Posted by: atowhee | March 6, 2010

Saturday Morning at Chain o’Lakes

Our Golden Gate Audubon field trip began with a goodie: one of our group spotted a Nuttall’s Woodpecker in a tall Monterey pine at the north end of North Lake.  Cedar Waxwings decorated the upper branches of bare-branched alders. Every body got a look at one of the golden-faced Townsend’s Warblers.   An immature Night-heron in dark gray and white (no black crown yet) lurked in the bushes, also onthe north end of North Lake.  Perhaps slowed by molt exhaustion, a small float of Ruddy Ducks slept through the whole morning.  The two males glowing with their new ruddy spring plumage.

Spring bird call included: innumerable Song Sparrows, Red-wing Blackbirds, Purple and House Finch.   One Black Phoebe couple inspected a nest under the north eave of the Bercut maintenance shed.  Ravens and Red-shouldered Hawks were carrying sticks.  One Song Sparrow was hauling around a piece of soft grass at Middle Lake.

The Kingfisher at Middle Lake was his usual publicity-shy self, refusing to stick around for the cameras.  The Belted Kingfisher just will not play the celebrity game.  There were several Tree Swallows circling well above the treetops.  And a lone Brown Creeper circled the trunk of a cypress near Bercut.  Out only Hermit Thrush of the morning made his warning calls from a well-concealed lower branch inside a dense bush.  The male Allen’s Hummingbirds sat boldly, openly on branches in plain sight, waiting for scopes and cameras to be focused.

Pictures, top to bottom:

Male Allen’s Hummingbird.  It is the only bird species named for a Californian.  Allen was a gamekeeper and bird collector on Rancho Nicasio in the late 19th century.  There he collected the first recognized specimen of this little bird and passed it on to ornithologists in the east, suggesting it was a new species for science.  He was right.

Black Phoebe near nest site.

Gray-crowned Night-Heron, presumable an immature bird.  Black crown yet to come.

Red-shouldered Hawk near Bercut maintenance yard.

This rodent was discovered by and named for Paolo Botta, a young Italian doctor on a French expedition to the Pacific Coast in the 1820s.  He made several discoveries, and collected the earliest known hummingbird we now know as Anna’s.  It was named after the wife of Botta’s patron, the Duke of Messina.  So this American hummer was named for Duchess Anna of Messina.  There is no evidence she cared much about her husband’s bird skin collection.  Botta went on to become an important archaeologist in what is now Iraq.  You’ve heard of that place, I suspect.


This blog could never resist a gallery of Californbia Towhee pictures.

I am sure you all enjoy these subtle markings on this demure, plumpish sparrow.  That sows a fine aesthetic sense and a keen mind.  Besides this bird is practically our logo, though not nearly as flashy as his cousin, Spotty.

Location:     Golden Gate Park
Observation date:     3/6/10
Number of species:     42

Mallard     10
Bufflehead     8
Ruddy Duck     12
Pied-billed Grebe     6
Great Blue Heron     1
Black-crowned Night-Heron     1
Cooper’s Hawk     1
Red-shouldered Hawk (California)     4
Red-tailed Hawk (Western)     1
American Coot     8
Western Gull     4
Anna’s Hummingbird     1
Allen’s Hummingbird     5
Belted Kingfisher     1
Nuttall’s Woodpecker     1
Downy Woodpecker     2
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted)     1
Black Phoebe     4
Steller’s Jay     4
American Crow     4
Common Raven     6
Tree Swallow     10
Chestnut-backed Chickadee     6
Bushtit     4
Brown Creeper     1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet     2
Hermit Thrush     1
American Robin     6
European Starling     10
Cedar Waxwing     50
Orange-crowned Warbler     1
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)     40
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon’s)     2
Townsend’s Warbler     4
California Towhee     10
Song Sparrow     25
White-crowned Sparrow     6
Golden-crowned Sparrow     35
Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon)     6
Red-winged Blackbird (Red-winged)     15
Purple Finch (Western)     4
House Finch     2


  1. Neat picture of the hummingbird. You seem to be getting some nice pictures of very small birds. Have you gotten a new camera?

    • Just gotten better at using the same old camera…can;t wait for it to breakso I can get a new, higher X-factor Canon.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: