Misc. recent sightings for March and other notes


3/16 - Violet green swallows (and White-throated Swifts) were back
above Buena Vista/Corona Heights Park this morning after being noted
the day before over Twin Peaks and near Mount Davidson. Interestingly
there were also numerous "FOS" reports of VG Swallows on 3/15 from
Santa Cruz county and elsewhere. And big thanks to Brian Fitch for his
prompt Bald Eagle report today; I managed to peek outside the museum
shortly after and saw one of the 3, (looked like a 3rd cycle bird)
soaring for about 6-8 minutes over Corona Hill before it headed SW
toward Twin Peaks.

3/14 - walking along Clarendon Avenue across from the Midtown Terrace
Reservoir/playground the afternoon of another windy rain storm I was
dismayed to find a broken white egg on the sidewalk below an acacia
and looked up to see a simple/see through platform nest. Three days
prior I had watched a band- tailed pigeon fly into this very tree
from the wires above Clarendon, in between bouts of vocalizations.
While this is only circumstantial evidence and not a full on
confirmation, it appears that Band-tails could be once again nesting
in SF. Daniel Scali confirmed breeding on nearby Mount Sutro in June
2020 with a nest-building pair so if anyone wants to try a hand at
helping confirm them again this is the area to focus on.

3/11 - A White-throated Sparrow was still feeding with other crowned
sparrows in the tiny pocket park next to Forest Hill Muni station. (3)
White-throated sparrows were present here on 12/23, but I've only seen
once since.

3/7 - An Osprey flying south over Pine Lake Park was the first I had
seen moving over SF this year. Also interesting were (3m 1f)
Great-tailed Grackles flying high up headed north over the park,
presumably from the known roost at Lake Merced.
mid-afternoon that same day I was pleased to see that the Loggerhead
Shrike found by Keith Maley in the morning (6th city record since 2004
and the second in spring) was still actively feeding on the hillside
at the south end of Fort Funston behind the native plant nursery and
park service buildings. I was quite disappointed to see a well known
local birdwatcher trampling through the habitat the Shrike was using
in apparent attempt to obtain better looks/photos. About a half hour
later a dog walker was using the hillside as an obstacle course for
their dog to chase after a tennis ball. Imagine if only a portion of
the extensive habitat here were granted some sort of protection from
this kind of disturbance.

3/6 - At Heron's Head Park at least (5) Long-billed Dowitchers
continued in the main marsh. These birds were first found by Nico
Stuurman a couple days before and tentatively IDed as
Short/Long-billed. While I was watching a pair of marauding American
Crows moved through the high tide roost where the shorebirds were
packed in and appeared to playfully/aggressively(?) flush a number of
birds including the dowitchers prompting them to fly around briefly
and give their diagnostic sharp calls. A pair of Bryant's Savannah
Sparrows were also seen copulating at the edge of the marsh near the
viewing platforms. Heron's Head continues to be the stronghold for
this listed species of Special Concern.
Also it appears despite the initial outcry over the Port of SF
project to stabilize the site against tidal erosion (oh no the
bulldozers are here to destroy!!) it seems the newly created
breakwater has caused at least a temporary increase in net habitat
(potential) for roosting shorebirds, gulls and ducks looking for high
tide/storm shelter. By Monday 3/13 only one of the Dowitchers was
noted but this time it was low tide so perhaps they were just spread
out over the mudflats of India Basin.

Finally I wanted to close with a cautionary rant about the increasing
number of birders using the Merlin ID app to "confirm" their sightings
in recent months. I occasionally use the app myself to troubleshoot
its accuracy and have found that it is still very prone to errors. In
recent weeks I've had it misidentify the croak of Common Raven as
Black-crowned Night Heron, Chestnut-backed Chickadee as House Wren and
Tricolored Blackbird as CASPIAN TERN. These are just the highlight
goof ups and there are many more that I don't recall off top.

Good birding, spring migrants are on their way.

Dominik Mosur
San Francisco