Walking along the west side of the park on a gloriously clear day with the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco Skyline etched sharply, I hardly paid attention to the rocks beneath my feet. But then a flicker of something caught my eye, and disappeared, and came up again in a quick flash at the water’s edge, and played a tireless game of hide-and-go-seek with me and my camera. Persistence and luck paid off. I was able to catch a penny’s worth of video of this hyperactive bird six or eight times as it dodged among the rip-rap. Finally it vanished, and I walked further south. Not three minutes later, I saw a second one. Unlike its fellow, this one sat quietly on a seaweed-covered rock, taking the rays and surveying the gorgeous scenery.
These are Spotted Sandpipers (Actitis macularius) in their no-spots season. I haven’t seen one since last April. They only grow their spots when their hormones launch them into breeding mode in the spring and early summer. It’s good to see them back. They’ll probably show up on the east side of the park as well. They’re among several seasonal regulars that go north to breed in the summer and return in the fall. I’ll post more of those in coming days.
Update 9/28: Right on schedule, a Spotted Sandpiper showed up in the southwest corner of the North Basin, near the hotel entrance, yesterday.