Thursday, February 25, 2010

A tale of two cities - Friday

Due to a work event we had the opportunity to spend a couple of days in San Francisco late this February. Who spends just a couple of days on the West Coast of the United States having travelled from the UK? We decided to add a few more days and make a short break of it. Helen got to San Francisco on Thursday evening direct from the UK, I arrived late-morning Friday from Washington, DC.

I got changed, dropped my bags and we headed out first for lunch and then to our first birding destination, Lincoln Park, to the south-west of the Golden Gate Bridge. Having finally found somewhere to park we were instantly rewarded with views of Song Sparrow:



Helen pointed out that while I had been photographing this bird a Western Bluebird (a new species for us) had been sat on a fence looking at me. By the time I turned my camera on it, it had flown to a middle distance rooftop, so record shot only.

As well as the Song Sparrow, a number of White-crowned Sparrows were in the greenery alongside the path. We decided to head down towards what looked like the ruins of some swimming baths. Hopping along the path itself, our second new species of the day, California Towhee:



Perched clear of the foliage along the path, a Costa's Hummingbird:



Hummingbirds make a very distinctive noise and, having seen and heard lots of them on this trip we were able to identify the presence of a hummingbird very quickly.

Down in the harbour on the water, our fourth new species, Western Gulls:



Also on the water, a few ducks including a female Bufflehead:



and a pair of Ring-necked Ducks:



Visible on rocks off shore were Black Turnstones, yet another new species. Working our way around the 'ruins' (the original building was probably around 100 years old) we located our sixth new species, Golden-crowned Sparrow:



and seventh, Allen's Hummingbird:



When they display the change is quite spectacular:



More familiar species were spotted in the trees further into the park, including Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Downy Woodpecker, followed by number eight, a distant Townsend's Warbler.

Whilst I have seen a Black Phoebe before, Helen hadn't so this was good spot:



Number nine was a Brown Creeper, and number ten was this Western Scrub-Jay:



We then encountered a familiar land mark, well at least in name anyway. It was only fitting that Helen, being from Cornwall, be photographed by the sign:



There were good views from this point; some of the bay area:



Then the Golden Gate bridge itself:



A couple more familiar birds, a Red-tailed Hawk and then Dark-eyed Junco:



Number eleven for the day was a Chestnut-backed Chickadee and number twelve a Black Oystercatcher:

As you can see the bird had to keep flying off of the rock as it was periodically engulfed by the waves. We were very happy bunnies and headed back to the hotel to get freshened up ready for what turned out to be a really good dinner in San Francisco. Roll on Saturday...

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