|Winter Bird Watching in
San Francisco Bay Area
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I came to Shoreline Park and Lake at the heart of Silicon Valley near Google office building complex in
Mountain View, California on January 9, 2016 to enjoy bird watching and hiking exercise. There were many
pelicans and terns dive bombing (plunge diving) into Shoreline Lake to catch fish. Many cormorants were also
on the lake catching fish.
Shoreline Park and Lake is located at 3160 N Shoreline Blvd., Mountain View, CA 94043 in San Francisco Bay
One of many terns dive bombing from the air down into the Shoreline Lake to catch fish.
Many pelicans are either on Shoreline Lake or in the air looking down for fish to catch.
Many egrets line up at the edge of shoreline Lake getting ready to catch fish.
More egrets were flying in to find good spots at the edge of Shoreline Lake to catch fish.
Many very skillful fishing birds, cormorants, were also on the lake surface looking for fish to catch.
In the winter season, there were no people doing boating on this lake. So, the lake becomes ideal location for
many fishing birds to come to catch fish.
I was very happy to see so many fishing birds in such feeding frenzy; with many pelicans and terns dive
bombing (plunge diving) on Shoreline Lake, so many cormorants on lake surface and so many egrets at the
edge of the lake.
I took a movie clip of so many fishing birds in action on this lake and uploaded it to YouTube website at:
Many other kinds of water birds on Shoreline Lake in the winter season.
Spectacular air show of huge number of several different kinds of shorebirds at San Francisco Bay near Shell
bar and its associated mudflats at low tide at Foster City in the winter season.
At the bay shore of San Francisco Bay at Foster City, a large spit extends into the bay. This spit is composed
of clam and mussel shells and so it is locally known as the Shell bar. The shell bar near east end of Tarpon
Street is a great place to see many shorebirds.
In the winter season, not many people come to the beach, so the beach belongs to the birds.
During low tide, large areas of the bay bottom beyond the shell bar become exposed as the mudflats. Such
exposed large area of mudflat is like an all-you-can-eat buffet for birds and attract huge number shorebirds. It
is an ideal location and optimal time (at low tide) for bird watchers to enjoying watching huge number of
shorebirds in action feeding on the mudflat.
Visitors can park the car on Beach Park Blvd near the junction of Beach Park Blvd & Tarpon St., Foster City,
California and walk up to the levee along the Bay. Bird watching is easy from the paved Bay Trail on the levee.
Many large flocks of shorebirds feeding on the mud flats near the Shell Bar at low tide or dancing and swirling
in their own magnificent feathery waves and ballet in the air. It is very exciting to watch the air show of such
high concentration of huge number of shorebirds in action. They rise into the air as if their precise mid-air
acrobatics group flight had been choreographed.
Thought to have evolved to confuse predators, their synchronized air movements have inspired writers and
poets alike. Writer and naturalist Harry Thurston describes such air maneuver in his book, The Nature of
"As they bank, the light is absorbed by their dark backs, then reflected by their bright bellies...Sandpipers flow
and turn together with such uncanny precision as to make one think they are a single organism."
There were so much bird actions going on here and there such that I had hard time deciding on which direction
to point my camera and whether to zoom in on nearby group actions or zoom far out on other groups flying far
away. My video clips of such air show are very unstable because the video with super-zoom is very sensitive
to any camera shakes. My shaky video clips provide clear indication of my excitement in such action packed
I uploaded my video of shorebirds in action to YouTube at:
An egret landing.
Many shorebirds feeding on the mudflats near the shell bar during low tide.
Several views of the shell bar on San Francisco Bay near Foster City.
A view of the shell bar with San Mateo Bridge in the backdrop.
Zoom in on some of the red knots feeding on the mudflats.
Some Avocets feeding in this area.
Another kind of shorebird with long beak that dig and probe deep into the mudflats.
A view of the paved Bay Trail on the levee in parallel to the Beach Park Blvd with the San Mateo Bridge in the
backdrop. Bird watching is easy from this paved Bay Trail on the levee.
We also toured Baylands Nature Preserve at 2500 Embarcadero Road, Palo Alto, CA 94303, Lucy Evans
Baylands Nature Interpretive Center at 2775 Embarcadero Road, Palo Alto, CA 94303 and the Baylands
Sailing Station and saw many birds as shown in the following.