Date   

Error from last Sunday's posting - no Vaux's Swifts, Fort Mason today

David Assmann
 

The birds I reported last Sunday as Vaux's Swifts were not Vaux's Swifts (photo is inconclusive as to species). Today at Fort Mason, in addition to the ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK, both the BULLOCK'S ORIOLE and the BALTIMORE ORIOLE continued. The overwintering ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER and NASHVILLE WARBLER were in the garden. No new migrants, despite the favorable winds, unless you count the four BROWN-HEADED COWBIRDS that showed up (not present at Fort Mason during the winter).


I’d like to post a duck I saw today and

Rick Lawton
 

Forgot my password for the group. Thanks

Rick Lawton


Re: W Kingbirds

Brian Fitch
 

I headed to Battery Godfrey this morning with the slight hope that the northeast breeze might bring me some early migrants, and ended up having the best March watch I've ever had here.  7:15 AM until noon, about half the time with Randy Collignon, and after leaving BG, we went over to Kobbe and Upton to see the returned Hooded Oriole in all his glory.  Below are unusual species and high numbers of regulars:

Turkey Vulture - 25 +
White-tailed Kite - 1 southbound
Sharp-shinned Hawk - at least 5 north
Cooper's Hawk - 2 north
Red-tailed Hawk - 7 migrants north
Merlin and Peregrine preying on migrating passerines
Whimbrel - 40 flying together from Pt Bonita to the G Gate
Band-tailed Pigeon - 30+
Rufous Hummingbird - migrating male that dipped below eye level at the bluff, revealing all rufous head and back
Western Kingbird - 10; one landed briefly
Horned Lark - 2 north; I can't recall seeing this species in SF in spring
Tree Swallow - 2
Violet-green Swallow - 30+ migrants, others hawking over Ft Scott
Northern Rough-winged Swallow - 25+
Barn Swallow - 10
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher - heard in adjacent ceonothus
Spotted Towhee - seen in ceonothus
Purple Finch - 40+ north, in many small groups or pairs
Lesser Goldfinch - 30+, as above
American Goldfinch - 11; I hadn't seen this species this year anywhere in the state until today

Brian Fitch


On Tue, Mar 30, 2021 at 8:43 AM Brian Fitch via groups.io <fogeggs=gmail.com@groups.io> wrote:
Four so far at Battery Godfrey, with a good representation of finches as well.
Watch the sky today if possible. 
Brian Fitch


Presido Barn Owls

aaron.mermelstein@...
 

Hello All, 

I am new to this chat and relatively new to birding in SF, so I hope this is the right place for this question.

I have seen two Barn Owls recently roosting under the eaves of a house on Pacific ave. facing the Presidio playground and the El Polin Spring area. From iNaturalist accounts it looks like these are returning nesters getting ready to start for the season. When I last visited them earlier this week I saw there was a DEMO notice on the house, luckily the comment period is still open for the permit.

These are my questions:
  • Does anyone have a recommendation for a group I should contact about this?  I reached out to Golden Gate Audubon to see if they handle cases like this, but they have not gotten back to me yet. If not I will bring it to the attention of the city planners myself, but I thought there may be a group that is better equipped to lodge a complaint...
  • What protections do Barn owls have? I know they are not endangered, but it would still be great if they could hold off on demolishing the house, at least until nesting season is over. 
  • If their nesting site is destroyed over the winter, will they be able to find a new site next season?

Also, this is seems to be time sensitive, so I believe we should act sooner rather than later! thank you,
-Aaron


Re: Field trip summary from Sunday and ecology report

Joel Perlstein
 

I suspect that the lack of rocky shorebirds at the Cliff House area may have something to do with the widening beach there. It seems like there is much more of the day when people and dogs can access the beach below the rocky cliffs.


--
Joel Perlstein
San Francisco


Rose Breasted Grosbeak at Fort Mason

David Assmann
 

Found by Mick Griffin in the garden.


Swamp sparrow continuing at North Lake

randycollignon@...
 

Finally saw the Swamp sparrow at North Lake under the tree east of the picnic tables (N side) and by the water's edge. 

Good birding,
Randy


W Kingbirds

Brian Fitch
 

Four so far at Battery Godfrey, with a good representation of finches as well.
Watch the sky today if possible. 
Brian Fitch


Rock Sandpiper, Gadwall etc.

Joe Morlan
 

Today the pair of Gadwall were still at "Lake Hanson" adjacent to Pier 94
and the Rock Sandpiper (Roxanne Piper) was still at the very tip of Heron's
Head. It is molting and is mostly in breeding plumage now. Photos and video
of the Rock Sandpiper...

https://ebird.org/checklist/S84352524

Gadwall photos:

https://ebird.org/checklist/S84352526

On Mon, 29 Mar 2021 14:41:52 -0700, "Josiah Clark"
<josiah.clark621@gmail.com> wrote:

Yesterday I led a biking and birding field trip through Golden gate Park to the Cliff House for the organization Shaping San Francisco.
Scheduled for the cusp of spring, this field trip now its 4th year focuses on diversity as we try to observe as many residents, wintering birds and spring migrants as possible.
The group observed 72 species during the trip. There did seem to be quite a few hawks and swallows moving over, though we didn’t find any unusual birds.
Here are a few bird highlights.
Wilson’s Warbler-singing at north lake.
Cinnamon Teal at Stow lake continuing
The N shovelers had moved to spreckles
The lone male lesser scaup had moved to N. lake
4 meadowlarks were at the bison paddock
We had a singing male Wilson's Warbler at North Lake on 26 March (Friday).
There were also two Lesser Scaup there on Friday. Photos of both:

https://ebird.org/checklist/S84152183

Also a Sora was at the NE corner of North lake.

The heron rookery at Stow Lake appears down to just one active nest compared to 5 last year. The big dead pine that held the rookery broke in half. At least one or two nests fell with it.
There were seven active Great Blue Heron nests at Stow Lake when I visited
on 23 March (Tuesday). They moved to a large dead pine on the east side of
the island from the old broken pine near the boat house. Photo of one bird
standing on its nest:

https://ebird.org/checklist/S83962995






--
Joseph Morlan, Pacifica, CA


Field trip summary from Sunday and ecology report

Josiah Clark
 

Yesterday I led a biking and birding field trip through Golden gate Park to the Cliff House for the organization Shaping San Francisco.
     Scheduled for the cusp of spring, this field trip now its 4th year focuses on diversity as we try to observe as many residents, wintering birds and spring migrants as possible.
       The group observed 72 species during the trip. There did seem to be quite a few hawks and swallows moving over, though we didn’t find any unusual birds. 
Here are a few bird highlights. 
      Wilson’s Warbler-singing at north lake.
       Cinnamon Teal at Stow lake continuing
       The N shovelers had moved to spreckles
    The lone male lesser scaup had moved to N. lake 
     4 meadowlarks were at the bison paddock 
            Though I haven’t been writing about it much recently I’ve definitely been noticing pretty major changes to the bird life and ecology of our area in recent months.
 Some birds that seem conspicuously absent to me or nearly so are the rocky shore birds. Black turnstones that used to be very reliable in double digit groups at the cliff house have gotten quite uncommon or absent in recent years. (With great effort I finally saw just one for about 30 seconds at the Cliff House).
    The numbers of red-throated loon and large grebes on the ocean are very low compared to other years where large groups were expected, I saw just one of each yesterday. 
      The heron rookery at Stow Lake appears down to just one active nest compared to 5 last year. The big dead pine that held the rookery broke in half. At least one or two nests fell with it. 
  The incessant predation and pressure by the population explosion of ravens appears to be the most obvious cause for declines in many breeding birds large and small.
We observed ravens from the moment we met and they were present at every location throughout the course of the day. Some locations had over 20 and many actively hunting in coordinated groups. 
  As someone who grew up birding all of 
these places in San Francisco, I will say this is the quietest I have ever heard it at this time of year. 
I believe this is also the driest year of my life, not just in terms of lack of rain but also with drier offshore air flow, higher evaporative rates and decreased atmospheric moisture. This can be most obviously observed at reservoirs and lakes, which now in March are at the lowest levels they reached in the last drought. But the same evaporative process is also sucking moisture out of the land, vegetation and food sources for birds.
      I want nothing more than to be wrong, but I fear 2021 could be the year our state sees even more major changes to our ecology. 
     It seems during Covid times people have little bandwidth to absorb any other kind
 of news. “We are all in this together” they  say...
 If people would only do as much for the planet as they do for themselves.
 Like G.I. Joe said, “knowing is half the battle”.  
      
Josiah Clark | Habitat Potential | Consulting Ecologist | 415.317.3978
License #1043929


Sutro Baths Migrants

Brian Fitch
 

While there was nothing very unusual at Sutro this morning, it was wonderful to finally see normal conditions return to the coast.  The wind was not tearing everything up or missing in action, the waves were not monstrous, and clarity was perfect.  Multiple feeding flocks were present, and bird numbers were once again good enough to make things interesting.  Murres were out in the hundreds, 15 Pigeon Guillemots were by the nesting rocks, 30 Whimbrel were way out and heading north, and 8 Brant flew right by the rocks at eye level in full sun. 

My first of the year Caspian Tern flew out of the Gate, which made me wonder why their migration patterns have changed in recent years.  They used to appear in mid to late March along the coast and head into the Gate or further north, but now they seem to appear on the Bay and not start hunting the ocean until much later; I saw them Bayside 2 weeks ago in San Mateo.  This implies to me that they're coming in from the south over the South Bay from Monterey, but I haven't witnessed this personally.  My first Humpback was also busy feeding NW of the terrace.

Over at Middle Lake, I was surprised by a Nashville Warbler in the willows, and a female Spotted Towhee along the dry lake shore.

Brian Fitch


Re: Great Blue Heron at Crissy Field

Kenneth Stampfer
 

Thanks to all for your comments.  Having lived in the northeast most of life I did not know gophers or how appetizing they must be to the herons.
Best,
Ken

On Mar 29, 2021, at 12:00 PM, S. R. Gilbert via groups.io <sgilbert524@...> wrote:

A pocket gopher, probably Thomomys bottae.
 
Many of us wish we had resident herons.
 
   Warm wishes,
      Sam R. Gilbert




On Monday, March 29, 2021, 10:50 AM, Kenneth Stampfer via groups.io <kenstampfer@...> wrote:

Last Thursday near the east end of the lagoon at Crissy Field, I came across this heron patiently stalking its prey.  I thought the victim was a young brown rat, though the tail is fairly short and looks a little furry.  Does anyone have a better ID?  After finishing off this one, the heron repeated the performance with another similar rodent about 10 minutes later.  I’ve recently moved here from Boston, where I’ve seen herons catching small fish and occasional frogs, but never a furry mammal of this size.
 


Re: Great Blue Heron at Crissy Field

Donna Hayes
 

Gopher, yum!

We watched a great blue heron eat a gopher at Crissy Field years ago.  It had an audience of several people.  The kids in the group were very impressed.  May have made some birders that day!


On Mar 29, 2021, at 10:50 AM, Kenneth Stampfer via groups.io <kenstampfer@...> wrote:

Last Thursday near the east end of the lagoon at Crissy Field, I came across this heron patiently stalking its prey.  I thought the victim was a young brown rat, though the tail is fairly short and looks a little furry.  Does anyone have a better ID?  After finishing off this one, the heron repeated the performance with another similar rodent about 10 minutes later.  I’ve recently moved here from Boston, where I’ve seen herons catching small fish and occasional frogs, but never a furry mammal of this size.

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Re: Great Blue Heron at Crissy Field

S. R. Gilbert
 

A pocket gopher, probably Thomomys bottae.
 
Many of us wish we had resident herons.
 
   Warm wishes,
      Sam R. Gilbert




On Monday, March 29, 2021, 10:50 AM, Kenneth Stampfer via groups.io <kenstampfer@...> wrote:

Last Thursday near the east end of the lagoon at Crissy Field, I came across this heron patiently stalking its prey.  I thought the victim was a young brown rat, though the tail is fairly short and looks a little furry.  Does anyone have a better ID?  After finishing off this one, the heron repeated the performance with another similar rodent about 10 minutes later.  I’ve recently moved here from Boston, where I’ve seen herons catching small fish and occasional frogs, but never a furry mammal of this size.
 


Re: Great Blue Heron at Crissy Field

elizabethmadriz
 

Good morning, 

I once saw a heron eat 18 gophers at Kobbe and Upton streets in the Presidio. Another time at the lagoon a Redtail took a gopher away from a heron. The following week I saw a heron chase a redtail at the other end of the lagoon. 

Thank you for sharing your photos and experience.

On Monday, March 29, 2021, 10:50 AM, Kenneth Stampfer via groups.io <kenstampfer@...> wrote:

Last Thursday near the east end of the lagoon at Crissy Field, I came across this heron patiently stalking its prey.  I thought the victim was a young brown rat, though the tail is fairly short and looks a little furry.  Does anyone have a better ID?  After finishing off this one, the heron repeated the performance with another similar rodent about 10 minutes later.  I’ve recently moved here from Boston, where I’ve seen herons catching small fish and occasional frogs, but never a furry mammal of this size.


Re: Great Blue Heron at Crissy Field

 

It’s eating a Botta’s Pocket Gopher (thomomyes sp)

It’s one of our last common native mammals. Much maligned for some reason by humans but our carnivores love them!!

:)


On Mar 29, 2021, at 10:50, Kenneth Stampfer via groups.io <kenstampfer@...> wrote:

Last Thursday near the east end of the lagoon at Crissy Field, I came across this heron patiently stalking its prey.  I thought the victim was a young brown rat, though the tail is fairly short and looks a little furry.  Does anyone have a better ID?  After finishing off this one, the heron repeated the performance with another similar rodent about 10 minutes later.  I’ve recently moved here from Boston, where I’ve seen herons catching small fish and occasional frogs, but never a furry mammal of this size.

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Great Blue Heron at Crissy Field

Kenneth Stampfer
 

Last Thursday near the east end of the lagoon at Crissy Field, I came across this heron patiently stalking its prey.  I thought the victim was a young brown rat, though the tail is fairly short and looks a little furry.  Does anyone have a better ID?  After finishing off this one, the heron repeated the performance with another similar rodent about 10 minutes later.  I’ve recently moved here from Boston, where I’ve seen herons catching small fish and occasional frogs, but never a furry mammal of this size.


Eagle over Crissy

David Assmann
 

Eagle soared over west side of Crissy about 10 minutes ago - too far away for photos - assume same one Nico saw


Eagle heading north over twin peaks.

Nico Stuurman
 

Just saw from mnt. d. what appeared to be a juvenile Golden Eagle soaring to the north over the western side of Twin Peaks. Maybe over Golden Gate by now.
--
Nico Stuurman
--
Nico Stuurman


Turkey?

David Estrada
 

I was parked in a car on Bowdoin St. off of Silver Ave. yesterday morning just after 9:00. I looked up and saw this guy walking up the street. Took a quick pic through the windshield. Just thought it was a strange sight.

Dave

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