California and back….but stuck at 669

A week in the San Francisco area served many purposes. Rekindling and making new friends, eating healthy foods like kale and soybeans, drinking healthy beers like Blue Moon, selling Haverford (of course!),…did I mention birding? Basically I had my binoculars around my neck the entire visit. It did not seem to bother my Haverford Alumns…not even the lawyers. My tolerant and generous hosts…the Horton’s, Simpson’s and Parish’s…may have even caught a bit of the birding fever I intentionally tried to pass on to them. By the time I was finished talking (at them?), they were locating great horned owls, distinguishing whimbrels from godwits….even cutting out newspaper articles about birds!

Michael Parish & GCW spying on White Pelicans

Michael Parish & GCW locating White Pelicans


Walks thru Golden Gate Park, hikes up Mt. Tam (twice) and exploring Pt. Reyes National Park produced many bird encounters but no “lifers”. A 12 hour day on the infamous Debra Shearwater’s Half Moon Bay pelagic voyage provided incredible cetacean sightings (Blue, Fin, and Humpback whales), but alas, the mega-rarity Cook’s Petrel must have forgot that it was supposed to leave New Zealand by now.
Humpback whale "spy hopping"

Humpback whale “spy hopping”


I spent most of my time at the stern of the boat befriending Ross, the 17 year old “chum guy”. His job was to systematically toss popcorn and drip smelly fish oil over the back of the boat in order to attract the birds. Fortunately, no seasick passengers interrupted our conversations about “seeing condors or chasing the rufous-necked wood rail”. Talking birds with Ross, a young birder extraordinaire headed to Cornell next month for a special “Young Birders Symposium”, was as enjoyable as watching Black-footed Albatrosses glide alongside our converted salmon fishing vessel; a multi-purpose boat specially licensed to dispose of cremated human remains (I saw the certificate), as well as ferry birders around the Pacific in search of anything avian.
Black-footed Albatross

Black-footed Albatross


The Philadelphia Phillies and SF Giants baseball teams are in a July slump with little prospect for improvement. My mini-slump should be snapped soon though. A Hatteras, NC two day pelagic trip, call it a double-header, is only two weeks away!

About George C. Wood

A birder since age ten, but not necessarily an avid "lister", I am closing in on 700 (*800!) species seen in North America.....hoping to capture each sighting with my camera.
This entry was posted in Quest for 700 (*800!). Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to California and back….but stuck at 669

  1. Wendy says:

    You did say you still work full time, George ! Sounds like an amazing 2 weeks – look forward to your report from Cape Hatteras soonest .

  2. burkebiz says:

    GCW –

    #670 – coming to a blog near you! Well done, my friend of our fine feathered friends. KB

    Sent from my iPhone KJB

  3. Scott Tuttle says:

    Keep your stories coming. Watch out for hurricanes. They make those seas pretty “Ruff ” ( ha ! )-Scott

  4. Mike Selverian says:

    Great stuff. I learn somethng every time. I had to look up two words and am glad I did. Always a pleasure to read your posts, Woody!

  5. Dorothy Weisbord says:

    Saw a very large Great Blue flying low over Patch Brook Rd yesterday by the beaver dam. Glad you had marvelous trip to California. Fun reading. D

  6. Anne Wood says:

    I was just talking with a SF Vassar alum about a boat (the same one?) in SF, Half Moon Bay, that carts cremated people out to sea. She had a 45-4 mini reunion there.

  7. chasscrew says:

    excellent update – thanks and hope to see you soon! abs

    Anne B. Standish abstandish@aol.com

  8. David says:

    First class report. The City Fathers have asked me to extend an invitation to you and to Nina to return to San Francisco as soon as possible. There are many new restaurants for you both to sample, exotic birds for you to stalk and vasts sums of wealth to be accumulated by Nina. Please respond at your earliest convenience, as the City Fathers are not known for their patience.

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