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Monthly Archives: March 2019

Three Orchard Orioles at the San Diego Botanic and nearby neighborhood

Over the past month, birders at the San Diego Botanic Garden (SDBG) have suspected that in addition to the wintering first winter ORCHARD ORIOLE  (OROR) spotted by Manolo Turner December 20, 2018 along residential Mays Hollow Road across from the Botanic Garden, there may be additional Orchard Orioles at the Garden.  On the Botanic Garden bird walk on March 4,  two different-plumaged Orchard Orioles were briefly seen drinking nectar in the large blooming Coral Tree between the Seeds of Wonder Garden and the admin building, but we were unable to get photos.  Manolo Turner continued during the month to monitor these orioles (which were also now sometimes associated with arriving and overwintering Bullock's and Hooded orioles).  On March 21, Patrick Shipley was able to photograph, and he and Patti Koger were able to observe for some time,  one of the immature male ORORs in the same SDBG Coral Tree. On March 25, I briefly stopped by the Garden and was surprised to see a female OROR in the Coral Tree, which suggested that there may be even three ORORs, but no one had yet gotten a good look at both young males together.  

     On Thursday evening, March 28, Manolo reported catching a glimpse of the possible female Orchard Oriole east of the SDBG in a riparian area, and yesterday, on March 30, he was able to confirm that there were  indeed two young male Orchard Orioles in this Quail Gardens-Mays Hollow Dr/SDBG  area.  On private property east of the SDBG , he watched as one young male chased the other out of a tree.  Both males (evidently now molting) now have a similar amount of black in the bib and both bibs are seem roughly similar in length. Both birds also have some black behind the bill, with one having more pronounced black behind the upper mandible.  This bird also seems to have a few new small blotches of dark/cinnamon on its breast.   
   In summary,  we believe that there are three Orchard Orioles  in the San Diego Botanic Garden and neighboring area, and possibly all have been overwintering here.  I also wonder if the numbers of Orchard Orioles have been increasing in recent years, but are hard to track because they are often difficult to distinguish from overwintering Hooded Orioles.  
    Thanks to Manolo Tuner for monitoring these birds so closely and reporting his findings, and also to Patrick Shipley and Patti Koger for monitoring the SDBG location  and getting photos.  We hope, before the birds move on, to get photos of all three birds.   
Susan Smith 

Seiurus Biological  Consulting 
Del Mar, CA 

Susan Smith
Seiurus Biological Consulting
Del Mar, CA
Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports

continuing Nestor rarities and other miscellanea

On Sunday, 31 March, the immature male ORCHARD ORIOLE continued along Leon Avenue in Nestor, a bird I had seen once before back on 10 February. Also on Leon Ave., an adult male SUMMER TANAGER on 24 March is almost certainly the same bird that was at Nestor Park in early winter but which hasn't been reported there in a long time. Despite the moderate distance between the two sites, I have noted a few individual passerine rarities over the years transiting between the two.

Also on 24 March, I had 5 Sharp-shinned Hawks in the TRV.  Given that my typical total in a morning's birding anywhere in the county is about 1 individual, this might suggest that there was a spring 'push' of them going on. There is relatively little data on spring migration of hawks in COASTAL San Diego County, in part because it is very difficult to document.

The PAIR of Vermilion Flycatchers at the southwest corner of the Mission Bay golf course continued on 23 March. Given the 'late' date for wintering birds, and the fact that a pair is present, they could well end up nesting there. So definitely worth keeping tabs on them and seeing if either bird is carrying nesting material or food.  Given that they are on a golf course, finding the actual nest might prove difficult.

The THREE Reddish Egrets at the San Diego River mouth on 19 March had dropped back down to the usual one bird on 28 March.  Some 100 Red Knots roosting on the saltworks island where the Little Stints hung out last Nov/Dec include a number of birds in full or almost full alternate plumage.

–Paul Lehman,  San Diego
Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports

At Least 511 Swainoson's Hawks Dropped Into the Date Farm in Borrego Springs

Several hawks were observed early in the evening throughout the valley. At 7pm a large number of hawks gathered above the Date Farm and began to drop quickly onto Eucalyptus Trees. We counted 511. The count could range higher in the morning. The wind should be light tomorrow and we hope that the hawks will remain in the roost until 8 or 9am. This morning over 100 hawks left the same roost at 6am to feed in fields to the east. Hopefully the hawks now in the roost will remain a bit longer so folks can observe them kettling up. We cannot guarantee that the hawks will behave differently than this morning. Feeding opportunities still exist to the east of the roost sites. If the hawks leave the Date Farm roost at a reasonable hour, the kettling could be quite spectacular. However they might once again fly to the east to feed on caterpillars. When caterpillars are not in abundance it is much easier to predict the movements of the hawks. Best viewing will probably be from the evening watch site on Borrego Valley Rd. 1.6 miles north of Palm Canyon Drive. 

Borrego Springs

Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports

Plumbeous Vireo – on the east edge of Mast Park

I was out with Ter Hurst today at several locations and came upon a vireo at the San Diego River area behind the Walmart store just east of Mast Park in Santee. Heads up that Mast Park is physically closed. To get to this area, park in the Walmart parking lot and take the river trail to the north, head across a small bridge and turn left towards Mast Park until you come to the construction fence. The Vireo was in a tree just inside the fenced off area.

We first heard it call, Gray back, white underneath, no yellow seen, white wing-bars, white-spectacles. Photos with our ebird report.
John Bruin
Bay Park 

Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports

San Dieguito Monthly Bird Survey – Next Sunday, April 7th.

This is a reminder about the next San Dieguito monthly bird count. The April 2019 bird count is on the first Sunday  – April 7th. We are now in our tenth year of collecting bird data at the San Dieguito Lagoon.

Everyone is welcome – interested, beginners, visitors, experienced birders.

We will meet at the usual time and place: 7:30 AM at the south end of San Andres. (Turn right/south off of Via De La Valle, on the east side of I5. San Andres dead ends at the San Dieguito Lagoon.) We coordinate with park rangers to provide vests and access for the restricted areas. We'll divide into five groups to count the different areas.

We gather to tally our results at noon at the Del Mar Public Works parking lot/picnic tables off Jimmy Durante Rd.

Hope to see you next Sunday for another great day of birding.

Jayne Lesley (cell phone: 858-663-6568)

Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports

Adult Bald Eagle – San Diego river sea world

Just had an adult Bald Eagle sitting on the mud flats of the San Diego river, Sea World section eating a small mammal or large bird. I first saw it as it flew to the mud flat. I was about 1/4 mile away and moved over to get some distant photos which will be posted soon. The eagle finished the meal and took off heading upstream to the east where I lost it.

John Bruin
Bay Park
Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports

La Jolla Cove, March 25-28

There is still a large congregation of birds about 1.5 miles offshore from Pt. La Jolla.
Mostly gulls, pelicans and cormorants.
They start arriving around 7:00, from the south.
Not as many birds as 3 weeks ago, but still impressive. Maybe 4000 total.
Sometimes portions of the flock come close to shore, if the wind is onshore.
Especially so when it switches to onshore in the afternoon.

Bonaparte’s gulls are the most common species, numbering about 2000-2500.
Still hundreds of black-vented shearwaters.
A few boobies join the flock every morning.

Numbers of elegant terns migrating north have increased exponentially in the past few days.

In non-avian news, since a number of cetacean biologists are on this listserv:
There is a large dead whale of undetermined species, quite ripe-looking and covered with gulls, floating about 2 miles offshore at the outer edge of La Jolla Canyon.
From my bench, it was more or less in line with the 2-mile buoy to the north.

Stan Walens, San Diego
March 28, 2019; 8:20 am
Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports

Long-tailed Duck

The male Long-tailed Duck continues this morning, March 28, in Mission Bay. In the company of about 17 Surf Scoters and 7 Buffleheads. Interestingly, only 4 of the Surf Scoters were in adult male plumage, perhaps the adult males are elsewhere locally or may migrated.

Dan Jehl
San Diego
Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports

Bonaparte's Gulls @ Lake Murray

I took an afternoon stroll around the northwest corner of Lake Murray this afternoon.

There were two Bonaparte's Gulls sticking to the center of the lake — these, I think,
are uncommon at this location. This is the first time I have seen them at the lake.
Also, a Fox Sparrow was nice, swallows were plentiful (Northern Rough-winged, 
Tree, and Cliff), and I found a Wilson's Warbler.
Christopher Adler
Allied Gardens
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Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports