Field Lab 2: Mount Tamalpais State Park/ Redwood Creek/ Muir Beach

Date: 02/06/20


Mount Tamalpais State Park, 37.8795°N, -122.5548°W, highest elevation = 784m

Redwood Creek, 37.881461°N, -122.577001°W

Muir Beach (lookout), 37.8628°N, -122.5850°W, elevation = 144m

Site description: We first visited a trail off of Frank Valley Road in Mount Tamalpais State Park. The surrounding plant life consisted of a diverse range of shorter-sized bushes with a scatter of various medium sized trees. The trail wound  through hills and valleys alongside a small forest of tall eucalyptus trees. Some key bird species that were identified at the time of visit include the California Scrub-Jay, Wrentits, and the American Robin. Next, we visited a dirt trail that ran alongside a small portion of Redwood Creek. Unlike the location before, the area was surrounded by an array of tall trees some of which were in bloom and some that were completely stripped of leaves. The creek floor was covered in a blanket of grass amongst the fallen trees. Some key bird species that were found include the Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Ruby-crowned kinglets, and even a Peregrine Falcon. The last place we visited was a cliff trail on the coast that looked over Muir Beach. The trail first wove through tall pine and eucalyptus trees that homed a multitude of birds and non-bird species. The path lead to an open cliff area that was covered majorly by shorter bushes and shrubs; however, the cliff was home to several taller groups of trees. Some key bird species that were observed include the Stellar’s Jay (Coastal), the Pygmy Nuthatch, and the White-crowned sparrow.

Species account: Peregrine Falcon, Falco peregrinus. Peregrine Falcons are medium-sized birds that are athletically and sturdily built when looking from the naked eye. Their plumage varies across subspecies however the underside of their wings most often contain hundreds of brown spots and lines in front of a whiter background.Peregrine Falcons navigate primarily at high altitudes in flight with occasional perching at natural and manmade lookout spots. Their diet consists of other avian species such as pigeons, ducks, and gulls all of which they primarily hunt mid-flight. During breeding season, Peregrine Falcon males viscously defend their mating territory and female-protected nest. The specific Peregrine Falcon spotted on this field lab was seen slowly spiraling upwards via the surrounding thermals.

Narrative: Our trip began at approximately 8:00AM on February 6th, 2020. We crossed the bridge into Marin Headlands territory before approaching our three destinations along the Muir Woods State Park. The weather was a mostly clear sky with scattered clouds. Wind was minimal at Mount Tamalpais State Park and Redwood Creek but it picked up as we moved closer to the coast (Muir Beach lookout). Like the previous field lab, there was an abundance of birds and we had no problem identifying a plethora of species. This time, we focused largely on the specific calls made by the birds and how this can serve as an easy way to identify bird species that are present without actually visualizing them.

Mount Tamalpais State Park

Redwood Creek

Muir Beach Lookout

eBird checklist: https://ebird.org/profile/MTUzNjg2OA/world


Field Lab 1: Golden Gate Park

Date: 01/30/20

Location: Golden Gate Park, 37.7694°N, 122.4862°W, highest elevation = 303.87 ft

Site description: We visited the very east end of Golden Gate Park that runs along Stanyan St in San Francisco. This section of the park had several branching trails surrounded by diverse vegetation. This vegetation ranged from tall grasses, shrubbery, and flowers to the massive Blue Gum Eucalyptus and Monterey Cypress trees. Contrarily, multiple open recreational spaces disrupted the surrounding flora. Some key bird species that were identified at the time of visit include Anna’s Hummingbird, Dark-eyed Junco, and Golden-crowned Sparrow.

Species account: Golden-crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia atricapilla. Golden-crowned sparrows are fist-sized birds with long tails. They are brown-bodied with dark black striped running parallel with their white-tipped wings and their beaks are short and triangular. Most notably, the breeding adults were seen to have a yellowish-gold crown at the highest point of their head. Non-breeding adults lacked this distinguishing feature. The sparrows navigated mainly on the ground in large groups scouring the floor for food and occasionally jumping up to nearby twigs and branches. Their diet consists of primary insects and seeds, and they are frequently found in forest edges, backyards, and scrubby spaces during winter and their periods of migration. During breeding, the sparrows can be found near the ground amongst the shrubbery of the tundra or at the edges of boreal forests (eBird.org).

Narrative: We began our trip at approximately 9:45Am on January 30th, 2020. Arriving at the east end of Golden Gate Park off Stanyan St, the weather was mainly cloudy with the occasional sunlight peaking through. Immediately after entering the park, birds were being spotted left and right. Not long into the trek, we ran into a small group of fellow birders who were in search of a Red-naped Sapsucker; considered to be a very rare sighting at this park. As a new birder, this experience helped instill the basic principles of active bird spotting and binocular usage.

eBird list (cameronlucian): https://ebird.org/profile/MTUzNjg2OA/world



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