I’ve been out in the morning five or six days a week since the beginning of the month, checking for Burrowing Owls. So far no luck. [But check “Owl But Not Here, Oct 14 2022]. By way of compensation, sometimes it takes me almost an hour to get up to the Burrowing Owl Sanctuary from the parking area at the corner of Marina Boulevard and Spinnaker Way. So much happening along the way. This particular morning I saw three “new” species — birds I hadn’t seen all summer. All within five minutes and in the same set of shrubs not far from the Open Circle Viewpoint.
The busiest were Savannah Sparrows, a pair of them — possibly with friends and relatives as well — who foraged on the rip-rap at low tide almost as if they were Black Turnstones. It was a delight to see them again. Three years ago their parents were allowed to breed in the meadow just east of the Flare Station, see “Saved From Mower” Apr 26 2019. The mower has cropped that breeding habitat ever since. Nevertheless, a very determined pair of Savannahs mated and possibly reproduced in that area this past May and June, see “Determined,” Jun 28 2022. Just maybe these birds are the same, or the offspring. In either case, they deserve respect and support for their tenacity in the face of a mow-crazed park management.
Quite shy and not eager to have its picture taken was this Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata) . I had to content myself with snapshots that showed one, then another feature of its plumage, to land the identification. Here it is:
I’ve seen them in the park November through April. The last time I saw one as early as October was in 2017, See “Early Birds” Oct 11 2017. As noted previously, this is one of the birds that’s labeled common or even very common in the bird lookup sources, but is rarely seen here in the park. They breed across a huge range from coast to coast. Impossible to say whether this one migrated from forests in the Coast Range, from the Sierra foothills, or from northern Alaska. The yellow throat marks it as a Western bird, that’s the only certainty; the eastern subspecies’ throat is white.
In the same Fennel bush moments later I spotted this Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria):
It, too, is “common” in the sources but cause for elation when seen here. I’ve seen them occasionally in May and once in June, which suggests they’re breeding here, but very likely not in Chavez Park but rather nearby in the Berkeley Meadow (now Sylvia McLaughlin Eastshore State Park). And I haven’t seen the foraging flocks that are reported from other wintertime locations. The good news is that the bird in the photo is a juvenile. If it enjoys its youth here, maybe it’ll stay and start a family. We have quite enough House Finches, thank you, and could use more variety in the finch department.
I’ve also seen the Black Phoebe several times in the past few weeks, but have yet to land a sharp photo.