Date   
Lloyd Lake

Alan Hopkins
 

The Swamp Sparrow was seen eating birdseed at the north end of the lake. Also eating seed were the White-throated Sparrow and Lincoln's Sparrow. There was a female Bullocks Oriole along the edge of the lawn and the lake had two Herring Gulls and two "Thayer's Gulls".

Alan S. Hopkins
San Francisco, CA

Re: Lapland Longspur over Ocean Beach, 12/2/18

Bob Hall
 

Speaking of Ocean Beach, there is a bioblitz there on 12/8. Birders will meet at 7:30am.

Saturday, 12/8

9am-1:30pm (Early Bird group meets at 7:30am)

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ocean-beach-winter-bioblitz-tickets-51472032234?fbclid=IwAR0OsAmOXjWRjDpAv9BkppwhX6QeV-SrrQglvPK0mkOzRS4fCSGj0XOWBKA

A bioblitz is an intensive, short study of biodiversity in a specific location. We’ll look for birds, mammals, sand dollars, jellyfish, wildflowers, butterflies, insects, anything! People of all ages and skill levels are welcome! Just bring your curiosity, a smartphone with the iNaturalist app downloaded (or digital camera), and tons of enthusiasm. 
The Early Bird Group will meet at 7:30 am at Stairway #17, across from the Beach Chalet
The Regular Biolitz Group will meet at 9:00 am at the Great Highway Parking Lot near the SF Zoo at 2801 Great Highway, where Sloat runs into Great Highway.
The Fort Funston Group will meet at 9:00 am at the southern Fort Funston parking lot.
Partners: Golden Gate Audubon Society, the San Francisco Zoo, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the Golden Gate Parks Conservancy, Surfrider, the California Native Plant Society, Nature in the City, and California Academy of Sciences.


--
Bob Hall
San Francisco, CA
"There is no better high than discovery." - E.O. Wilson

Northern Pintails, Orchard Oriole, Summer Tanager

David Assmann
 

On Saturday I joined the twice monthly winter bird count on Alcatraz run by the Alcatraz biologist, Tori Seher, where the highlight was a flock of 26 NORTHERN PINTAILS flying over the island. On Sunday, the ORCHARD ORIOLE and the LINCOLN'S SPARROW continued in the Fort Mason Community Garden.  This morning the SUMMER TANAGER perched in plain sight near the tennis courts at Lafayette Park.  Other birds at Lafayette included a NASHVILLE WARBLER, a VARIED THRUSH and a WHITE-THROATED SPARROW.

Harris's Sparrow at Candlestick Point SRA this morning

Kevin Liberg
 

At Candlestick Pt SRA, I was in the NE corner of the abandoned parking area at the north end of the park. A Harris's Sparrow flew into the patch just east of the parking area. A large sparrow with black on the face and a pink bill. It landed nearby and was unmistakable. There was a large flock of mostly White-crowned Sparrows there at the time.

Complete List:
https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S50400555

Kevin Liberg
San Francisco

Lloyd Lake - Swamp Sparrow, Lincoln's & White-throated Sparrows

Lee Guichan
 

Hello, Yesterday about 10am the Swamp Sparrow, White-throated, Sparrow & Lincoln Sparrow were across the pump house, north side in the bramble bushes and where bird seed has been thrown on ground. The sparrows were with Dark-eyed Juncos, White-crowned Sparrows, Golden-crowned Sparrows, Song Sparrows, 3 Fox Ssparrows & two Ca. Towhees.

Today about 11am the Swamp Sparrow, White-throated, Sparrow & Lincoln Sparrow and other sparrows continued.

Seven Hooded Mergansers (6f & 1m), one female Ring-necked Duck, three Am. Coots, about 30 Mallards,were in the lake. One Copper's Hawk was a fly over, one Red Shouldered Hawk was in the eucs, 2 Black Phoebes, two Stellar's Jays, two Hermit Thrush, 5 Anna's Hummingbirds, one Hutton's Vireo, one Ruby Crowned Kinglet & three Townsend's Warblers, one Nuttall's Woodpecker.

Lee Guichan
San Francisco

Palm Warbler at HHP, Pier 94

Eddie Bartley
 

Before and after some Pier 94 GGAS work party stuff did a quick census at Pier 94 then another low tide walk out to Heron’s Head.

 

Pier 94: 30 bird species, very few ducks or shorebirds during the visit, but a Dunlin flushed out of the pickleweed. A female AMERICAN KESTREL was working the area, presumably the same bird that has been around since late summer. Winter Sparrow numbers are up, two LINCOLN’S SPARROW and several Savannah’s were in the mix. The asphalt pond on the Hansen lot was full but completely absent of birds – maybe the increased truck activity or they just have better places to loaf after the rains. Very sad about the complete loss of the backlands.

 

Heron’s Head Park: 36 bird species, only birded from the main path. There was a lot of bird activity at India Basin that I didn’t have time to check out. The highlights included a White-tailed Kite hunting throughout the visit right over head at times. On the return from the tip a PALM WARBLER chipped and then landed very close on the Wildlife Protection fence. Same area where one has been a couple in prior seasons. Be a nice bird for the CBC if it sticks around.

 

Happy Trails!

 

Eddie Bartley

Harris's Sparrow location this evening and other sightings

 

Several birders converged on Candlestick State Recreation Area this afternoon where the Harris's Sparrow reported by Kevin Liberg was seen on the rise in the northeast corner. This spot is next to two tarp and sandbag covered mounds of dirt and a two minute walk from the main parking lot entrance. The flock of (70+ mostly White-crowned) Sparrows moves around and toward sunset a good portion of them were at the edge of the mostly dry pond. However they appear to gather in the tangles of French broom, acacia and coyote brush for their night roost for those who may try for this bird in upcoming mornings. Great find, Kevin and the first since the early 1990s, I think.

For those who were around this is where the Grasshopper Sparrow was in January 2012, for those who came after
GPS waypoint :

37.7153
-122.3787



Additional sightings --

This morning (12/3) I biked/walked around the periphery of the Zoo, the North Funston Dunes, and the west edge of Lake Merced.

One Palm Warbler continued in the Boathouse parking lot and on the roof (appearing to forage along the rain gutters.) (2) White-throated Swifts were foraging over the lake/Sewage Plant.

A flock of (10+) Townsend's Warblers were approximately half of the morning total in the cypress grove at Lake Merced Blvd and Skyline Drive. Only (2) lutescens Orange-crowned Warblers on the whole loop seemed low compared to some winters. One each were at the Boathouse and Wooden Bridge. A Say's Phoebe and at least (3) Lincoln's Sparrows were in the North Funston Dunes. This area is prime habitat for a pipit, lark or Longspur to touch down for a few moments before being chased off by people/dog activity so get here early if you can. Rainy days seem best.

On Saturday (12/1), there were (2) NASHVILLE Warblers in Laguna Honda Canyon (accessed from a Trailhead at Clarendon.) One was a very bright bird and almost certainly the same individual that was seen here on 11/2. The other bird was more pale/drab yellow below. Both Nashvilles were associating with the bushtit flock along the trail where it takes a 90 degree right turn up hill as you approach the hospital grounds. There blooming yellow Cape Ivy is the attractant here. A "Gambel's"
ssp. White-crowned Sparrow was with the crowned Sparrow flock in the Laguna Honda Hospital garden. This subspecies is very rarely noted in winter away from small flocks on the immediate Bayside (Heron's Head, Candlestick.)

Dominik Mosur
San Francisco
Sent from my iPhone

No Harris's Sparrow, Tuesday AM

Adam Winer
 

Seven of us looked for the sparrow until about 10am this morning without luck.  I assume it's still around, but it's certainly not easy to find.

-- Adam Winer

Eagle & Gnatcatcher

Brian Fitch
 

Yesterday at Battery Godfrey, a young Bald Eagle flew northward from Land's End out over the Golden Gate channel, circled many times near Mile Rock, then flew back to SF, and later launched north again, disappearing behind the lone cypress.  Neither Paul nor I picked it up again on either side of the water.  Despite good easterly wind, we didn't see much besides many loons and scoters, and a few common duck species.

Today while unsuccessfully searching for the sparrow, there was a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher along the south side of the plateau at Candlestick.  And Lincoln's Sparrows were off the chart there; I haven't seen so many anywhere in years.

Brian Fitch

Sparrow strategem et al.

 

Seeing negative reports on the Harris's Sparrow, I stopped by the site this evening after work and scattered a bit of bird seed around the coordinates I posted last night. Hopefully this will concentrate the flock and give people another opportunity to relocate "the bird."


A few observations I found interesting in the course of the day:

(2) Cackling Geese flying north with (10) Canada Geese low over Sunset Blvd. @ Moraga during the morning commute. Maybe they are roosting at Lake Merced and hanging around the Polo Fields in the day.

(2) Western Bluebirds associating with Yellow-rumped Warblers were feeding on front lawns across the street from Aptos Middle School. Additionally I received off list messages about Western Bluebirds in residential areas recently in Glen Park and Cole Valley/Upper Haight. Western Bluebird just may have the charisma to replace the (apparently extirpated) California Quail as the new City Bird although it may have a tough go of it as the carpetbagger vote is heavily siding with Red-masked Parakeet.

(2) Spotted Towhees were in poison oak at the trail "x" on Mount Davidson. There seem to be more than the expected number of this species around this winter and at sites where they don't regularly occur (e.g. Elk Glen in Golden Gate Park.) A House Wren called once, one of those low detectability wintering birds that tend to get overlooked.

Dominik Mosur
San Francisco

Xmas count birding tactics

Josiah Clark
 

This Saturday, December 8 I will be leading a Birding Strategy field trip for the Marin Audubon Society at the very nearby Fort Baker just across the bridge.
We will certainly be looking for the many cool birds that live in this rarely birded area as we discuss ways to raise the bar on citizen science.
Committed counters from all counts, especially area leaders are encouraged to participate. Bring the map of your area and a checklist it you have one.

Christmas Bird Counts are not field trips! But it would be great to see some of you on Saturday for this one.

A few take away points for counters are listed below:
1) Avoid or minimize early meetings. Have as many competent counters as possible start in their own areas independently at dawn. This is the most precious time of day, meet at a productive spot for lunch to check in and talk about what you found instead.

2)Make a maximum diversity species count part of your goal. Make sure to hit some of every habitat possible before noon. Have a list of target species but focus on getting good counts of the common birds. Double back on parts of areas you missed earlier in the day if necessary. Laying eyes on as many individuals as possible while counting them is the best way to find a rare bird anyway.

3) recognize that CBCs are not field trips. Running your CBC area like a field trip diminishes the count and lessons coverage. Spreading out and maximizing coverage raises the bar for citizen science and fledges more independent counters.

4)Put beginning and slower Birders in a group together. Match active birders with more difficult to access to terrain. Encourage experience Birder‘s to Bird on their own. Larger groups of birders tend to miss birds as they are talking and do not hear the calls. Break off into pairs when possible.

5) Maintain good counting habits. Keep updating lists regularly. When counting large groups of birds start counting at the edges and work towards the central mass, this often reveals much larger numbers. Make a special efforts for birds like sparrows and Crows, which are seen constantly through the day but often miss being counted.

6) Make efforts to get to the furthest points of interest in your area first and work your way back rather than creep ahead birding slowly. You are unlikely get to these areas if you wait until later in the day.

7) Consider using mountain bikes or kayaks to access new parts of your area as walking time to areas of interest can be prohibitive. If long hikes are necessary and make sure counters are well provisioned so they can stay out there to complete the tasks at hand.

Good luck and happy counting!
Josiah Clark, your Habitat Potential birding strategist

Re: Xmas count birding tactics - crows

William Grant
 

Thanks. Good points.

