There is nothing like ending the day with a little birding. Especially after a day of rainy day recess and rambunctious ten year olds! Also I had looking for a rare bird in the pouring rain on the previous Saturday and had whiffed.
I was determined to try again so I headed to Twin Peaks, a vista that provides some of the best views of downtown San Francisco.
The view of San Francisco from Twin Peaks, looking straight down Market Street.
I pulled into the dirt parking lot, right in between the peaks, it was just after 3:30. I replaced my work shoes with my mucking boot (always in the trunk) and grabbing my car binoculars (ditto) and headed towards the drawn where my target bird was being seen.
I reached the edge of the road and looked down on the chaparral draw, and immediately I saw a bird flying away down around the curves of the hill and stopping in a coyote brush. This bird did not seem to be a local, something looked off. I walked 20 yards along the road and looked down where I found the bird in my binoculars. Here was my target bird: eastern Phoebe, a very rare bird in San Francisco.
I got great looks at the lost visitor as it hawked from its perch and then returned moving its tail in circular motions which shouted out it’s name, this behavior being very diagnostic of this energetic flycatcher.
I watched the bird for about five minutes then some movement off to my right caught my attention, just a congress of ravens circling above the South Peak, and then I return my gaze back to the coyote brush and the flycatcher it was gone. Other birders had previously noted that this bird can appear and then suddenly disappear and not be seen again for hours.
Luckily for me I only had to wait for another five minutes before I spotted the bird flying across the road up towards the South Peak where it got in a light tussle with the residence Black Phoebe, two species of Phoebes in one bush is not a bad day’s sighting. And it certainly is a great way to end the day!