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Monthly Archives: June 2018

June 17: Mountain Quail encounter at Palomar Mountain

Yesterday I parked at Doane Pond and walked first south 1/2 mile to Thundering Spring. Then hiked the opposite direction 1 mile to the Weir Trail. After 12 years I was trying out a new camera (Canon 7D MRKII). Wow, it takes sharp bird action pictures in the dark (at least compared to my old XTi)!


In over 45 years of birding in the West I have rarely had decent looks at Mountain Quail. Usually I hear them only, their “Quark!” call echoing off some canyon. Less frequently I just get a brief look as they burst from underfoot on some brushy trail with the rusty under tail contrasting with the gray upper tail as they fly away. I’ve rarely encountered them with chicks, in which case I get a more prolonged look as they sneak and crawl away through the brush.


Which brings me to yesterday’s adventure. I rounded the trail hearing a scrub jay scolding. A Mountain Quail stood it’s ground in the middle of the trail and would not let me pass! It and the mate (they look very similar) were making a grating whine. They may have had chicks nearby, but I never saw or heard any. Both birds walked around me and into heavier brush, still making the odd noise, but stayed in the area. I was able to get several photos, but didn’t stay long. After about 20 minutes I returned on the same trail and all was quiet.


I’ve seen pheasants attack people. And I’ve seen photos of Ruffed Grouse attacking people or vehicles, but find no reference to this aggressive behavior for quail.


eBird lists with lots of photos:

Doane Pond to Thundering Spring:


Doane Pond to Weir Trail:


Site guide:


Greg Gillson




Greg Gillson
Escondido, California
Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports

June 15 Swainson's Thrush at Dixon Lake, Escondido

Last Friday I heard at least one Swainson’s Thrush “whitting” away in the willow tangle near the footbridge down to Jack Creek Cove from the Jack Creek Picnic area. My research finds that this date would be 3 days later than the late date given in the Bird Atlas for a migrant. It could also be a breeding bird, but at a new location somewhat inland of most other records in the NW corner of the county at the southernmost portion of this species’ breeding range.


In case you want to check it out, I birded the picnic grounds, down to Jack Creek Cove, and back on the Chaparral Nature Trail.


No fee is charged on weekdays.


eBird list:


Site Guide to Dixon Lake


Greg Gillson



Greg Gillson
Escondido, California
Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports

*Tonight* SDFO Meeting June 18. Guy McCaskie and "Foundation, Functioning, and Accomplishments of the CBRC"

Reminder: the SDFO meeting is tonight, MONDAY, June 18 at 6pm.


Program: Guy McCaskie
presents "Foundation, Functioning, and Accomplishments of the California
Bird Records Committee." From Rare Birds of California: " The
California Bird Records Committee (hereafter the CBRC or Committee) was
established in 1970 to help bridge the gap between scientific ornithology and
recreational birding. Operating under the auspices of the California Field
Ornithologists (later to become Western Field Ornithologists), it was the first
committee formed in the Americas for the purpose of vetting records of vagrant
and similarly rare bird species."

The Godfather of
California birding, Guy McCaskie is the co-founder of both Western Field
Ornithogists, serving as its first president, as well as the CBRC, serving as
either a member or a non- voting secretary since its inception in 1970. Guy’s
impact on birding in California cannot be overstated. A 1992 article in
American Birds (46: 204-213) says it best: “McCaskie raised the status of
observation of complex avian events to a highly sophisticated part of the scientific
procedure. He discovered serendipitously the large-scale and frequent
occurrence of vagrants in California and took the lead in systematically
exploiting that boon. He recognized the densifying properties of desert oases
and coastal sites…As a result, he found birds where no one before him dreamed
of looking and set into motion the gears of change for the whole birding
community through his leadership and example. He defined the leading edge for a
generation of birding innovators by developing a method of critical field
observation that was unique when he started and which, for many, is now the



Next month’s meeting:
Tuesday, July 17, same time, same place. Brian Myers will discuss “
Courtship, isolation, and a hybrid zone between Allen's (Selasphorus sasin) and Rufous (Selasphorus rufus) Hummingbird.”


Click here for Meeting Details and Map.

Click here for SDFO membership instructions


Justyn Stahl

San Diego Field Ornithologists

Vice President/Program Chair


Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports

Bank Swallow ID–not

Thanks to all of you who responded and let me know that this bird is, after all, an immature Tree Swallow.  It's a learning process, and I greatly appreciate everyone's insights and help.
Thanks again,

Live in beauty….


Competitive Obedience Toolbox:
Ch Borderfame Soul Train UDX, OM ('Kellan the Felon' a.k.a. 'Sir Barkalot')
OTCH Sporting Fields Summer Solstice, UDX 9, OGM ("Dax", as in "Dax of the Long Tongue" aka 'Sir Lickalot'))
GCH OTCH Sporting Field's Quantum Leap UDX5, OGM  ('Devon' as in 'Devon the Usurper'  aka "Monkey")   
Ch. OTCH Trumagik Step Aside, UDX 20, OGM   (2002 – 2015)
Shorewind Spellbound's Dragon Rider  ("Echo")

Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports

Re: Kumeyaay Lake

Hi Catherine,

This is a juvenile tree swallow, some of which can show a blurry breast-band.
Overall color as well as shape and size of the breast-band are wrong for bank swallow..
Also, note the white patches in the sides of the rump, a mark for tree swallow.

Terrific photos.

Stan Walens, San Diego
June 17, 2018, 4:10 p.m
Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports

Kumeyaay Lake

Sat on a stool on the edge of Kumeyaay Lake in Mission Trails.  Lots of Swallows, mostly Northern Rough-winged; however, I did get some photos of what I believe to be a Bank Swallow: white throat wraps around cheek, dark breast-band.  Please help me firm up the identity of this swallow:
Highlight was a Least Bittern that startled and flew across the lake and a very accommodating Juvenile Pied-billed Grebe.  

Live in beauty….


Competitive Obedience Toolbox:
Ch Borderfame Soul Train UDX, OM ('Kellan the Felon' a.k.a. 'Sir Barkalot')
OTCH Sporting Fields Summer Solstice, UDX 9, OGM ("Dax", as in "Dax of the Long Tongue" aka 'Sir Lickalot'))
GCH OTCH Sporting Field's Quantum Leap UDX5, OGM  ('Devon' as in 'Devon the Usurper'  aka "Monkey")   
Ch. OTCH Trumagik Step Aside, UDX 20, OGM   (2002 – 2015)
Shorewind Spellbound's Dragon Rider  ("Echo")

Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports

Pt. La Jolla seawatch – Pigeon Guillemot, Common Murre, June 16, 2018

I put in a four hour seawatch 6:30–10:30am this morning June 16, 2018 from Point La Jolla.  Actually I had to move a bit south the last hour or so because park rangers put up their public outreach canopy right next to me obscuring the view.
Hoped for a frigatebird maybe on these south winds but no luck with that.  An adult COMMON MURRE in alternate plumage flying south at 7:55am was too distant for photography.  Not the hoped for puffin but raised my pulse a bit.  I continued the vigil and nearly two hours later spotted a slow moving PIGEON GUILLEMOT going south at 9:50am flying into the stiff breeze.  This bird almost too distant for photography too, on the inside of outer kelp line, but I snapped a few frames anyways which can be seen in the eBird checklist below.  It is guillemot season here and I would say one seen about every 6-8 hours watch effort at the moment. 
Sightings random and could be first or last five minutes you are out there though! 

This bird my second of the "season" after one here on June 9. 

Also two Whimbrel flying south.
The massive bird congregation was very distant offshore this morning.  Looked to be far out over La Jolla Canyon a couple miles distant.  While watching the distant blurry specks of birds I did see a Humpback Whale go full breech a couple times followed by some impressive tail whacking of the ocean.  Amazing how far this large animal can stick its tail out the water!

Gary Nunn
you can find me on twitter, @garybnunn

Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports

Origin & age of banded Nazca Booby in San Diego County waters June 10, 2018

On the last San Diego Pelagics
trip this past Sunday June 10, 2018 we had the good fortune to
find a subadult NAZCA BOOBY sitting on the water about 8:20am.  Per GPS
readings the exact location 5.5NM west of Imperial Beach and 1.1NM from Mexican
waters to our south.  The booby was spotted just as we motored up very
close to it, maybe somehow it was hidden behind a swell, and we immediately
stopped the boat and got very close looks at the bird.  The bird
was so close in fact that when it took off flying, luckily towards us and along the
starboard side in front of assembled photographers, from the many photos taken
a metal band could be clearly seen on the right leg.  You have to marvel
at modern camera sensors because images so detailed a
partial band number could be read.


The information on the band appeared
to show a number or alphanumeric either "734.." or "73A.."
visible.  You can see the photos on our eBird checklist here


I checked in with Kimball Garrett
about the rehabbed Nazca/Masked Booby that had been released at San Pedro, Los
Angeles County on Oct 9, 2015 but should have read his original email to the
LACOBIRDS listserv first since this bird banded with USGS metal band on left
leg.  The San Diego
bird, a subadult evidenced by some dark speckling on the white upperparts, also inconsistent
considering age.  Kimball confirmed the band did not match that of the San
Pedro released bird with USGS band (with number 1038-26057).


A second photo of the San Diego
Nazca Booby then surfaced showing the band even more clearly and with an upper
line possibly showing word "ANDER…".  I had a hunch about
where the band may have come from and reached out to Professor Dave Anderson at
Wake Forest University who has been studying Nazca Booby and other seabirds in
the Galapagos for the past 35 years.


Sure enough, Dave confirmed the band
originated from his lab and he could trace the partial number (734xx) of this
Nazca Booby to an immature banded on Isla Espanola, Galapagos Islands, in the
first half of 2017.  He estimates the bird's age at 1 3/4 years old at time
of sighting here in San Diego.  He told
me they have banded about 25,000 youngsters (Nazca Booby) and this is the
71st report of one of their banded birds
but the most northerly by 7 degrees of
Dave noted that most band returns are of 1-2 year old
birds from the Pacific coast of Central America.


The age estimate, 21 months, seems low
perhaps.  You can see P7 or P8 growing,
at least on the right wing, and this would seem to peg the bird, in 2nd-prebasic primary molt, in a 25–26
month age range using a Masked Booby molt pattern shown in Howell, 2010, Molt
in North American Birds.  I looked in Howell
et al. 2014, Rare Birds of North America, and it states, under Nazca Booby, pp.
9, 2nd-prebasic primary molt starting about 14 months
after fledging, i.e. about 18 months of age.  Considering
the six or seven visible grown primaries, at about a month apiece, this would get us to
24–25 months.  Maybe the discrepancy can be accounted for with individual variation or the original estimate is a bit lightweight. 
I will have to look around for Nazca Booby molt publications to understand the variation and check on this again with Dave Anderson.


I will be submitting these complete
details to the CBRC along with photographs showing the band number and plumage
details of the booby. A credit due photographers Matthew Binns and Todd McGrath capturing images of the band.


We have three more pelagics out of
San Diego planned for 2018.  Details can
be found at the website
and space is still available but August is filling up fast.  In addition to Nazca Booby last Sunday we
also found the much sought-after TOWNSEND’S STORM-PETREL – photos here
– our next trip in August a good opportunity for this species.

Gary Nunn
Pacific Beach
you can find me on twitter, @garybnunn

Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports

Summer Tanager Fort Rosecrans Cemetery

A male SUMMER TANAGER made a brief appearance this morning at Fort Rosecrans at fence line about 100 feet south of the dip on east side.  It was not fully red yet but had some yellow on belly.  Also seen by Jane Mygatt but too briefly for a picture.

Kathy Aldern
Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports

Re: Pt. La Jolla – distant black-and-white booby, June 14, 2018


Gary’s post reminded me that I wanted to note some minor observations from these past few weeks, when I’ve gone out about 4 mornings and 4 afternoons each week.

I am glad Gary reported 3000 black-vented shearwaters, because that’s about how many I’ve seen every day when I’ve gone out in the morning this past week [stayed home today].
Most eBird reports have had only numbers around 150.
I also find that the large numbers of black-venteds often dissipate or move far offshore by 7:00 or so in the morning. So getting there by 5:30-6:00 is de rigueur, even though it can be overcast and windless.
I’ve also found that the black-venteds are replaced by sooties in the afternoon. Yesterday from 3:00–4:00 pm I had maybe 60 black-venteds and about 750 sooties. There have been major feeding frenzies about 1-1/2 miles offshore; I can see thousands of terns and shearwaters, but they are specks in the distance. Light in the afternoons has been harsh.
Interestingly, this season I have yet to see a single storm-petrel from shore; usually by mid-June, black-storm petrels are working the edges of La Jolla Canyon.
Finally, there have ginormous pods of common dolphins near shore, especially in the early morning. On June 9, perhaps the most exciting day I’ve had in 36 years of birding the Cove, though not because of cetaceans, there were at least 2500 common dolphins in the Cove and offshore of the Point.
Stan Walens, San Diego
June 14, 2018; 12:15 p.m.

Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports