Our uncharacteristically wet weather took a break, and I took my new camera to Golden Gate Park, Sutro Heights, and Sutro Baths to see if any birds were also enjoying the respite.
There was little afoot at GGP’s North Lake, the usual pond dwellers mostly, although I did get a couple of nice shots of a DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT spreading its wings and drying out (a somewhat futile endeavor, as it started raining heavily later in the evening!). A couple of pairs of BUFFLEHEAD were in the north side of the lake, as they often are, and several AMERICAN COOT and PIED-BILLED GREBE were seen. The usual COMMON RAVEN were abundant and noisy, and a BLACK PHOEBE was in the same place I often see one, by the low sandy platform on the east side of the lake. I heard, but did not see, numerous song birds in the bushes. The only one I could identify by call were a couple of RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD.
Since the lake was something of a bust, I drove to Sutro Heights Park, as I hadn’t birded there in some time (although I’ve not previously had much luck here). A dozen or so AMERICAN ROBIN were foraging for worms in the wet soil, the resident RED-TAILED HAWK was soaring and being harassed by COMMON RAVENS. I didn’t see much else until I was nearly back at the car, but in the denser woods between the two trails leading north out of the park, I spotted my first *BROWN CREEPER* (and got a couple of halfway decent photos of it even!). Lovely birds, them. While I was looking at it, I spied an orange’ish bird – the folks at birdforum pegged it as a *RED CROSSBILL*. I also saw a *DOWNY WOODPECKER*, a SELASPHORUS HUMMINGBIRD (ALLEN’S?), and a buffy yellow GOLDFINCH that I also didn’t recognize. A WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW and a single GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROW were also hanging around by the parking lot. I was very pleased to have seen several new-to-me birds on this walk. My Canon 30D got some shots that would definitely have been impossible with my old 300D – the former’s high-ISO performance and focus speed/accuracy are spectacular! Not that any of the photos I made today are going to make National Geographic or anything, but I’d rather have a somewhat grainy photo of a bird than no photo at all!
Onward across the Great Highway to Sutro Baths, there was little about. Perhaps a half dozen RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD males were displaying and calling vociferously, a lone RING-NECKED DUCK was in the pond along with a female COMMON GOLDENEYE, some AMERICAN COOT, and just a couple of WESTERN GULLS. There were precisely zero shorebirds to be seen on the rocks – I suppose the storm surf was too high and treacherous for them. The resident GBH was also absent.
All in all it was very nice to just get out for an hour, birds regardless, and a few new finds and the chance to further get to know my 30D made this a nice outing!