Northern and Eastern niceties continue

Richard Bradus

Hi all

Had a very successful morning, starting at Baker beach where the continuing Long-tailed Duck made a nice flyby and hung out for a time with a large raft of Surf Scoters (also seen by Max Benningfield, who hopefully got some photos). Two female Black Scoters also remain, seen near the edge of the largest raft, and there were also three species of Loon (though I missed seeing the Red-throateds), and at least one Bewick's Wren singing from above the battery.

Then off to Twin Peaks, where I got lucky having decided to survey from just south of the tourist overlook rather than hiking up. The Eastern Phoebe, which I had initially seen as a flash of white as it flew into cover in the brush, thankfully popped out and worked the scrub slope below for about ten minutes, affording me better views than Lee-Hong Chang who was below on the Crestline trail. It didn't sing but it did give one sharp chip call before it flew out to forage. Despite a dead battery (good thing I carried a spare) and my camera's annoying tendency to focus on the vegetation behind rather than the bird, I did manage to get a couple of decent photos. Interestingly, these show a bit of pale yellow on the belly, which I was not able to appreciate on my initial observation through binoculars.

Thank you Josiah and Dominik! (and all the subsequent reports) - they are still out there despite the storms. Fun for all!

Richard Bradus
San Francisco

Fort Mason and Crissy Field Local Interest

David Assmann

Spent the first half of the morning at Fort Mason, where the ORCHARD ORIOLE continued in the garden. An ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER near the west side of the garden was very aggressive, chasing after AMERICAN ROBINS - a behavior I have not observed before. On my way to Crissy Field I stopped at the Yacht Harbor, where four SURFBIRDS foraged on the rocks. At the northwest corner of Crissy Lagoon, two SAVANNAH SPARROWS were in the willows, and on the field I observed several WESTERN MEADOWLARKS and spotted an AMERICAN PIPIT.

Ferry Park (Sue Bierman) - Wilson's Warbler 3-1-19

Jack Hayden

The wintering Wilson's Warbler continues at Ferry Park (as of March 1). Among birds currently reported on eBird, this is the most northerly Wilson's along the west coast of the US. Interesting to note there is another Wilson's wintering in British Columbia.

Also present is the continuing White-throated Sparrow and three other warbler species.

eBird report with photos.

Jack Hayden

Spotted Towhee in Lafayette Park

Allan Ridley

A spotted towhee was actively foraging with a group of robins and starlings on the slope north of the concrete walkway opposite the tennis courts.

Long-tailed duck still around

Bob Hall

Took a long walk yesterday to see the white duck of the crashing surf. Didn't expect to get lucky, but there was the long-tailed duck about 50 feet off the beach. Easy views, no scope necessary. Another birder pointed out some female black scooters. Nice, close looks at Pacific loons, too.

On the way over I heard a Wilson's warbler singing in the Lobos Dunes willows. I also heard two or three Bewicks wrens. They seem to be a fixture there now. Today, in my backyard, I saw my FOS orange crown warbler.
Bob Hall
San Francisco, CA
"There is no better high than discovery." - E.O. Wilson

Regarding the Baker Beach sighting

Bob Hall

I was told that I likely saw a red-throated loon and not a Pacific loon. My birding skills have surely eroded due to neglect but I still arrogantly walk around without a bird guide, for some reason!

Bob Hall
Bob Hall
San Francisco, CA
"There is no better high than discovery." - E.O. Wilson

Fabulous March Birdathon events available


Hi All,

We still have a few spots available for three of our great March Birdathon fund-raising events.
We have two wonderful "behind the scenes" the Oakland Zoo and to the California Academy of Science.
As well as an opportunity to go birding and eat chocolate all on the same day in Alameda.
The event descriptions and registration links are below.

Birdathon will run into early May.
Here's a link to the trip schedule if you'd like to see more great events.

Behind the Scenes at the Oakland Zoo
Sunday March 24, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Leslie Storer, Tom & Diane Bennett

Min. Donation: $100

Click HERE to register

(Please consider an additional donation to GGAS when you register)

You will be treated to private talks with several keepers. Our tour will highlight major recent events, including a new aviary and California Trail. Lunch on your own at the Landing Cafe or bring your own. Either way, take in a spectacular view of the Bay Area while you dine. After lunch, your experience continues with a guided walking tour of CA Trail and the opportunity to observe training sessions.  Limit 14 people.

Behind the Scenes at the California Academy

Hurry! Only 2 spots left.

March 28, 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. (option to stay to 10 p.m. for NightLife)

Jack Dumbacher, Dir. of Mammals and Ornithology

Min. Donation $100

Click HERE to register

(Please consider an additional donation to GGAS when you register)

Enjoy a private tour of the world-renowned bird collection at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. Curator of Ornithology Jack Dumbacher will guide you through the collection of 100,000 bird specimens dating back to the 1800s. Afterwards, enjoy free admission to the Academy’s monthly Night Life event for those 21 years of age and older. Limit 12 people

Birds and Chocolate in Alameda

March 30, 10 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Joyce Mercado and Sharol Nelson-Embry

Min. Donation $50

Click HERE to register

(Please consider an additional donation to GGAS when you register) 

Begin the day at the Elsie Roemer Bird Sanctuary in Alameda. The shoreline will be packed with overwintering shorebirds! The overlook and trail provide close access to identify and observe these birds, along with ducks, pelicans, egrets, and maybe a flyover of a peregrine, or kingfisher! Bring a bag lunch to enjoy on the beach if weather permits. At the host house, we’ll discover some of the finest luxury chocolates in the world, many made locally. Choose your favorites while you learn about rainforest ecosystems, conservation issues, and how our love of chocolate impacts wildlife. Limit 15 people.

Good birding,

Steve Lombardi
Golden Gate Audubon Society

cont. Blackburnian Warbler


Yesterday I had business at the SF Zoo so I stopped at Lake Merced Park to look for the Blackburnian Warbler found on the CBC (12/27/18) by Peter Pyle, and last observed in early February.

After spending some time sorting through Yellow-rumped Warblers in the willows and myoporums on the south side of the entrance road from Skyline Blvd. the BLACKBURNIAN Warbler was relocated alive and still wintering. As in previous visits the soft call note preceded laying eyes on the bird as it feeds very quietly and almost in the creeping manner of Black&White Warbler than the frequently sallying Yellow-rumps. A wad of feathers and tree gum has formed over the bird's bill as is typical of exotic nectar tree clients by this late into the winter but this time it was feeding in the budding Arroyo Willows.

If anyone has anyone significant sightings from December - Feb that didn't make it on to the list let me know offline as I am beginning to compile the winter report.

Thank you,

Dominik Mosur
San Francisco

Eastern Phoebe continues, 3/7

Adam Winer

The Eastern Phoebe continued this morning, just above the trail from the north end of Crestline and below the Twin Peaks restrooms.  Also present was a House Wren in full song.

-- Adam Winer

Long Tailed Duck Continues at Baker Beach

David Assmann

The LONG-TAILED DUCK originally found by Josiah continues at Baker Beach, in with 250 or so SURF SCOTERS.

Eastern Phoebe

Joachim Gonzalez

Continuing near restrooms

Long-tailed Duck continues at Baker Beach 3/8

Felix Rigau

Long-tailed Duck continues at Baker Beach


Late afternoon today I walked along Baker Beach and sighted the Long-tailed Duck mixed in with a small group of Surf (18) and Black (3) Scoters. From there I walked along the Battery to Bluffs trail and sighted a large raft (200+) of Surf Scoters east of Baker Beach.

Thanks Josiah.

Felix Rigau

Fort Mason Local Interest

David Assmann

Spent about 45 minutes this morning at Fort Mason, before the rain really started to come down. The ORCHARD ORIOLE and LINCOLN'S SPARROW continue in the garden. Checked out the Battery, where the tree removal has finished. Virtually all the trees from the lower hillside above Black Point are now gone.  There are two very small trees remaining, leaving an expansive view of the Bay. It will be interesting to see if the tree removal affects migration sightings. The mounds of wood chips left behind are attracting many sparrows (I saw a group of eight FOX SPARROWS in one very small area), as well as YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS. AMERICAN ROBINS were everywhere this morning - singing in the rain.  And speaking of singing, the WESTERN MEADOWLARKS at Heron's Head Park are now singing - one of my favorite aural experiences.  SAVANNAH SPARROWS are also singing at Heron's Head.

