Picture Rose-breasted Grosbeak - El Polin

Bonnie Bompart

This link has a picture of the Rose-breasted Grosbeak seen this AM at El Polin.

Bonnie Bompart
San Francisco

Ancient Murrelet and other late species, SF, 5/23/15

Paul Saraceni

This morning Hugh Cotter and I birder parts of western SF, including:
  • 6:45-8:30 AM: sea-watch from the south end of the Great Highway (overcast, cold W winds, very good visibility out to the horizon; joined for part of the time by Ken Schneider)
  • 8:40-10:25 AM: Lake Merced
  • 10:40-11:30 AM: North Lake, GGP (joined for part of the time by Alan Hopkins)
My best observation was a late ANCIENT MURRELET scoped on the water near a Red-thr. Loon -- small, compact alcid with all-dark upperparts including wings, and white "stripe" on sides of neck and head; unfortunately, I was not able to get Hugh on the bird before it disappeared.

Other observations of local interest from sea-watch:
Surf Scoter 30+
Peregrine Falcon 1 (flew S overhead)
Com. Loon 4
Red-thr. Loon 2
Pacific Loon 20+
Black-cr. Night-Heron 1 ad. (the first of this species I have observed on Ocean Beach, feeding out in the open along the surf line!)
Brown Pelican 20+
Pelagic Cormorant 2
Black Oystercatcher 2
Marbled Godwit 12
BONAPARTE'S GULL 1 1st-cycle (on beach; appeared to be the same bird I observed yesterday)
Heermann's Gull 4
Com. Murre 5
Pigeon Guillemot 7
Bank Swallow 15

At the Lake Merced concrete bridge there was a late "minima" CACKLING GOOSE traveling with 2 Canada Geese, first observed on the lake and then photographed as they flew overhead.

The previously-reported (by Brian Fitch), late MEW GULL was observed on the concrete bridge and near the small beach at the NW corner of the bridge.  It appears to be a second-cycle bird undergoing some heavy molt.

2 late EARED GREBES in alt. plumage were on the lake N of the concrete bridge.

There were also 2 GREEN HERONS and 3 m. & 2 f./imm. GREAT-TAILED GRACKLES at the concrete bridge, plus a single male G-t. Grackle near the Boathouse.

A male Common Yellowthroat singing an odd song was in reeds on the N side of the Harding Park entrance road, and a Clark's Grebe was on a nest across from (S of) the Boathouse.

We observed just a few migrant passerines today: W. Wood-Pewee (2 @ N. Lake/GGP), Swainson's Thrush (1 heard @ N. Lake), Cedar Waxwing (2 @ N. Lake), Warbling Vireo (3), Yellow Warbler (5), and W. Tanager (1 f. @ N. Lake).

Paul Saraceni
San Francisco

Gannet is still on Alcatraz

David Armstrong

Annie and I are looking at it right now. 

Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

Local Interest: Fort Mason and El Polin Springs

David Assmann

A late female TOWNSEND'S WARBLER was in a tree on the west side of the Fort Mason Community Garden this morning, along with an ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER. A HOODED ORIOLE was at Fort Mason as well. The Gannet was not visible.  Although I missed the Rose-Breasted Grosbeak at El Polin, I did see a female LAZULI BUNTING, a PACIFIC-SLOPE FLYCATCHER and a WILSON'S WARBLER below Inspiration Point.  A OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER perched at the top of a tree as well, and a WESTERN WOOD-PEWEE was on a snag near the spring.  I counted four SWAINSON'S THRUSHES (two eating berries) and heard one HOODED ORIOLE.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak - El Polin

Bonnie Bompart

The female Rose-breasted Grosbeak was seen today feeding on the fruit of the Elderberry shrub behind the benches on the boardwalk at El Polin at about 10:30. Thanks Dan!

Other notable birds: female Hooded Oriole ( seen in euc next to ball park and near springs in large Weeping Willow (?)) and Western Wood-Pewee seen downhill from Inspiration Point.

Full list with pictures will be posted later on eBird.

Bonnie Bompart
San Francisco

Bonaparte's Gull @ Ocean Beach sea-watch, 5/22/15

Paul Saraceni

This morning (7-8:30 AM), I did a sea-watch from the south end of the Great Highway.  Conditions were overcast with light W winds and excellent visibility out to the horizon.

Species mix was similar to last weekend, though lower numbers.

Of most interest was a late-ish first-cycle BONAPARTE'S GULL that spent about 20 minutes feeding on and flying over the beach; photos taken.

Observations of local interest:

Surf Scoter 40+
W. Grebe 1
Com. Loon 11 (most in striking alt. plumage)
Red-thr. Loon 7
Pacific Loon 18
Brown Pelican 30+
Whimbrel 30+
Marbled Godwit 12
Sanderling 8
Heermann's Gull 14 
Caspian Tern 1
Com. Murre 1
Pigeon Guillemot 7
Bank Swallow 21

Bottlenose Dolphin 3
Whale sp. 1 -- unseen but a tall, dense (not spread out) spout was observed, half-way out to the horizon

Paul Saraceni
San Francisco

NW SF; 5/22; N Waterthrush

Brian Fitch

I spent several hours at the Sutro Baths this morning, watching fly-by gulls, and tracking a very intriguing dark whale.  The avian highlight was a pair of Sooty Shearwaters that flew in from south to north.  Multiple Gray Whale spouts, four Bottlenose Dolphins, a Harbor Porpoise, and various seals made up for the lack of variety amongst the birds.

A check of the East Wash and Fort Miley East turned up only an Olive-sided Flycatcher at the fort and a Swainson's Thrush at EW.

North Lake in GG Park was active with warblers, as Yellow and Wilson's, Common Yellowthroat, and a Northern Waterthrush were all singing and in view on the northern island, as seen from the east side steps that descend to water level.  There were also Nuttall's Woodpecker, Western Wood-Pewee, Warbling Vireo, four swallow species, and a Hooded Oriole, while the other two lakes in the chain were quiet.

After some guide checks, the late-staying Mew Gull at S Lake Merced earlier this week was our normal one, not a Kamchatka or Common type.  It looked to be a very worn adult or near adult.
Brian Fitch

Gannet & Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Richard J Norton

From 07:30 to 08:00, this morning, no gannets were seen on Alcatraz.

Went to Mt. Davidson, where no Rose-breasted Grosbeaks were seen.

Went to El Polin Springs where a female Rose-breasted Grosbeak was in a fruiting tree on the right as you go around the loop.

At 13:00, went back and the Northern Gannet was present at his/her favorite place on Alcatraz. A few distant photos taken.

Dick Norton
Topanga, CA

El Polin highlights

Dan Murphy

Joan and I walked the loop trail from Inspiration Pt. in the Presidio down to el Polin Springs.  Birding was scattered but good.  We had an Olive-sided Flycatcher from the observation deck.  On the trail below the deck there was a Western Wood Pewee.  We heard Red-masked Parakeets and several Purple Finches as we walked down.  At the top of the hill above el Polin where the trail drops down by the dirt parking lot there was a first year male Hooded Oriole.  We saw it several times along the trail.  To the left of the spring there was a female Rose-breasted Grosbeak.  There may have been singing nearby, but we lost the first bird and didn't see the second at all.  At least 3 Pine Siskins were in the area as were at least 2 Swainson's Thrushes.  Of course all the more usual stuff was around.  Nice walk with enough birds to amuse us.

Good birding,
Dan Murphy

Friday No Gannet


Came to the city early from Walnut Creek, but the Northern Gannet was not visible before 8:30 AM.  I was the second person there, and the other fellow said he had not seen it either.  He was on his way to Mt. Davidson to miss the Rose-breasted Grosbeak before heading home to L.A.  I forgot to tell him he could also miss the Kelp Gull in Half Moon Bay!

Hugh Harvey

Walnut Creek

Mt. Davidson / Rose-breasted Grosbeak assistance

Cal Walters

I am an East Bay Birder who has been coming to SF to chase RBGB's for 5 years - nemesis!

I came to Mt. Davidson this AM - arrived about 8 and thought I heard the bird sing in a ravine. Unfortunately, I don't know if it is 'the ravine' many posters have referred to. I entered on a small trail off the corner of Myra and La Bica Way. There was a sign saying beware of coyotes on a temporary sandwich sign. I made my way up the trail to the first real crossing and went down a ravine that over looked some houses. That is where I thought I heard it. 

I then doubled back and followed the trails eventually leading to the cross. From the open area in front of the cross I made my way down a much larger road that had a car gate blocking the road into the park - which I think may have been the other side of Myra. There was a trail into a ravine that ran parallel to the entry road. There are so many fallen trees there, who knows if I was near the one people are referencing.

Would some one mind helping steer this wayward birder in the right direction. Was I in the right ravine, or is it in the area near the road into the park? 


Cal Walters

Kelp Gull photos

Alvaro Jaramillo

Hi folks


Below is a link to the Kelp Gull photos. This was a classic rare bird when least expected, I was doing a run on the beach when I eyeballed this black backed gull in the local flock. I slowed down and could swear it had dull yellow legs. This is going to be the one time I wished I had an apple watch, as I had no cell phone nothing on me. It was a 15 min run back home, no shower, just get out and photograph this thing. I think I saw it originally at 1 pm. I was back at the site at 1:30 or so, and there it was!! This is where I was able to get photos, and confirmed my gut feel, that this was perhaps a Kelp Gull. While looking down at the phone trying to get people to come over, it disappeared. Yet I could not see any birds in flight, so assumed it had walked over the sand and was not visible from the cliff where I was. At that point Leslie Flint arrived, we were able to finish up some calls and I had to leave to get my daughter from school. Last I heard folks were looking, but I am not sure if they had found anything yet.

    The more I look at the photos the more convinced I am that this crazy event is real, and that there is a Kelp Gull in San Mateo County. The features to note are the relatively large size (closer to Western than California), and the black back. Not dark grey, but black. Only the fuscus (Baltic Gull) subspecies of Lesser Black-backed is this dark, and it is the slimmest and longest winged of the group. The bill on this bird is stout, not with the flat gonys that is common on Lesser Black-backed. As well the legs are not gleaming yellow, but have a green tone to them which is typical of Kelp, in non-breeding Kelp looks downright olive on the leg color. Eye is pale with a reddish orbital ring, that is ok for both Kelp and LBB, but the eye is not as gleamingly pale as on a Lesser, it looks the tiniest bit clouded. The structure is like a slightly slimmer Western, with longer wings. It is still bulky, and thick billed, and looks bulkier and more thickset than a Lesser Black-backed, also shorter on the wings. The bird is relatively worn, with the tertial crescent quite worn, and the white primary tips about gone but there is evidence that they were present at one time. Why is it not a Great Black-back? Well, it is too small, legs are not dull pink, structure not bulky enough and no clear evidence of lots of white on the outer primaries.

    I know Kelp Gulls really well, I see them on my trips to Chile and Uruguay all the time. Still is it with major trepidation that I report this thing, because it is JUST NUTS!!! What the heck is a Kelp Gull doing in California!!!! But I am at a loss to call it anything else, and nothing on this bird eliminates Kelp from contention. I did not see it fly, and did not see its wings spread. It does not look to have an obvious mirror on the wings, but I could not exactly confirm that.

    I am very much hoping it will be re-found today, otherwise tomorrow or the weekend. As likely this same bird was seen by docents at Año Nuevo a couple of weeks ago, it is hanging around, you just have to search the gull flocks for it if it is not at Venice Beach.


For those Coming in from out of town, here is our club’s (Sequoia Audubon) birding site guide for the area, known as Pilarcitos Creek Mouth or Venice Beach.


good luck and good birding.



Alvaro Jaramillo



Kelp ?? Gull in Half Moon Bay.

Alvaro Jaramillo

HI folks


    An adult gull with fully Black back, stout bill, olive-yellow legs, pale eye and red orbital was at the Pilarcitos Creek Mouth in Half Moon Bay (Venice Beach) today from 1 pm to at least 1:45. I will post photos and details later, but wanted to get the word out. The darkness of the back and stout bill, thickset body are best for a KELP GULL!!! Rather than a very dark and large Lesser Black-backed Gull. It is a tad longer winged, and slimmer than a Western Gull, legs too dull back too dark for a Yellow-footed Gull, and the red orbital eliminates that as well.

    I wanted to get the word out earlier rather than later. I need to further convince myself that this is not a Lesser Black-back of any type. Likely this bird, was reported and photographed (the photos were not conclusive) from Ano Nuevo Reserve about two weeks ago or so. Assuming this is the same bird, which almost surely it is, the bird has been in this county for some time. So that is good. Unfortunately at about 1:45 I lost track of the bird and it disappeared, I have not heard if any of the local birders have re-found it. I had to leave unfortunately. The only reason I am concerned about the identification is because it is so inconceivable that a Kelp Gull could be here…but I am trying to get it through my thick skull that indeed that is what is going on. Sorry I can’t post photos immediately, but I have to shuttle kids and then I can get them from the camera and upload.




Alvaro Jaramillo



Mount Davidson and Fort Mason This Morning

David Assmann

Got to Mt. Davidson about 6:30 this morning, before the heavy fog and drizzle kicked in.  About 6:50 the ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK started singing from a Eucalyptus tree near the main trail on top (just south of the ravine).  It sang for about 10 - 15 minutes from the same tree, then was silent after that.  Two TOWNSEND'S WARBLERS were in the ravine.  An OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER perched on a wire on the east side of the hill.  Both WESTERN WOOD PEWEES and OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHERS could be heard vocalizing, and a number of YELLOW and WILSON'S WARBLERS were visible high up in the trees.

Heading over to Fort Mason, I spotted the NORTHERN GANNET about 8:45 (and as Ralph reported, it left a little after 9). Looking at the sighting reports, there does seem to be a pattern.  If the Gannet is seen in the afternoon, it is often still there the next morning.  It rarely sticks around for more than one - two days, and then is usually absent for 2-3 days. Any afternoon reports would be helpful for out of town birders, so they can be in San Francisco the next day.  Also at Fort Mason, two WILSON'S WARBLERS and a WARBLING VIREO were at the foot of the stairs leading up from Aquatic Park.  Another WARBLING VIREO was in the garden, being harassed by an ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRD.

N Gannet, Aquatic Park

Ralph McKinnon

On Alcatraz at 850 am, then flew west at 905am, under GG bridge and out of sight.

Ralph McKinnon

Fort Mason Local Interest

David Assmann

Quieter than yesterday - one HERMIT WARBLER behind the General's House, two YELLOW WARBLERS and one WILSON'S WARBLER in the Battery, Two DOWNY WOODPECKERS feeding young. A SONG SPARROW nest was right next to a path. No Gannet.

Re: Digest Number 5142

Chet ogan

No Gannet this morning.    7th try and still no Northern Gannet.  On Saturday under ideal conditions, I viewed Alcatraz from Ft Mason for 1 1/2 hours (9:30 to 11) after picking up my Bay to Breakers stuff.   I guess I left too soon.  I didn't see any other birders. I spent another hour this morning again with no luck. Over the past 2 and a half years I've checked out the area probably 5 other times. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.

Chet Ogan
Eureka, CA

707-442-9353 home
707-496-9001 cell

On Monday, May 18, 2015 12:28 AM, "SFBirds@..." wrote:

2 Messages

Digest #5142



Mt. Davidson Rose-breasted Grosbeak continues

Sun May 17, 2015 9:38 am (PDT) . Posted by:

"Lee Hong Chang" lhchang825

Skipped the Bay to Breaker party this morning and went birding at Mt. davidson instead. Arrived at 8:30 am. David Tomb was already at the mountain top. Then, David spotted the male Rose-breasted Grosbeak feeding on berries in the ravine just below the big fallen dead tree. A well seen lifer for me.

Lee Chang


Local Interest Fort Mason: Warbling Vireo, 4 Warblers, Olive-Sided F

Sun May 17, 2015 1:18 pm (PDT) . Posted by:


Good influx of migrants at Fort Mason this morning for the GGAS monthly field trip (52 species total). A very cooperative OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER perched at the top of several trees for multiple sightings. YELLOW WARBLERS were seen throughout the morning, with a minimum of eight, mostly singing males in and around the Battery. Five were spotted in the Battery, one in the garden and two behind the General' s House. Two WILSON'S WARBLERS, one ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER and two BLACK-THROATED WARBLERS rounded out the warbler sightings for the morning. At least two WARBLING VIREOS foraged around the battery. A WESTERN TANAGER called from a tree. A SWAINSON' S THRUSH sang at the bottom of the steps. The Gannet was not seen. Best birds on the water were two COMMON LOONS, a SURF SCOTER and two CASPIAN TERNS. Full list follows:

Canada Goose Mallard Surf Scoter Common Loon Brandt's Cormorant Double-crested Cormorant Pelagic Cormorant Brown Pelican Great Blue Heron Great Egret Snowy Egret Black-crowned Night-Heron Turkey Vulture Red-tailed Hawk Western Gull Caspian Tern Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) Eurasian Collared-Dove Mourning Dove Anna's Hummingbird Allen's Hummingbird Downy Woodpecker Red-masked Parakeet Olive-sided Flycatcher Black Phoebe Warbling Vireo Western Scrub-Jay American Crow Tree Swallow Violet-green Swallow Chestnut-backed Chickadee Pygmy Nuthatch Brown Creeper Swainson' s Thrush American Robin Northern Mockingbird European Starling Cedar Waxwing Orange-crowned Warbler Yellow Warbler Black-throated Gray Warbler Wilson's Warbler California Towhee Song Sparrow White-crowned Sparrow Dark-eyed Junco Western Tanager Brown-headed Cowbird House Finch Lesser Goldfinch American Goldfinch House Sparrow

To unsubscribe from this group, visit the YahooGroups web site at:

Telegraph Hill GGAS walk

Michael Gertz

Hola birders, 

We had a small group yesterday due to B2B and the Fort Mason walk going on at the same time, but had a fantastic time birding the hill! 30 species in total. 

some highlights...

Signing WESTERN TANAGER near Coit Tower. 
SWAINSON'S THRUSH also near Coit.
CASPIAN TERN flying over Fisherman's Warf
WHITE-THROATED SWIFTS and BARN SWALLOWS hawking around Greenwich steps.
A couple mixed flocks that yielded a YELLOW WARBLER and a few WILSON'S WARBLERS.
WESTERN SCRUB JAY feasting on bees at the local hive.
A few good looks at used ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRD nests.
We also found an awesome BUSHTIT nest hanging right over the Greenwich steps.

Keep smiling, 

michael gertz
Potrero Hill

Ocean Beach seawatches, 5/17&18/15

Paul Saraceni

Yesterday, 5/17 (9:45-11:30 AM) and today, 5/18 (7-8:30 AM), I did some sea-watching from the south end of the Great Highway.  Conditions were overcast with brisk W/NW winds and excellent visibility out to the horizon.

A few semi-notable (for the date in SF) species below. Numbers are listed for the 17th / 18th.

Observations of local interest:

BRANT 12 (1 flock flying N over the ocean relatively high up) / --
Surf Scoter 80+ / 40+
Red-br. Merganser 2 f. (flying N over the surf) / -- 
Com. Loon 5 / 3
Red-thr. Loon 4 / 6
Pacific Loon 140+ / 60+
Brown Pelican 180+ / 30+
Pelagic Cormorant 3 / --
Whimbrel 3 / 8
Heermann's Gull 3 / 17 (increasing numbers as they return N) 
Caspian Tern 2 / 3
Com. Murre 10 / 70+
RHINOCEROS AUKLET -- / 1 (on the water near a group of Murres)
Pigeon Guillemot 4 / 6
Bank Swallow 23 / 21

Also, during the low tide this morning there were a bunch of "By-the-Wind Sailors" (Velella velella) washed up on the beach. 

Paul Saraceni
San Francisco

Rose-breasted, Mew Gull

Brian Fitch

At 6:45 this morning, the Rose-breasted Grosbeak was singing on the south side of the Mt Davidson, up in the eucs where the trails cross.  A Black-headed male was nearby, as were two Lazuli Buntings, and not much else in the way of migrants.

A brief stop at the end of Sloat turned up nothing unusual, but South Lake Merced did, as a lethargic Red-throated Loon was on the lake at the SW end of the bridge, and a Mew Gull was across on the NW beach.  I don't have time now to check on subspecies, but this is by far the latest one I've seen, and it was hanging out with the gulls and ducks for the 30 minutes I was present.  The NE willows still had singing Warbling Vireo, Swainson's Thrush and Yellow Warbler, and three White-throated Swifts were hawking amongst the swallows.

At the Sunset Circle, N L Merced, the same vireo, thrush, and warbler species were singing in the willows to the west, and a second swing by Mt D found a Western Wood-Pewee and a Hooded Oriole, but no grosbeak.
Brian Fitch