San Francisco – Everyday Insider! (TM) Trip 19C

Today I am continuing with a list of Everyday Insider! (TM) events or venues which tourists to San Francisco can use to enjoy California life with the locals.

San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park is one the finest urban parks in the world, and it is wholly man made (except for the topographical land forms and some isolated oak groves in the eastern part of the park).

The park is dominated by a forest of special trees, primarily: Monterey Pine, Monterey Cypress, Blue Gum (eucalyptus from Australia) and small numbers of a wide variety of other trees. The forest ecology is paired with many fields, meadows and over a dozen small lakes. Certainly, the park functions as a habitat refuge island, and the avifauna is abundant in terms of both species and overall numbers.

This post will focus on birding and model boats, which share some of the same areas.

In the western section, the park offers rich birding opportunities. Weekdays and weekend mornings are certainly the preferred times to visit this area because holiday and weekend afternoons are so heavily impacted by people. Birding is poor in all parts of the park then.

Kennedy Drive and the area around the concourse and museums are closed to automobile traffic on Sundays and holidays and Middle Drive is closed on Saturdays.

Isolated areas in the eastern part of the park are best avoided when birding alone, because of some of the neighborhoods nearby.

Bird populations vary extremely between and during seasons:

___ Spring begins in mid-February with migrating Allen’s Hummingbirds and Tree Swallows.
___ Mid-March until mid-May you will look for nesting species. Spring migration peaks during March and April.
___ Summer months are slow. Birds which breed locally remain in the area through August.
___ Fall migration begins in August and the Eastern vagrants begin to arrive in early September. They continue to pass through until mid-October.
___ Migrants and vagrants are present in small numbers through the winter. By November the over-wintering population begins to peak.

Additional places to watch for birds in Golden Gate Park includes the Bison Paddock area. Don’t count on a wide variety of bird species here, but instead regard it as an opportunity to observe avian behavior and interaction.

There is a large blackbird flock utilizing the fenced Bison meadow all year, so you can observe interactions between the dominant Brewer’s Blackbirds and the large numbers of Red-winged Blackbirds, Brown-headed Cowbirds and the non-native, raucous starlings.

In the fall and winter, you may find the Tricolored Blackbird. The meadow hosts a large wintering population of Killdeer and Common Snipe winter here, from time to time.

Red-tailed Hawks have nested on the north side of the Bison meadow, and one or two usually over-winter there. Late summer and early fall bring a profusion of grass and weed seeds, which then attract large numbers of small birds like: House Finches, Pine Siskins and a few American and Lesser Goldfinches.

Spreckels Lake, which is just east of the Buffalo Paddock, was developed for, and is still used by model boat hobbyists. This is also a favorite spot for all the wintering gulls. It is also one of the park’s best sites for seeing Western Grebes, Canvasbacks, Ruddy Ducks, Buffleheads and Lesser Scaup. Seeing a visiting Greater Scaup is a real possibility and Tufted Ducks have turned up as well. Always remember to look overhead for all the park’s swallows: Tree, Violet-green, Cliff, Barn and Rough-winged.

San Francisco Model Yacht Club

The club is devoted to the building and sailing of model yachts, both power and sail. Whether you are a builder, a sailor, or just interested in this fascinating and beautiful hobby, all are welcome.

The Club is located in San Francisco’s historic Golden Gate Park at the 36th Avenue and Fulton Street entrance, where there is a clubhouse and Spreckles Lake is nearby. Both venues are devoted to model yachting. You do not need to reside in the San Francisco Bay area to be a member.

Enjoy! More on Golden Gate Park next time.

San Francisco Archive

©2010 mystic at Travel Vacation Review

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