2 Mornings @ Strawberry Hill/Stow Lake

Ken Moy

Overcast skies with mist/fog rising and falling hilltop to lake dominated Strawberry Hill and Stow Lake for 2 mornings and produced the following:

Friday, 8/23, 7:30 - 10:30 - over 6 yellow warblers (2 bright males) across the trail from the pavilion, 2 hermit warblers and at least 1 townsend's warbler above the reservoir, at least 1 wilson's warbler downslope from picnic table, 2 western tanagers (female) and 1 male black headed grosbeak in the shrubbery around and upslope from the picnic table and 2 western/pac slope flycatchers near the top of the waterfall. Best of all, a succession of 5 birders shared in many of the sightings.

Saturday, 8/24, 7:15 -11:15 - 3 yellow warblers (2 bright males sighted early and one bright make with rusty/grayish streaks on breast spotted later) in small leafed bushes on Stow Lake Drive East between the eastern steps and the concrete bridge, 2 warbling vireos in the large bush overhanging the walking path just east of the concrete bridge, 2 orange crowned warblers (1 in the small leafed bushes on Stow Lake Drive and one in the eucalyptus upslope from the landscaped area near the pavillion), 2 townsend's warbler and 1 western/pac slope flycatcher in the same eucs as the orange crowned and also in the adjacent pines, and 1 wilson's warbler downslope from the picnic table.

Good birding,

Ken Moy

Fort Mason Local Interest, White Pelicans continue at Crissy

David Assmann

A relatively short visit to Fort Mason this morning yielded two BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAKS, four YELLOW WARBLERS and a BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER in the Battery, and a HOUSE WREN in the garden.  The two AMERICAN WHITE PELICANS continue in Crissy Lagoon. Two FORSTER'S TERNS stood out among about 500 ELEGANT TERNS.

West End of City Local Interest

David Assmann

A PARASITIC JAEGER was chasing ELEGANT TERNS offshore at the Cliff House this morning, while Sutro Heights Park had a RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH. The East Wash was pretty active, with a WILLOW FLYCATCHER, 2 WILSON'S WARBLERS, an ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, a SWAINSON'S THRUSH, a LAZULI BUNTING, 2 PACIFIC-SLOPE FLYCATCHERS, a BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK and an Empid with a completely round eye ring. Strawberry Hill had 5 YELLOW WARBLERS, 3 PACIFIC-SLOPE FLYCATCHERS and a TOWNSEND'S WARBLER.

Seawatch -- Sooty Shearwaters et al., 8/23/19

Paul Saraceni

This morning (7:20-9:00 AM) I did a seawatch from the south end of the Great Highway.  The morning began with a fog bank several hundred yards offshore, but that mostly cleared by the time I departed.  Winds were brisk S-SW and increasing, with choppy seas.

The highlight this morning was the continued presence of SOOTY SHEARWATERS off of Ocean Beach -- they were in view the entire time I was there. When I arrived there were ~400+ on the water and swirling around nearshore of the fog bank.  Soon after a "river" of Sooties appeared from the N and hundreds were passing per minute heading S. This continued for about 20 minutes.  Then about 10 minutes later they seemingly turned around and were heading N, with some large sub-groups setting down on the water. My rough estimate was 30-40,000, but who knows. 

Other observations of local interest:

Surf Scoter 45 (on the ocean)

Brown Pelican 100+ (many in the frenzy with the Sooty Shearwaters)

Black Oystercatcher 1 (flying S over the surf)

Whimbrel 4

Sanderling 4

Red-necked Phalarope 11 (moving S in small #s)

Elegant Tern 150+ (most flying S)

Caspian Tern 3

POMARINE JAEGER 1 sub-ad. (lumbering S within 100 yards of shore)

Barn Swallow 2

Paul Saraceni

San Francisco

Red-necked Phalaropes, Thu 8/22

Adam Winer

At Pine Lake Park this morning, the only real surprise was a single Red-necked Phalarope at the eastern end of the lake;  it flew around the lake, landing a couple of times, before finally taking off and flying to the east.  There are at least a few other records from this park.  There was also a smattering of the most expected migrants.

With that, I wasn't surprised to see several groups of Red-necked Phalaropes, totaling about 40 in all, north of the concrete bridge at south Lake Merced.  In a very brief visit, there were also small numbers of the most common migrants as well as a single Cliff Swallow.

-- Adam Winer

Fort Mason and Crissy Field Local Interest

David Assmann

Best birds this morning at Fort Mason were in the dense fog right after sunrise - almost all sightings were in the Battery today - WESTERN KINGBIRD, LAZULI BUNTING, 2 WESTERN TANAGERS, 6 YELLOW WARBLERS, ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, RED-BEASTED NUTHATCH, PACIFIC-SLOPE FLYCATCHER, and WILLOW FLYCATCHER.  Turns out yesterday's sighting of a group of five swallows turned out to be Barn, not Cliff, Swallows. At Crissy Field, the two AMERICAN WHITE PELICANS and the RED-NECKED PHALAROPE continued this morning.

Some interesting activity at Presidio Hills

Richard Bradus

Hi all

Taking advantage of this continuing nice August weather, I spent the late morning wandering about the Presidio Hills. Bird activity was a bit hit-or-miss, but a number of interesting smaller birds popped up in the central scrub. I finally got to see a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher here, along with a few migrant flycatchers (Western, Willow) and what I presume was an immature male Yellowthroat whose extensive yellow underparts and hint of yellow spectacles had me thinking ever so briefly that it could have been an Oporornis (Kentucky) Warbler.

Most exciting was the interplay between a number of resident and fly-over hawks, including a juv. Coop harassing, chasing and seemingly attacking a Red-shouldered, eventually driving it down into the trees to the north. I included a few photos of the action on my eBird report:

It may be August but the weather and early migrant activity sure make it seem like September. Have some fun out there!

Richard Bradus
San Francisco

Strawberry Hill Migrants

Ken Moy

Hi all,

At 8:30-45am on 8/22, a trio consisting of a bright male yellow warbler and clean male townsend's warbler and black throated gray warbler emerged from the fog into a small pine at the SW corner of the top of the hill where the trail connecting to the reservoir  passes a large tree stump under a cypress. The townsend's made several forays into and out of the cypress, the black throated gray flew into the growth near the stump and the yellow flew north. Joined by ChrisV around 9:15 and he could not refind birds. Saw AlanH at the bottom of the falls around 10:30 and reported my sightings. He sallied forth with hope, bins and clearing skies.

Happy birding to all,

Ken Moy

RROS and Alvaro's Adventures Bodega Trip on Sunday - spots open. Calm weather!

Alvaro Jaramillo

Hello all,

    We have had some cancellations and now have open spots for the Bodega Trip on Sunday. This is run jointly by the Redwood Region Ornithological Society ( and myself. You can sign up on our website: or contact Gene Hunn (enhunn323@...). Either way will work.

   **** Weather and water looking interesting ****  Bodega is not known for calm wind, but Sunday is predicted to be a low wind day. This prediction has held since early in the week. As well, off the Bodega Buoy there has been some warm water with low chlorophyll, that is a different habitat, clearer bluer water. Perhaps the Albacore are out there, they certainly are a bit farther north in California. Point of all of this is that we will be looking hard for offshore murrelets on this day with these conditions, given that a Guadalupe showed up in BC, they must be out there! Half Moon Bay last weekend had the first Black Storm-Petrels of the season this far north, and in these conditions finding a storm petrel flock is much easier than with choppy conditions so we will be looking. Overall, seabird diversity kicked up a notch last weekend so we are looking forward to what we see this weekend!

Good birding,

Alvaro and Gene.    


Alvaro Jaramillo




Strawberry Hill Migrants and a lucky squirrel

Ken Moy

Good morning!

Quick update. on Tuesday (8/20) from 8:30am to 11:30am (joined by NancyP around 9:30) and sighted at least 3 yellow warblers (one a bight male), 2 wilson's warblers, 4 townsend's warblers (2 males, 1 HY male and 1 juvenile) and 2 western flycatchers (one fairly yellow/buff individual). Came back around 3pm to find a male western tanager. Also, sighting of a local hutton's virea

On Wednesday morning, spotted 2 yellow warblers, 2-3 wilson's warblers and 1 hermit warbler.

During my Tuesday afternoon outing, I noticed a large bird flying into a pine sited downslope from the SW corner of the hill, about 15 feet away and in the shadows. I looked with my bins and immediately saw a red tail hawk in a supine position with its tail towards the trunk of the tree, flapping wings extended below its body and screeching. Almost immediately, the head, front legs and torso of a squirrel appeared from behind the trunk and facing the hawk. The squirrel started clawing and hissing at the hawk with a vengeance. The hawk was not using its beak or talons and appeared to be under duress. I subsequently surmised that the hawk had pounced on the tail/lower body of the squirrel, failed to subdue it and was trying to extricate its talons. The hawk succeeded after a second or two and flew off. The squirrel scampered down the tree. I could not see whether it was injured.

