I owe these images to the sharp eyes of Peter Illes, who spotted the bird for me. I probably would have missed it entirely. I’ve seen Black Turnstones several times on the east side of the park, on the shores of the North Basin, but didn’t think to look for them here on the west side, facing the Golden Gate Bridge. After all, the stones here are much too big for the bird to turn (a joke). They also feed on barnacles and limpets as well as proteins tucked away in seaweed, of which there was quite a bit in evidence. However, this bird wasn’t feeding and it seemed to be solo. Every other time I’ve seen them they’re in a small flock. The only nearby companion here was a Spotted Sandpiper. For whatever reason, this turnstone didn’t dwell long. With a couple of whistles it took off across the heaving froth and was gone.
These birds spend their winters on the Pacific shore, on wave-washed rocks or mudflats or human-made structures. They breed in summertime up on the northwest rim of Alaska, centered on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, a vast roadless area of wetlands where the Yukon and the Kuskokwim rivers empty into the Bering Sea.