Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Post #205 - The Bay Area Bike-birding hits keep coming!

Locals have found so many great birds around here these last few weeks that I'm wondering if my legs are ever gonna get a rest! I guess there are worse problems to have, and I'm fortunate that breaks in my writing and guiding schedules have coincided to allow regular pursuits. I will recap one particularly involved chase in this post.

Black-throated Blue Warbler (BTBW) is an eastern species which makes rare cameos on the West Coast. One was found in Robertsville in Southern Santa Clara County in October of 2017, but it was out of my range (45 miles each way) in those early Bay Area bike-birding days because I was still recovering from a torn calf suffered ahead of my May move. As that was the only regional record across the last few years, I was stoked to learn that Nina Bai found a beautiful male in the San Francisco Botanical Garden on Saturday, October 2nd. Spotting on an Alvaro's Adventures pelagic on that day and locked into family stuff on Sunday, I had to delay my pursuit until Monday the 4th. Fortunately, the bird stuck, and a mini-mob pointed me towards it ten minutes after I arrived. Pro-tip: make sure you put the battery in your camera before leaving the house so that you don't have to resort to digi-binocs when your SLR is powerless. It was so dark in the understory that I was just happy to get anything with the phone.

Black-throated Blue Warbler - Bay Area Bike Bird #341 (SF #249)

With that first target secured, I hustled over to Crissy Field on the Presidio waterfront to look for the female Bobolink which others had reported for the previous ~3 days. Bobolink is another eastern species, but it reaches farther west than BTBW; it is therefore a more 'common' stray in California. 

Bobolink range

I spent 90 minutes stomping through wet grass but was unable to locate the field-loving bird, it clearly departed as suggested by additional negative reports from that day and the next. I did add a previously-reported female Blue-winged Teal (BWTE) on the lagoon as consolation (SF bike bird #250). That duck is regular around the Bay, but there's very little habitat for it in San Francisco. The female Blue-winged Teal can be differentiated from the very similar female Cinnamon Teal by the better defined eye-line and light patch at the base of the bill (among other subtle field marks). Note - the second/front bird in the below photo is NOT a female Cinnamon Teal, it is a female Green-winged Teal (GWTE). The confusion never ends......

Golden Gate Bridge from Crissy Field

Female BWTE (with female GWTE front) - SF Bike Bird #250

From Crissy, I proceeded east along the water to Fort Mason. David Assman's Lark Sparrow (LASP) had continued for the previous ~10 days, but I wasn't able to find it despite two hours of searching. The bird wasn't reported on that day -- October 4th -- or any day after, so I was clearly looking for another departed example. I can live with missing birds which aren't present because they've moved on, but over-looking a bird which others later re-find sucks. I have LASP on my San Mateo and Santa Clara County bike lists, and I'm sure I'll get it in SF eventually.

My route on October 4th - 50% ain't bad.......

I already have a backlog of content for you, so I'll try to crank additional entries in the next few days. Good birding until then - cheers!


  1. And a very nice view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

  2. Yes! I'm very lucky to live in such a picturesque place. The Bay Area is a great blend of civilization and open space!