Monthly Archives: July 2019

continuing Indigo, phalaropes, Reddish

One of the stakeout male Indigo Buntings present near the B&B Garden in the TRV continues on Sunday morning, singing from dead tops of willow trees to the south of the road across from the horse trail-riding parking area, to the west of the garden. At the saltworks pond directly off the north end of 13th Street in Imperial Beach there were good numbers of shorebirds including 62 Willson's Phalaropes. A good spotting scope and is essential. And the long-staying Reddish Egret continues on the mudflats off J St./Marina Parkway in Chula Vista.

–Paul Lehman & Barbara Carlson, San Diego
Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports

Lake Henshaw – "Southwestern" Willow Flycatchers, Yellow-billed Cuckoo 20 July 2019

I made an early morning hike around to the back of Lake Henshaw from the Highway 76 pullover closest to the southwest corner of the lake.  This was my first hike there since last August and what a difference a wetter winter and spring have made.  The lake has extended somewhat in size, with higher water, not as high as some of the high-water marks I have noted around the lake shore, but the deep lush growth of herbaceous plants was quite incredible both to see and struggle to walk through.
At the same location as I noted in July 2018 there were multiple "Southwestern" Willow Flycatchers "singing" in what has become quite extensive flooded willow gallery woodland on the southeast shore of the lake.  In this same area I also detected, by its loud knocking and kyowp calls, and saw in flight a few times, a YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO in a lush area where larger cottonwoods meet the smaller stature willow trees at the lake shore.  This looks pretty nice habitat for cuckoo.  I did manage to stumble into a small creek here getting pretty wet through, don't trust watercress on the surface.
There were a few shorebirds in the southwest shallows nearer the highway, I also hiked around to the back or east side but the mudflats and shallow riparian water usually there is now much deeper so no real shorebird habitat to be found.  In the southwest area margins some Western (25) and Least Sandpipers (9), a Long-billed Curlew, four Long-billed Dowitchers, a Semipalmated Plover, a Willet, two Spotted Sandpipers, and eight Greater Yellowlegs.  All adults.
There are no trails around the lake and the easy-going open lake shore walking now stops in the southeast corner where it is necessary to skirt up and away from the lake over decomposed granite hillocks and boulders to find your way around.  The incredible plant growth out there is fascinating and beautiful to see but exhausting to find your way through.  I was up to my chest in plants pretty often trying to figure out a route.  Not easy hiking and heat index rising by 9am.  For anyone wishing to venture out there I would recommend taking lots of water and some snacks, cell phone coverage is good, as well as long pants and good footwear to combat bushwhacking, endless sap covered herbs, grass seeds, etc.  Dawn patrol 5:30am is best start and lingering at the back of the lake unwise as the high temperature hike back to the highway can be very tiring.  Check yourself for ticks too.

Gary Nunn
Pacific Beach

Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports

A truly astonishing day at La Jolla Cove, July 17, 2019

Spent 2 hours at the Cove this morning. Overcast and gray skies, not much wind.

As you know, for the past several weeks there have been 3–4 thousand black-vented shearwaters feeding off the edge of the canyon in La Jolla. And anywhere from 100–2500 black-storm petrels.
300–400 brown pelicans; hundreds of gulls and terns
All following large pods of common dolphins.
Steady small numbers of common murres and small numbers of other alcid species.
And on Monday, thousands of black-venteds 6 miles and more off of Pt. Loma.

Even so, I was hardly prepared for today’s spectacle: while the dolphins were everywhere I looked today [no Patches], there were virtually NO birds of any kind.
A total of 9 black-vented shearwaters.
22 black-storm petrels [and 1 further out, heading south, dark-rumped Leach’s storm-petrel).
30 Western gulls; 4 Heermann’s gulls. [still have not seen a juvenile Heermann's this summer]18 terns of various species.
26 brown pelicans.
No alcids.

Also, I forgot on Monday, July 15 to mention the most interesting sighting on the Hornblower trip that day.
An adult yellow-crowned night-heron was along the shoreline of the Naval Air Station North Island, hunkered down next to a bush just to the north of the BCBs.
Offhand, I don’t know of any sightings of this species in north San Diego Bay, or elsewhere in the bay for that matter [but I haven’t checked eBird records to see].

Stan Walens, San Diego
July 17, 2019; 12:00 pm
Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports

Hornblower Whale Watch birds, July 15, 2019

Went out on the HB today, joined by some other birders.
So different from last week’s trip.
Overcast skies, calm sea with just some wind chop.

Virtually not a bird until we got to the first drop off, about 6 miles west of the tip of Pt. Loma.
1200-1500 common dolphins attracted a slew of birds.
We estimated there were 3000+ black-vented shearwaters.
Most shearwaters were rafting on the ocean, unless we scared them up or they were feeding in with the dolphins.
Also a juvenile humpback whale which we watched mill about—sometimes swimming left, sometimes swimming right—for a truly boring 90 minutes.
Sooooooo exciting.

Only unusual bird in that feeding frenzy was 1 juvenile brown booby.

