Yesterday was the final field trip of the fall semester of Joe Morlan’s Field Ornithology classes, and despite some chilly-for-California weather, it wound up being a great outing.
Can you name the 3 bird species in this photo? Click for a larger version.
Since the parking area at Merrie Way is closed for construction, we met across the street in the lot by Sutro Heights Park, and made our way down to the Cliff House to scope the shore from the terraces there.
In the main pool at the Sutro Baths ruins we saw Great Blue Heron, a pair of female Gadwalls, several Ring-necked Ducks, many American Coots, a Herring Gull (LIFER!), a female Bufflehead, a California Gull, and numerous Western Gulls. Offshore on Seal Rocks were the usual assortment of Brown Pelicans, Brandt’s Cormorants, Double-crested Cormorants, and Western Gulls.
Walking to the lower terraces on the west side of the Cliff House proved found us in the rather cold shadow of the building, so we edged south until we found a sun patch in which to set up our scopes. Unlike previous outings, I brought my binocs, scope, and camera, making me a bit more of a pack mule than I prefer, but there isn’t much walking involved in this particular trip, so the extra weight isn’t so bad.
We saw several shorebirds we’d been studying on the southmost rock – see if you can identify them in the first picture of this post! Along with them a pair a Black Oystercatchers sat in the sun. The seas were rough and the tide was high, so we didn’t see a whole lot on the open water, nor spend that much time trying. A great many Surf Scoters and Western Grebes, with a few Clark’s Grebes, were in the mid-distance, and several Harbor Seals poked their spotted heads up.
Next we visited the Sutro Baths ruins. Although this area is under heavy relandscaping to get rid of invasive nonnatives, and much bird habitat has been removed, we still did pretty well here. A cooperative Fox Sparrow posed for a few photos, several people in our group saw a Lincoln’s Sparrow and a Common Yellowthroat (although I did not), and Western Scrub-Jays, Common Ravens, Red-tailed Hawks, and Anna’s Hummingbirds kept the numerous flying Western Gulls company.
At the northmost terrace of Sutro Baths we again scoped for a few, not seeing anything we hadn’t already seen, although some close fly-by’s by Brown Pelicans provided good looks. From here we walked up the steep’ish path towards Land’s End.
It was fairly birdy here in the recently-thinned-out forested area, with many Zonotrichia sparrows (Golden-crowned and White-crowned), a few California Towhees, another Fox Sparrow or two, some Song Sparrows, an Anna’s Hummingbird, and a Hermit Thrush that made a brief appearance before flying into the brush.
We made our way across the road and spent the last hour birding Sutro Heights Park, which was pretty productive, but did not net me any photos. On our way over, the only Rock Pigeon we saw all day flew overhead. Odd, since this city bird is abundant here!
In the park we saw a Hairy Woodpecker, Pygmy Nuthatches, an American Robin, another Fox Sparrow, many more White-crowned Sparrows, a Sharp-shinned Hawk, Ruby- and Golden-crowned Kinglets, and several Townsend’s Warblers. We heard, but I did not see, some Chestnut-backed Chickadees in the treetops.
Twelve rolled around, and it was time to leave. This was a fun trip; even though I’ve birded this area pretty often (I used to live just a few blocks away), you always see much more in a group, especially a very experienced one like ours was! Alas, no more class trips until the spring semester starts in February, but I’ll do my best to enjoy California’s abundant winter birds on my own.
Location: Sutro Hts / Baths / Land’s End
Observation date: 12/8/07
Number of species: 44
Gadwall – Anas strepera 2
Ring-necked Duck – Aythya collaris 4
Surf Scoter – Melanitta perspicillata 200
Bufflehead – Bucephala albeola 1
Common Loon – Gavia immer 1
Western Grebe – Aechmophorus occidentalis 150
Clark’s Grebe – Aechmophorus clarkii 1
Brown Pelican – Pelecanus occidentalis 10
Brandt’s Cormorant – Phalacrocorax penicillatus 30
Double-crested Cormorant – Phalacrocorax auritus 10
Great Blue Heron – Ardea herodias 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk – Accipiter striatus 1
Red-shouldered Hawk – Buteo lineatus 3
American Coot – Fulica americana 20
Black Oystercatcher – Haematopus bachmani 2
Willet – Tringa semipalmata 7
Black Turnstone – Arenaria melanocephala 25
Surfbird – Aphriza virgata 8
Sanderling – Calidris alba 7
Mew Gull – Larus canus 1
California Gull – Larus californicus 1
* Herring Gull – Larus argentatus 1
Western Gull – Larus occidentalis 200
Glaucous-winged Gull – Larus glaucescens 1
Rock Pigeon – Columba livia 1
Anna’s Hummingbird – Calypte anna 7
Downy Woodpecker – Picoides pubescens 1
Black Phoebe – Sayornis nigricans 8
Western Scrub-Jay – Aphelocoma californica 3
Common Raven – Corvus corax 35
Chestnut-backed Chickadee – Poecile rufescens 1
Pygmy Nuthatch – Sitta pygmaea 5
+ Golden-crowned Kinglet – Regulus satrapa 3
Ruby-crowned Kinglet – Regulus calendula 1
Hermit Thrush – Catharus guttatus 2
American Robin – Turdus migratorius 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler – Dendroica coronata 6
Townsend’s Warbler – Dendroica townsendi 5
California Towhee – Pipilo crissalis 4
Fox Sparrow – Passerella iliaca 3
Song Sparrow – Melospiza melodia 2
White-crowned Sparrow – Zonotrichia leucophrys 15
Golden-crowned Sparrow – Zonotrichia atricapilla 3
House Finch – Carpodacus mexicanus 10
This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(http://ebird.org)
* = life bird, + = year bird