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Monthly Archives: July 2020

miscellanea, and the ibis

Today, July 8th, there's a Brant near the upper end of Bataquitos Lagoon, the only individual I've seen in the county this summer. Yesterday, the 7th, I finally saw a couple Pink-footed Shearwaters from shore at La Jolla, my first there this summer, and there was an hour-long northward surge of 6000 Black-vented Shearwaters. Very few storm-petrels. And at the San Diego River mouth there was a one-year-old Common Tern and the continuing Reddish Egret.

Hopefully the Glossy Ibis will cooperate this coming Saturday for the group-excursion at Konyn Dairy–and thanks again to Frank Konyn and the Loefke brothers for organizing yet another event. But it is now the second week of July, and the heronry at the Safari Park is wrapping up soon, so the ibis could conceivably have started wandering about elsewhere by now–but hopefully not. Folks have tried twice during the past 10 days to see the bird from the public edge of Old Milky Way at the east end of the dairy (see posting on 23 June for details) but without success. On 23 June, from that site, we watched the ibis depart and fly back toward the Safari Park at 7:50AM, and during the second group-visit, on 27 June, the bird disappeared at around 8:30 AM. So, clearly being in the dairy area first thing in the morning seems advisable.

And last but not least, Andrew Newmark has sent us a couple photos of an ibis taken at the Safari Park back on 24 March 2018 which might be a hybrid. More details soon as we continue to mull it over.

–Paul Lehman, San Diego
Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports

Glossy Ibis third trip– JULY 11th

Good morning birders,

The owner of the Konyn Dairy in San Pasqual Valley has graciously offered access for a third group of birders to enter the property and search for the Glossy Ibis this coming SATURDAY, JULY 11th at 0600.

**This group was specifically set up for those who were unable to attend in the previous two visits, as such we ask that repeat visitors do not attend as the owner would like to keep this group to a smaller size.

Please contact me, via email or text (442-217-7206) if you plan to attend this group so we can get your name on the list, as we would like to get a headcount ahead of time. Again the aim is to keep this group to a reasonable size.

Info for those who will be in attendance:
The group will once again meet at the dairy entrance and be escorted onto the property by the owner at 6:00a.m on Saturday morning (July 11th). Again, please try to arrive on time.
There is a square shaped gravel pullout and a relatively small blue sign that reads "Frank Konyn Dairy"; this is where we will meet.
The gate will be open in the field directly opposite of the dairy entrance in order to allow for additional safe parking.
*Please note that this entrance is at the WEST end of the dairy, not the east by the soils facility.
The address is 15777 Old Milky Way. 

The owner would like to stress that while he has given permission for this third group to enter the property, individuals should not at any time enter the property on their own. Entrance to the property is strictly controlled and is only available through this organized group.

  –Trysten Loefke 
Valley Center

Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports

Two singing male indigo buntings at Bird and Butterfly Gardens? 7 July 2020

I arrived at the Bird and Butterfly Gardens today kind of late, about 11 a.m. and as I was passing the main "drip" I met a couple who mentioned that they had seen and heard two male Indigo Buntings song-battling back near the horse staging area and its parking lot.  So I headed over to that area, and sure enough, there were two males singing from high perches in that area, one,   which I got a picture of, was on the south side of the entry road and horse staging area parking  lot. But at the same time, I could also hear (and later saw through bins) another male Indigo Bunting singing from a high perch near the NE corner of the staging area, but when I tried to get close for a picture, it flushed and I lost it completely. The first make had  louder and more defined double-note phrases than the other one, which was perhaps a younger male, but still looked pretty much all blue (tho I did not get close looks). But I did not get close looks and this could have been a young male or perhaps a LABU/INBU, tho the song seemed pretty good for INBU, and as I say, through the bins it looked pretty much all blue.  Also,  I saw an adult female perched briefly on the dead snag along the trail that leads south through the brush from main gravel road, not far from these other sightings.  I have pics of one of the males but haven't loaded on yet, and list is at

Has anyone else seen two male INBU out there?    


Susan Smith 

Seiurus Biological  Consulting 
Del Mar, CA 

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

singing Indigo Bunting

Michael & I found a singing Indigo Bunting at the horse staging area of the Bird & Butterfly Garden at 9:14 this morning. He was right by the kiosk first then moved back into the brush. I have photos attached to the ebird listing…
Sonja Beevé                        
(Luna Nightwynd)

Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports

San Diego pelagic results, July 5th

On 5 July, 35 hopeful birders, with visions of Cook's Petrels dancing in their heads, departed San Diego Bay aboard "Grande" headed for the extreme southwest corner of San Diego County waters (actually known as "the Corner" for the abrupt change in direction of the international border there), which is about 30+ miles offshore. Seas were light. Winds were low. Temps were warm. And unfortunately we did not find any Cook's Petrels in either San Diego or Los Angeles County waters. Eight days earlier, when several of us were fortunate enough to tally over 30 Cook's, there were also tuna feeding in the area, but fisherman report that the tuna just a few days earlier moved another ca. 18nm to the SW to the "Butterfly Bank," which is much too far for us to reach in a one-day trip. But we plan on visiting "the Corner" on upcoming trips as well, as it seems to be a good area for rafting storm-petrels, and we hope the Cook's indeed appear there from time to time and can be found again in the not-to-distant future sometime between May-August. Bird numbers and diversity continue relatively low offshore off southern San Diego County. Total's for yesterday (offshore only, beyond 2 miles out) are:

Red-necked Phalarope: 9

Scripps's Murrelet: 3 (one adult with TWO almost fully grown young; getting late)

Cassin's Auklet: 16

small alcid sp.: 6

Heermann's Gull: 6

Western Gull: 84

Royal Tern: 1

Elegant Tern: 265

Least Tern: 3 (including one well offshore–over 30 miles out–in L. A. Co.)

Ashy Storm-Petrel: 14

Black Storm-Petrel: 185

storm-petrel sp. 4: (all smaller than Blacks, with POSSIBLE up to 3 Leach's and 1 Least, but all too distant and/or seen too briefly, and no photos are definitive)

Pink-footed Shearwater: 7

Sooty Shearwater: 10

Black-vented Shearwater: 33

Brown Booby: 11 (8 San Diego Co., 3 Los Angeles Co.)

Double-crested Cormorant: 1 (over 30+ mi offshore in L. A. Co.)

Great Blue Heron: 1 (landed on boat, 3 miles out)


Black Oystercatcher: 1 (flying south, just south of Point Loma)

–Paul Lehman, Dave Povey, and 33 additional pelagic souls, San Diego
Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports

Little Stint has returned

Presumably the same Little Stint is back for another season at the salt works, on Saturday morning, it is currently sleeping with lots of Westerns at the southeast corner of the pond that's at the end of 13th Street. Given the number of peep and the distances involved it basically is dumb luck to get on the bird if you don't know where it is, even though it's in breeding plumage. And needless to say when it goes to sleep it is much much harder to pick out. An excellent scope is essential. A breeding plumaged black turnstone here may well be an early fall arrival rather than a summering bird.

Earlier in the morning at Emory Cove on the Silver Strand there was the continuing reddish egret and probably the same one-year-old common tern I saw at J Street a few days ago. Emory is also where the dumb flamingo hangs out.

Paul Lehman, San Diego

Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports

miscellanea, and true Ring-billed Gull status in summer

On July 1st, there was a high single-scan count of 7 Ashy Storm-Petrels at La Jolla–continuing the unprecedented numbers being seen close to shore this year since late May. Also a high-tying 4 Black Oystercatchers, all together. Today, 3 July, at La Jolla there was only 1 Ashy, and another southbound Common Murre. But few birds overall. On 2 July, a full-alternate Black-bellied Plover with the over-summering basic-plumaged birds on south San Diego Bay was probably a returning arrival and perhaps is the earliest ever locally in "fall"? Small numbers of both Wilson's and Red-necked Phalaropes have arrived. Small numbers of Brown Boobies continued recently in the early morning off the Tijuana River mouth area–a scope is necessary.

On 2 July, Sue Smith had an alternate-adult Ring-billed Gull in Del Mar. Given the plumage, it could well be an unusually early "fall" arrival. Normally, arriving adult and juvenile Ring-billeds (as well as California Gulls) do not start arriving until mid- (third week of) July. But this brings up the subject of the true summer status of Ring-billeds in San Diego County and along pretty much all of coastal California. The species in the past has been reported regularly between mid-May and mid-July, and there are even some published reports along beaches, mudflats, and rocky coasts of moderate numbers during this period. But, Ring-billed is actually quite rare in late spring and early summer, and such reports of most such birds along the immediate coast–particularly anything over just one or several birds–almost certainly involves young California Gulls (showing strongly bicolored bills), which are fairly numerous, although somewhat localized in numbers, through the summer. There formerly was a small number of Ringers almost every summer at Oceanside harbor, but even that annual occurrence seems to have waned as of late. Perhaps the best place to look for over-summering Ring-billeds is at lakes and park ponds inland from the coast, but even here they are rare. In 2020, I have yet to see a single Ring-billed Gull where I have birded on or near the coast since May.

–Paul Lehman, San Diego
Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports

questionable reports (eBird) of Common Ground Doves and California Gnatcatchers

Justyn Stahl wrote yesterday about the need to set the Common Ground Dove county filters, except in the desert, in eBird to 0 so that all such sightings get reviewed. This species is now very uncommon and very, very, very local in these regions, and it is reliably seen mostly in the Tijuana River Valley, where numbers seem recently down as well. But without a filter set at 0, records of 1 or 2 birds from elsewhere in the coastal-slope lowlands sail right through, with no checking unless the reviewer is willing to check literally every bird on every list. And sure enough, the county eBird reviewers have started to send out queries to observers about their ground dove sightings away from expected areas. And so far the responses have mostly been along the lines of "Oops, I meant Mourning Dove!"

Another species with similar issues, but which one cannot set the filter to 0 without unleashing a torrent records to review, is California Gnatcatcher. While local in distribution, it is obviously far more numerous and widespread here than are the ground doves. But if one looks at the species map in eBird for Cal Gnat, there are pins dropped all over the place where the species does not occur. Some problems are certainly misidentified Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, but another regular issue are mis-plotted lists. One good example is the gnatcatcher situation in the Tijuana River Valley. California Gnatatchers are regular residents in the scrub on the hillside and canyons running up to the border fence along the southern edge of the Valley. They are NOT out in riparian and exotic habitat on the valley floor, except perhaps as a very rare wanderer from appropriate habitat. Also, in contrast, Blue-gray Gnatctachers ARE regular and fairly numerous in these areas. A number of lists from places like "Dairy Mart ponds" or the "Bird & Butterfly Garden" have California Gnatcatcher on them, but with no details. Personally, I've never seen the species at either site. Yes, one bird MIGHT wander there a relatively short ways from the hillside to the south, where they are found, but such an event would be quite rare and should be properly documented AT THE TIME OF THE SIGHTING. Often the problem is a visiting birder lists their eBird site as the "Dairy Mary ponds" but then they actually visit multiple sites in the TRV, including a place several miles away like Goat Canyon where they actually record the CAGN.

This all results in faulty data for declining, threatened, or endangered species for which one desires accurate distribution information. (And of course such errors can also involves ALL species.)

–Paul Lehman, San Diego
Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports

birding and listed species

There are good sides and bad sides to the combination.
On the good side…
Birders are a great source of data for listed or sensitive species. Thanks to eBird (in particular) and other citizen science platforms, recording your observations has become easy. Similarly, it is
easy for agencies and researchers to retrieve those data and put it to good use. 
May I also suggest that adding comments is helpful when recording any sensitive species. This is a good thing to do anytime, even in areas where the species is expected (such as California Gnatcatchers
in typical habitat in coastal San Diego County). But may I also suggest that adding comments is a "must" for detections that are at all out of the ordinary — even if it isn't "flagged" by eBird's filters. The comment field is not only for you to provide info
to confirm your identification but also an opportunity to add other specific information that might add greater meaning to your observation — beyond a point on a map or a cog in a modeler's wheel. I want you to know that your observations are put to use,
and comments and other info — such as breeding codes — add to the utility of your data. 

And if you have concerns about reporting sensitive species in eBird, see the platform's recommendation on how to address such species here:

On the bad side…

Birding can put stress on these vulnerable species. Using audio playbacks is pretty much always problematic
for these species, and it could
 possibly land you
into legal trouble. Some photographers push the envelope to get the good shot. And so on… you've heard the lecture before — and yet somehow it seems to need regular reiteration. 

One should always practice good birding ethics, but it is particularly important when dealing with listed
and sensitive species. 
May I suggest reviewing ABA's Code of Birding Ethics (and you needn't be an ABA member to follow the code). I reproduced several entries that are apropos to the current topic.
1(b) Avoid stressing birds or exposing them to danger. Be particularly cautious around active nests and nesting colonies, roosts, display sites, and feeding sites. Limit the use of recordings
and other audio methods of attracting birds, particularly in heavily birded areas, for species that are rare in the area, and for species that are threatened or endangered. Always exercise caution and restraint when photographing, recording, or otherwise approaching

1(c) Always minimize habitat disturbance. Consider the benefits of staying on trails, preserving snags, and similar practices.

3(b) Familiarize yourself with and follow all laws, rules, and regulations governing activities at your birding location. In particular, be aware of regulations related to birds, such as disturbance
of protected nesting areas or sensitive habitats, and the use of audio or food lures.
Here are some of the listed and sensitive bird species in the region:
California Condor

Swainson's Hawk
Bald Eagle
Peregrine Falcon
Black Rail
Ridgway's Rail
Snowy Plover (coastal populations)
Least Tern
Yellow-Billed Cuckoo
Elf Owl
Spotted Owl
Gilded Flicker
Willow Flycatcher (nesting)
Loggerhead Shrike (coastal)
Bell’S Vireo
California Gnatcatcher
Belding's Savannah Sparrow
Tricolored Blackbird

For more info, see:

And here's a list of sensitive species:

Thanks for being part of the solution and not part of the problem. 
Encinitas, CA

– – –
Gjon Hazard 
Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports