|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.
Many shorebirds as seen from Alviso Marina County Park. Bird-watchers are definitely in for a treat if they
come here, a perfect place for bird watching.
Small parts of thousands of seagulls seen near Alviso Marina County Park. Depending on season, visitors may
also see blue herons, great egrets, snowy egrets, cormorants, pelicans and all kinds of species of ducks and
Another big group of thousands of seagulls seen at Alviso Marina County Park.
I took a movie of thousands of seagulls and many shorebirds in action at the southern tip of San Francisco
Bay near Alviso Marina County Park as shown in the following YouTube movie:
These thousands of seagulls and many shorebirds were on the bay at substantial distance from the Alviso
Marina County Park and I had to use the 65X of optical zoom of my compact super-zoom camera to zoom in
to see them more clearly. However, the 65X optical zoom magnified greatly any of my hand shake such that
the movie is not quite stable.
I also took a movie scan of thousands of seagulls and many shorebirds on very wide areas of water or levee
in southern tip of San Francisco Bay at the following YouTube website:
I heard that at the peak season, there are about 50,000 seagulls on the southern tip of San Francisco Bay
near Alviso Marina County Park. I guess the best time to come here is the winter season to see 50,000
seagulls and many shorebirds in action.
In the breeding season of gulls from April to early August, many breeding pairs of California gulls go to their
favored breeding ground on small islands on Mono Lake in eastern California near the junction of Highway 395
and Highway 120. Mono Lake is home to the second largest California Gull rookery in North America (Great
Salt Lake is the largest). It is said that more than 85 % of gulls from California are born here at Mono Lake.
While at Mono Lake, they feast on billions of brine shrimps in Mono Lake and on billions of Alkali flies along
lake shoreline. More information and photos of Mono Lake can be seen on my web page at:
On the other hand, another article on Internet indicate that many California gulls also breed somewhere near
Alviso in southern part of San Francisco Bay Area during the breeding season of California gulls from April to
From Alviso Marina County Park, we also saw this Altamont Commuter Express train running north through
this area. The Altamont Commuter Express runs between San Jose and Stockton.
Dumbarton Bridge as seen from Alviso Marina County Park.
The free parking lot for visitors of Alviso Marina County Park. There are no fees for entrance or parking.
Boardwalks, Observation Decks and hiking trails to get you closer to the Bay for visitors to enjoy wonderful
views of the Bay and wildlife. It's just a huge place with an incredible view. Very relaxing to walk around, you
will realized how pretty this area can be!
Wide Open area at southern part of San Francisco Bay or old salt ponds and Levee as seen from Alviso
Marina County Park. It was a very nice sunny day with blue sky and blue bay water on February 13, 2018.
Alviso Marina Loop Trail is a 0.8 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near San Jose, California that
offers scenic views and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips,
biking and birding. It is accessible year-round. The trail is basically a somewhat graded dirt road. The trails
are flat and easy,
On the other hand, Alviso Marina Loop Trail is connected to the Alviso Slough Trail which is a 9-mile loop trail
in nearby Don Edward San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge for biking that extends out into the
southern part of the San Francisco Bay. It take about 3 to 4 hours to finish the 9-mile walk. The trail runs
along the top of old levees of old salt ponds.
More information on Alviso Marina County Park and its associated hiking trails with lots of birds can be seen
in the following YouTube websites:
This is where Guadalupe River (becomes Alviso Slough) flows into South Bay of San Francisco Bay. Great for
wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers.
A perfect place for bird watching and photography, lots and lots of birds plus wide open space which make for
Rest room at east end of the parking lot.
Alviso Marina Boat Launch Ramp for visitors to launch boats or kayaks into the Alviso Slough to enjoy
boating, kayaking and wildlife watching in southern end of San Francisco Bay. This picture was taken near
Magnificent sunset view during the golden hour as viewed from Alviso Marina County Park, a huge open place
with an incredible view. It's one of the prettiest in the South Bay.
Some nature lovers on hiking trail at Alviso Marina County Park on March 23, 2018 to enjoy scenic views,
birding and walking exercise. Lots of birds which make for interesting sightseeing!
(Note: It is very nice in the winter season and early spring to visit such wildlife areas. But in hot summer
season, these wildlife areas with lots of water may have lots of mosquitoes and other bugs that can be
bothersome to visitors.)
Many shorebirds seen at Alviso Marina County Park on March 23, 2018.
Zoom in for a closer look of these shorebirds.
Zoom in even more.
A hummingbird seen at Alviso Marina County Park.
Colorful gorgeous view of mountains on east side of San Francisco Bay as viewed from Alviso Marina County
Park during the golden hour on March 23, 2018 in the spring season. It's so close to the city yet it retains its
natural beauty; a true hidden gem in Silicon Valley!
We also visited the Environmental Education Center of Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife
Refuge which is only about 2 miles east of Alviso Marina County Park. The address of this Environmental
Education Center is 1751 Grand Blvd, San Jose, CA 95002. From this Environmental Education Center, there
is a long boardwalk trail for visitors to enjoy hiking and bird watching in the southern portion of San Francisco
Zoom in to see some birds very far away.