Lake Merced, concrete bridge, interesting HY plumaged TOWA

Eddie Bartley

Left sunny and warm Potrero Hill mid afternoon excited to bird Lake Merced. A mile before we drove into a dense wall of fog. Right down to deck level too but it was mostly birdable and the colors really popped as long as the sky wasn't involved.

Big build up of coots and Ruddy Ducks now just north of the concrete bridge. We were sifting through the coots hoping for a moorhen when a Hatch-year (HY) Red-tail swooped at warp speed tight between us and a benched couple setting off an explosion of wings. Swing and a miss, gave us primates a healthy adrenalin rush too. Didn't find a moorhen but there was coot whose shield was bright yellow with burnt orange in the center so that was pretty cool.

Searching through the willows turned up the usual early October migrants: Warbling Vireo, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow, Yellow-rumped, Townsend's once we got to the east end conifers. RC Kinglet numbers are picking up as are Sooty Foxes. This is one of the only areas in SF where you can still see Brush Rabbits and supplementary feeding has made them tame, which is probably not a good thing for them. The remains of a young Brown Pelican are at the base of south side of the bridge, about 1/3 of the way from west, fairly well scavenged now. Curious how it ended up there.

One HY warbler feeding fairly high and inside a large pine gave us a start. Setophaga mask, looked orangish in face and upper breast but coloration was very limited barely extending past throat. Streaking in the flanks was almost obscure. Was feeding very energetically, moving quickly through the branches, difficult to get on. Thoughts drifted to Blackburnian but managed a couple of good snaps and the auricular pattern looked more like Townsend's. Never did get to see that back. Anyway, for anyone interested in confusing fall warbler shots I plunked one here:

We spent a short time over at Vista Grande too, lots of birds, especially in the upper canopy but the light had gotten so low, the only songbird species we added was a nice looking male Black-throated Gray for the day.

Happy Trails!

Eddie Bartley
Noreen Weeden