Fort Mason GGAS Field Trip

David Assmann

Lots of warbler and oriole activity for today's GGAS field trip.  In addition to the continuing ORCHARD ORIOLE in the garden, there were three BULLOCK'S ORIOLES (1 in the garden and two behind the General's House), and at least 7 HOODED ORIOLES (3-4 behind General's House, 2-3 in Battery and one in the garden).  Warblers seen (mostly in the garden) including ORANGE-CROWNED, YELLOW, NASHVILLE, YELLOW-RUMPED, TOWNSEND'S and WILSON'S.  There are now at least eight active ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRD NESTS (two have chicks that barely fit that will fledge soon). The WANDERING TATTLER was on the shore of Aquatic Park, and a PIGEON GUILLEMOT and a COMMON MURRE swam close together near the Fort Mason Piers. The bonus was a young ELEPHANT SEAL on the beach at Aquatic Park.

Mid April sightings



Bank Swallows (5) back at Fort Funston and a non-adult male White-winged Scoter with Surfs off shore this morning. Small flocks of peep sp. (probably mostly Westerns but hard to tell as birds quickly disappeared behind swells) flying north.


Savannah Sparrows (with this local population a state sub-species of special concern) confirmed breeding at Candlestick State Recreation Area--Yosemite Slough Restoration Unit. An adult was seen bringing food to a nest in a French broom/bacharis/wire fence amalgamated cluster.


A surprise was hearing (and eventually visually confirming) a singing WRENTIT in the baccharis - broom scrub on plateau on the south side of Yosemite Slough. This bird was not detected again on later visits.

An adult Mute Swan was on the Impound Lake side of the Lake Merced concrete bridge in the evening. It was not there the next day. This is the first Mute Swan I've ever seen in San Francisco not derived from the released/maintained (non-countable) swans at the Palace of fine Arts. There is a thriving/expanding population in the North Bay (Marin/Sonoma/Solano et al)

Dominik Mosur
San Francisco
Sent from my iPhone

Palm warbler @ Strawberry Hill


Hey Folks,

It's been pretty quiet so far, but here was a brown-capped Palm Warbler chasing off a few Yellow-rumps in the trees at the top of the falls.

Good birding!


Olive-sided Flycatcher, Black-Headed Grosbeak, Orioles at Fort Mason

David Assmann

With a return to westerly winds, migrant activity slowed to a trickle at Fort Mason this morning. The highlight was having three oriole species - ORCHARD, HOODED and BULLOCK'S - in the plum tree at the north end of the garden at one time. HOODED ORIOLES have returned - I counted a minimum of five - and probably seven. The other highlights were a singing BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK that fly by me at eye level behind the General's House and an OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER in the Eucalyptus trees northwest of the garden. Otherwise, the only other new migrants today were a number of GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROWS in full alternate plumage.

Spring @ Eastern GGP on Thursday, 4/18

Ken Moy

Started the morning at Stow Lake where the Great Blue Herons are engaged in the iconic Spring activity of nesting and raising young. Large flock of Cedar waxwings mostly replaced yellow rump warblers high in the eucalytptus. Of Spring migrants, I had a Warbling vireo at the west end of the reservoir on Strawberry Hill, a Cassin's vireo near the burnt log at the top of the hill and a Hermit warbler nearby. Was joined by Brian Turner and we spotted both the first hermit warbler and a second one. Spent the rest of the leisurely morning on the Log Cabin Trail where BT got me on a Wilson's warbler in the clearing south of the log cabin and Black throated gray warbler in the eucalyptus by the log cabin. I spotted an orange crowned warbler in shrubs. I continued to the oak woodlands in GGP. Spotted a female Black headed grosbeak just east of the look out where the road from Arguello  comes into the park. In the woodlands east of McLaren Lodge and up the newly installed wooded steps, I spotted a black throated gray warbler, many Townsends warbler, a Hermit warbler and a Nashville warbler,

Happy birding to all,

Ken Moy

Re: Flight Day and SWHA

H Cotter

Just to add that I also had a flyover Townend's Solitaire from Battery Godfrey this morning - the pale wing stripe very obvious in flight.


On Thu, Apr 18, 2019 at 7:27 PM Jonah Benningfield via Groups.Io <> wrote:
SF birders,
Fun morning at the Battery today; someone else might post a detailed report but highlights included (3) Great-tailed Grackles (Presidio bird for me!), Black-headed Grosbeak, Acorn Woodpecker, and good numbers of Lazuli Bunting, Western Kingbird, Collared Dove, Bullock's Oriole, and Band-tailed Pigeon. Live warbler migration was cool as well.

I did go to class, and while walking back out the front doors I was treated to nice views of a light morph SWAINSON'S HAWK, which circled overhead a few times before flying off towards Crissy Field. Ten minutes later, I rolled down to Crissy and had what was likely the same SWHA bombing southeast over the lagoon, headed toward the financial district. 

all the best,
Jonah B.

Local Interest in southern SF

Oscar Moss

This morning I had a very productive morning on Mt Davidson. Many Cassin’s Vireos were hanging out and singing in shrubs and cypresses along the euc edge. 2 hammond’s Flys were hanging out together and one chased the other. By the south trailhead. Other migrants were around as well. 6 Black-headed Grosbeaks were in a bush together. A bright male Western Tanager was in a tree on the eastern slope, providing amazing views. Warblers were also present: Yellow-rumped, Nashville, Black-throated Gray, Townsends, and Hermit. 2 Bullock’s Orioles.

At the end of the day I went to bernal Hill looking for raptors. Lots around but no Swanson’s Hawks! Lol. Most exciting was this Hammond’s/Dusky Flycatcher on the north side of the hill. I think Hammond’s but would appreciate feedback. Link to photos here:

Also a Western Kingbird.


Great migrant day at Fort Mason

David Assmann

I knew the day would be exceptional when I flushed a WILSON'S SNIPE as soon as I entered the Community Garden (the last time a Snipe was seen at Fort Mason was in 2012). Migrants kept appearing throughout the three hours I spent at Fort Mason, including seven species of warblers - COMMON YELLOWTHROAT (garden), ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER (garden and Battery), NASHVILLE WARBLER (Battery), YELLOW WARBLER (Battery), BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER (Battery), TOWNSEND'S WARBLER (garden), and YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER (everywhere). A BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK was in the garden, a WESTERN KINGBIRD landed in the Eucalyptus trees north of the garden, and a WARBLING VIREO was in the Battery. A very drab looking WESTERN TANAGER was in the hedge across from the garden, two SAVANNAH SPARROWS showed up on the western fence of the garden. A VAUX'S SWIFT flew over the garden. Meanwhile the ORCHARD ORIOLE continues to sing and rattle in the garden. A feeding frenzy was going on in the Bay, with over 1,000 gulls and Cormorants, and the side of Alcatraz is now covered with BRANT'S CORMORANTS (well over a 1,000).  The east winds are not expected to continue, so tomorrow will undoubtedly be quieter. The only other highlight to report from earlier this week was an ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER at the top of a Cypress tree in the East Wash on Tuesday.

Flight Day and SWHA

Jonah Benningfield

SF birders,
Fun morning at the Battery today; someone else might post a detailed report but highlights included (3) Great-tailed Grackles (Presidio bird for me!), Black-headed Grosbeak, Acorn Woodpecker, and good numbers of Lazuli Bunting, Western Kingbird, Collared Dove, Bullock's Oriole, and Band-tailed Pigeon. Live warbler migration was cool as well.

I did go to class, and while walking back out the front doors I was treated to nice views of a light morph SWAINSON'S HAWK, which circled overhead a few times before flying off towards Crissy Field. Ten minutes later, I rolled down to Crissy and had what was likely the same SWHA bombing southeast over the lagoon, headed toward the financial district. 

all the best,
Jonah B.

Spring Migrants

Joachim Gonzalez

A quick trip in Fuschia Dell/McLaren Lodge yielded some good old spring migrants. Nothing rare but 3 Wilson’s Warbler, my FOS Cassin’s Vireo, and my FOS Western Tanager. None of the migrant empids coming in though. 

Good Birding
Joachim Gonzalez

Black & white warbler @ Middle Lake

Ken Moy

On a quiet day otherwise filled with nesting behavior, I had a good 2 minute look at a Black & white warbler in the tree tagged 3704 @ Middle Lake @ 11:10am. Very contrasty individual with throat and cheeks that appeared white but the underparts were also pretty cleanly white. Couldn't decide between first year male and mature female.

Good birding to all,

Ken Moy

Possible return of the Lazuli @ McLaren Park

Daniel Scali

Hello all,

I got out there early this morning, mainly roving around the wooded and weedy patches from the Jerry G amphitheater west to upper pond. A highlight was a nice singing Pacific-slope Flycatcher. As I wandered, I heard a couple of faint song bits that to me could have only come from 3 birds. The Beert/Dzeet (from Nathan Pieplow’s naming work) I heard was, I think, a Lazuli Bunting, House Wren, or Lesser Goldfinch. LEGOs are trickster so you never know and between the other candidates, the LAZB has been a lot more common at the park from mid-spring to summer than HOWR (counting the irruption-like occurrence of the Lazulis last year starting around this date). If this does mark the return of the Lazuli Buntings, I worry that they may not stick around to breed in the park. The weedy fields that last year they seemed to favor, made up primarily of wild radish, seem to be more managed this year or suppressed by poison hemlock, possibly by natural succession. (?) A lot of construction is happening this spring as well; primarily path repaving. McLaren is a great park — I hope to see you out there.

Good birdling,
Dan Scali SF

Fort Mason Local Interest

David Assmann

There were a few unexpected birds at Fort Mason this morning, and a handful of migrants.  Two GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE were flying in front of Alcatraz, and two CACKLING GEESE flew over Fort Mason. A BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER was in the avocado tree in the garden, and a WHITE-THROATED SWIFT flew over. A bright adult male HOODED ORIOLE was making the rounds, and hopefully will stay. The ORCHARD ORIOLE marked its 145th day at Fort Mason by singing and chattering. A WILSON'S WARBLER was in the garden. Birds seen on the weekend, but not today, were the WANDERING TATTLER on the pier, a BULLOCK'S ORIOLE south of the garden, and a BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK in the garden.

Seawatch -- Ancient Murrelet, 4/13/19

Paul Saraceni

Yesterday (Saturday, 4/13) morning I conducted a short seawatch from the south-end of the Great Highway (7:45-9:15 AM), joined by Hugh Cotter towards the end.

Winds were variable, waves were high, and decent visibility at the beginning was reduced by the encroaching offshore marine layer by the time we finished.

The highlight was a single ANCIENT MURRELET flying S by itself.

There were still 2 BLACK SCOTERS (1 m. & 1 f.) out in the surf, and 40+ Surf Scoters flying and on the water.

There was a small flight of loons heading N in pulses, with 80+ Red-throateds (about 50/50 basic/alternate plumaged) and 30+ Pacifics (most in alternate plumage), and 2 Commons on the water.

Evidence of shorebird migration featured good numbers of Whimbrel, Willets (in breeding plumage), Marbled Godwits, and Sanderlings on the beach, and 3 Least Sandpipers flying N over the ocean.

Late Saturday afternoon during a beach walk there was an OSPREY flying N over the surf near the Noriega entrance to Ocean Beach.

Paul Saraceni

San Francisco

Local Interest

Ken Moy

Sightings of moderate interest from earlier this week:

Friday, April 12 - orange crowned warbler and Wilson's warbler, female black-headed grosbeak (thanks Clifford Y) and a skulky unidentified warbler, all at Middle Lake in GGP around 11:15 - 12:30

Saturday, April 13 - green heron initially spotted around 9:15 in the reeds on the west shore of Mountain Lake between the two green light poles, it then flew towards the observation area (with log benches) and disappeared. The female black & white warbler made its annual (for me) appearance in the dog run area at Mountain Lake Park above the green gardener's tool box. Also had 2 pairs of blue birds and a Say's phoebe at Presidio Hills.

Good birding to all!

Ken Moy

Wandering Tattler continues


This morning I parked at the foot of the Municipal Pier--the bottom of Van Ness.  Looking over the edge toward Aquatic Park, the Wandering Tattler was picking at the rocks at low tide.  I did not stay long, as right next to where the bird was over the wall, a couple of men were smoking pot in a car and had loud boom-box type music playing.  It was not even 8:30, guess it is different for everyone.

Hugh B. Harvey
Walnut Creek

Nashville Warbler and Blue Gray Gnatcatcher at Fort Mason

David Assmann

Migrants continue to trickle through - this morning I had a BLUE GRAY GNATCATCHER on the east side of the garden, and a NASHVILLE WARBLER on the bush on the south west corner of the garden. GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROW numbers continue to increase, with most in full alternate plumage.  No Fox Sparrows today. Crissy Lagoon had 14 SNOWY EGRETS.  The only unexpected bird at El Polin Spring was a late SAY'S PHOEBE, sitting on top of a telephone pole.

Local Interest

Brian Fitch

Despite spending five hours at nine different sites around town this morning, my only highlights were a Green Heron at S Lake Merced, a pair of Red Crossbills along the canal west of the lake, and a female Western Tanager at Kobbe & Upton in the Presidio.  While it's a relief to not have to give long descriptions of cryptic species as earlier this week, I wish migration would kick into full gear.

Brian Fitch

Nesting Hummingbirds at Fort Mason

David Assmann

There are now four active Hummingbird nests next to the stairs leading up from Aquatic Park.  Three are ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRD nests, and one is an ALLEN'S HUMMINGBIRD nest.  One nest (the Allen's) is still under construction.  One has a hummingbird sitting on eggs, and the other two have two chicks each. Also observed BUSHTITS working on a nest in the garden (the third Bushtit nest that I've observed at Fort Mason this month). I'm also hearing a call that I've associated in the past with newly fledged AMERICAN CROWS - not sure if it is early for one to have left the nest. Otherwise the ORCHARD ORIOLE was quite vocal as it moved around the garden, and two of us heard, but did not see, a VARIED THRUSH. GOLDEN CROWNED SPARROW and FOX SPARROWS, which were nearly absent yesterday, have shown up again (perhaps migrants from further south).

Sutro Sabine's Again & UFG

Brian Fitch

This morning's watch was between 6:45 and 8:15, with the following highlights:
Brant - 2 northbound quite close in
Common Loon - 4 singles in alternate heading north
Red-necked Grebe - 1 flying into the Gate, and 1 fishing around Arch Rock
Whimbrel - 5 north
Long-billed Curlew - 1 north
Sabine's Gull - flying around well beyond the rocks around 7 AM
Common Murre - 80+

There was also a gull I could not identify.  My first impression as I noticed it flying north not far beyond the rocks was of a Black-legged Kittiwake, with small size, buoyant flight, and a two-toned outer wing.  But upon getting it in the scope, the finer details were unlike anything I know of.  It had the "cute" look of a Mew Gull, with a dark eye on a small white head, and a small yellow bill; neither head nor bill had any visible markings.  And yet the build of its body was compact for a Mew.  The mantle was relatively dark, like darker Mews or Californias, not quite as dark as nearby wymani Westerns.  The underwings were gray in the primaries and the tips of the secondaries, but otherwise white.  The upper wingtip was outright bizarre, pure white in the outer primaries with the exception of P9, which was roughly half black, and the inner primaries, probably P5-7, had short black tips; none of the black had any mirrors.  The effect was of a short black bar well out on the trailing edge and a single black stripe near the wing tip, both on a white field.  The size, shape, underwing, and head pattern looked most like a Red-legged Kittiwake (from photos and renderings, as it's one of two N American gull species I have not seen), but the dorsal wing tip was like a mashup of Franklin's and Bonaparte's.  Again, I have no clue as to what it was.

Brian Fitch