I arrived in SF around 12:30 pacific time and after checking into the swanky, old and, I am sure, prestigious, Whiticomb Hotel in the Union Square district of SF and after a quick unpacking, donned my binoculars, camera and Tilly Hat,(a nice rafia fedora), took a long, very long, walk down to to The Embarcadero, to look for boats. No, just kidding, birds, of course. I took a nice walk in the afternoon sun and warmth along the pier, where toothless men were trolling for crabs and tourists were inviting me to take their pictures.
Before I even stepped out on the pier, I saw my first Western Gull,(thanks Fred),and, honestly, before I started this Big Year wouldn't have given it a second look, let alone a first look and taken the time to get a photo. But I did both and was rewarded with bird 39 of the year.
Along the pier I was lucky to see lots of water fowl and was able to spot a Western Grebe and Pacific Loon, along with a juvenile California Gull.
I took lots of photos and walked a bit more, but had to sit for a while before making the long trek back to the hotel. After all, I started on the east coast, flew across the continent, walked miles with my bad back, after having walked miles in Hamilton yesterday, and I am 51 going on 97. Feel sorry for me? Didn't think so.
While I was sitting I spied a large, hawk/vulture like thing fly overhead, with what seemed like a red beak, but wasn't quick enough to swivel my head, pull up my binoculars and also somehow snap a photo. I am sure a more experienced birders would have nailed it on the glimpse of wing and beak alone. Not me. I am just too new and, well, just a little green. Turned out it was a Turkey Vulture.
Eventually I did have to get up and walk back to the hotel, even though the BART train went right to my hotel door, and was lucky enough to see some Brewer's Blackbirds nibbling seed on the sidewalk in front of the mall on Market Street.
Once again, Sue and iBird helped with the identification. I'd be lost and not even be doing a "Small Year" without them.
But tomorrow is a big day. I am off with my guide at the crack of dawn, to have my biggest birding day ever, I hope!