Half Moon Bay Coastside 1

This week I’m again walking the Coastside Trail around Half Moon Bay, then over Pillar Point to Moss Beach – looking for birds, mostly autumn migtants. Tuesday was the longest walking day (more than 7 miles). The weather was perfectly cool and cloudy with no wind. 

As odd as it seems, we got really excited about blackbirds! That’s because this first photo is of a Tricolored Blackbird, and the second shows a flock with a few Red-winged Blackbirds mixed in. Since it’s not breeding season, the epaulettes are mostly hidden. But if you look at the tricolored bird’s shoulder, you’ll see a pale white stripe. This is the edge of the red patch and distinguises it (among other characteristics) from the red-winged species. What was exciting was that we had just begun our walk and found so many Tri-colored Blackbirds together, and the first time I’ve ever seen one.  Good start. More later.”

Western kingbird

The Western Kingbird (Tyrannus verticalis) was a new bird for me, spotted on the last day of last week’s Half Moon Bay Coastside Trail walk. It’s a multi-pastel-colored bird (a type of flycatcher) that’s a little smaller than a robin.

According to Alvaro Jaramillo’s Field Guide to the Birds of California, this bird is a migrant here for the spring through summer breeding season. The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America says this kingbird is seen singly or in small family groups. We watched three to five together in the coastal scrub. It’s a beautiful visitor.  I was happy to make its acquaintance.

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Coastside Trail: Best birds 3

Here’s my final set of best shots from the last leg of the south-to-north trek along the Half Moon Bay coast from Princeton-by-the-Sea to Moss Beach.

Enjoy and get outside. There’s so much to see.

Here’s the key by column:
Column 1: House Sparrow, Snowy Egret, Caspian Tern, Brant (geese), Common Loon, Spotted Towhee
Column 2: Western Kingbird, Red-tailed Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, California Towhee, Green-tailed Towhee, Song Sparrow
Column 3: Wilson’s Warbler, Steller’s Jay, Warbling Vireo, Purple Finch, Turkey Vulture

And, that’s it from me for awhile.

Coastside Trail: Best birds 2

These are my best shots from the next part of the south-to-north trek along the coast of Half Moon Bay to Princeton-by-the-Sea. We spent our time close to shore buffeted by coastal winds.

Here’s the key by column:
Column 1: Snowy Plover + Sanderlings, Snowy Plover, Caspian Tern, Caspian Tern, Elegant Tern (flying)
Column 2: Whimbrel, White-crowned Sparrow, Bewick’s Wren, Common Yellowthroat
Column 3: Western Tiger Swallowtail (butterfly), Red-tailed Hawk, Eared Grebe, Northern Gannet (in the wrong ocean)

Coastside Trail: Best birds 1

Here are my best shots from the first part of the south-to-north trek along the coast of Half Moon Bay. (Best doesn’t mean great, just those good enough to post.)


Here’s the key by column:
Column 1: Savannah Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow (feeding a youngster), Great-horned Owl, decorative garden grasses (I liked the pattern)
Column 2: Anna’s Hummingbird (male), cypress grove (for the pattern), Hutton’s Vireo
Column 3: American Robin, Surf Scoter, Western Bluebird