Field Trip: San Mateo Coast

Date: Saturday September 14, 2013

Time: 8:00 AM

Trip report added on September 18, 2013. (NSAS Event)


Leader: Wendy Schackwitz

Trip Report: We spent the day exploring the San Mateo coast, seeing a total of 62 species. The day began with a bit of mist and chill at Pillar Point. At the tip, there was an abundance of shore birds including RED-NECKED PHALAROPE foraging in the surf. We watched a dramatic life/death struggle as a juvenile PEREGRINE FALCON made several attempts on the small flock phalarope. The peregrine was not successful this go-around and left “empty-taloned.”

We made a brief stop at Pigeon Point which is a famous spot for locating migrating pelagic birds from shore. We were not so lucky this trip, but we did have a nice study of PELAGIC vs BRANDT”S CORMORANTS which were perched as a mixed flock on one of the rocks just off shore.

Next was Ano Nuevo SP for lunch and a visit to the freshwater pond and beach. We were surprised to see a few swallows, expecting them to already have moved south. The cypress trees near the pond gave up a YELLOW WARBLER.

Leaving the shoreline we headed inland to Butano SP and walked a section of the Six Bridges trail. A single PACIFIC WREN gave us great views as it chattered and scolded us. We located one mixed flock of foraging birds that included TOWNSEND’S WARBLER, YELLOW WARBLER, CHESTNUT-BACKED CHICKADEE, and HUTTON’S VIREO. Two of us saw what we thought was a RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET, and Sue thought she had heard one earlier in the walk. We were unable to confidently confirm this sighting, and given that it is a little early in the season to be seeing them, this ended up being the bird that got away.

From here we headed back to the coastline via Pescadero SB where we got our first marine mammal of the day – a SEA OTTER which was being harassed by a HEERAMANN”S GULL. We were a little early in the season for wintering ducks at Pescadero Marsh, but saw one male RUDDY DUCK that was still in breeding plumage and showing his bright blue bill, as well as a female with her flock of ducklings.

Most of the participants headed back at this point, but three of us made one last stop at San Gregorio SB to scan the gull flock and horizon in hopes of a few more species so we could break 60 for the day. We were in luck. PACIFIC and COMMON LOON, as well as COMMON MURRE pushed us up and over the hump. We had the added bonus of a brief glimpse of a DALL’S PORIPOSE.

The trip ended at 4:45 p.m.

Pre-Trip Description: Join us as we explore the largely undeveloped shoreline and rolling hills of the San Mateo Coast. We will begin the day by looking for shore birds at Pillar Point, Pescadero Marsh, Pigeon Point and Ano Nuevo State Park. Leaving the coastline, we will then move inland and look for land birds at Gazos Creek Road and Butano State park. Expected birds include Pacific Loon, Sooty Shearwater, Pelagic Cormorant, White-tailed Kite, Wandering Tattler, Pigeon Gillemot, Marbled Murrelet, Band-tailed Pigeon, Black Swift, Varied Thrush, and Tricolored Blackbird.

Bring: Lunch, money for state park entrance fee, money for carpool gas, comfortable walking shoes, binoculars, layers. Contact: Wendy Schackwitz. Email:

Directions: Carpooling is encouraged. Contact Wendy for those who wish to meet us at our first destination.

submitted on August 24, 2013, at 11:59 AM PST

Dialing in © 2009 Frank Toller Murray Berner © 2009 Frank Toller Lunch break on Friday Bird Walk © 2010 Dave McMullen * Murray at Coast.jpg Δ

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