Eastern Phoebe March 10

Dave Weber

Just spent an hour at frigid Twin Peaks watching the tour buses arrive and the workers cleaning up after the city's finest. At 9 am, and about to leave, suddenly the Eastern Phoebe was right  in front of me. Just downhill of the restroom is an orange and white post, no doubt hurled there, in the coyote bush. Phoebe was closer than that! Then it was gone.

Dave Weber,
By phone

Eastern Phoebe Twin Peaks

David Nelson

11:43am fly catching between the apartments below the restroom building and bottom of the draw, below Twin Peaks restroom. Landed on one of the roofs after catching a bug, then flew northeast in the narrow gap between buildings and hillside, out of view.

Good birding!

David W. Nelson

Western Kingbird at Fort Mason

David Assmann

Early - my earliest previous sighting was on March 16th. 

Re: Western Kingbird at Fort Mason

Richard Bradus

Also seems early to me - on a walkabout around 1pm I noted three Violet-green Swallows (FOS) around the NE corner of Alta Plaza Park. Looked like a possible pair and a rival, and they were repeatedly exploring the roof cornices of the houses and apartment buildings along Steiner St., apparently searching for possible nest sites rather than gleaning for insects.

Is it the switch to Daylight Savings Time?, or maybe the return of the sun has prompted the early migration.

Richard Bradus
San Francisco


On Monday, March 11, 2019, 9:39:32 AM PDT, David Assmann via Groups.Io <david_assmann@...> wrote:

Early - my earliest previous sighting was on March 16th. 

Presidio Arrivals and Marin Audubon field trip report

Josiah Clark

Yesterday there were 4 returning rough- winged and 1 barn swallow over mountain lake. Being mid March, it’s definitely the expected time for early migrants.
On Sunday I lead up a Marin Audubon field trip starting at baker beach. We had the Red-necked Grebe, Black Scoters and Long-tailed Duck among 176 Surf Scoters. I learned from our resident academic Sam Saffron about scoter trends, that they have experienced a 10 fold decrease in the last 20 years on the pacific coast.
Other noteworthy birds were high counts of 5 Wrentits on the coastal bluffs (4 in view at once) and 8 Bewick’s Wrens, present at nearly every site we visited. We watched a pair building a nest among the many downed pines the historic “forest”. Populations of both these species have nearly blinked out in the passed. A spotted towhee continues at lobos creek.
We also focused some attention on rare and specialized plants including the rare and endemic San Francisco Wall Flower, which are in bloom right now.

Fort Mason Local Interest

David Assmann

BUSHTITS have been going in and out of a nest in one of the few remaining trees on the lower Battery.  An ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRD recent fledgling was being fed by a parent above Aquatic Park. And AMERICAN CROWS are actively nest building. The WANDERING TATTLER was in Aquatic Park.  Briefly heard, but did not see, the Orchard Oriole. Got good looks at a LINCOLN'S SPARROW preening in the garden, and an ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER was working the west fence. Six BROWN-HEADED COWBIRDS were clearly new arrivals.

Crissy Grebe grand slam and “Bike big hour”

Josiah Clark

With the longer days and clear weather I took an hour off the computer to do some spring reconnaissance around the presidio.
Six pieces of grebes were present around Crissy Field, where red-necked, Horned Western and Clark’s were together by the torpedo wharf.
One snowy plover was in the water bird protection area, with a beached/ship-wrecked pied-billed Grebe onshore that needed the protection.
56 species for the hour. No swallows today and very few land birds, but it was late in the day. As others may have noticed I have observed an absence of turnstones and Surf birds in recent weeks at Baker Beach and the cliffhouse, probably due to the big waves and high seas.
I am making a point to take in the rapid transition in bird communities over then next month and a half.
Happy spring, Josiah Clark