Friday, 20 February 2015

California day five - Oakland to Half Moon Bay

It was a pretty murky morning as we headed into Oakland and along the shores of Lake Merritt. Lots of gulls about, but just Ring-billed, Westerns, the odd Glaucous-winged and California and a single American Herring. This site has previously been a good bet for Barrow's Goldeneye, but there haven't been any about regularly this winter. Nevertheless some showy Canvasbacks, Lesser Scaup and Black-crowned Night Herons as well as a couple of Belted Kingfishers were nice enough before we braved the San Francisco rush hour traffic and headed south over the Bay Bridge.
drake Canvasback Lake Merritt, California
By mid-morning, the gloom had turned into a nice morning. And with the aid of some directions, we headed into Golden Gate Park, and to an area of log piles near the junction of Nancy Pelosi Drive and Martin Luther King Drive. Here, it took about half an hour to locate the overwintering Rustic Bunting as it lurked in among the juncos - never coming out of the undergrowth, it didn't show too badly at all. Quite a contrast searching for this alongside White-crowned, Golden-crowned, Song and Fox Sparrows while American Robins hopped about with Townsend's Warblers in the trees above!
Rustic Bunting (above two images) Golden Gate Park, California
Townsend's Warbler Golden Gate Park, California
Sooty Fox Sparrow Golden Gate Park, California
American Robin Golden Gate Park, California
Having visited Golden Gate Park a couple of times previously, I knew how photogenic some birds on the small lakes were and so ensued a bit of a papping session - Ring-necked Ducks, Pied-billed Grees, Buffleheads, Hooded Mergansers and Mew Gulls being the main targets.
drake Ring-necked Duck Golden Gate Park, California

drake Lesser Scaup Golden Gate Park, California

drake Bufflehead Golden Gate Park, California

adult Mew Gull Golden Gate Park, California

Pied-billed Grebe Golden Gate Park, California

And once we were done, we headed half an hour or south to Half Moon Bay for another visit to Venice Beach and its gulls. Plenty of nice photographs taken of commoner species, and what with just a couple of days left, I was conscious to try and stock up on the different ages of each species and get a few flight shots too. A single Heermann's Gull, four American Herring Gulls and this hybrid presumed Glaucous-winged x American Herring Gull were the highlights.
adult American Herring x Glaucous-winged Gull Half Moon Bay, California

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