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migrant Purple Martin, Rose-breasted Grosbeak (with caution)

Today, 6 August, I had a migrant Purple Martin (female/immature) and a somewhat worn female Rose-breasted Grosbeak in the Point Loma area. This is likely the earliest fall record of a migrant Martin in the county by about two weeks. It would also be almost two weeks early for the earliest migrant Rose-breasted, so that fact coupled with its somewhat worn plumage would suggest that it may well have summered somewhere nearby. Speaking of recent Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, there have been a couple female/immature types recently reported from northern California, with the initial basis for the ID appearing to be the birds' very pale bill–a character indeed used for female Rose-breasts in winter and spring–and perhaps also on the basis of perceived underpart streaking pattern. But both these two particular reports came with photos (yeah!), which instead showed Black-headed Grosbeaks on the basis of only very fine streaking in the center of the breast and an underlying wash below of light butterscotch-buff, which is the perfect color for Black-headed. So, beware grosbeaks with very pale bills in at least late summer, as some Black-headeds at this season may show this character as well.

Yesterday, the 5th, what was presumably the same, summering Surfbird reappeared after a three-week break on south San Diego Bay, but it has moved from J Street over to Emory Cove, where it was hanging out with 22 Ruddy Turnstones–a fairly good count for that declining species. Several Common Terns continue on south San Diego Bay/salt works as well, including my overdue first adult of this season. The adult Reddish Egret continued at the San Diego River mouth.

–Paul Lehman, San Diego
Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports