San Francisco GBD: Josiah Clark & Dominik Mosur

Check out this article in SF Weekly about Josiah Clark’s and Dominik Mosur’s green big day adventure:

Also, Dominik’s post to SFBirds below:

Yesterday, I set out on a biking big day with Josiah Clark and Brian
Turner (joined for part of the morning by SFWeekly writer Matt Smith)

As I rode out to the concrete bridge at South Lake Merced to meet my team, AMERICAN ROBINS, CALIFORNIA TOWHEES and DARK-EYED JUNCOS were already singing away at 5:00 a.m.

At the bridge we added a fly-by GREEN HERON and MALLARDS in the dawn’s
early light while BARN and TREE SWALLOWS could already be heard vocalizing overhead, mingling with sound of foraging bats. MOURNING DOVE, MARSH WREN, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, SONG SPARROW, NUTTALL’S WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW, RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD, BREWER’s BLACKBIRD and LESSER GOLDFINCH added to the “dawn chorus.”

From the concrete bridge we biked along the east side of Lake Merced to Sunset Circle adding WESTERN/CLARK’s/PIED-BILLED GREBES, DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT, RUDDY DUCK, GREAT BLUE HERON, RED-SHOULDERED

At the Wooden Bridge we struck out on rails but did get lucky with an OSPREY flying through the fog and later our first of many BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERONS.

From here we rode on to Pine Lake Park where the willows in the southeast section of the lake held WILSON’S, NASHVILLE, ORANGE-CROWNED, PALM, YELLOW-RUMPED and TOWNSEND’S WARBLERS, while the continuing BALTIMORE and BULLOCK’S ORIOLES sang and chattered in turn in the eukes on the hillside. CEDAR WAXWINGS, GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROWS, PINE SISKINS and HOUSE FINCHES as well as a pair of DOWNY WOODPECKERS were here as well one of only two RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS on the day.

With the thick fog over the ocean we had to abort our plan of an early morning seawatch and instead headed through residential streets to Golden Gate Park, adding ROCK PIGEON, NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD, EUROPEAN STARLING and HOUSE SPARROW along the way.

Once in the park we added CANADA GOOSE, WESTERN/GLAUCOUS WINGED/CALIFORNIA GULLS, VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW and HAIRY WOODPECKER at Stow Lake and got good looks at a branching juvenile GREAT HORNED OWL and perched BAND-TAILED PIGEON on Strawberry Hill.

At Strybing Arboretum we had a pair of CALIFORNIA QUAIL and fly-over AMERICAN GOLDFINCH. A HOODED ORIOLE was calling form a palm tree in front of the California Academy of Sciences. From there we went over to the East Oak Woodlands behind MacLaren Lodge adding our only COOPER’S HAWK and a RED-TAIL on the way. The oaks were going of with migrant warblers with and adult male HERMIT being a new bird and we also got the day’s only NORTHERN FLICKER here. In the oaks at Coon Hollow we had another flock, picking up RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH, LINCOLN’S SPARROW (as well as our second Nashville and a non-countable Ring-necked Pheasant.)

At Lloyd Lake we found a very worn first cycle THAYER’S GULL, our only GREAT EGRET, RING-NECKED DUCK, the continuing GREEN-WINGED TEAL and WOOD DUCK pair but missed the Hooded Merganser that had been there just a day earlier.  Saving us a trip to Josiah’s house where he’s had one coming to his yard since November, a WHITE-THROATED SPARROW perched up on a stump inside the Bison Paddock. North Lake gave us the LESSER SCAUP pair.

Finally around 12:15, after getting soaked riding in the showers, the fog lifted and we jammed over to the Cliff House for a seawatch. Here Josiah pulled out some miracles in the form of distant fly-by RED-NECKED GREBE and a small flock of BONAPARTE’S GULLS. Brian and I kept our focus closer to shore picking up SURF SCOTER, all three species of loons (while hundreds of PACIFICS streamed by heading north throughout near the horizon), BRANDT’S CORMORANTS, a first-cycle HERRING GULL, CASPIAN TERNS, COMMON MURRE, PIGEON GUILLEMOT, BLACK TURNSTONES, SURFBIRDS, WILLETS and a pair of BLACK OYSTERCATCHERS.

We then rode down Great Highway toward Sloat, adding the day’s only RING-BILLED GULL as well as MARBLED GODWITS, WHIMBRELS, SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS, SANDERLINGS and a TURKEY VULTURE over the Zoo, but missing Snowy Plover. Seawatching from across the Wastewater Treatment Plant we had several WHITE-WINGED and one male BLACK SCOTER and a PELAGIC CORMORANT.

Back at Lake Merced with the fog lifted we tried to clean up on swallows getting NORTHERN-ROUGH WINGED and CLIFF but missing Bank. A flock of northbound BROWN PELICANS flew over Fort Funston. We did finally get a VIRGINIA RAIL in the marsh next to the gun club and much better looks at Bonaparte’s Gulls that had dropped in to bathe. In the willows next to the concrete bridge we had the days only FOX SPARROWS
and our first of several EURASIAN COLLARED DOVES.

From here we made the long ride up Brotherhood to Alemany to Geneva finally arriving at Candlestick park at 4:30 p.m. Along the way we picked up the only AMERICAN KESTREL of the day as it hovered over Alemany and Sickles (try doing that in a car!)

Candlestick cove was going off with migrant shorebirds, hundreds of DUNLIN, WESTERN/LEAST SANDPIPERS foraging in the mud. Several SPOTTED SANDPIPERS were on the rip-rap and HORNED GREBES, GREATER SCAUP and BUFFLEHEADS were on the bay.

Riding through grassy parts of Candlestick State Recreation area that are one day doomed to be converted into housing and other needless garbage of which he have more than enough in our beautiful city we flushed up several WESTERN MEADOWLARKS and a SAVANNAH SPARROW. FORSTER’S TERNS foraged over South Basin while SEMIPALMATED and BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS and GREATER YELLOWLEGS foraged on Yosemite Slough where a bridge is supposed to be built to save people a couple
of minutes of commute while helping them avoid Hunter’s Point/Bayview.

Arriving at Heron’s Head Park/India Basin we got BLACK-NECKED STILTS and AMERICAN AVOCETS but the big bonus was the CLAPPER RAIL calling unprompted from the marsh as the drizzle started up again around 6:30 p.m. By now wet and cold we started on the long road home but not before checking in at Pier 94 to find a wet WESTERN KINGBIRD perched up in the Coyote brush and the day’s only MEW GULL (a very worn looking 1st cycle) was on the bay.

We ended at 9 p.m. at the Palace of Fine Arts, having ridden well over 50 miles in 14 hours. A begging juvenile BARN OWL could be heard from a recess above one of the columns and an adult flew in to a Redwood nearby affording great looks, our last bird of the day.

Despite the wet/foggy weather resulting in an altered itinerary (we never made it to the Presidio for example) we still came within 2 species of the all time biking big day in San Francisco, finishing with 136 spp.

Don’t forget to sponsor dmosur for the GGAS Birdathon:

A full list below.

Good birding,
Dominik Mosur
San Francisco

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