Sequoia Audubon Society
                              San Mateo County, California

Sequoia Audubon Society’s Third Annual
Big Sit! Birdathon Pledge Drive
October 13, 2013

The SASsy Seawatchers have a wonderful spot at Pescadero State Beach and Marsh, overlooking the sea, the pond, the marsh, and, as we discovered this memorable day, within scope sight of a first-class migrant trap!

Morning view for the hill, looking southwest

The list of best birds is absurdly long - and then there were the birds seen by the advance team that wandered into the migrant trap, and saw species that, even with our ladder and scopes, were not detected within the circle.

Here are the two lists:

Great Birds within the Circle

Full List of Species Seen

I arrived alone at 6:05 am (my spouse dropped me off, with some trepidations), but it paid off when, after stumbling around a bit to find the trailhead, I detected a screeching Barn Owl and a Great Horned Owl. When Mark Kudrav (a hero of this exceptional day, in the midst of his record-setting Big Green Year!) arrived around 6:30 or so, we were off to the races, detecting both rails. He then spotted a north-bound Blue-footed Booby, and we scratched out a few tubenoses and alcids.

By the time lots more folks arrived around 8:00 am, we knew we were in for a better day than last year's fog-shrouded affair. My wife Peggy brought the ladder, and it immediately paid off when we saw the day's only visible Savannah Sparrow from it (the ladder would later help secure rarer species, like Tropical Kingbird!). The snacks also appeared at this time, and provided adequate nutrition and energy, such that we suffered few lunch-hour defections. Thanks to all who brought the victuals.

The crew at the site, including Donna, Doug, Ginny, Leslie, J.C., and Peggy

Around 11:00, Ginny Marshall spotted our first very cool rarity - a Spizella sparrow. She asked Donna to use her advanced pishing skills, and it worked: a Clay-colored Sparrow perched up! Wow! Much happiness and high-fiving at this bona-fide rarity.

We have no regrets…but we had a lot of Great Egrets!

Then yours truly, team captain, needed to take a bathroom break. I walked up the narrow trail to the distant eucalyptus grove for this deeply personal research. On the way back down, I spotted a Palm Warbler. Knowing this was an important bird to at least one member of our team, I invited them to come up while I returned to the circle. Those who now went to explore found more - a warbler swarm. Another reconnaissance mission was sent, with excellent birders, and they started pointing to things. We in the circle ascended the ladder, trained the scope, and got what we could in the excitement: Palm Warbler, Townsend's Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Summer Tanager. A bit later we added a Tropical Kingbird. We missed a few other rarities seen up there - Brewer's and Chipping Sparrows, House Wren and a Baltimore Oriole, as well as some common species like Spotted Towhee and Cooper's Hawk. Amazing day - a memorable migrant event for San Mateo county, great camaraderie, stories of exultation and frustration to share.

The Palm Warbler, one of the highlights of a rarity-filled day

Despite the great weather, there were not as many people walking by this year as in previous years, so there were fewer opportunities for outreach and membership growth. But the fundraising capability, and the fun-raising of the party atmosphere, created their own momentum. We had twenty-four total participants through the day.

The afternoon we spent looking east towards the migrant trap

We ended with 99 species, a number that "reeks of integrity," as Garth Harwood noted. The total time of the Big SIT was from 6:00 am until 6:45 pm.

Twilight gathers around the Ladder Day Sighting Site-Sitters

Still glowing from the discovery of the migrant spot! Join us in 2014 on Sunday, October 12.

Sunset, Pescadero State Beach, looking west – the Big SIT ends!

In attendance

  1. Mark Kudrav
  2. Avis Boutell
  3. Peggy Macres
  4. Leslie Flint
  5. Ginny Marshall
  6. Carolyn Weng
  7. Malia Kai deFelice
  8. William, co-worker with Mark
  9. Nicole Westbrook
  10. Daniel (Nicole's friend)
  11. Evleen Anderson
  12. Gary Deghi
  13. Donna Pomeroy
  14. Doug Pomeroy
  15. Francis Toldi
  16. Leigh Toldi
  17. Daria Sorokina
  18. Alex Sorokin
  19. Bob Ulvang
  20. Bill Groll, our webmeister!
  21. J.C. Shaver
  22. Doug Brown
  23. Marshall Dinowitz
  24. Jennifer Rycenga, team captain and author of this (potentially) stirring account

Timed birds

List of Species for SAS's Big Sit 2013

Pescadero State Beach, San Mateo, US-CA
Oct 13, 2013 6:04 AM - 6:49 PM
Protocol: Stationary

Comments: Big SIT! One of those remarkable and frustrating days, as typified by our reaching 99 species. But oh, what a 99 species it was!

99 species (+2 other taxa)

Greater White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons) 47 Two flocks; one in the early morning, larger one in afternoon
Brant (Branta bernicla) 3
Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii) 6
Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) 8
Gadwall (Anas strepera) 8
American Wigeon (Anas americana) 28
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) 24
Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors) 1
Cinnamon Teal (Anas cyanoptera) 4
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata) 21
Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca) 2
Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris) 2
Harlequin Duck (Histrionicus histrionicus) 1
Surf Scoter (Melanitta perspicillata) 60
Black Scoter (Melanitta americana) 2
Common Merganser (Mergus merganser) 14
Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis) 20
Red-throated Loon (Gavia stellata) 1
Pacific Loon (Gavia pacifica) 3
Common Loon (Gavia immer) 5
Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps) 6
Horned Grebe (Podiceps auritus) 1
Eared Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis) 18
Western Grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis) 31
Clark's Grebe (Aechmophorus clarkii) 1
Pink-footed Shearwater (Puffinus creatopus) 1
Sooty Shearwater (Puffinus griseus) 6
Blue-footed Booby (Sula nebouxii) 1 Fly-by going north around 7:30
Brandt's Cormorant (Phalacrocorax penicillatus) 54
Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) 32
Pelagic Cormorant (Phalacrocorax pelagicus) 6
Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) 25
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) 12
Great Egret (Ardea alba) 114
Snowy Egret (Egretta thula) 6
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) 3
White-tailed Kite (Elanus leucurus) 6
Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus) 3
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) 3
Virginia Rail (Rallus limicola) 5
Sora (Porzana carolina) 2
American Coot (Fulica americana) 120
Black Oystercatcher (Haematopus bachmani) 2
Black-bellied Plover (Pluvialis squatarola) 5
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) 4
Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca) 3
Black Turnstone (Arenaria melanocephala) 2
Surfbird (Calidris virgata) 5
Sanderling (Calidris alba) 8
Short-billed/Long-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus griseus/scolopaceus) 1
Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus) 6
Parasitic Jaeger (Stercorarius parasiticus) 2
Common Murre (Uria aalge) 30
Marbled Murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus) 3
Heermann's Gull (Larus heermanni) 60
Western Gull (Larus occidentalis) 70
California Gull (Larus californicus) 30
Herring Gull (Larus argentatus) 1
Western x Glaucous-winged Gull (hybrid) (Larus occidentalis x glaucescens) 1
Elegant Tern (Thalasseus elegans) 30
Barn Owl (Tyto alba) 1
Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) 2
Anna's Hummingbird (Calypte anna) 1
Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) 3
Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus) 2
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) 3
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) 1
Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) 1
Black Phoebe (Sayornis nigricans) 8
Say's Phoebe (Sayornis saya) 2
Tropical Kingbird (Tyrannus melancholicus) 1 Seen clearly by most
Western Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica) 3
Common Raven (Corvus corax) 5
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) 1
Violet-green Swallow (Tachycineta thalassina) 2
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) 1 With the two VGSW
Chestnut-backed Chickadee (Poecile rufescens) 4
Marsh Wren (Cistothorus palustris) 5
Bewick's Wren (Thryomanes bewickii) 3
Wrentit (Chamaea fasciata) 4
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) 5
American Pipit (Anthus rubescens) 1
Orange-crowned Warbler (Oreothlypis celata) 1
Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas) 4
Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia) 1
Palm Warbler (Setophaga palmarum) 3
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata) 18
Townsend's Warbler (Setophaga townsendi) 2
California Towhee (Melozone crissalis) 1
Clay-colored Sparrow (Spizella pallida) 1 Could have been two. Have photos . Other spizellas present in grove
Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis) 3
Fox Sparrow (Sooty) (Passerella iliaca [unalaschcensis Group]) 1
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) 10
Lincoln's Sparrow (Melospiza lincolnii) 2
White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys) 8
Summer Tanager (Piranga rubra) 1 Female
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) 1
Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta) 1
Brewer's Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus) 6
House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus) 4
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis) 1

View this checklist online at

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (


Sequoia Audubon's Web-master, Bill Groll, attended the Big SIT!


© 2014 S.A.S.