Science for a Blue Planet

Featuring cutting-edge work, discoveries, and challenges of our scientists, our partners, and the larger conservation science community.

Boarderline Birders 2021

 by Josh Dieterich, Chief Development Officer

After some hemming and hawing about the rain in the forecast, the Boarderline Birders went ahead with their count on Sunday September 19. Our perseverance was rewarded with a magically crisp late summer day in west Marin, just perfect for exploring a variety of bird habitat and wrapping up with lunch on Jack Ladd’s deck overlooking Bolinas Bay. What a day! The Boarderline Birders is our Board of Directors team, led now for many years by former Point Blue intern and current board member Ivan Samuels. This year he was joined by fellow board members Anki Gelb, Geoff Gordon-Creed, Susie Hagemeister, and returning board member Arden Bucklin-Sporer, who brought her excellent identification skills to the group. Diana Humple of the Palomarin team joined us as resident naturalist, a huge help to this mixed-experience group.

L to R: Anki Gelb, Diana Humple, Arden Bucklin-Sporer, Susie Hagemeister, Geoff Gordon-Creed, Ivan Samuels. Credit: Josh Dietrich

We started our day at the Stinson Beach parking lots, wandering the edges of the lots, beach, and riparian area and identifying many species of interest, including an early sighting of this year’s mascot bird the pine siskin, MacGillivray’s warbler, and both Bewick’s and house wrens in addition to the many gulls and shorebirds on the beach. I also found a left behind frisbee, always a fun toy to have on hand!

After our early success at Stinson, we moved on to the harbor seal pullout on the inside edge of Bolinas Lagoon. Here we found a wide variety of shorebirds (willets, avocet, dowitchers), elegant terns, a lone belted kingfisher, and hundreds of brown pelicans. We had hoped to see some ducks but were too early in the season for them – but Arden did spot a high flying wedge of geese (either Canada or cackling – too far off for us to get a definitive i.d.). Greater and snowy egrets and a great blue heron rounded out our time here and we moved onward around the lagoon to Pine Gulch.

Boarderline Birders bird the Bolinas Lagoon. Credit: Julie Baldocchi Chase.

Pine Gulch was fairly quiet at first, but then Ivan spotted some warbler activity near the creek and we settled in for a spell, to be rewarded with our rarity of the day, a female Canada warbler! We saw several other warbler species there, and identified two woodpeckers by their calls. Walking out further along the trail we surprised a magnificent great blue heron and found a white tailed kite high in a tree overlooking the lagoon. A couple of scrub jays added their calls to the scene, and Diana identified a common yellowthroat by its call. The views out across the marshy landscape were fantastic!

After a quick visit to the sewage treatment ponds (we hoped to hear or see a marsh wren here, but the ponds were too dry due to low water use during the drought) we headed to former board chair Jack Ladd’s home, where a picnic lunch (and California quail sighting) completed our day. Great fun with great people in a great setting – we couldn’t have asked for more. Thank you to our team members and donors for making this a success!