Saturday, 19 September 2015

San Francisco - 17.8.15

Gull Flock
Heermann's + Western Gulls
California Gulls
Black Phoebe
Great Blue Heron
Oregon Junco
Snowy Egret
As our body clocks were all over the place we were both awake around 6.30am but while still in bed checking through our phones at about 6.50am all of a sudden the room started to shake violently and did so for 5 or so seconds! We both turned to each other and said I'm sure that was an earthquake! I turned on the telly and sure enough it was a 4.0 earthquake! One off of my bucket list.!!

As we were up early we got up and headed down to the west coast. Once on the beach the first of 6 Raven were seen but I then clocked a large group of gulls congregated on the beach. I lifted my bins and was pleased to see that the majority of them were my first ever HEERMANN'S GULLS. I then scanned the rest of the flock and picked out another 30+ Western Gull and 5 CALIFORNIA GULL just on the edge. I then noticed behind the flock was a single ROYAL TERN. I then had a few minutes of sea watching and picked out 2 more lifers with 3 ELEGANT TERN and many BRANDT'S CORMORANT flying past. 5 lifers before breakfast!

Next stop was Golden Gate Park. Within a minute of stepping into the park I picked up my next lifer with a lovely BLACK PHOEBE flicking around the picnic tables. It was only another few minutes before a CHESTNUT-BACKED CHICKADEE got onto the list. As we had pre booked a visit to Alcatraz we were limited to time in the park so frustratingly I couldn't dawdle and have a good look at all the birds I came across but even so they kept falling. A female Brown-Headed Cowbird and Red-Tailed Hawk were seen and then a small flowering bush had attracted 4 ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRD to it. A small pond held a female Belted Kingfisher and my first GREAT BLUE HERON. A bit further up the path I found a female GREAT-TAILED GRACKLE next to a couple of House Finch. Soon after a lovely stripy bird of prey flew over my head and landed in a tree. It was a gorgeous RED-SHOULDERED HAWK. I then walked past a small bird feeding under a tree and was delighted to find it was a White-Crowned Sparrow. The first I'd seen since the famous Cley bird. The last good bird of the park before we left was an 'Oregon' race Junco.

Next stop was Alcatraz Island. After walking round listening to the guided audio tour I had a few minutes to look for birds. One part of the island smelt like a seabird colony which was created by a good size flock of Brandt's Cormorant. I then walked past a small clump of trees and found 5 SNOWY EGRET. Down by the jetty a juvenile Night Heron was seen and from the boat on the way back were 15 Guillemot, 3 Elegant Tern, 2 Heermann's Gull and the first Caspian Tern of the trip.

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