Saturday 13 October 2012

Fort Point and Nudist Beach, San Francisco, Oct 2012.

Migration time in San Francisco and I was at the Golden Gate Bridge looking across towards the Marin Headlands.  I could see Hawk Hill across the span, but could not reach it today. Bus 76 runs across the bridge and up the hill, almost to the observation point, but only on a Sunday. I had the bike with me and yes, I could have cycled, but in the warmth of midday, I couldn’t summon up the energy for the hill climb.

A theory formed that if birds are overflying Hawk Hill, then they must surely cross Fort Point (Google Earth ref; 37°48'14.59"N 122°28'39.49"W) on the southern side of the inlet, so this formed the basis of my plan for the afternoon.

I must confess to feeling a little awkward with my tripod, long lens and a spotting scope on top of the cliff, when I realised that I was looking down onto a nudist beach below. In trying to avoid looking down, I concentrated on some House Finches that were sitting up nicely, keeping an eye pointed skywards in case of predators.

A few hawks were seen, but nothing that wouldn’t have been out of place at any other time of year in San Francisco.

The Red-shouldered Hawk, above, gave a nice fly past at low level, but my prized photo would have been the Red-tailed hawk. Mrs Gannet is after a nice picture of the bridge and in my mind’s eye, I saw a photo of a Redtail banking in front of the uprights, tail flared to match the paintwork. A bird had taken station at the top of the tree under which I was shading. Occasional sorties out across the water never quite produced the scene I was hoping for, but let’s not forget that we are on hallowed ground with Red-tail photos in San Francisco.

In search of that elusive bridge picture, I ventured down onto the nudist beach. My big telephoto lens would have compensated for any inadequacies, but I was closer to the bridge now and had to use my wide angle lens. In deference to the dress code, I had taken off my shoes and socks and rolled up my trousers. I felt that spirit of the occasion had been acknowledged, and the full genital display could wait for a more fitting occasion.

Willets were seen in the surf as I tried to concentrate on the job in hand, but I couldn’t help feeling conspicuous. The climb up and down the cliff is via steps that pass through coastal scrub. Western Scrub Jays were seen here as well as an overflying Red-tailed Hawk. Half way up, or down, is a bench where I stopped for a moment.

A couple looking across the water suddenly cried out for the Porpoises that can often be seen from here. Apparently as many as 300 had been seen on the previous day, but on this occasion a mother and calf had come very close to the beach.
Birds seen; 16

Brandt’s Cormorant 30, Brown Pelican 15, Turkey Vulture 1, Red-shouldered Hawk 1, Red-tailed Hawk 3, American Kestrel 1, Willet 8, Western Gull 5, Western Scrub-jay 4, Common Raven 10, Pygmy Nuthatch 12, White-crowned Sparrow 15, Golden-crowned Sparrow 2, Dark-eyed Junco 4, House Finch 5, American Goldfinch 6.

This morning I wanted to take a tour of the area and passed through Presidio, then on to The Palace of Fine Arts, Crissy Field and Fort Point (including the nudist beach below). My new mistress, eBird, demands her favours little and often, so posts have become briefer and more geographically specific. I will make links to each post as they are published and the day can be seen in the order that Kronos intended (though I wonder if nudist beaches and The Great Castrator should share the same paragraph).

Visit the dedicated USA and Canada Page for more from San Francisco, including Palo Alto Baylands and Golden Gate Park. Other destinations on the west coast include Los Angeles and Seattle.


  1. Nice post. I don't think your porpoise is a porpoise, though; the shape of the dorsal fin looks wrong. I'd guess bottlenose dolphin...


    1. Yes I can see that the fin may be wrong, but they were small animals. Perhaps my distance perception was out and they were bigger than they looked.