Chain of Lakes migrants

Brian Turner

A scattering of migrants this afternoon in Golden Gate Park. 

North Lake: Black-throated Gray Warbler, a few Yellow Warblers (including a very drab bird) and two Warbling Vireos in a flock at the southwest end of lake. 

Middle Lake had a Willow Flycatcher.

I also observed several "Western" Flycatchers at both lakes and Bercut.

Yesterday a Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher was in a sizeable mixed flock along Middle Drive east of Metson Lake. 

Good birding,
Brian Turner

Local Interest Fort Mason and Crissy Lagoon - American White Pelicans, etc.

David Assmann

The Battery and the Garden at Fort Mason had good migrants this morning, with two PACIFIC SLOPE FLYCATCHERS, a BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK, 2 HOODED ORIOLES, a WESTERN TANAGER and a BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER in the Garden  Five CLIFF SWALLOWS flew over the garden, with mid-air feeding occurring. There were several other swallows, including a TREE SWALLOW, a BARN SWALLOW and a NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW.  The Battery had a RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH, 2 BULLOCK'S ORIOLES, an ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, a WARBLING VIREO, 2 WESTERN KINGBIRDS, 9 YELLOW WARBLERS, 2 PACIFIC SLOPE FLYCATCHERS, and two WESTERN TANAGERS. A WILSON'S WARBLER was in the trees at the first intersection in the garden from Franklin. The highlights at Crissy Lagoon were two AMERICAN WHITE PELICANS swimming with two BROWN PELICANS, and a RED-NECKED PHALAROPE on the north side of the Lagoon.

Migrants & Another Drama

Brian Fitch

Sooty Shearwaters showed up this morning at the Sutro Baths in a big group for a short time.  Possibly 10-15,000 flew by southbound and way out around 8 AM, in a river of birds that lasted maybe 7-8 minutes.  Four flocks of Red-necked Phalaropes flew by, three groups were northbound.  Elegant Terns were spread out in every direction and out to the horizon; I've never seen such a diffuse yet ubiquitous pattern before.  Parasitic Jaegers were finally present in a consistent way, with one always in view, and as many as four at once, while a few Pigeon Guillemots were still carrying food to nests out of my sight.  Unusual for its altitude was a high flying Wandering Tattler, way above the horizon and heading NE into the Gate.  Several Tuna-like fish were leaping clear of the surface, and a Humpback breached near the horizon.

The drama this time involved an animal rescue truck showing up just I was leaving, so I stopped to see what was up.  I watched the officer/warden go down to the baths with a box and a big net, and he fished some type of bird out of the water of the pools.  As he transferred it to the box, I could see that it was the adult Red-tailed Hawk that I had earlier noticed sitting on one of the seawalls between pools.  The officer told me it was only waterlogged, and that it wouldn't likely need any first aid.  I have no idea how the bird ended up in the pool.

At the East Wash, migrants included Cooper's Hawk, Pac-slope Flycatchers, Red-breasted Nuthatch, a scolding invisible vireo, Swainson's Thrush, Orange-crowned, Yellow and Townsend's Warblers, Western Tanagers, Black-headed Grosbeak, and Lazuli Buntings.

At Battery Godfrey, three TV's were the only southbound raptor types, but several Barn Swallows, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Yellow Warbler, Common Yellowthroat and Western Tanager added interest.
Brian Fitch

Local Interest Fort Mason and Kobbe and Upton

David Assmann

Most of the activity at Fort Mason today was on the hillside above Aquatic Park, where at least three WESTERN KINGBIRDS were actively feeding for a long time. Also on the hillside were 2 BULLOCK'S ORIOLES, a HOODED ORIOLE, a WILSON'S WARBLER and a WESTERN TANAGER. The Battery had 5 YELLOW WARBLERS, a PACIFIC-SLOPE FLYCATCHER and a WESTERN TANAGER. The Garden had an ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER.  At Kobbe and Upton, I didn't see any migrants at all until I got to Dragonfly Creek, which had a singing WARBLING VIREO, a PACIFIC-SLOPE FLYCATCHER, 2 WILSON'S WARBLERS, and a TOWNSEND'S WARBLER.