Then we went a few miles to the Northwest, where we came upon several hundred bottlenose and common dolphins, including the infamous Patches.
This pod attracted about 400 more black-vented shearwaters.
1 pink-footed shearwater and 11 sooty shearwaters.
A minke whale which we watched mill about—sometimes swimming left, sometimes swimming right—for a truly boring 70 minutes.

Scattered groups of alcids:
33 Cassin’s auklets
2 Craveri’s murrelets
1 Guadaloupe murrelet

15 black storm-petrels
5 boobies; 3 definite browns including a beautiful adult male which came right up to the boat, the other 2 too distant for identification.

Stan Walens San Diego
July 15, 2019; 2:30 pm
Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports

SDFO Meeting on Tuesday, July 16

SDFO Event – July 16, 2019 at 6:00 pm is the next meeting of San Diego Field Ornithologists.


Meeting to be held in the Hoffman Room of the San Diego Foundation Building, 2508 Historic Decatur Rd. Going south on Rosecrans St. in the Midway area of town, turn left on Roosevelt Rd. into Liberty Station and proceed a couple of blocks to Decatur. Parking is available on the street or in the adjacent parking lots.


Program: John Martin will discuss “San Diego National Wildlife Refuge and Its Role in Bird Conservation.” San Diego National Wildlife Refuge supports a substantial slice of this area’s distinctive biota, including a variety of bird species of conservation concern. Refuge biologist John Martin will discuss the conservation and management of birds and their habitats on this significant habitat area, right in San Diego’s backyard. John Martin has served as biologist at San Diego National Wildlife Refuge since 2004. His work at the refuge has focused on monitoring, management, and habitat restoration projects for federally listed species, and species covered by San Diego’s Multiple Species Conservation Plan. Prior to working on the refuge, John worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Ecological Services office, primarily implementing the Endangered Species Act and associated conservation plans. His other bird conservation work includes a stint with the San Clemente Loggerhead Shrike recovery project, several seasons monitoring and banding migrant raptors with Hawkwatch International, and graduate work at the University of Arizona, where he formulated a habitat model of the Buff-breasted Flycatcher and has birded southeast Arizona to smithereens.


Next month’s meeting: Tuesday, August 13, 2019, same time, same place. Susan Farabaugh, Ph.D., Associate Director, Recovery Ecology, San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, will present “Of Aga and ‘Alalā—Conserving Endangered Corvids on Pacific Islands”. PLEASE NOTE THIS NOT OUR USUAL MEEETING DATE!!


Click here for Meeting Details and Map.

DO you need to renew your membership? Click the link for SDFO membership instructions. Please make sure to include your current email address.


Nancy Christensen

San Diego Field Ornithologists





Nancy Christensen



Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports

Canada Geese at Chollas Lake mid-June 2019

On June 15th, a friend of mine saw a family of Canada Geese

at Chollas Lake.
There were two adults and three goslings that couldn't fly yet.

Has anyone else seen them, and is there a story about how common they are there?
I've seen the posts about Canada Geese in Mission Bay but had not seen anything about these.

Thanks for any info,
Barbara Peugh
Pt. Loma, San Diego

Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports

Re: Scissors Crossing early morning

Several people have pointed out that this unseen bird could have been a cactus wren, not a cuckoo. I was not familiar with this wren call, but checking through some call collections, I can see the point. There was definitely a cactus wren in the area, so I am recanting my report of a cuckoo. Sorry folks!

Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports

Scissors Crossing early morning

An early visit to the area north of Scissors Crossing along S2 yielded a couple of good birds. I pulled over to park where the trees come closest to the road (roughly a ½ mile north of the intersection of S2 and Hwy 78) and got out my chair to do a stationary observation. I had barely taken a seat when I heard the knocking call of what I believed to be a Yellow-billed Cuckoo. It several times during the 1 ½ hours that I sat there. I left and checked a few other locations, then came back, and continued to sit and listen in the company of Max L. We heard the bird a couple of times, the last before I left was at almost 10:30 am. A breeze blowing right into our faces made recording difficult, but I did get one which is included in my checklist. I was never able to see the bird. I have made several listening trips out there this early summer, and this is the first hint of cuckoo, but this is also the first time I went to this spot first thing.


I also had a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak, feeding on Elderberries and actively chasing away a Black-headed Grosbeak. There was also the continuing Western Tanager male I have seen in the area for the past several weeks.




Nancy Christensen



Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports

Re: Indigo Buntings TRV

I was lucky (after an hour-long search) to watch a messy looking Indigo Bunting in a small, bare tree 15' from me this morning (just NE of the horse staging area at about 8:30AM, July 9).  Bright blue, but mixed with a lot of brown on the head and wings; a lot of splotchy white on the lower belly. It was silent.

     A total of six Yellow-crowned Night-Herons were along the McCoy Trail near the Tijuana Slough Visitor Center. Two looked like adults, the others sub-adults.  (None that I saw were in juvenile plumage.)  A lovely male Blue Grosbeak was singing atop a bush along the trail.
Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports

BT Magpie Jay

My son just sent me photos of s Black-throated Magpie Jay taken this morning at Kit Carson Park in Escondido. He said it was near the bathroom by the playground at the south end of the park- where we have the CBC call out.

Nancy Christensen

A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.
Chinese Proverb
Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports