going to be closed through the end of August 2014. They're removing a leaking fuel pipe from the bath's functioning era. Entire bottom trail is blocked. From the top trail you're blocked where the stairs up the cliff ends. So there's a top view, but the north is blocked by cypress. 

There was a nice collection of shorebirds today around noon on the rocks below the Cliff House Western Viewing platform. 

10 surfbirds

10 black turnstones

1 wandering tattler 


5 Heermann's gulls in what looked like transitional plumage

good collection of terns (elegant?) visible by scope

brandt's cormorants, western gulls, brown pelicans, in abundance.

additional pigeon guillemots, a black oyster catcher. 

HHP 8/2/14

Dominik Mosur

The Black Skimmer was not seen again after about 7:30. I watched it make a pass over a group of feeding Double-crested Cormorants in India Basin, it then turned SE and appeared to continue out onto the open bay. I lost sight of it when I paused to send the message out to SFBirders, and did not see it again in the next hour.

Other sightings of note:
Spotted Sandpiper - 2, in worn alt., first summer migrants I've encountered in SF
LeastSandpiper- first juv. arrival w/3adults
Marbled Godwit - 1
Elegant Terns - ~20 including first juveniles I've seen on the Bayside this summer
Savannah Sparrow - 4

Dominik Mosur
San Francisco

Black Skimmer at Heron's Head8/2/14

Dominik Mosur

Flying around India Basin... I'll keep the list updated.


Willow Flycatcher at Sydney G. Walton Square, SF?

Thorsten Claus

I had lunch there yesterday, sitting at the north side on the bricks of the stairs when I noticed a tiny flycatcher hopping through the gras, very unusual, hunting for insects for about 15 minutes without flying once, just waiting, pouncing, a hop, and waiting. The little guy was either blind or exhausted or sick, I could come up quite close before it hopped away.

These guys look all the same to me, but I think it was a Willow Flycatcher because of the missing eye ring and no brownish color - can someone take a look at the iPhone photos?

Thorsten Claus
San Francisco

No Salvin's, but warm water birds heading north!! Half Moon Bay pelagic.

Alvaro Jaramillo

Hello folks,


   Unfortunately we could not re-locate the Salvin’s Albatross yesterday although we tried hard in good waters with plenty of Black-footed Albatrosses. We did however find that warm water species are arriving early and in numbers, with Black Storm Petrel the most common storm petrel out there, giving great views both in San Francisco and San Mateo counties. We encountered Wilson’s Storm-Petrel three times, again in both counties. There were various “Mexican Murrelet” stops, some with birds flying away from the boat and unidentifiable, to amazing close up and personal looks. Craveri’s Murrelets were seen in both San Francisco and San Mateo counties, including a group in San Mateo that was not only easy to see, but calling! They had this neat trill, that Curtis Marantz likened to a Bohemian Waxwing. I only wished I had my mike there to have recorded it. It was like nothing I have heard at sea, so ringing and musical, and loud for a small bird! Photos here:    ID fanatics might note that this Craveri’s actually has a white chin, or at least my photo appears to show that. They are supposed to have a black chin, perhaps the photo is misleading, or this feature is not 100% reliable.


Scripps’s Murrelet was found with certainty only in San Mateo county, with a couple of pretty close ones to the boat:


South Polar Skua was found on three occasions, in both counties. However it was not a good jaeger day, but a nice dark morph Parasitic was superb early on in the trip. Two Common Terns were in San Francisco, and a good smattering of Sabine’s Gulls were about.


PREDICTIONS FOR THE SEASON – The warm water is in, and close to shore. This is not the blue colored, nutrient poor “tuna water” but greener and more nutrient rich water. This is where the murrelets are, and where we found the storm petrels. I think that these conditions are going to continue, with the very warm water in Baja still pretty strong there. Trips in the next month should have great opportunities for both Scripp’s and the sought after Craveri’s murrelets. What Guadalupe Murrelet is doing, we do not yet know as they have not been observed up here so far. The early and strong arrival of Black Storm-Petrels is interesting! My guess is that this may be the year to look for Least Storm-Petrel once the storm-petrel flocks form. I think we were close to a flock the other day, but just could not find it. California wide, look for Wedge-rumped Storm-Petrel down south. Crazy prediction? Lots of Buller’s will come in, a boom year, and we will have to be looking hard for Wedge-tailed Shearwaters very soon. This is promising to be a very interesting seabirds season in central California.


Next few trips with remaining spaces:

Aug 16 – heading to San Francisco waters of the Pioneer Canyon.

Aug 22 – Half Moon Bay pelagic. Will aim to go to both SF and SM counties.

Aug 23 – Monterey pelagic.


Good birding!




Alvaro Jaramillo



Local Interest: Fort Mason Hermit Warbler, Bullock's Oriole

David Assmann

Two migrants at Fort Mason this morning - a HERMIT WARBLER and a BULLOCK'S ORIOLE. Both were in the Community Garden.

Correction: Salvin's Albatross chase trip? Wed JULY 30th

Alvaro Jaramillo

My apology for wasting time and band width. Yes, Wed July 30th, this coming Wednesday J


Hello folks,


   I have been contacted by several folks who are wanting to find out if we could put on a chase trip for the Salvin’s Albatross we found yesterday. The next open day for the boat is Wednesday Aug 30th. Please let me know if you are interested, in order to secure that the boat goes, I will start with a price of $170 and with critical mass, I can decrease that price point. E-mail me at alvaro@..., or 650-504-7778


Thanks for the interest!




Alvaro Jaramillo