The Oakland Christmas Bird Count, Sunday, December 16, 2018

David Quady and Nancy Boas

East Bay Birders and others:

A Barn Owl over Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley launched Oakland’s 78th annual CBC at 3:30 am yesterday, and birding continued apace until 2:00 pm, when heavy rain convinced most birders who were still in the field to call it a day.

The count’s preliminary total of 170 species was 9 below our 10-year average, and many area leaders reported that numbers of birds seemed well below normal. At last evening’s compilation dinner a Ferruginous Hawk (our first since 1994) over north San Pablo Ridge was chosen as the count’s best bird. Other nice finds included a Long-tailed Duck off the Berkeley Pier, a Western Tanager on Bay Farm Island, a Black-throated Gray Warbler near Haviland Hall on the UC campus, a Hermit Warbler near Lake Merritt, and Bald Eagles reported from several

An apparently over-wintering adult male Summer Tanager found on October 30 in Claremont Canyon Regional Preserve went missing for a month but was re-found on December 7. Thereafter it was reported nearly daily through December 15 but, sadly, eluded detection on count day.

Birds seen at least 8 of the last 10 years, but missed yesterday, include White-winged Scoter, Loggerhead Shrike, Pine Siskin and Snow Goose. If any of these species (or any rare species) is seen within the count circle through Wednesday (end of count week), please let us know.

More than 250 people registered for this year’s count but we won’t know until late 2019 whether Oakland extended its now four-year long streak of having more field observers than any other Christmas Bird Count. Either way, my co-compiler, Bob Lewis, and I invite you to join Oakland’s 79th CBC, on December 15, 2019.

Dave Quady
Berkeley, California

Duck sightings - Brewer's Duck and Lesser Scaup

David Assmann

On Saturday, there was a BREWER'S DUCK (Gadwall X Mallard) at Heron's Head Park. A LESSER SCAUP was swimming in with RING-NECKED DUCKS at Stow Lake this morning.

Bullock’s Oriole

David Assmann

Adult male in Eucalyptus tree west of small maintenance yard at Bercut in Golden Gate Park 

Fort Mason Local Interest

David Assmann

Yesterday, Wednesday, I had the usual suspects at Fort Mason - the continuing ORCHARD ORIOLE, the WHITE-THROATED SPARROW and the LINCOLN'S SPARROW. The only difference was that there are now two LINCOLN'S SPARROWS in the Fort Mason Community Garden. A MERLIN sat on the Headquarters Building, enduring harassment from AMERICAN CROWS. A little while later, a PEREGRINE FALCON flew over.

Christmas Count 12/27 - assignments coming shortly

Siobhan Ruck

A bunch of unanticipated overtime this week has me behind, but I have the list of registered participants and will be sending info today and tomorrow.

There are 2-3 areas that may need leaders. If you have an interest in leading, contact me directly. You don’t need to be an expert birder - it’s pretty much about the getting the numbers and documentation together.

Some continuing birds of interest that might stay for Christmas.


Hi Birders,
Seen earlier today:
Balboa Park: A continuing minima Cackling Goose with Canada Geese on the baseball field.
Ferry Park: 6 warbler species including a continuing Wilson’s (preferring the yellow brugmansia trumpet flower shrubs on the hill), a long-continuing Black-throated Gray and a Nashville.
Lafayette Park: continuing F Summer Tanager and a continuing F/HY Hooded Oriole. 5 Purple Finches.
Union Square: Cooper’s Hawk.
Earlier this month:
Dec14: Chipping Sparrow on the cycling track going around the Polo Field in GG Park...a surprising first December SF ebird record.
Russ Bright

Rock wren at Land's End?

Bob Hall

I heard the unmistakable sound of a rock wren calling below the Land's End parking lot. Of course, if it was actually a seabird, the sound was mistakable. The reason for lack of certainty: I was on a bike ride sans bins and just stopped by the overlook for a rest. I heard the sound and beckoned for my wife's phone to see if it matches a recording. It did. It was coming from the cliffs below the parking lot.

Anyway, if you're in the area it may be worth checking out. Note that the parking lot and access road is closed due to the #TrumpShutdown.
Bob Hall
San Francisco, CA
"There is no better high than discovery." - E.O. Wilson

Fort Mason Birds

Joachim Gonzalez

The ORCHARD ORIOLE and WHITE THROATED SPARROW continue in the garden, with the former showing evidence of molting into adult plumage. The LINCOLNS SPARROW also continues.

Joachim Gonzalez

Bayside and Barn Owl

Oscar Moss

Hi All,

Yesterday (Dec 22) spent the day with Sam S and Jonah birding Pier 94, Heron’s Head, and Candlestick. Highlights included a Barn Swallow, which flew directly over Heron’s Head and continued south along India Basin Shoreline. We also viewed the Eurasian Wigeon continuing with the flock of AMWI in the bay north of pier 94. We had the 2 White-tailed Kites (one at Candlestick, one at Heron’s Head). With the king tide, we also saw a huge number of Wilson’s Snipe (25?) at Heron’s Head, many of which were taking shelter in bushes and grasses in upland areas of the park. At Yosemite Slough, there were over 70 Dunlin and a few Black Turnstones, but the large numbers of Semi Plovers seem to have departed. Also no sign of Ridgway’s Rail. There are still huge numbers of Zonos at Candlestick, and it seems perfectly realistic that the Harris’s Sparrow has gone undetected.

This morning (Dec 23), I saw a Barn Owl at Dolores Park, around 6:30. They are likely resident here.


Fort Mason Local Interest

David Assmann

Quite a birdy morning at Fort Mason, with 55 species seen.  The ORCHARD ORIOLE  (attached) is continuing to progress step by step towards adult plumage in the garden.  Two LINCOLN'S SPARROWS and a WHITE-THROATED SPARROW were also in the garden. The WANDERING TATTLER was on the abandoned pier in Aquatic Park at high tide. Both a RED-THROATED LOON and a COMMON LOON were also in Aquatic Park.  There were at least 59 WESTERN GREBES. As part of the restoration project on the area below the hill above Aquatic Park, a section has been roped off and seeded, giving the sparrow flock a feast - I counted 56 WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS chowing down on seeds. 4 WESTERN BLUEBIRDS were at the corner of Pope and MacArthur.  There is at least one, if not two, Gray Headed ORANGE CROWNED WARBLER, in the garden.

Western Grebe Convocation in Aquatic Cove


I counted over 50 in the the center of the Cove 22 December 2018 and again today with various stragglers diving for food in and around the docks of South End Rowing Club where I’m a member
I have an interest in seabirds 
Because of the Federal government shutdown the Aquatic Park Pier is closed

Count Week starts today

Siobhan Ruck

San Francisco’s Christmas Count takes place on Thursday 12/27, which means today is the start of count week. Please be sure to report any interesting sightings between now and next Sunday 12/30, on the chance that they’re not seen on Count Day.

If you haven’t signed up but find yourself with the day free and would like to count, send me a message and I’ll try to find a space for you on one of the teams.

Siobhan Ruck, SF

Correction on Fort Mason report

David Assmann

I meant WHITE-CROWNED, not WHITE-THROATED, SPARROWS at Fort Mason yesterday.

Re: Count Week starts today

Sam _

Swamp Sparrow this morning in the rain at Sutro Baths. Seen just below where the staircase from the parking lot lets out onto the other path halfway down the hill. Same bush as a Marsh Wren at one point.

Sam Safran

On Dec 24, 2018, at 7:53 AM, Siobhan Ruck <siobhan.ruck@...> wrote:

San Francisco’s Christmas Count takes place on Thursday 12/27, which means today is the start of count week.  Please be sure to report any interesting sightings between now and next Sunday 12/30, on the chance that they’re not seen on Count Day.

If you haven’t signed up but find yourself with the day free and would like to count, send me a message and I’ll try to find a space for you on one of the teams.

Siobhan Ruck, SF

Orchard Oriole and Blue Gray Gnatcatcher at Fort Mason

David Assmann

Had great views of the ORCHARD ORIOLE again this morning, in time for Count Week. A bonus was a BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER in the Battery, as well as a HOUSE WREN in the garden, a LINCOLN'S SPARROW and a WHITE-THROATED SPARROW in the garden, a MERLIN flying over and a RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER north of the garden.  81 WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS were in the newly planted area.

