San Francisco Century Run

So we went on a whirlwind tour of San Francisco county with the guru of California County listing, John Sterling. We began at Lake Merced, a wonderful freshwater lake in San Francisco. A highlight was great views of 5 species of grebes including side by side comparisons of Horned & Eared Grebes in full alternate (breeding) plumage. We also saw our first Chesnut-backed Chickadee of the year. John was sure to point out that the subspecies of Chickadee in San Francisco county shows very gray flanks. Very different from the birds to the north that show rich coloring here.

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John is a great source of information for where to find the local birds, their distribution and knowledgeable of the various races, subspecies, and color forms that occur. The local “yellow-billed” form of the White-crowned Sparrow (above) was another example of a distinct local breeding bird.

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From Lake Merced we worked our way toward the Presidio where we enjoyed resident breeders like Allen’s Hummingbirds mixing with newly arrived migrant species including Western Tanagers & Lazuli Buntings! Also here were comparisons of “Myrtle” & “Audubon’s” Yellow-rumped Warblers, mixing with Wilson’s Warblers, Hutton’s Vireos, and hyperactive Bushtits.

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We ended our trip at Herons Head  park – home to the endangered California Clapper Rail, and a long time resident male Harlequin Duck who hangs out with a female Surf Scoter. Undoubtedly, many people know this couple intimately. Avocets were breeding here, and Black Oystercatchers were feeding among the rocks exposed by the outgoing tide. At final count we’d achieved 108 species on our whirlwind tour through San Francisco county in a partial day of birding.

So, John what color does that make us on your California County listing maps?..