You can’t get much further west of Montreal to watch wildlife than on the Pacific coast.  We just spent a couple of days in the San Francisco area visiting old friends and managed (thanks to their kindness) to see some birds along the way, though that was not the primary purpose of our visit.

We birded two areas of considerable contrast.  The first was a scrubby little park adjacent to the Berkeley Marina where Burrowing Owls are spending the winter, albeit they managed to use their camouflage skills to great effect and we never found them although we did meet a lady doing monitoring of them who assured us that they were around but who wasn’t keen on leading us to them which was probably sensible as the park has dog runs in it and the birds could easily be disturbed.  Anyway, lots of other good stuff was to be seen there.

Bird in the park included : Great` Egret, Snowy Egret, Savannah Sparrow, Brown pelican, Greater Scaup, Bufflehead, White-crowned Sparrow, House Finch (regular red plus yellow variants), Western grebe, females of the Pacific coast race of Purple Finch (californicus), Brewer’s Blackbird, Red-shouldered Blackbird

The second site we visited was Pamponio State Beach and the nearby Pescadero Marsh Wildlife Reserve.  These are on the Pacific coastal side of the SF headland and jolly fine places. The beach was knee deep in too many gulls to count while the marsh reserve just inland was very birdy. We counted 20 Great Egrets and encountered a biologist working there who told us that the annual sand bar that separates the marsh from the sea had formed early this year resulting in lower than normally salinity in the marsh and so the Egrets had arrived in number and were thriving. Bird of the day (bird of the trip) was a White-tailed Kite c;osely followed by three Northern Harriers and a Say’s Phoebe.

Pescadero/Pamponio species included: Northern Harrier, Great Egret, Say’s Phoebe, Horned Grebe, White-tailed Kite (lifer), Brewer’s Blackbird, Red-shouldered Blackbird, Brown Pelican, Many Gulls, Heerman’s Gull, Californian Gull, Surf Scoter, Savannah Sparrow

Driving back we briefly saw a perched hawk that looked remarkably like a Ferruginous Hawk which i would dearly like to “tick” as it would be a second lifer, but I do the decent thing and admit that I didn’t see enough to be certain.

Altogether, an excellent couple of days on one of our favourite parts of the US.  The restaurant reviews will be posted soon on the “other” blog we maintain.

Pictures, of course.  Some feature shots of the White-tailed Kite and then a more general gallery (click the thumbnails to start the slide show in full screen).

White-tailed Kite

White-tailed Kite

White-tailed Kite