Orchard and Hooded Orioles, Brant - Fort Mason and Lafayette Park local interest

David Assmann

I spent a good deal of the morning scanning the Bay from the Battery and was rewarded with a BRANT that flew quite close to shore, my FOS PIGEON GUILLEMOT and four COMMON MURRES. The garden had the continuing ORCHARD ORIOLE and an ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER. Found a second BUSHTIT nest - this one still under construction (a pair of NUTTALL'S WOODPECKERS are also working on a nest).  A MERLIN sat on the roof of the headquarters, and a WARBLING VIREO was behind the General's House. At Lafayette Park, I was able to find the adult male HOODED ORIOLE that Lori reported yesterday.

Fort Mason GGAS trip

David Assmann

The main highlight for today's field trip at Fort Mason was the number of nests we were able to observe.  We watched a pair of BUSHTITS going in and out of a nest in the Battery, and had good looks at three different ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRD nests - one in front of the garden, one in the lower Battery and one at the top of the stairs coming up from Aquatic Park.  We had stunning looks at the overwintering ORCHARD ORIOLE,  which remained in view for at least 15 minutes, at one point sitting a foot away from a bright ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER. At least 30 CEDAR WAXWINGS foraged in the garden.  The WANDERING TATTLER was on the pier in Aquatic Park. Swallows have returned - we saw both a BARN SWALLOW and a VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW. A pair of WESTERN BLUEBIRDS were near the entrance way to Fort Mason. RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS were singing, and two participants reported hearing a Blue Gray Gnatcatcher.

Sick Sanderling

Richard Bradus

While enjoying a beautiful walk before noon along the north waterfront I came across a lone sanderling at the Golden Gate Yacht Club harbor that was acting strangely. I first saw it foraging atop a seaweed covered concrete block, wobbling as it rapidly walked back and forth (like doing a two-step). At first I though it was some kind of foraging behavior to flush insects, but when it flew across to the concrete walkway and continued its tottering it was clear that something was wrong. Interestingly, it had no trouble trotting straight ahead (as we usually see Sanderlings do), but otherwise it continued to wobble back and forth as it pecked at gull droppings and other tidbits in its path.

With the marked change to warm weather, could this be toxic algae poisoning? As someone walking by observed, it looked like it was drunk - but I doubt this was a St. Paddy's day aftermath.

Lots of human activity, quite a few small crabs out on the rocks, but not much other avian activity, though I did see my FOS Rough-winged Swallows checking out the rigging on a couple of the moored boats.


Richard Bradus
San Francisco

Early Spring Warblers

Joachim Gonzalez

I had 1 Black Throated Gray Warbler in the Oaks near the McLaren Lodge in GGP as well as good numbers of Huttons Vireo, Townsend’s and Yellow Rumps as well as 1 Orange Crowned

Good Birding
Joachim Gonzalez

BTG Warbler(s?)

Daniel Scali

Hey folks,

Been picking through warblers for the last hour or so at just in front of the Angler’s Lodge in GG Park (Casting Pools). So other side of bldg from the pools. There’s definitely at least one Black-throated Gray but it seemed like multiple were singing. I don’t know warbler vocalizations well enough to be confident though. Lots of Yrumps and Townies in the mix. 

Happy spring!
Dan Scali

Early Spring Birds

Joachim Gonzalez

This afternoon I went on a quick walk in the McLaren Lodge area of GGP to try to help my fever, and it was quite productive. Lots of birds singing with big numbers of ~50 Dark Eyed Juncos which in the past week or so have started singing, I even heard a Ruby Crowned Kinglet singing. Best of all was my FOS Pacific Slope Flycatcher which was calling close to the corner of Fulton and Stanyan streets. 

Also a good mixed flock of Yellow Rumps and Townsend’s, although I didnt spend a huge amount of time picking through them because of my fever. Good 30 minute walk.

Good Birding

Recent Winter Sightings

Oscar Moss

Today at Middle Lake there was a House Wren loudly singing from the thickets at the south end of the lake. Perhaps just a winterer or migrant, but Dom suggested that it may be trying to establish a territory. Definitely worth continuing to look for, in case it sticks around and is able to find a mate and breed. No sign of the BAWW that undoubtedly overwintered here. Not much else of note in GGP, save a few Pine Siskins at the golf course.

During a seawatch from the Cliff House last weekend in bad conditions I saw one Red-necked Grebe, likely one of the same individuals that overwintered in the Lands End Area. Certainly big numbers of these around this winter in SF.

While looking for Josiah’s Long-tailed Duck a few weeks ago at Baker Beach, I viewed 4 Brant feeding in the Golden Gate Channel with Jeffrey Gray.

Good birding,



Richard Bradus

Hi all

As if the sudden re-appearance of the sun and warm temperatures were not enough, there were nice hints of spring from our avian friends yesterday and today.

At Land's End yesterday I saw a pair of Oystercatchers copulate, and later engage in a prolonged bout of "agitated behavior", squawking very loudly as a third bird squabbled with them, eventually engaging in some pretty violent pecking, and even carrying their fight over the water with some in-flight skirmishing. I'm not sure if they settled the matter, but it appeared that the pair remained together, warily eyeing the third bird as it kept its distance. Around the same time I saw a couple of waves of Violet-green swallows swoop and soar over the area, perhaps a dozen in all, heading north presumably in migration.

Today on my pre-lunch walk through Alta Plaza Park I saw the resident pair of Pygmy Nuthatches working on their nest cavity in a large cypress. One was pecking away at the entrance when its mate arrived carrying nesting material, including what looked like a small pigeon feather. A new season calls for a new door and new furnishings, right? And in Lafayette Park the warblers were active and vocal, with a couple of singing Yellow-rumps and Townsend's doing various length fragments of their songs, one even adding an ending trill a few times. More singing, less chipping - I'm good with that, even though that means they will soon be leaving us.


Richard Bradus
San Francisco

Nashville Warbler at St. Mary’s Square

Megan Jankowski

I saw a Nashville Warbler today on my lunch break at St. Mary’s Square in Chinatown. I spotted it yesterday too but did not have my binoculars and wasn’t 100% sure on ID. Both days it was found in the northwestern most evergreen in the park, I think a juniper. A Townsend’s Warbler was in the same tree both days too. 

Megan Jankowski

Warbling Vireo, Rufous Hummingbird and local interest

David Assmann

I went to Mountain Lake Park yesterday morning to look for the arriving sparrows reported by Josiah.  I didn't find those, but did find my FOS WARBLING VIREO and a WHITE-THROATED SWIFT. Later in the day, while walking along the Land's End Trail without my camera, I had great looks at a RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD. I started the day today at the Concrete Bridge at Lake Merced, where I was immediately surrounded by 16 GREAT-TAILED GRACKLES. Swallows came in about 8 o'clock, including a NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW and a BARN SWALLOW. Saw expected birds at the Boathouse.  At the Chain of Lakes, I observed the GREAT HORNED OWL on her nest, and saw seven HOODED MERGANSERS in varying stages of plumage on North Lake. A GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE was at Spreckels Lake.

Pigeon guillemot and scoter movement baker beach

Josiah Clark

I counted 358 Surf Scoters Baker Beach. Almost twice as many as I had on the weekend. There were also for red-necked grebes and four female black scoters, more than I’ve ever seen of either species in the presidio at once.
This is unprecedented in my memory for Baker Beach to have so many Scoters for so long. I have not seen much active feeding but I imagine they are going after sand crabs, one of the few food sources out there in the surf. Perhaps there has been some kind of underwater sand movement that has yielded a new food source.
I looked hard but could not find a long-tailed duck. The pigeon guillemot was looking handsome right off the middle of the beach not too far out. First of season for me.

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

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.

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.

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. 

Western Kingbird at Fort Mason

David Assmann

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

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

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

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.

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