Fort Mason - Lark Sparrow, Western Kingbird etc.

David Assmann

Migrants are still coming through Fort Mason this morning.  There were two WESTERN KINGBIRDS, one in the Battery and one flying over the garden.  The LARK SPARROW continued on the north side of the garden.  A CHIPPING SPARROW was on the east side of the garden.  YELLOW WARBLERS were in the garden and the Battery.  Two WILSON'S WARBLERS were in the garden, along with two ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLERS. There were WESTERN TANAGERS (at least six), found both in the garden and the Battery, A PACIFIC-SLOPE FLYCATCHER (at least one) and a BLUE GRAY GNATCATCHER were in the Battery. One HOODED ORIOLE was in the garden and another in the Battery. I did not see the Black and White Warbler (others saw it yesterday).

Seabird activity, warm water - and new pelagic date

Alvaro Jaramillo

Hello all,

     In this heat wave here in central CA, the ocean has started to warm up as well. The thermometer got to 68 F on Sept 1, at one of the offshore Monterey weather buoys. As I am hearing of some awesome seabird movements in Monterey, and having just seen several days of tens of thousands of Sooty Shearwaters (up to 50K!) right here at the beach in Half Moon Bay, I am thinking that the rest of September might be interesting offshore. We were finding Scripps’s Murrelet offshore regularly as was the case with Brown Booby. The elevated number of Buller’s Shearwaters were a sign of warmth offshore, and always a factor in increased probabilities for Flesh-footed Shearwater and who know, maybe even a Pterodroma petrel.

    I am taking this weekend off from boat trips to be with family and enjoy the land life, but eager to get out next week. However our September trips out of Half Moon Bay had sold out. With this in mind, I have added another outing to the Pioneer Canyon on Friday Sept 22. This is a trip where we aim to head to deep waters, look for albatross, offshore murrelets, and storm petrels (Black showed up at this latitude the last few days, although we had them in Bodega in late Aug). For the rest of that weekend I will be doing trips in Monterey Bay. Pioneer Canyon trips spend part of the day in San Mateo County waters, and a good amount of time in the deep waters of San Francisco.

   If you are keen on heading offshore, and had been thwarted by sold out trips, see you on the 22nd.


I am eager to hear if anything interesting is going to be seen in San Diego with the passing of this tropical low. Never know. Certainly the weather here has had me watching over head for frigatebirds!

Good birding,


Alvaro Jaramillo


Crissy Field and the Presidio

David Assmann

Took a break from Fort Mason, and started the morning at Crissy Lagoon, where a BAIRD'S SANDPIPER flew in with four SANDERLINGS near the bridge. A juvenile COOPER'S HAWK kept popping up (it's been there for a couple of weeks or more).  Two young COMMON YELLOWTHROATS were at the western end of the Lagoon. A BELTED KINGFISHER worked the entire Lagoon.  Otherwise mostly the expected species were present, with a few late swallows, as well as shorebirds and gulls.

Next stop was Battery Godfrey, which mostly had resident birds.  A number of ELEGANT TERNS were over the water, two WILSON'S WARBLERS were on the Battery to Bluffs trail, and a TURKEY VULTURE soared back and forth.

The BLACK THROATED SPARROW continued at the corner of Washington and Battery Caulfield. Final stop was Kobbe and Upton, which had a few migrants - two WESTERN TANAGERS, an ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, a BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER, a WARBLING VIREO and a YELLOW WARBLER. 12 CEDAR WAXWINGS were at the parking lot.

Mount Davidson Sept. 3 and 2nd; and continuing California Thrasher

Adam Winer

I was at Mt. Davidson this morning from about 7:15am to around 9:15am, overlapping with Ken for a half hour.

Highlight for me was a single MACGILLIVRAY'S WARBLER down at 4-x which briefly came up in a cypress.

Also seen:
- 1 HERMIT WARBLER lowish in a euc below the summit
- 1 RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH at the summit
- 2 HOUSE WRENS chasing each other around near the summit

Also around - lots of Western Tanagers, a couple of Warbling Vireos, 1 Hutton's Vireo, 1 Bewick's Wren, 1 Spotted Towhee, and a few Black-headed Grosbeak.  All-in-all a nice morning.

Yesterday, Mount Davidson was much slower in the oppressive heat, even at dawn.  A single AMERICAN KESTREL flying north at dawn was as interesting as it got;  other migrants were a mere 2 Western Tanagers and 1 House Wren.  On the way home (again, yesterday), I stopped at Clipper Terrace Gardens and the continuing CALIFORNIA THRASHER was conspicuously calling high in a bush at the intersection of Clipper Terrace and High Street.

-- Adam

On Sun, Sep 3, 2017 at 8:37 AM kschnei1@... [SFBirds] <SFBirds-noreply@...> wrote:

Hi all,

I birded Mt. Davidson from 0640-0755 today - decent numbers of some of the expected passerine migrants were noted.  Adam Winer was present towards the end of my visit and was spotting a lot of birds - he may have more to add later.  A very early Sooty-type FOX SPARROW was seen near the summit, by both of us - photos in my eBird checklist here:

Good birding! 

Ken Schneider

Noe Valley

Black Throated Sparrow continues

David Assmann

Washington and Battery Caulfield - near parking lot on southwest corner

Mt. Davidson - early Fox Sparrow (3 Sep)

Ken Schneider

Hi all,

I birded Mt. Davidson from 0640-0755 today - decent numbers of some of the expected passerine migrants were noted.  Adam Winer was present towards the end of my visit and was spotting a lot of birds - he may have more to add later.  A very early Sooty-type FOX SPARROW was seen near the summit, by both of us - photos in my eBird checklist here:

Good birding! 

Ken Schneider

Noe Valley

SF Pelagic Birds: Sep. 1 Report


Howdy, Birders,

Shearwater Journeys’ pelagic trip out of Half Moon Bay today was nothing short of spectacular with a great show of seabirds and marine mammals. It was so overwhelming that I hardly know where to begin. 

We did not see any ‘rare’ seabirds, only one out-of-season ANCIENT MURRELET in San Francisco County. We also found a few BLACK STORM-PETRELS with a handful of ASHY STORM-PETRELS (also San Francisco County). But the overall quality of the day was simply amazing.

Just outside of the harbor, we encountered the mixed flocks of SOOTY SHEARWATERS and COMMON MURRES (many dads with chicks). The shearwaters have been feeding on schooling anchovies, but also on squid recently. Feeding on squid is probably what caused them to move a bit more offshore. But the thing that amazed me about these flocks was that the shearwaters were vocalizing! Like hundreds, if not a couple thousand Sooty Shearwaters sitting on the sea were vocalizing. Although I routinely hear PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATERS vocalizing, I cannot ever recall hearing sooty shears make the sounds I heard today. Our captain killed the engines and many folks on board made recordings and video. 

We headed out to the weather buoy but made many stops along the way. No boobies were on the buoy. Upon nearing the edge of the shelf we encountered sensational numbers of both HUMPBACK (63) and BLUE WHALES (26) and one FIN WHALE. 

Obviously, with there was an amazing amount of food available to feed 6500 tons of whales! Hundreds of CASSIN’S and RHINOCEROS AUKLETS were present. Flocks of ARCTIC TERNS and SABINE’S GULLS were sitting on the sea. RED and RED-NECKED PHALAROPES were feeding along the edges of the Lines of Convergence. We followed one skinny line that had a one degree SST difference from one side to the other. We left most of the Sooty Shearwaters back at the nearshore, and encountered BULLER’S and PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATERS along the shelf break. BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSSES were mostly spotted sitting on the sea due to a lack of wind, as were many of the NORTHERN FULMARS. Overall, jaeger numbers seemed very low, especially given the numbers of Sabine’s Gulls and terns present. However, we did encounter both PARASITIC and LONG-TAILED JAEGERS. It was non-stop birding along the shelf break. 

We also saw over 80 OCEAN SUNFISH, many of them dinner plate sized, but also a few very large individuals. One BLUE SHARK was spotted. Three NORTHERN FUR SEALS, one NORTHERN ELEPHANT SEAL, STELLER’S  and CALIFORNIA SEA LIONS rounded out the pinnipeds for the day. Four HARBOR PORPOISE were spotted inshore. 

It was often difficult to know which direction to move the boat because we were surrounded by whales on all sides, their stinky breath wafting across the stern. We spotted chunks of bright orange-red whale poo, too! Many invertebrates were noted in the water column, including salps, pteropods, moon jellies, sea nettles and ctenophores. 

Somehow this just doesn’t really capture a day with nearly non-stop marine life action. It was like being on a maritime carousel and wanting to reach out for the gold ring. 

Sea conditions were excellent. Visibility was excellent. Tomorrow is expected to be the same. Spaces are available on our Half Moon Bay trip tomorrow. Please email me if you are interested. Other upcoming departures from Half Moon Bay include: September 15 and 16. 

Living the Salt Life and SeaBirding for Science,
Debi Shearwater

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

Celebrating 42 Years of Seabirding with Shearwater Journeys
Siberia’s Forgotten Coast & Spoon-billed Sandpiper-2019
Galapagos Islands: 30 October - 12 November 2019

Orchard Oriole @ McLaern

Alan Hopkins

This afternoon at around 2pm there was a female Orchard Oriole going to the trickle of water in the willows above McNabb Lake. It was below the bridge that is on the left (northwest) if you are coming from John F. Shelly Dr. There were many local birds bathing but there and only a few migrants: Yellow Warblers and Wilson's Warblers. 

Alan Hopkins

Fort Mason this morning - Lark Sparrow, Black and White

David Assmann

This morning the LARK SPARROW continued on the lawn north of the garden, and the BLACK AND WHITE WARBLER was working the east side of the garden. A BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER was also in the same area, and later a Selasphorus hummingbird and a YELLOW WARBLER showed up. The Battery had quite a few WESTERN TANAGERS, a BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK, a WILLOW FLYCATCHER, 1 or more PACIFIC SLOPE FLYCATCHERS, several YELLOW WARBLERS, an Oriole sp. and a number of YELLOW WARBLERS. A WANDERING TATTLER was on the abandoned pier, along with a medium-sized gull that I'm still trying to identify.

Black Thoated Sparrow juv

David Nelson

Just landed in the parking lot as described earlier. Photos taken

Calvin Lou and David W. Nelson present

Presidio Black-throated Sparrow.

Jonah Benningfield

In the Parking lot at the corner of Washington blvd and Battery Caulfield Rd. Associating with a flock of White-crowned Sparrows, Towhees, and Juncos around the dead grass in all the yards. A young bird, with a prominent white supercellium, gray head, streaked breast, and clean, white throat.

Jonah B.

Recent sightings

Dominik Mosur

Here's a compilation of bird sightings I found notable from San Francisco for the last part of August:

8/25/17 : two BAIRD'S Sandpipers were in one of the construction ponds across the fence from Yosemite Slough Restoration Area. These ponds/excavations are likely the beginning stages of a foundation for a bridge that is to be built across Yosemite Slough, bisecting a crucial remnant of bayside open space and wildlife habitat. Perhaps birders will finally acknowledge and feel the effects of gentrification when it affects a productive birding location. You can be sure the Black-tailed Jackrabbits and Beechey's Ground Squirrels will feel the change.

8/26 - (5) RED Crossbills briefly landed in summit eukes on Mount Davidson. It's been a couple of years since "local" type Crossbills have been around SF in appreciable enough numbers for closer study, but from what I can recall, these birds were not it. They appeared smaller billed and their "jip" calls sounded higher pitched. A pair of Bullock's Orioles were good migrants for late summer on Mt. Davidson.

8/30 - Back at Yosemite Slough, a lone BAIRD'S Sandpiper flew into one of the construction ponds about one hour before the predicted 6.3' evening high tide.

8/31 - The high pressure was in full effect on Mount Davidson at sunrise. Migrants/arrivals of note included:
RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET - a slightly early first arrival
Bewick's Wren - rare away from Glen Canyon/Presidio/Funston/Bayview Hill
Cedar Waxwing
Savannah Sparrow
Lazuli Bunting - 3
Red Crossbill - at least 3, small billed/high pitched "jip" types, didn't stick around for long

9/1 - Lake Merced at the concrete bridge after work:
Record high temps (~90oF at 6:15 p.m)
Virginia Rail
MacGillivray's Warbler

Great to read about all the people getting out and enjoying migration.

Dominik Mosur
San Francisco

Battery Godfrey

Brian Fitch

A few of us spent time at BG this morning, hoping that the best easterlies in a long time might bring some unusual species. 

While variety and numbers were both lower than expected, highlights included:

24 N Shovelers
a heard Baird's Sandpiper
Pomerine and Parasitic Jaegers
several groups of Vaux's Swifts
2-3 Blue-gray Gnatcatchers
5 species of common western warblers
Hooded and Bullock's Orioles
local and non-local Red Crossbills
a single female type Purple Martin

I didn't see a single raptor cross the Gate while I was out between 6:45 and 11:15.

Brian Fitch

Baird's Sandpiper

Alan Hopkins

There was a Baird's Sandpiper briefly on the island across from the sports barn at crissy field. I saw it from the west with Least Sandpipers and Killdeers, the light was bad so I walked to get a better look from across the street from Sports Barn but the bird was gone when I got there. I checked the shoreline from the east and could not find it. Also did not see the Long-billed Dowitcher.

Alan Hopkins

9/1 Mt. Davidson flurry & Spoonbill SP event

Eddie Bartley

In between chores arrived at Mt. Davidson not until almost 9:00 AM and like everywhere it was very warm with skies as smoggy as I’ve ever seen them here in SF. Ughh! Quiet too on the trail up from Myra then we ran into our buddy Skip so that cheered things up and he had seen a few good birds. Still quiet up by the cross but then we dropped down the forest edge trail that runs adjacent to the native plantation and it suddenly became very birdy.


Nothing rare that we could find but lots of female type/juvenile WESTERN TANAGERS and several LAZULI BUNTINGS all juvenile from what we could tell, at least two BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAKS, two WARBLING VIREOS one bright enough I fantasized about Red-eyed for a second until we got a better view of the bill. We no doubt missed a bunch as activity was high; at one point 6 W. Tanagers flew downhill all at once and could still hear others chirruping uphill from us.


Most surprising bird was a male SPOTTED TOWHEE. We’ve been birding out of town much of the summer so maybe this isn’t a surprise to others but I believe this is a site bird for us. Also a juvenile HOUSE WREN was pretty cool. At least two SELASPHORUS hummers working the Cypress with their turbines in high gear. Anna’s everywhere.


Then things settled down and we went into the forest where it was mostly the usual suspects except for a SHARP-SHINNED HAWK that Skip had warned us about – it was still there harassing Robins on the west side of the hill.


Afterwards we picked up stuff for the Coastal Cleanup from SF Park & Rec. - Saturday September 16 - we’re doing Pier 94 but plenty of good choices:


Also wanted to share about a unique opportunity here in San Francisco to find out about a very iconic bird, namely, Spoonbilled Sandpiper. We’ve seen this speaker before and he has amazing stories to share about this rare and super cool looking Eurasian bird and efforts to bring it back from the brink in places like Russia and Korea. The event is free but you have to register and there is a limit of 100. Here’s the 411:





Talk by Dr. Evgeny Syroechkovskiy — Director, Birds Russia and Chair of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Task Force


Presented by the Bird Conservation Fund


Place: First Unitarian Universalist Church, 1187 Franklin Street, San Francisco, CA

Time: Monday, September 18th, 2017 - 6:30 PM - 8 PM


Tickets are available free through Eventbrite.  Please reserve your free tickets in advance, as space is limited.


Hope to see you out there!


Eddie Bartley




Presidio migrants

Josiah Clark

Just a quick note to say lots of migrants. At Crissy Mike Coroza, brian turner and worked through at least 30 Savannah sparrows. Lb dowticher still there, osprey flew by. Several house Wren, bewick Wrens, a bg gnatcatcher and a wrentit at el polin. Chipping sparrow by the stone bridge/ lovers lane. Tanagers, bh grosbeaks, yellow btg warbler, Wilson's warblers widespread. Quite the fallout happening. Check hilltops in am and areas by water as it gets hotter. And it is! Good luck

Fort Mason Black and White, Lark Sparrow, etc.

David Assmann

Another birdy day at Fort Mason, with most of the activity in the Battery. The BLACK AND WHITE WARBLER spent a good deal of time fairly low down, although behind leaves much of the time.  The most prevalent warbler was YELLOW, which outnumbered all other warblers combined.  A BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER, a WILSON'S WARBLER and a TOWNSEND'S WARBLER were all seen as well.  After I left, Aaron Maizlish found a MACGILLIVRAY'S WARBLER in the garden. Flycatchers were relatively sparse (other than the ubiquitous BLACK PHOEBE).  A WILLOW FLYCATCHER was on the slope above Aquatic Park, and a PACIFIC-SLOPE FLYCATCHER was in the Battery.  Two WESTERN KINGBIRDS flew in mid-morning and landed on a small tree in the middle of the Battery.  WESTERN TANAGERS were the most common migrant - I noted 15, but there probably were more.  Both HOODED and BULLOCK'S ORIOLES were seen in the Battery (several of each). A WARBLING VIREO also gave us good views for a short period of time. A BELTED KINGFISHER was on the abandoned pier, and one of the WANDERING TATTLERS was on the rocks at the base of the main pier.  When I first arrived (at 6:30), the tailless BLUE GRAY GNATCATCHER was on the eastern side of the garden and a NORTHERN FLICKER was in the main part of the garden. A RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH was foraging with PYGMY NUTHATCHES in the Battery mid-morning. At least one BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK was in the Battery (seen multiple times - there may have been two). A LARK SPARROW (presumably continuing) was on the lawn north of the garden and then flew into a tree on the east side of the garden.

Fort Mason raptor observers from yesterday

Dominik Mosur

Michael, Sam, Felix et al.,

Upon review of additional images and conferring with Logan Kahle and others  who first made the suggestion, I would advise that you use this link:

to submit a sighting of MISSISSIPPI KITE to the California Bird Records Committee.

We could be off on this but let us let the experts make the final call.

Dominik Mosur
San Francisco 

Land's End Migrants

Brian Fitch

There was a good mix of western migrants at Ft Miley East (west of the Legion of Honor) and West (west of the VA Hospital) this morning.

West had 2 Western Wood-Pewees, a Red-breasted Nuthatch, 3 Yellow Warblers, a Black-throated Gray Warbler, and a MacGillivray's Warbler.  East had an Olive-sided Flycatcher, 2 House Wrens, and several Pine Siskins.  Both sides had Pacific-slope Flycatchers, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Western Tanagers, and Black-headed Grosbeaks.

Down at Crissey, the Long-billed Dowitcher was still present along the western half of the lagoon at sunrise.

Brian Fitch

Fort Mason Addendum: Falcon Challenge

Mike Carozza

Adding to David's list to mention a Selasphorus hummingbird in the garden and a falcon overhead.  

Photos: eBird list ( 

I would love some expert opinions on this.  My feeling is Peregrine based on wing shape and dark trailing edge, highly unlikely to be a Prairie but photos made me consider it.  Forgive the photos---blame the fastest animal on the planet.

Also, many WESTERN TANAGERS at Lafayette Park after I left Fort Mason.


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