Date   
Clark's? Western? Or both?

Richard Bradus
 

Hi all

I've been seeing a lot of "Western type" Grebes lately that have me confused, mostly the typical wintertime variants with black that goes down to the eye (or gray that covers the eyes and upper cheek), in between what we consider true Clark's or Westerns. But this one (seen Dec. 17 in the waters off the eastern end of the Golden Gate Yacht Club Lagoon) is a bit more interesting:

Inline image
(Photo can be enlarged if it does not display fully on your device)

It has the facial pattern of a Clark's (mostly) and a fair amount of white mottling on the back, yet the bill is that greenish yellow color characteristic of a Western. I've been told (and have also read in a couple of sources) that bill color (and shape to some extent) is the best determinant as to species, but this one looks like a true "intergrade" to me. I think it is a hybrid. So a call out to experts or other interested parties: any thoughts?

Thanks!

And to all a wonderful holiday.

Richard Bradus
San Francisco

Re: Blackpoll

Brian Fitch
 

The bird is still present this morning on the same block of Pierce.  I heard it chipping during a brief try around 8:30, and found it in a tree with white flowers where Pierce ends in Duboce Park.  The bird was actively feeding and allowed no good views (while doggers looked at me as if I was scarier than any of our local meth addicts).  I tried to obtain photos with no luck, and despite having binos this time, I was unable to study the flanks well or note the foot color.  It was briefly with Yellow-rumpeds and a single Orange-crowned, so this site seems to be supplying the warblers with a feast.

The bird still looks like a Blackpoll, with a dark eyeline and weak yellow supercilium, front 2/3rds yellowish ventrally, white vent, olive back with fine dark streaks and no pale lines, ruling out Blackburnian and Pine, and some streaks along the flanks with no hint of any bay colored wash.  I think it's a 1st year, but won't wager my life on it yet.

The bird spent time on the ground among curb plantings, was briefly on the street under a car, in several street trees, and then turned onto Waller and flew east out of sight into the densest street trees I know of in town.  I'll try again in a while before heading to the East Bay for holiday events.


On Tue, Dec 24, 2019 at 11:46 AM Brian Fitch <fogeggs@...> wrote:
I've received notice from Southern California that Blackpoll Warblers are exceedingly rare anywhere on the continent at this season.  I'm deep into Christmas hosting duties, and won't be able to look for the bird again until the 26th.  So if anyone with a camera has time and inclination to search for the bird and document it, it would help the record keepers with their concerns.

Brian Fitch

On Tue, Dec 24, 2019 at 8:09 AM Brian Fitch via Groups.Io <fogeggs=gmail.com@groups.io> wrote:
Yesterday(12/23), while walking the neighborhood with a visiting friend, a Blackpoll Warbler popped out of some curb side plants and up into a leafless tree.  I had no binos, but didn't need them as the bird sat and posed for good viewing.  This was along Pierce St., the first tree north of Duboce Park, on the east side of the street.  My first year bird since the booby in early November...

Brian Fitch

Count Week Orchard Oriole

David Assmann
 

Scouted Fort Mason yesterday for potential Count Week birds.  The male ORCHARD ORIOLE was seen in the garden.  The WANDERING TATTLER was on the abandoned pier in Aquatic Park (this is the only place in the City where a Wandering Tattler has been seen this month), and a NASHVILLE WARBLER was also in the garden (fairly uncommon - only seen here and in Golden Gate Park this month).

Re: Blackpoll

Brian Fitch
 

I've received notice from Southern California that Blackpoll Warblers are exceedingly rare anywhere on the continent at this season.  I'm deep into Christmas hosting duties, and won't be able to look for the bird again until the 26th.  So if anyone with a camera has time and inclination to search for the bird and document it, it would help the record keepers with their concerns.

Brian Fitch


On Tue, Dec 24, 2019 at 8:09 AM Brian Fitch via Groups.Io <fogeggs=gmail.com@groups.io> wrote:
Yesterday(12/23), while walking the neighborhood with a visiting friend, a Blackpoll Warbler popped out of some curb side plants and up into a leafless tree.  I had no binos, but didn't need them as the bird sat and posed for good viewing.  This was along Pierce St., the first tree north of Duboce Park, on the east side of the street.  My first year bird since the booby in early November...

Brian Fitch

Blackpoll

Brian Fitch
 

Yesterday(12/23), while walking the neighborhood with a visiting friend, a Blackpoll Warbler popped out of some curb side plants and up into a leafless tree.  I had no binos, but didn't need them as the bird sat and posed for good viewing.  This was along Pierce St., the first tree north of Duboce Park, on the east side of the street.  My first year bird since the booby in early November...

Brian Fitch

San Francisco Christmas Count Week Starts Today!

Siobhan Ruck
 

Just a reminder:

With the San Francisco Christmas Bird Count taking place this Friday, 12/27, the Count Week period begins today, 12/24 and runs through next Monday, 12/30. Any species seen within the count area during this period can be included in our total, even if they are not seen on count day.

If you see an uncommon species during the period and want to make sure it’s included, please post the sighting to SF Birds or email me directly. (eBird is great for a lot of things, but not for this, unfortunately.) After the count, I’ll post information about sightings and a “wish list” of species we usually see that were missed on count day.

If you think you signed up for the count but have not been contacted yet, please let me know. All assignments have been sent out, but we can still get you on a team.

If you find yourself available unexpectedly, you can contact me to be added to a team - we usually end up with a few last minute cancellations, and you can help fill out a team which might otherwise be short-handed. You don’t have to be an ace birder to count - people of all levels are welcome.

Interested in doing the count, but not sure what’s involved or weren’t ready to sign up this year? Josiah Clark will be hosting a field trip at Crissy Field from 8:30-10:30am where the public can come watch the count in action and see the count methodologies used. If you like what you see and want to be part of it in the future, you can join us next year on Tuesday 12/29/20!

Thanks all,
Siobhan Ruck

OB 3cy LBBG

Jonah Benningfield
 

From 10:30 - 10:45 this morning, a 3rd cycle Lesser Black-backed Gull was in the pools on Ocean Beach just west of Fulton.

all the best,
Jonah B.

Field trip dec 27 Crissy field

Josiah Clark
 

Between 830 and 10:30 AM on December 27 the public is invited to come out and uexperience some of the Christmas bird count. Most of the day counters should be focused on covering lots of ground and getting good numbers in smaller focused groups. But for these 2 hours beginners are welcomed to come out and see some of the methods and the birds that counters across the city and nation 

Josiah Clark | Habitat Potential | Consulting Ecologist | 415.317.3978

San Francisco Christmas Count 12/27 - assignments sent

Siobhan Ruck
 

I’ve just finished sending area assignments to all registered participants for the San Francisco Christmas Bird Count being held on Friday, 12/27.

If you think you registered but did not receive an assignment, or if you find yourself unexpectedly available and would like to join the count, please let me know. Some of the teams could use a few more counters so it’s not too late to join the fun.

As a reminder, Count Week runs from Tuesday 12/24 through Monday 12/30. Please report any unusual species sighted during that period in case we miss them on count day.

Siobhan Ruck, San Francisco

Summer Tanager, Orchard Oriole at Fort Mason

David Assmann
 

The SUMMER TANAGER at Fort Mason put in another appearance today at the west side of the garden, close to where the continuing ORCHARD ORIOLE was sitting on a trellis holding up a grape vine.

Battery Godfrey Misc. 12.17.19; RF Booby, WW Scoter, Gadwall

H Cotter
 

Spent two cold hours at Battery Godfrey this morning.
Not much doing with practically no passerines.

Highlights included;

Red-footed Booby- two appearances in the channel - approx 7.45 and 9.00 AM.
WW Scoter- With Surf Scoter flying into the bay
Gadwall - One female type heading into bay
Common Goldeneye; Three birds heading into the bay.

A number of loons, Surf Scoter etc. were observed but not much else,

Hugh

Summer Tanager @ Lily Pond

Ken Moy
 

Hi Birders,@ 10:45 on 12/17, I spotted immature/female Summer Tanager in trees slightly NE of the Lily Pond in GGP. I had a 2 minute view of the bird as it foraged in the trees just at the point where the path from the tunnel underneath JFK leading to the (closed) tunnel to the tennis courts (under construction) meets another social path. The same copse of trees can be seen from the SW corner of JFK and Middle Drive East if one faces upslope and walks across the lawn to the middle of a (semi-circular) row of bushes. I assume this is the same bird that has been seen and (mainly) heard at Lily Pond.

Good birding,

Ken Moy

Oakland Christmas Bird Count results: Sunday, December 15, 2019

David Quady and Nancy Boas
 

Hi, Bay Area Birders:

More than 250 field observers and two dozen-plus feeder watchers took part in yesterday's 79th running of the Oakland Christmas Bird Count, sponsored by Golden Gate Audubon Society. Thanks to good coverage and fair weather, participants reported a record high (since 1974) 184 species, seven more than our recent 20-year average.

Single Brants north of the Bay Bridge and on San Leandro Bay, four Redheads at Upper San Leandro Reservoir, and a handful of Black Scoters in two areas topped our list of unusual waterfowl. A Common Gallinule at Lafayette Reservoir was a welcome skulker that was overshadowed by a Black Rail (a first since 2005) at a small inland pond. A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher on Vollmer Peak, a Black-throated Gray Warbler in Berkeley, Hermit Warblers in two areas, and small numbers of Tree Swallows and Barn Swallows scattered about deserve mention. So, too, do a Western Tanager in the Dunsmuir Area and the male Black-headed Grosbeak that’s over-wintering for its sixth year in Claremont Canyon. But the passerine spotlight truly shined near 335 Beach Road in Alameda, where a spiffy Tropical Kingbird found itself in a stare-down with an Orchard Oriole. (The kingbird has perviously appeared only as a count week bird in 2012; we have no record of the oriole going back to 1974.) Woodpeckers also deserved notice, with a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in Montclair, a Red-naped Sapsucker at San Leandro Reservoir, and a Pileated Woodpecker heard in southern Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park.

Finally, the honor of Best Bird for the count went to a Tufted Puffin (a first since at least 1974) on the bay, south of the Bay Bridge.

Species unreported so far include Loggerhead Shrike (evidently extirpated from the area), Snow Goose, Heermann’s Gull, and Brown-headed Cowbird ((!). If you detect any of these species, or unusual species not mentioned above, during count week (through Wednesday, December 18), I’d appreciate hearing from you.

Good birding.

Dave Quady
Berkeley, California
davequady@...

SF Christmas count - leaders needed

Siobhan Ruck
 

Hi all - we have four count areas that need leaders this year. If you have an interest in leading, please contact me off-list. You don’t have to be an expert birder to lead, you just need to be somewhat good at paperwork. (Of course birding skills certainly help!)

If you are interested, please be sure to let me know if you have a preference for land or sea birds (or both), how much walking you’re up for, and if you need a transit-friendly location.

Online registration for the San Francisco Count has closed but we can still add you if you didn’t get a chance to sign up.

If you’re not ready to lead this year, but are interested in doing so in a future year, let me know that too. I can add you to our resource list, and possibly add you to a team that will be needing a leader in the near future.


Siobhan Ruck
Alan Hopkins
David Assmann
Dan Murphy (Compiler Emeritus)

Fort Mason Local Interest - today's GGAS walk

David Assmann
 

Lots of expected, but good birds on today's GGAS walk at Fort Mason.  Started the morning with a continuing YELLOW-SHAFTED NORTHERN FLICKER in the garden.  Everyone had great looks at the continuing male ORCHARD ORIOLE in the garden. A NASHVILLE WARBLER was just outside the garden on the west side. The WANDERING TATTLER was working its way along the edge of the water in Aquatic Park. A GREAT HORNED OWL sat right above us we walked down from the lower Battery. 49 species total

Black and White Warbler still at Alta Plaza Park 2:00 pm Dec. 15

William Grant
 

See on two tree trunks, SE corner of park, 50 ft W of Steiner, 100+ ft. N of Clay,
along the concrete path.

Originally reported by Richard Bradus on Oct. 31.

Pictures:

sfbirds@groups.io

Bill

Barn Swallows & Red-necked Grebes, Western SF, 12/14/19

Paul Saraceni
 

This morning Hugh Cotter and I birded a few locations on the west-side of the City.

Unseasonal BARN SWALLOWS were present at Lake Merced.  A group of 4 flew N over the middle lake.  A group of 12 (perhaps including those prior 4) were feeding over the north impoundment, seen from different viewpoints during the course of an hour.

From the Mile Rock viewpoint near Lands End we observed 2 RED-NECKED GREBES.  One showed well as it swam near the closest large rock to shore. A different R-n Grebe was observed in flight heading W towards the open ocean.

9 Black Oystercatchers were on the rock noted above.

Paul Saraceni
San Francisco

Summer Tanager at Fort Mason

David Assmann
 


A young male SUMMER TANAGER was in the Fort Mason Community Garden this morning.

Another Wilson’s Warb

Daniel Scali
 

All,

Just had a Wilson’s Warbler about 100 yds east of the Stow Lake boat house, lakeside of road and path. A male Common Yellowthroat also popped up in the same vegetation while a Great-horned Owl coo’d from (probably) Strawberry Hill. Ken Moy and others have been seeing a Wilson’s in the Botan at least 1/4 mile away so this is maybe a different one. Wasn’t there a 3rd at Sue B plaza?

Speaking of the SF botanical garden, I was there an hour ago and around the same time yesterday as well. Yesterday I got eyes on a Varied Thrush while making my to Zellerbach area. It flew into cover and after that I was hearing the thrush closer to the moon-viewing garden. Heard only today in moon-viewing/Zellerbach area (possibly coming from across road at south side of Stow. That’s the problem with having no high-frequency hearing in my left ear!)

Good over-wintering (or is it over-summering) birding,

Dan Scali

Murrelets, Crossbills, Mysteries, and Belateds

Brian Fitch
 

Marbled Murrelets made their first appearance of the season for me in a notable way today; two flyby pairs, then 2 flyby singles, then 4 pairs on the water, close to the north side of the Sutro terrace.  "Thayer's" Gulls began showing up in good numbers last week, and today there were roughly 20 hanging out between the baths and North Rock.  A few Herrings and Olympics were present as well.  An adult male White-winged Scoter flew by close enough to see the white around the eye, but he was following a mystery duck that was slightly smaller and less bulky, showed no marks on the dorsally brown plumage, had an all brown head, and a white breast and belly.  It wasn't a pintail, and that was the closest candidate from our region.  Then, just to press the theme further, a scaup-like duck flew by following 2 Surf Scoters, but the odd duck was a female type with no white at all in the face.  Shortly thereafter, a note came through from the East Bay that a Tufted Duck had been discovered, but I'm not saying that I saw the EB bird on its way to Emeryville.  It looked like a female Tufted, but was distant enough to leave as a second mystery.

Later, at the north end of the Soccer fields east of the Beach Chalet, I came across a wonderful mixed flock consisting of 24 species.  The highlights included an unseen sapsucker, 2 Red-breasted Nuthatches, a Bewick's Wren, 2 Golden-crowned Kinglets, 2 Lincoln's Sparrows, and at least 10 Red Crossbills.  The crossbills were quite low as they fed on cypress cones.  Their calls sounded like locals, but they were more confiding than any I've ever spent time with anywhere.  One immature crossbill was unstreaked and as pale as a Clay-colored Sparrow on the breast.  I only recently learned from Rudy that the guidebooks' streaked renderings are not the only possibility, as there was another unstreaked white crossbill at the Lily Pond last month.

On December 3rd, there was a Red-necked Grebe off of Land's End near Hermit Rock, the Red-footed Booby was fishing out in the Gate, six Northern Flickers were together in the small cypress at Battery Godfrey, and back at Land's End, a Fox Sparrow was giving a very good facsimile of an Evening Grosbeak call, while an unseen bird made an even better grosbeak call from nearby.

And on the 2nd, I found an interesting gull at Sutro that bore some resemblance to the bird Hugh reported, though not the same individual.  It was as dark as, but a little smaller than adjacent Westerns, with long wing extension like a California, and pink feet.  There is debate about that mix of characteristics, so keep your eyes and cameras on the lookout for odd gulls (and ducks).
Brian Fitch