Prairie Falcon at BG

Brian Fitch

It had been 22 years since I last saw a Prairie Falcon in SF, but the drought ended at 12:30 today when one coursed over Battery Godfrey, adding that one species that made an otherwise slow hawkwatch worthwhile.  Long, pointed falcon wings, tan body, dark axillaries; I don't know why it's been such a long gap between sightings for me, since they see multiples on Hawk Hill every fall, but it's obviously a tough bird in the city.

Other raptors included 1 northbound Turkey Vulture and 2 southbound, 3 Sharpies north, 2 Cooper's north, 1 Red-shouldered south, 6 Red-tailed north with 5 south, as well as the local Peregrine.

Other birds included a very high flying Great Egret, 2 Curlews, Glaucous-winged Gull, 5 Parasitic Jaegers over the bridge, with others pirating the terns and shearwaters, a few Band-tailed Pigeons, 2-3 Vaux's Swifts, Say's Phoebe, Warbling Vireo, Barn and Rough-winged Swallows, 3 Red-breasted Nuthatches, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, 7 American Pipits coming in on the early side, Yellow, Townsend's, Black-throated Gray, MacGillivray's, and Wilson's Warblers, and at least 15 Western Tanagers, every one of them heading north.

The other highlight was already reported, although the number of Sooty Shearwaters went up to over 50,000 as I watched and scanned further out into the Gate.  The majority of them spent about 2 hours sitting on the water, with one group of roughly 10,000 drifting quite close to the battery and almost under the bridge, probably on the tide.  They then slowly dispersed until I didn't see any in the Gate when I left at 2:15.  There were still big dark swatches of them well out to sea though.

Brian Fitch