Queers of a Feather

Recently, Katherine and I attended a birding event sponsored by Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) and Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society. This event, Queers of a Feather, was led by super knowledgeable LGBTQ-identifying facilitators in Golden Gate Park.

Despite the many times I’ve visited Golden Gate Park (originally as a runner and more recently as a disc golfer), I’d never thought to bird there. Yesterday’s event was centered around the recently renamed Blue Heron Lake (formerly Stow Lake) and Strawberry Hill.

Katherine and I arrived early to check out the place and to walk Sam (who would not be allowed to accompany us). I went ahead to find a restroom, but within minutes I was calling Katherine on the phone. “There are Ring-necked Ducks here! They’re beautiful!” As I followed the path that I hoped would lead to a restroom (and, it turned out, I had, of course, headed off in the entirely wrong direction), I saw a female Belted Kingfisher. My day was made. If I saw nothing else, I would have that.

The rusty band tells us that this is a female Belted Kingfisher.

Soon, approximately fifty excited birders – some brand new to birding and others more experienced – gathered near the south bridge to begin our adventure. Fortified with treats thoughtfully provided by POST, we divided into two groups and set off around the lake.

We spent three hours walking along Blue Heron Lake (and we did see at least two Great Blue Herons!) and then up Strawberry Hill where we had fantastic views of the city and the bay. My favorite sighting there was a Red-breasted Sapsucker busily hopping about an old cypress.

The many small holes in the tree are the work of a sapsucker.

Our group identified 37 species during our three hour walk. My competitive part was dismayed to learn that the other group had identified more — about 40 species. 😉

My favorite bird of the day was the Hooded Merganser. The color of the male was so striking with its black and white crest, chestnut flanks and gold eyes!

Male Hooded Merganser with an oversized crest that can be raised or lowered.

Other fun sightings were Buffleheads and Ring-necked Ducks.

Male Bufflehead taking flight. Katherine and I often call them Bobbleheads.
Male Ring-necked Duck
Female Ring-necked Duck

The Mallards were stunning with their purple, blue and green heads.

Mallard standing on one foot. It was a chilly morning. Some birds tuck a leg up to conserve heat.

The Queers of a Feather event is held quarterly and this event had a waiting list. Katherine and I were thrilled to have scored spots for the event and are eagerly looking forward to June, when the next event will be held.

Thanks to Megan, from POST, for creating this group, and to Carolyn and Mike for sharing their very extensive bird knowledge and enthusiasm with us.

Special thanks to Katherine’s sister, Freya, for giving us the link to sign up for this event. We had so much fun!

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