Sea watch -- 4 species of Alcids, 12/25/18

Paul Saraceni

This morning I did a "count week" sea watch (7:15-10:15 AM) from the south end of the Great Highway, ahead of my sea watch from this location for the SF CBC on Thurs.  Winds were back out of the NW after yesterday's storms, and strengthened as the morning went on. Relatively big waves and choppy surf continue.  Visibility was pretty good out to the horizon.

Thousands of gulls were on the move the entire time, swirling high over the ocean in big flocks and moving N.  Most were Californias and Glaucous-wingeds with small numbers of the other regular wintering gulls, though just 1 Heermann's, (Yesterday (12/24) morning there was briefly a gull flock on the beach at this location, including 120+ "Thayer's" Icelands and 40+ Herrings, sizable numbers for the City.) 

There was only a small northbound movement of loons.

Best were 4 species of alcids in small numbers, as noted below.

Observations of local interest:

N. Pintail 1 m. (briefly landed on the ocean, then continued N)

Surf Scoter 42

BLACK SCOTER 2 m. (yesterday, 12/24, there were 3 m. & 1 f. at this location)

Red-thr. Loon 80+ (most flying N, some on the water)

Pacific Loon 1

Common Loon 2

W. Grebe 2

Clark's Grebe 1

Sanderling 80+

Black Turnstone 2 (flying N over the ocean a way's out)

Com. Murre 3 (singles flying N)

RHINOCEROS AUKLET 2 (flying N together)

ANCIENT MURRELET 4 (3 & 1 flying N)

MARBLED MURRELET 2 (flying N together)

Murrelet sp. 2 (flying N together)

Say's (2) & Black (2) Phoebes (flying and perching on both sides of the Great Highway)

Bewick's Wren 2 (singing from across the Great Highway)

Paul Saraceni

San Francisco

Re: Count Week starts today

Mary Betlach

Common loon (perhaps two) at Herons Head xmas morning

Mary Betlach

Seeking Participants for Muir Woods - S. Marin, Christmas Bird Count 2018

Sarah Burton

Hello Birders of San Francisco & North Bay, 

I am looking for intermediate-advanced participants to join the Muir Woods sector of the S. Marin CBC this year, on Saturday, December 29 (maps attached). If interested, please fill out this registration form or email me directly.

There is a variety of habitats in this sector and the terrain can be challenging. Still, there are plenty of opportunities for raptor and passerine observation at the top of ridges. Habitats include: fern and redwood canyons, with dense stands of Douglas fir and laurel; riparian with lots of Alder; oak-covered knolls, coastal chaparral, open grassland, and a small area of serpentine. A variety of species from owl, woodpecker, thrush, raptor, and nuthatch families can be expected. A limited number of parking permits have been obtained, thanks to David MacKenzie, who lives in the area and has appreciated its birds for 25 years. 

General schedule for the day (detailed to follow):

4:00 - Owl, meet at (TBD)
7:00AM - Begin, meet at Four Corners (Hwy 1 + Muir Woods Rd. + Sequoia Valley Rd.)
5:00 PM - Countdown dinner, meet at Tamalpais Valley Community Center ($15 - pay at door)

All leads appreciated!

Happy birding & happy holidays, 

Sarah Burton

Tricolored Blackbirds 12/26/18


At Ortega and 40th Avenue this morning, (9) Trikes roosting with the Brewer's flock on wires and roof of house across from Ortega library.

Good luck to all participants of the count tomorrow.

Dominik Mosur
San Francisco

Cackling Geese over Battery Godfrey (26 Dec)

Ken Schneider

Hi all,

A rather large flock of about ninety CACKLING GEESE flew high over Battery Godfrey around 0945 this morning, heading in from the ocean and towards the Bay.  They appeared to be Aleutian-types.  Just in case they are needed as "count week" birds... Not much else of interest there during my short visit.  Some photos of the geese are here:

Good birding and good luck for the CBC!

Ken Schneider
Noe Valley