Last Sunday morning I birded with a few other folks, led by Robbie, my ornithology instructor Joe’s partner. Due to some email problems, I parked on the wrong side of the concrete bridge on the south end of Lake Merced, but soon found the group on the west side.
Gulls on Lake Merced
We scanned the blackbird flock for any Tricoloreds, but saw only Brewer’s and one female Red-winged. Amid the myriad Rock Pigeons on the telephone wires was one Mourning Dove, and a little later, a Eurasian Collared-Dove.
Western Gull preening an oil spot
Many of the gulls in the area had oil smudges from the recent spill in SF Bay, but none were oiled too badly, although I’m sure even a little bit is detrimental to the bird. We walked south along the west shore for a ways, scanning the water and finding mostly the usual suspects: Pied-billed Grebe, Eared Grebe, Western and Clark’s Grebes, numerous Double-crested Cormorants, and American Coots. A couple of Ruddy Ducks and Ring-necked Ducks rounded things out.
Another oiled Western Gull
Walking across the concrete bridge, we got a great line-up of gulls, which provided a good age study. Western, California, and Glaucous-winged Gulls of various ages were all in a row. Although the adults of these species aren’t too difficult to distinguish, the fact that they take 4 years to reach adult plumage leaves a lot of confusing intermediate plumages to deal with! I’ll save my gull ID energy for the winter semester of Field Ornithology at CCFS, however, as that series will deal with these challenging IDs
On the east side we scanned the brush by the water‘s edge, finding White-crowned Sparrows and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, but little else, and walked up to near the maintenance station, which was pretty productive.
In the trees flitted a number of Yellow-rumped Warblers, and a very cooperative Townsend’s Warbler paid our group a close and well-lit visit. An Anna’s Hummingbird popped and darted angrily about, as is their wont.
Robbie spotted a Red Admiral (I’m hopeless with butterfly IDs, so I’ll take her word for it!), and an Osprey soared overhead, while closer in, Pygmy Nuthatches were heard, but not seen by me, and a Chestnut-backed Chickadee darted about. Robbie also heard a Purple Finch, but it didn’t show itself, although in the same tree and obliging House Finch made an appearance. Song Sparrows and White-crowned Sparrows foraged in the brush between the maintenance road and the main road, and a California Towhee announced itself with its distinctive “chip.”
A close encounter with a Red-tailed Hawk
Heading back across the concrete bridge, we were treated to a VERY low fly-by by a lovely adult Red-tailed Hawk, which circled just 10 feet over our heads several times before soaring off on a thermal.
Misty cliffs south of Fort Funston
Next up we caravanned to Fort Funston to scan the sea. It was pretty breezy when we arrived at the viewing platform, but apparently not enough that the throng of hopeful hang-gliders could take to the skies. Scoping the surf, we saw only Surf Scoters, with the occasional line of Brown Pelicans and Double-crested Cormorants flying north.
View north from Fort Funston
A Common Raven and Red-tailed Hawk tussled in the skies, making for fun viewing, and with that we called it a morning. This was a fun mellow walk, and I was particularly happy with the cooperative Red-tailed Hawk and Townsend’s Warbler, both of whom I got good photos of.
Number of species: 38
Mallard – Anas platyrhynchos X
Ring-necked Duck – Aythya collaris X
Surf Scoter – Melanitta perspicillata X
Ruddy Duck – Oxyura jamaicensis X
Pied-billed Grebe – Podilymbus podiceps X
Eared Grebe – Podiceps nigricollis X
Western Grebe – Aechmophorus occidentalis X
Clark’s Grebe – Aechmophorus clarkii X
Brown Pelican – Pelecanus occidentalis X
Double-crested Cormorant – Phalacrocorax auritus X
Great Blue Heron – Ardea herodias X
Turkey Vulture – Cathartes aura X
Osprey – Pandion haliaetus X
Sharp-shinned Hawk – Accipiter striatus X
Cooper’s Hawk – Accipiter cooperii X
Red-tailed Hawk – Buteo jamaicensis X
American Coot – Fulica americana X
California Gull – Larus californicus X
Western Gull – Larus occidentalis X
Glaucous-winged Gull – Larus glaucescens X
Rock Pigeon – Columba livia X
Eurasian Collared-Dove – Streptopelia decaocto X
Mourning Dove – Zenaida macroura X
Anna’s Hummingbird – Calypte anna X
Black Phoebe – Sayornis nigricans X
Western Scrub-Jay – Aphelocoma californica X
Common Raven – Corvus corax X
Chestnut-backed Chickadee – Poecile rufescens X
Ruby-crowned Kinglet – Regulus calendula X
European Starling – Sturnus vulgaris X
Yellow-rumped Warbler – Dendroica coronata X
Townsend’s Warbler – Dendroica townsendi X
California Towhee – Pipilo crissalis X
Song Sparrow – Melospiza melodia X
White-crowned Sparrow – Zonotrichia leucophrys X
Red-winged Blackbird – Agelaius phoeniceus X
Brewer’s Blackbird – Euphagus cyanocephalus X
House Finch – Carpodacus mexicanus X
This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(http://ebird.org)