I am interested in roosting crows.
I plan to go to Rincon Center late afternoon to count the crows arriving to roost.
Saw 535 last time I looked.

Does anyone know of other crow roosting locations?
Dan Murphy mentioned El Polin Springs.

Thanks
Bill

-----Original Message-----
From: Josiah Clark <josiah.clark621@...>
Sent: Dec 5, 2018 10:25 AM
To: Sf Birds <sfbirds@groups.io>, Josiah Clark <josiah.clark621@...>
Subject: [SFBirds] Xmas count birding tactics

This Saturday, December 8 I will be leading a Birding Strategy field trip for the Marin Audubon Society at the very nearby Fort Baker just across the bridge.
We will certainly be looking for the many cool birds that live in this rarely birded area as we discuss ways to raise the bar on citizen science.
Committed counters from all counts, especially area leaders are encouraged to participate. Bring the map of your area and a checklist it you have one.

Christmas Bird Counts are not field trips! But it would be great to see some of you on Saturday for this one.

A few take away points for counters are listed below:
1) Avoid or minimize early meetings. Have as many competent counters as possible start in their own areas independently at dawn. This is the most precious time of day, meet at a productive spot for lunch to check in and talk about what you found instead.

2)Make a maximum diversity species count part of your goal. Make sure to hit some of every habitat possible before noon. Have a list of target species but focus on getting good counts of the common birds. Double back on parts of areas you missed earlier in the day if necessary. Laying eyes on as many individuals as possible while counting them is the best way to find a rare bird anyway.

3) recognize that CBCs are not field trips. Running your CBC area like a field trip diminishes the count and lessons coverage. Spreading out and maximizing coverage raises the bar for citizen science and fledges more independent counters.

4)Put beginning and slower Birders in a group together. Match active birders with more difficult to access to terrain. Encourage experience Birder‘s to Bird on their own. Larger groups of birders tend to miss birds as they are talking and do not hear the calls. Break off into pairs when possible.

5) Maintain good counting habits. Keep updating lists regularly. When counting large groups of birds start counting at the edges and work towards the central mass, this often reveals much larger numbers. Make a special efforts for birds like sparrows and Crows, which are seen constantly through the day but often miss being counted.

6) Make efforts to get to the furthest points of interest in your area first and work your way back rather than creep ahead birding slowly. You are unlikely get to these areas if you wait until later in the day.

7) Consider using mountain bikes or kayaks to access new parts of your area as walking time to areas of interest can be prohibitive. If long hikes are necessary and make sure counters are well provisioned so they can stay out there to complete the tasks at hand.

Good luck and happy counting!
Josiah Clark, your Habitat Potential birding strategist

peregrine over the tl

lwpayne919
 

walking along leavenworth to civic center bart at dusk, i heard an unusual quickly repeating call... “kack kack kack kack” coming from high above

at first i couldn’t find the source, i scanned the skies for a bit, then i kept walking

”kack kack kack kack...”

i looked up and saw a the silhouette of a large falcon with pointed wings soaring above buildings

i had to search online to confirm the sound was a peregrine’s

awesome end to a workday


Re: Xmas count birding tactics

Joe Morlan
 

Excellent tips, Josiah!

I would like to add that if you have been covering the same area for
multiple years, it is best practice to use the same protocol as used in the
past so that trends will not be influenced by changes in the way birds are
counted or estimated. After all it's the year-to-year trends that are most
important in long-term projects such as Christmas counts.

My opinion, FWIW.

--
Joseph Morlan, Pacifica, CA

Christmas Bird Count strategies

Maureen Lahiff
 

Josiah makes a lot of good points in his SF Birds post about the CBC
(I was sorry to be really down with a cold and the smoke when he gave the Nov GGAS Speaker Series talk about censusing,
and so decided not to try to make it over to SF.)

I like to gather my entire team for my Oakland area briefly at a central location
as we start, to increase people's connections with the CBC, to exchange mobile phone numbers, etc.
and so that everyone knows where they are going and where others are going.

It is true that a CBC is a "real census" (to quote the National Audubon site),
and not a field trip, but it is a group activity, and I think there is a lot of payoff in gathering briefly at 7 am,
again for lunch, and at dusk.  Lunch check-in is a really good time for uncertain IDs and questions,
and any revision of coverage plans that we need to make.

I pair newer people, or people who haven't birded in the count area much,
with more experienced birders, since they can serve as careful recorders.

I don't like sending anyone out solo, even pretty good birders.
But then, I admit that in Oakland we are blessed with a Sunday,
and with a good number of participants.  (We have at least 30 areas,
almost double SFs, but I typically get enough people to have around 4 teams
of 2-3 people each.)

Maueen Lahiff
Oakland

Battery G & F Scott

Brian Fitch
 

Two hours in easterly winds at Battery Godfrey turned up only a few birds of unusual interest.  There were onesies of Gadwall, Greater Scaup, and Bufflehead mixed in with Surf Scoter flocks, 8 Bonaparte's Gulls in a tight flock, 2 northbound Tree Swallows, American Pipit, Savannah Sparrow, and a non-local Red Crossbill.  The female Gadwall was on the water, and was associating with scoters so closely that she was swamped twice by incoming waves.  This is the third time in recent weeks that I've seen what I suspect to be the same individual Gadwall, always with a scoter flock.

At Ft Scott, a Red-breasted Sapsucker was in the pines west of the ball field, and a White-throated Sparrow was on the field with fellow Zonotrichias.

Brian Fitch

NO Harris's Sparrow Today at Candlestick Pt

Kevin Liberg
 

I spent about 90 minutes with the sparrow flock at the north end of the park this morning, but no luck.  By 10:00 the bird activity there, quieted down considerably.

Complete List:
https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S50476159

Kevin Liberg
San Francisco

Bald Eagle and other local interest

David Assmann
 

A juvenile BALD EAGLE was the highlight at Battery Godfrey this morning. There was also a BLACK SCOTER in with all the SURF SCOTERS in the water, but no sign of Brian's Gadwall. The upper part of the Battery to Bluffs trail was active with multiple WRENTITS singing, two BEWICK'S WRENS squabbling, a SPOTTED TOWHEE and about a dozen BUSHTITS doing some kind of bathing behavior in vegetation.  Yesterday on a shorebird count for Point Blue along the Northern Waterfront, I had four WILSON'S SNIPE at Crissy Lagoon, as well as a SURFBIRD and a BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER north of the Yacht Harbor (not common for that location), and the continuing WANDERING TATTLER in Aquatic Park.

Re: Bald Eagle and other local interest

H Cotter
 

Additionally this morning an adult Bald Eagle went across at about 8.15 AM to the west - heading over Lincoln Park as seen from Battery Godfrey.
I also had a Merlin and a Tree Swallow. I left around 9.15 AM.

Hugh


On Fri, Dec 7, 2018 at 1:06 PM David Assmann via Groups.Io <david_assmann=yahoo.com@groups.io> wrote:
A juvenile BALD EAGLE was the highlight at Battery Godfrey this morning. There was also a BLACK SCOTER in with all the SURF SCOTERS in the water, but no sign of Brian's Gadwall. The upper part of the Battery to Bluffs trail was active with multiple WRENTITS singing, two BEWICK'S WRENS squabbling, a SPOTTED TOWHEE and about a dozen BUSHTITS doing some kind of bathing behavior in vegetation.  Yesterday on a shorebird count for Point Blue along the Northern Waterfront, I had four WILSON'S SNIPE at Crissy Lagoon, as well as a SURFBIRD and a BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER north of the Yacht Harbor (not common for that location), and the continuing WANDERING TATTLER in Aquatic Park.

Kingbird at Mountain Lake 12/7/18

 

Passing on a 2nd hand report from a visiting birder who saw a (Yellow-bellied/probably Tropical) Kingbird from Park Presidio just south of MacArthur Tunnel today.

Dominik Mosur
San Francisco