08.20.19 Lots of Sooties - Ocean Beach South

H Cotter

For anyone interested there were (and likely still there) 1000's of Sooties swirling around the very south end of Ocean Beach this morning (and likely last night).

Also seen were numerous Parasitic Jaegars, many Pigeon Guillemot including funky juv's and a couple of Phalaropes,


Black-and-White Warbler @ McLaren Park

Daniel Scali

Howdy birders,

Early Fall migration is starting to pulse at McLaren. A smattering of Vireos, Grosbeaks, Tanagers, and Orioles were seen recently by either myself or others. Pacific-slope Flycatchers were in play yesterday along with the loud percussion of a flock of Yellow Warblers. The Red-masked Parakeets have also begun screeching overhead of late (I'm curious about this local seasonal migration behavior).

This morning, around my favorite McLaren migrant funnel appeared a Townsend's Warbler and a BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER (I hope you were wearing ear plugs), a new patch bird for me. This is on the path between the Jerry Garcia amphitheater and the dog walker parking lot. The little migrant did not seem interested in hanging around. I refound it about an hour later just SE of Mcnab Pond before it vanished.

Good migration birding!
Dan Scali

Fort Mason Local Interest

David Assmann

I spent most of the morning in the Battery, which had a steady stream of migrants, including 12 YELLOW WARBLERS, 1 ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, 2 BULLOCK'S ORIOLES, 6 WESTERN TANAGERS, 1 HOODED ORIOLE, 1 WARBLING VIREO, 1 WESTERN WOOD PEWEE, 1 ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER and a WILLOW FLYCATCHER. Two LONG-BILLED CURLEW flew by over the Bay (unusual for Fort Mason).  The Garden had a HOUSE WREN and a BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER.  Forgot to mention in yesterday's post the sighting of a WANDERING TATTLER eating a crab.

Fort Mason GGAS Field Trip

David Assmann

This morning's GGAS field trip, with 52 participants, yielded a number of migrants (a few of which showed up before the trip officially started).  The Battery had 4 WESTERN TANAGERS, a TOWNSEND'S WARBLER, 2 BULLOCK'S ORIOLES, a BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER, a HOODED ORIOLE, an ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, at least 10 YELLOW WARBLERS and a WESTERN KINGBIRD. A HOODED ORIOLE and a YELLOW WARBLER were behind the General's House.  The Garden had 2 YELLOW WARBLERS, a PACIFIC SLOPE FLYCATCHER, 2 BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS, and a HOUSE WREN.

SF Seawatch, 8/17/19

Paul Saraceni

This morning (7:25-9:10 AM) I did a seawatch from the south end of the Great Highway. Good viewing conditions with visibility out to the horizon, partly-cloudy skies, and a brisk SW wind that increased during the watch.

There were good numbers of ELEGANT TERNS in view over the ocean the entire time -- estimated 1800+, mostly moving S.

Other observations of local interest:

Surf Scoter 35 (1 flock on the ocean)

Osprey 1 (flying N over the beach)

Clark's Grebe 18 (1 compact flock on the ocean; a nice aggregation)

Western Grebe 2

Common Loon 2 (basic plumage)

Brown Pelican 120+ (most flying N)

Semipalmated Plover 4 (flying N over the surf)

Whimbrel 24

Marbled Godwit 1

Sanderling 30+

Western Sandpiper 3 (flying N over the surf)

Red-necked Phalarope 9 (moving S in small #s, some landed on the ocean)

Caspian Tern 8

PARASITIC JAEGER 2 ad. (flying S together; briefly harassed a Heermann's Gull, then headed W out to sea)

Common Murre 2 

Pigeon Guillemot 1

Barn Swallow 2

Paul Saraceni

San Francisco

Fort Mason and El Polin Spring Local Interest

David Assmann

Fewer migrants at Fort Mason this morning.  YELLOW WARBLERS were the most prevalent - 15 in the Battery and 1 in the garden.  The Battery also had 2 WESTERN TANAGERS and a WILSON'S WARBLER.  The garden had a BULLOCK'S ORIOLE, an ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER and a WILSON'S WARBLER. A PEREGRINE FALCON flew over around 9. El Polin Spring had a WESTERN WOOD PEWEE, a CASSIN'S VIREO and a RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH.