Biking Field trip yesterday GGP and changes afoot


Josiah Clark
 

Yesterday took a small group of people from shaping San Francisco on a bike ride through GGP. 
Highlights included 13 hooded mergansers between Lilly pond and stow lake, 12 northern shovelers at Stowe lake. 
There was a lone Lincoln’s sparrow among many crowned sparrows being fed at the handball courts. One white-fronted and at least 12 cackling geese included one minima  at the polo fields along with over 300 introduced  Canada geese. There were at least five meadowlarks at the bison paddock.
    Out by the ocean we found a lone black  oystercatcher and just one black turnstone. I noticed their scarcity last year and in my experience this is very unusual, I used to find several of both species on every visit with more scattered along lands end. 
Over the ocean we could not find a single loon of any kind, and I’ve not seen the large numbers of wintering red-throated loons I am used to. There were however a hundred or more Heerman’s Gulls on the water, more than I ever remember seeing before this time of year.

Many of the old-school birders around have been saying what I have been feeling, that the birds are acting very strangely this year.
    The insectivores are feeding very low down on the ground, or right along the edges of Rhodes making them very obvious. 
This is a sign of food stress that we usually see only in very cold rainy weather, not sunny weather.  We probably viewed 60 to 100 Townsend’s warbler’s by the end of the day, many of them providing good long looks. 
Yellow-rumped warblers were notably scarce, mostly just single birds. We ran into Alan Hopkins who pointed out there’s a lot of single, unpaired California Towhees around, leading us to think some have perished. 
With Unprecedented winter heat, low humidity/atmospheric dryness, warming oceans and no rain in the long range forecast its logical to think this could translate to big changes to our local ecology in the coming seasons. 
With so many changes in the human world taking our attention, it’s important to take special note of what’s happening in the natural world. 
Honestly not my favorite subject but I don’t really see anyone else talking about it. In the age of shifting baselines I hope these changes don’t go unnoticed. 
Good birding and keep looking up. 
    

Josiah Clark | Habitat Potential | Consulting Ecologist | 415.317.3978
License #1043929


Ken Moy
 

Spent several hours on Sunday morning at the Botanical Garden @ GGP and can echo Josiah's observations re Townsend's and Yellow-rumped warblers. Will keep an eye out for solitary towhees.

On a more hopeful note, 2 'traditions' continued at the garden yesterday between 10 and 11 am: male varied thrush returned to skulk in the leaf litter next to the gray/brown bench upslope and north of the west end of Moon Viewing Terrace (looked but did not  find female of the species) and a flock of 3-5 Townsend's Warblers, x ruby-crowned kinglets and and at least 3 (2 adult males) golden-crowned kinglets provided 15 minutes of autumnal kaleidoscopic viewing as they foraged in the copper beech and magnolia on the west side of the lawn by Zellerbach Terrace. 

Be safe and good birding to all.

On Mon, Nov 30, 2020 at 8:13 AM Josiah Clark <josiah.clark621@...> wrote:
Yesterday took a small group of people from shaping San Francisco on a bike ride through GGP. 
Highlights included 13 hooded mergansers between Lilly pond and stow lake, 12 northern shovelers at Stowe lake. 
There was a lone Lincoln’s sparrow among many crowned sparrows being fed at the handball courts. One white-fronted and at least 12 cackling geese included one minima  at the polo fields along with over 300 introduced  Canada geese. There were at least five meadowlarks at the bison paddock.
    Out by the ocean we found a lone black  oystercatcher and just one black turnstone. I noticed their scarcity last year and in my experience this is very unusual, I used to find several of both species on every visit with more scattered along lands end. 
Over the ocean we could not find a single loon of any kind, and I’ve not seen the large numbers of wintering red-throated loons I am used to. There were however a hundred or more Heerman’s Gulls on the water, more than I ever remember seeing before this time of year.

Many of the old-school birders around have been saying what I have been feeling, that the birds are acting very strangely this year.
    The insectivores are feeding very low down on the ground, or right along the edges of Rhodes making them very obvious. 
This is a sign of food stress that we usually see only in very cold rainy weather, not sunny weather.  We probably viewed 60 to 100 Townsend’s warbler’s by the end of the day, many of them providing good long looks. 
Yellow-rumped warblers were notably scarce, mostly just single birds. We ran into Alan Hopkins who pointed out there’s a lot of single, unpaired California Towhees around, leading us to think some have perished. 
With Unprecedented winter heat, low humidity/atmospheric dryness, warming oceans and no rain in the long range forecast its logical to think this could translate to big changes to our local ecology in the coming seasons. 
With so many changes in the human world taking our attention, it’s important to take special note of what’s happening in the natural world. 
Honestly not my favorite subject but I don’t really see anyone else talking about it. In the age of shifting baselines I hope these changes don’t go unnoticed. 
Good birding and keep looking up. 
    

Josiah Clark | Habitat Potential | Consulting Ecologist | 415.317.3978
License #1043929