Thursday, August 6, 2015

Land's End! - 25 Jul 2015

I drove out to Sutro Heights this morning and birded the Land's End area of coastal San Francisco. My goal? An Allen's Hummingbird. It was going to be tough since it was foggy and breezy as I pulled into the parking lot just a short walk away from the historic Cliff House.


I hiked down the hill and took some pics of the Western Gulls and Heerman's Gulls on the beach, and the Brandt's Cormorants on the rocks just out from shore. Brown Pelicans, Pigeon Guillemots and a pair of Black Oystercatchers rounded out the beach visit.

I returned to the gardens and watched a half-dozen White-crowned Sparrows forage just a few feet away. Savannah Sparrows also made an appearance. As I started out on the Coastal Trail I heard the distinctive chatter of an an angry Anna's Hummingbird from the bushes next to the trail. It took several minutes for it to appear, but it showed up and provided a nice view through the scope. As I made my way through through the cypress stand another Anna's Hummingbird flew by, but landed too far away for any decent pics. But it stayed long enough for me to show a couple of ladies from Australia their first North American hummingbird!

The cold and fog along the coast does a number on the resident sparrow population in terms of appearance. Wind blown and tossed feathers give these birds a disheveled appearance. This California Towhee was the better-looking individual of the pair on the trail ahead.

The Coastal Trail was not an easy hike; steep steps and my camera gear were hard on my back and knees. But I trudged on, and was finally rewarded with my goal. A Selasphorus sp. hummingbird flew by an opening in the trees and hovered long enough for me to discount the all-green Anna's. But I couldn't verify whether it was an Allen's or Rufous until I could see if it had any green on its back. But the trail was thick with joggers and the hummer kept perching with its front to me, and severely backlit against the heavily-overcast sky. But it finally turned around long enough for me to see a green back and head. Allen's Hummingbird!

I got as far as the Eagle Point Lookout and turned around to head back. My back was tight and knees were sore, but I trudged back up and down the steep steps and trail. I was rewarded with great views of an Oregon Junco at my feet, and horrible views of a flock of Pygmy Nuthatches overhead in the bare cypress skeletons lining the cliffs.

Sore and spent, I returned to the car and rested for a spell. I decided to take a drive over to the Presidio and Crissy Field to see if there were any birds to be found, but it was crowded with humans and devoid of feathers, so I headed back to the Hilton via some of the steepest roads on the planet.

1 comment:

Lucille Foster said...

Wow. You managed to scoop up a lot of shots at the shore alone. It seems like you even got the whole community there: gulls, pelicans, pigeons, and oystercatchers. It's very fascinating to see all of them in one place. You seem to have taken a few more bird pics elsewhere, but I think those were the best of the bunch. Cheers!

Lucille Foster @ The George Hotel At Cley

Blog Archive