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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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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
Oakland 

Springy

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.

Enjoy!

Richard Bradus
San Francisco

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,

Oscar

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

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 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

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.

Cheers!

Richard Bradus
San Francisco

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.

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.

Summer Tanager

Oscar Moss
 

For anyone who cares, I’m currently watching man adult male summer Tanager at glen park. Probably the same one seen by Russ bright last march, and was seen in someone’s yard earlier this year in the nearby neighborhoods.

Also if note was a feeding Black-throated Gray Warbler with some Townsend’s in a nearby tree.

Thanks
Oscar

Fort Mason RFI

Ralph
 

Hello All,
I will be in San Francisco on the 26th and would like to do a little birding at Fort Mason. Can anyone tell me if there is any free parking nearby?
Thanks,
Ralph Baker, Riverbank

Re: Fort Mason RFI

Dominik Mosur
 

Hi Ralph ,

Plenty of free parking on a weekday morning.

Dominik 


On Mar 21, 2019, at 11:24, Ralph via Groups.Io <sharks_hockey_maniac@...> wrote:

Hello All,
I will be in San Francisco on the 26th and would like to do a little birding at Fort Mason. Can anyone tell me if there is any free parking nearby?
Thanks,
Ralph Baker, Riverbank

Flicker caught in Rat Trap!

angie geiger
 

Dear Fellow Birders,
Tragically, I learned of one more hazard facing birds this morning. I heard noises in the yard and looked out to see a Northern Flicker dragging around a rat trap. We were able to free the bird of the trap and take it to Wild Care in San Rafael, but it's leg had been nearly severed and they did not think it would survive. 

We have many pesky rats in San Francisco, but laying traps outdoors will do little to nothing to dent the population. Clearly other animals can get caught in them as well. So, I'm probably preaching to the choir, but please, no rat poison and no outdoor rat traps.

Angie Geiger

Recent miscellaneous observations

 

The evening of 3/22/18, the continuing SUMMER TANAGER was very vocal above 1313 Bosworth at the side entrance to Glen Canyon Park. The bird called continuously from about 19:15 when I pulled up until 19:23 which was right around the "official" posted sunset.

On Corona Hill, the first Hooded Oriole was calling in the oaks above the 15th Street tennis courts.

Other sightings of note in recent days:

3/6/19 -

A Varied Thrush and a White-throated Sparrow were with the crowned Sparrow flock just off the trail in Coon Hollow in the East Oak Woodland/Golden Gate Park.

3/8 -

One person with a bag off food coaxed (70) Common Ravens into one small area at the south base of South Twin Peak.

3/9 -

A Band-tailed Pigeon was "singing" at Laguna Honda.

3/16 -

On Bayview Hill both the "pure" Red-breasted and Red-breasted x Red-naped Sapsucker were still working the eukes at the top.

3/19 - Early morning on Mount Davidson a pair of Ravens interrupted their nest construction to attempt to drive a Great Horned Owl off of the old red-tail nest in the ivy covered euke just above the "ravine"

3/20 - (2) (Aleutian )Cackling Geese were with Canada Geese in the Hunter's Point Shipyard fields across the fence from Yosemite Slough Restoration Area/Candlestick SRA. Construction here appears finished (for now), the community garden pond is brimming with water and the place looks ripe for a fine spring migration.

3/21 - a healthy count of (17) Wilson's snipe flew out at dusk at Heron's Head.

The first spring migrant Wilson's Warbler I've encountered was singing at Laguna Honda that morning.

That's all for now but more to come with spring migration picking up daily.

Good luck out there,

Dominik Mosur
San Francisco

Wild Turkeys 42nd and Ulloa

Peter Pyle
 

Posted yesterday at about 4 pm on Nextdoor. Short video shows two birds walking around on the sidewalk in front of a pink house. I can't quite age/sex them but not adult males.

Might SF have another 'invasion'?

Cheers, Peter