Neotropic Cormorant glut, Calif. Quail vagrancy?!
On Monday morning, 10 August, there were THREE adult Neotropic Cormorants on the boom at the bottom end of Sweetwater Reservoir, with about 20 Double-cresteds–right after the fishing access gates opened up at 7AM. A little over an hour later there was perhaps only 1 Neotropic remaining, and with slightly fewer D-c's as before. Same exact thing happened a week ago when I was last there and saw "just" one Neotropic. So perhaps the birds are roosting on the boom overnight (?) and then depart elsewhere for a while. If and when they return in the PM is not yet known, but the lighting and heat shimmer at that time of day may make viewing the birds problematic. Given that one of the two birds photographed at nearby Morrison Pond is somewhat more brownish overall, there appear to be a minimum of 4 Neotropics in the area. That species is quickly going from riches to rags, as it has in a few other areas along the coastal slope of sw. California!
Also this morning, I had a couple first-of-season fall-migrant coastal Lazuli Buntings, in the TRV. Also a single female/immature California Quail was at the main Dairy Mart Pond in the TRV. Was this bird a post-breeding disperser from somewhere else? A sneaky remnant of a disappearing local population? An escapee (if they are even raised anywhere locally)? This is the FIRST California Quail I have seen or heard in the Tijuana R. valley since I moved to San Diego 12 years ago. The exact status of this species in extreme southwestern San Diego County is not clear, although it is clearly threatened. Quail are locally regular near the coast south to San Dieguito Lagoon/Torrey Pines/end of Flintkote Avenue. South of there there are isolated populations hanging on at Tecolote Canyon and on Point Loma. Birds may or may not persist in the Mount Soledad/Kate Sessions Park area. But then what happens south of there??? There are multiple eBird reports over the past decade from the Tijuana River valley. Most have few or no details. Some are by visiting out-of-town birders who sometimes mis-plot their sightings during a visit to a wide variety of locations in the county. A mjority of the reports with details state that the bird was "heard only." There is also a report in recent years of a heard-only bird from Famosa Slough, and one report from Sweetwater Marsh in Chula Vista, as well as a couple reports from the Otay Valley east of the TRV where the species does have a reasonable chance of hanging on. In sum, the species is hanging on by a thread in this part of the county, and the careful reporting of future records from there is encouraged!
–Paul Lehman, San Diego
Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports