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Thursday, September 03, 2015  
Posted by: Laura and Steph and Elan

It was a gorgeous early September day on the Hill with gusty winds and lots of sunshine. The more unusual species were scattered throughout the day to keep us on our toes, starting with three morning Osprey who got the day off to a bright start. We caught great views of a Prairie Falcon, who obliged us by flying almost directly overhead before peeling away towards San Francisco. Two raptor identification study birds sent to us by Hawk Blind gave us a chance to sharpen our Accipiter identification skills, and a late-showing White-tailed Kite, called excitedly in by the west quadrant, left us feeling satisfied with our tenth species of the day.

ARCHAIC ENGLISH FACT: We misspelled "bird" today and learned something new--according to the University of Michigan's Middle English dictionary, "brid" (also "brede," "berd," "burd," and "bord") is Middle English for the young of a bird. Who knew?

Total Sightings: 281
Hours Counted: 6
HPH: 46.83
Total Species: 10

Species Counts:
Turkey Vulture: 88
Osprey: 3
White-tailed Kite: 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk: 2
Cooper's Hawk: 15
Red-shouldered Hawk: 1
Red-tailed Hawk: 157
American Kestrel: 6
Peregrine Falcon: 1
Prairie Falcon: 1

Unidentified...
Buteo: 4
Raptor: 2

Data have not been entirely checked — contact Chris Briggs at cbriggs@parksconservancy.org for final results and for permission to use.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015  
Posted by: Nicole and Anna

Despite pervasive fog in the morning, the intrepid Wednesday 1 hawkwatchers made their way up to the hill to begin counting before 10:00. Although we had a relatively slow hourly sighting rate, we did have some interesting raptors, including an adult Red-shouldered Hawk and a juvenile Northern Harrier, before being pushed off the hill by fog at 1:00. Spirits were high even though the fog was low, and Wednesday 1 looks forward to clear skies in the future.

Total Sightings: 69
Hours Counted: 3.17
HPH: 21.77
Total Species: 7

Species Counts:
Turkey Vulture: 27
Osprey: 1
Northern Harrier: 1
Cooper's Hawk: 2
Red-shouldered Hawk: 1
Red-tailed Hawk: 36
American Kestrel: 1

Data have not been entirely checked — contact Chris Briggs at cbriggs@parksconservancy.org for final results and for permission to use.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015  
Posted by: Nicole and Natasha and Laura

No new species for the season were counted today after the excitement of yesterday's Ferruginous Hawk and Prairie Falcon sightings. However, Tuesday 1 observed a variety of raptor species spread throughout the day, including an Osprey, an American Kestrel, and a Peregrine Falcon. Hawk Hill frequent fliers (Red-tailed Hawks and Turkey Vultures) were also present. Although today was relatively slow in terms of raptor activity, the hawk watchers had a reason to celebrate: Allen Fish, GGRO's beloved director, celebrated his 30th anniversary with the program today! Treats were provided and the volunteers got to hear Allen's favorite memories since he started working here in 1985. Congratulations, Allen!

Total Sightings: 104
Hours Counted: 5
HPH: 20.8
Total Species: 7

Species Counts:
Turkey Vulture: 56
Osprey: 1
Cooper's Hawk: 2
Red-shouldered Hawk: 1
Red-tailed Hawk: 41
American Kestrel: 1
Peregrine Falcon: 1

Unidentified...
Raptor: 1

Data have not been entirely checked — contact Chris Briggs at cbriggs@parksconservancy.org for final results and for permission to use.

Monday, August 31, 2015  
Posted by: Natasha and Steph

Today started off slow but ended up setting a record for the total number of species, with several species seen for the first time of the season. The first few hours, Hawkwatchers felt stuck in the doldrums, and the interns in the west quadrant counted only three Turkey Vultures in a whole hour. The day became more exciting when “Ouch!”, a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk recently outfitted with a GSM transmitter, appeared in the north quadrant and gave us a good look at her transmitter. San Franciscans, look out for Ouch! travelling over the city. A little while later, Hawkwatchers spotted an interesting Turkey Vulture that had white marks on its shoulders rather than a solid black back. Things started to heat up in the one o'clock hour, as new species besides our usual customers began to appear. The stars of the show were a beautiful juvenile Ferruginous Hawk and a Prairie Falcon that flew past us from Hill 88. These sightings were the first of the season for these two species! Other species of note were a White-tailed Kite, Red-shouldered Hawk, Northern Harrier, and multiple Sharp-shinned Hawks and American Kestrels. After spotting the leucistic Red-tailed Hawk last cycle, it seems like Monday I is continuing our streak of spotting awesome raptors!

Total Sightings: 220
Hours Counted: 6
HPH: 36.67
Total Species: 12

Species Counts:
Turkey Vulture: 94
Osprey: 1
White-tailed Kite: 1
Northern Harrier: 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk: 5
Cooper's Hawk: 2
Red-shouldered Hawk: 1
Red-tailed Hawk: 100
Ferruginous Hawk: 1
American Kestrel: 9
Peregrine Falcon: 1
Prairie Falcon: 1

Unidentified...
Buteo: 3

Data have not been entirely checked — contact Chris Briggs at cbriggs@parksconservancy.org for final results and for permission to use.

Sunday, August 30, 2015  
Posted by: Anna and Natasha and Elan

Sunday 2 up on Hawk Hill was pleasantly sunny and windy, with a moderate amount of raptor activity. The wonderful weather and views brought many visitors to the hill who were quite curious and enthused to learn what we were looking at and yelling about. Today, we spotted many of our signature Turkey Vultures and juvenile Red-tailed Hawks, with a noticeable abundance of adult Red-tailed Hawks. To spice things up in the late afternoon, a handful of Cooper's Hawks, Ospreys, and a singular adult Red-shouldered Hawk blew by the hill. Overall, it was a good first day for the Sunday 2 team, and we look forward to seeing many more species on the hill as the migration season continues!

HAWK FACT: Californian Red-shouldered Hawks were previously called Red-bellied Hawks due to their vibrant orange chest and belly. These hawks are most often found in oak woodlands and near rivers, but are also common in urban areas where eucalyptus groves are present.


Total Sightings: 193
Hours Counted: 4.08
HPH: 47.3
Total Species: 6

Species Counts:
Turkey Vulture: 122
Osprey: 2
Cooper's Hawk: 3
Red-shouldered Hawk: 1
Red-tailed Hawk: 60
American Kestrel: 1

Unidentified...
Accipiter: 1
Raptor: 3

Data have not been entirely checked — contact Chris Briggs at cbriggs@parksconservancy.org for final results and for permission to use.

Saturday, August 29, 2015  
Posted by: Laura and Elan and Natasha

Today was an uneventful day on Hawkwatch. The fog rolled into Rodeo Valley yesterday at 3:30pm and never left. After the morning meeting, we were hopeful and headed up to the annex. However, we could not even see Kirby Cove. We returned to the valley for some small bird sightings before calling it a day.

FOG FACT: Carl Sandburg wrote a six line poem about the San Francisco fog.

"The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on."

Today, you can follow the SF fog on Twitter at @KarlTheFog.

Here is a sampling of today's tweets:
"I'm dewing a lot already."
"I run this town."



Total Sightings: 0
Hours Counted: 0
HPH: 0
Total Species: 0

Data have not been entirely checked — contact Chris Briggs at cbriggs@parksconservancy.org for final results and for permission to use.

Friday, August 28, 2015  
Posted by: Nicole and Elan

Today was a hot and clear day on the hill. We started off our counting at noon with a healthy dose of Red-tailed Hawks and Turkey Vultures, followed quickly by a male American Kestrel that was an identification study bird from the banders at Hawk Blind. This early action was followed by some good Accipiter practice for the team as we had a good fly-by by a juvenile Cooper's Hawk. The weather stayed hot until the breeze picked up and began to blow the fog in as we left the hill, and we were treated to the sight of a wedding taking place over Kirby Cove! The Friday 2 team had a positive first day on the hill and we look forward to more birds next time around.

Total Sightings: 103
Hours Counted: 3.5
HPH: 29.43
Total Species: 4

Species Counts:
Turkey Vulture: 48
Cooper's Hawk: 3
Red-tailed Hawk: 48
American Kestrel: 2

Unidentified...
Accipiter: 2

Data have not been entirely checked — contact Chris Briggs at cbriggs@parksconservancy.org for final results and for permission to use.

Thursday, August 27, 2015  
Posted by: Anna and Elan and Steph

It was a dark and stormy night. Actually, it was the exact opposite: the brightest, sunniest day we've had on Hawk Hill so far. The clear day allowed us to spot a bounty of raptors, and by the end of the day we totaled 9 different species. Hawkwatchers were excited to spot the first Merlin of the year far off over the Golden Gate Bridge, identified in a spotting scope. It was a good day for watching Northern Harriers, as four individuals offered great views of their white rump patches and brilliant orange juvenile plumages. The day also stood out in the number of American Kestrels seen, often in male-female pairs. The quadrant system worked especially effectively today when a number of individual raptors flew around the entire hill and each quadrant passed the bird on to the next. Thursday II looks forward to continuing this great teamwork and counting many more raptors this season!

LITERARY FUN FACT: In T.H. White's novel The Once and Future King, the wizard Merlin turns a young King Arthur into a Merlin to learn lessons from the hawks in the castle's mews. A second fun fact: T.H. White himself experimented with falconry and wrote a book about his experience titled The Goshawk.


Total Sightings: 149
Hours Counted: 4
HPH: 37.25
Total Species: 9

Species Counts:
Turkey Vulture: 68
Osprey: 5
Northern Harrier: 4
Sharp-shinned Hawk: 2
Cooper's Hawk: 3
Red-shouldered Hawk: 2
Red-tailed Hawk: 54
American Kestrel: 8
Merlin: 1

Unidentified...
Buteo: 2

Data have not been entirely checked — contact Chris Briggs at cbriggs@parksconservancy.org for final results and for permission to use.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015  
Posted by: Anna and Laura

It was a beautiful sunny day up on Hawk Hill today. Although only four species of raptors were seen, there were many highlights. A few dark morph Red-tailed Hawks were seen; allowing our hawkwatchers to get some good long looks in as the circled the hill. An adult Peregrine Falcon put on a show in front of the Golden Gate Bridge, stooping multiple times on a juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk. And a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk required a double take as it had a few adult central tail feathers.

Total Sightings: 126
Hours Counted: 3.5
HPH: 36
Total Species: 4

Species Counts:
Turkey Vulture: 63
Red-tailed Hawk: 55
American Kestrel: 4
Peregrine Falcon: 1

Unidentified...
Accipiter: 2
Raptor: 1

Data have not been entirely checked — contact Chris Briggs at cbriggs@parksconservancy.org for final results and for permission to use.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015  
Posted by: Steph and Natasha and Nicole

The streak of good weather continued with another clear and sunny day. The good weather brought some great sightings of seven different species of raptors. We completed three different ID studies and the last bird, a Red-tailed Hawk, gave us an excellent view. After its release, it decided to perch on the rock right in front of the north quadrant (we were even able to read part of its color band). The new apprentices were blessed with excellent sightings of two Osprey, a juvenile and an adult Peregrine Falcon, and a Red-shouldered Hawk. Towards the end of the day, the wind and fog began to roll in along with a pack of six Turkey Vultures, one of which was packing a rotten lunch. After holding on tight to this hunk of meat for several minutes, its prize was snatched away by a sneaky Raven. This dramatic exchange wrapped up a lovely day on the hill.

Total Sightings: 120
Hours Counted: 3.75
HPH: 32
Total Species: 7

Species Counts:
Turkey Vulture: 63
Osprey: 2
Cooper's Hawk: 1
Red-shouldered Hawk: 1
Red-tailed Hawk: 49
American Kestrel: 1
Peregrine Falcon: 2

Unidentified...
Raptor: 1

Data have not been entirely checked — contact Chris Briggs at cbriggs@parksconservancy.org for final results and for permission to use.

Monday, August 24, 2015  
Posted by: Elan and Steph

Monday II was blessed with the best weather since the season began: warm (but not hot) temperatures, good visibility aside from some haze, and, most importantly, no fog! The great conditions brought in a bounty of raptor species. Along with the usual Red-tailed Hawks, Turkey Vultures, and Cooper's Hawks, we spotted Osprey, White-tailed Kites, Northern Harriers, American Kestrels, and a Red-shouldered Hawk for a grand total of eight species. This team also enthusiastically counted butterflies and dragonflies, and was able to identify 8 different species, including a few not included on our insect count form. On a team half-filled with first-year apprentice Hawkwatchers, returning members enjoyed training these newer volunteers. Monday II looks forward to an awesome season of Hawkwatching!

Total Sightings: 165
Hours Counted: 4.25
HPH: 38.82
Total Species: 8

Species Counts:
Turkey Vulture: 58
Osprey: 2
White-tailed Kite: 2
Northern Harrier: 2
Cooper's Hawk: 5
Red-shouldered Hawk: 1
Red-tailed Hawk: 84
American Kestrel: 6

Unidentified...
Buteo: 2
Raptor: 3

Data have not been entirely checked — contact Chris Briggs at cbriggs@parksconservancy.org for final results and for permission to use.

Sunday, August 23, 2015  
Posted by: Anna and Natasha

A great partially sunny Sunday up on the hill. Even though the team only got 3.75hrs of counting, they saw 7 species and some great interspecies interactions! Some highlights included a stooping and calling adult Red-tailed Hawk very close to our counters, a White-tailed Kite (although at a distance), and an adult Peregrine Falcon appearing in the South quadrant before circling around to pick on the lone Northern Harrier in the North quadrant.

Total Sightings: 223
Hours Counted: 3.75
HPH: 59.47
Total Species: 7

Species Counts:
Turkey Vulture: 95
White-tailed Kite: 1
Northern Harrier: 1
Cooper's Hawk: 1
Red-tailed Hawk: 122
American Kestrel: 1
Peregrine Falcon: 1

Unidentified...
Raptor: 1

Data have not been entirely checked — contact Chris Briggs at cbriggs@parksconservancy.org for final results and for permission to use.

Saturday, August 22, 2015  
Posted by: Laura and Elan

Today was an eventful day on the Hill. We had a nice, sunny start with a Peregrine Falcon and two juvenile Turkey Vultures, as well as the first Northern Harrier and Red-shouldered Hawk of the season! We spotted two Ospreys and an assortment of Redtails and Turkey Vultures in the early afternoon before the fog rolled in. Dayleader Bob Power's singing kept the group entertained throughout the afternoon. A big thanks to Eli Gross for joining us today before he leaves to count raptors 7 days a week in Kiptopeke, Virginia. Have fun, Eli!

Total Sightings: 112
Hours Counted: 4
HPH: 28
Total Species: 7

Species Counts:
Turkey Vulture: 56
Osprey: 3
Northern Harrier: 1
Cooper's Hawk: 1
Red-shouldered Hawk: 1
Red-tailed Hawk: 45
Peregrine Falcon: 1

Unidentified...
Raptor: 4

Data have not been entirely checked — contact Chris Briggs at cbriggs@parksconservancy.org for final results and for permission to use.

Friday, August 21, 2015  
Posted by: Natasha and Nicole

Upon arriving at the office, all of the Marin Headlands was trapped in fog. The day did not look promising for Hawk Watch. After a fun meeting, we decided to wait and see if the fog would dissipate. While stalling, we took a stroll up the Miwok Trail into Gerbode Valley in search of some birds. We spotted two Red-tailed Hawks, a Great Blue Heron, and a few passerines. At 1:00pm, we looked up to Hawk Hill for signs of clearing fog, but it remained immersed. Sadly, no count was completed today. The Friday I team looks forward to our first true Hawk Watch day!

Total Sightings: 0
Hours Counted: 0
HPH: 0
Total Species: 0

Data have not been entirely checked — contact Chris Briggs at cbriggs@parksconservancy.org for final results and for permission to use.

Thursday, August 20, 2015  
Posted by: Laura Booth Stephanie Szarmach Elan Carnahan

The first Thursday of the migration season was chilly up on the Hill, with dense fog early in the day that cleared for better visibility in the later afternoon. Hawk counting picked up over the course of the day to accompany increasing winds, with 34 of our 81 hawks (42 percent!) appearing between 1 and 2 pm. We mostly saw Red-tailed Hawks and Turkey Vultures, but were graced by the presence of 3 Peregrine Falcons and 1 quick-flying Cooper's Hawk for a rate of 23 hawks per hour.

Hill Highlights: Volunteers on the north side of the Hill enjoyed watching a coyote stalk prey through their spotting scopes. And when a Peregrine Falcon briefly faced off with a Red-tailed Hawk, everyone on the Hill gasped in unison.


Total Sightings: 81
Hours Counted: 3.5
HPH: 23.14
Total Species: 4

Species Counts:
Turkey Vulture: 36
Cooper's Hawk: 1
Red-tailed Hawk: 41
Peregrine Falcon: 3

Data have not been entirely checked — contact Chris Briggs at cbriggs@parksconservancy.org for final results and for permission to use.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015  
Posted by: Nicole and Anna

Today was a great first day of the season on the hill for Wednesday I. After a raptor slideshow refresher the crew headed up to Hawk Hill just in time for the raptors to start flying (Tim B. reported that nothing had been coming by until we arrived). Apprentices and interns were teamed up with veteran Hawkwatchers and everyone got to work in their quadrants. It was cloudy, but warm, and the birds were flying. Some highlights included a fast flying falcon that was kind enough to circle around for a positive ID as a male American Kestrel and a last minute accipiter that turned out to be a juvenile Cooper's Hawk. Currently 1 for 1 on the Hawk ID study (juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk) for this team.

Total Sightings: 111
Hours Counted: 3.5
HPH: 31.71
Total Species: 5

Species Counts:
Turkey Vulture: 72
Sharp-shinned Hawk: 1
Cooper's Hawk: 2
Red-tailed Hawk: 29
American Kestrel: 2

Unidentified...
Accipiter: 1
Buteo: 1
Raptor: 3

Data have not been entirely checked — contact Chris Briggs at cbriggs@parksconservancy.org for final results and for permission to use.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015  
Posted by: Nicole and Natasha

Today was a foggy day up on the hill, but we were able to see a wide variety of raptor species. The most notable sightings happened in the second hour of the count, when we saw an Osprey fly from the north quadrant to the west, followed by another an hour later (Neither of them were packing a lunch yet). In a hawk ID study, our team successfully identified a juvenile Cooper's Hawk that was released by the banders in Hawk Blind at the end of our count. Everyone on the Tuesday 1 team is excited for what's to come!

Total Sightings: 61
Hours Counted: 4.25
HPH: 14.35
Total Species: 5

Species Counts:
Turkey Vulture: 23
Osprey: 2
Cooper's Hawk: 2
Red-tailed Hawk: 31
American Kestrel: 1

Unidentified...
Accipiter: 1
Raptor: 1

Data have not been entirely checked — contact Chris Briggs at cbriggs@parksconservancy.org for final results and for permission to use.

Monday, August 17, 2015  
Posted by: Natasha and Steph

Today was a foggy but eventful first day of the Hawkwatch season! After arriving to a hill full of fog, pockets slowly started to open up after 11:30am. Many juvenile Red-tailed Hawks and Turkey Vultures flew through the skies, allowing the new apprentices and interns to practice identifying some of our site’s most common raptors. The monotony of continuous Turkey Vultures and Red-tailed Hawks was broken by sightings of two beautiful American Kestrels, male and female, and five accipiters which challenged the ID skills of all on the hill. Then off in the distant fog, a group of juvenile Red-tailed Hawks soared over the southern hillside, but one bird was not like the others. The pale, white color of the bird was initially explained by the poor visibility in the southern quadrant. However, as the bird traveled into the clearer east quadrant, volunteers realized it was a partially leucistic Red-tailed Hawk! This individual had a completely white upper side, while the underside displayed typical juvenile plumage. Hawkwatchers were flush with excitement upon viewing this rare individual in flight. Though much of the day was foggy and windy, this incredible bird was the perfect kick-off to Hawkwatch. Perhaps this bird was an auspicious sign of a unique 2015 season.

INTERDISCIPLINARY FUN FACT: In ancient Roman times, priests interpreted the flight of birds to determine the favor of the gods, a practice known as Augury. The eagle was a symbol of Zeus, king of the gods.


Total Sightings: 98
Hours Counted: 3.7
HPH: 26.5
Total Species: 4

Species Counts:
Turkey Vulture: 28
Cooper's Hawk: 2
Red-tailed Hawk: 63
American Kestrel: 2

Unidentified...
Accipiter: 3

Data have not been entirely checked — contact Chris Briggs at cbriggs@parksconservancy.org for final results and for permission to use.


Contact Information

Hawkwatch Hotline
(415) 561-3030 (ext. 2500)