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San Diego Bay “pelagic” trip

San Diego Bay “pelagic” trip

By {authorlink} – 12:26 pm

Tuesday morning, four of us putt-putted around San Diego Bay from just north of the Coronado Bridge to the south end of the Bay. Highlights included 3 Common Mergansers together along the shore in northern Coronado off Harborview Park at the foot of E Avenue. One or two birds had been reported in this area back on 19 January. Very rare on saltwater and in South County, these three birds join the other up to three individuals that are currently present also on saltwater on n. Mission Bay. A continuing female Black Scoter was in the usual section of Bay between Chula Vista and Coronado Cays. Tallies of scaup at the south end of the Bay included the often-impressive aggregation of some 1800+ Greater Scaup…..Yes, that is not a typo, 1800+ Greaters, mostly in a couple tight flocks, whereas the hundreds of Lessers are typically scattered more widely. Two separate Ring-necked Ducks were somewhat rare for saltwater. A roost of 65 Ruddy Turnstones. Also, one Loggerhead Shrike along the Silver Strand near the end of Attu Avenue–a species that has become pitifully rare along the coast.
–Paul Lehman et al., San Diego

Re: Red-crowned vs. Lilac-crowned Parrot records and distribution in San Diego County……Rethinking needed!

Re: Red-crowned vs. Lilac-crowned Parrot records and distribution in San Diego County……Rethinking needed!
By {authorlink} – 9:43 pm

Dear friends,


Since 1996 we have preserved 29 specimens of Amazona from San Diego County for the research collection at the San Diego Natural History Museum. There has been no selection by species—we have preserved all specimens we have received, as I knew the problem of distinguishing the Red-crowned and Lilac-crowned would only grow, and these specimens give perspective to the evolving situation. Of the 29, approximately 20 are Red-crowned and 9 are Lilac-crowned. I say approximately because in the lack of specimens from the natural range of the Red-crowned, I cannot say what the range of normal variation in the Red-crowned really is. Within the set of San Diego County specimens, of both apparent species, there is noticeable variation in the shade and extent of red on the forehead and in the shade and extent of bluish on the hindcrown. Some individuals may be hybrids. It will take analysis based on comparison with specimens from the natural range to say for certain. Also, tissue samples from all specimens are archived at SDSU and could be analyzed if genetic markers distinguishing the species are discovered. One specimen of the Lilac-crowned was picked up as early as 1996, and the others range in date from 2009 to 2022. So both species have been around for a while, ample time for hybridization. Yet another example of cities and introduced populations becoming crucibles of evolution before our eyes.


Good birding,


Philip Unitt

San Diego


Long=eared owls continue Tamarisk Grove Campground

Long=eared owls continue Tamarisk Grove Campground
By {authorlink} – 6:18 pm

 2pm 2/6/2023, wind 5 mph, t 68. Following excellent guidance from other posts yesterday, found both male and female same location:  2/3 of the distance from campsite 10 to campsite 12.  (Campsite 11 does’n exist) In tamarisk along north boundary low rail fence.  Rock on one fencepost marks location.  Female facing north, best photo from across road.  Owl pellets on ground directly under male.  Male and female about 10′ apart, same tree.

A guy came to campsite 10, his usual spot, and was setting up as we left.  Seemed quiet, pleasant.  I told him other birders might be by.

Banded Lawrence’s Goldfinches in East County and Countywide

Banded Lawrence’s Goldfinches in East County and Countywide

By {authorlink} – 3:47 pm

Sunday 5 February, Biologist and Master Bird Bander Emily Mastrelli conducted a 5 hour banding session (with my humble help) at a suburban backyard location in the foothills of north east El Cajon. Using just 1 mist net setup (18′) due to constrained space, 60+ birds were safely captured, 58 banded and all safely released. The target species, LAWRENCE’S GOLDFINCH, (LAGO in banding parlance) led the way with 34 newly banded birds, with 24 Lesser goldfinches banded as well! As many of you know LAGO are a very nomadic species across their range the Southwestern US, upper Baja, and upper mainland Mexico and banding and other studies of the species historically have been limited. Much of the species data in San Diego County has come from surveys for Phil Unitt’s SDNHM Bird Atlas editions in 1984 and 2004. Ultimately, the hope is to contribute more data to the species’ population and distribution! So, please be on the lookout in the County for Lawrence’s goldfinches with (currently) shiny new bands! While the tiny bands and numbers would be difficult to read out-of-hand, documenting simply banded birds seen would be a wonderful start! Hopefully more LAGO can be banded in the County to augment this beginning band bedazzled bunch. Please email me off-group if you have any questions or want more information, and definitely if you see a banded Lawrence’s goldfinch!
Chris Staurovsky
San Diego County

Eastern Phoebe at Whelan Lake

Eastern Phoebe at Whelan Lake
By {authorlink} – 2:24 pm

Kathy Aldern and I had an Eastern Phoebe at Whelan Lake at 12:49 p.m.
approximately here
(33.2451278, -117.3354334) on the east side of the lake. In the mustard twigs from last year.
Photos will be added to our eBird list this evening.
No luck on the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher this morning.

Jane Mygatt

Red-crowned vs. Lilac-crowned Parrot records and distribution in San Diego County……Rethinking needed!

Red-crowned vs. Lilac-crowned Parrot records and distribution in San Diego County……Rethinking needed!
By {authorlink} – 11:39 am

It is the strong impression of a number of us that the preceived status and distribution–and thus the eBird database–of Red-crowned versus Lilac-crowned Parrots in San Diego County (and perhaps elsewhere in Southern California) is partly inaccurate and somewhat of a mess. I certainly do not profess to know the intricacies of what is ACTUALLY going on out there, but here are some thoughts on trying to at least partly correct the current situation:
For a number of years, of course, only Red-crowned was an acceptable exotic species in the county and state, with Lilac-crowned only reaching that status about a year or so ago. Combine that with MANY, MANY observers having an incorrect notion that only Red-crowned has a slug of red on the forehead, and the result has been a whole lot of reports of Red-crowneds that were actually Lilac-crowneds or at least no better than Red-crowned/Lilac-crowned. In a goodly number of locations, both species occur. In some areas only Red-crowneds are seen. BUT in some areas where Red-crowneds are routinely reported, it appears that either ALL birds or at least a very large majority are in fact Lilac-crowneds. At least currently. Things could change over a few years’ time.
Two areas in San Diego County where Lilac-crowneds appear to be either the only or at least the overwhelmingly dominant species are Coronado and Oceanside. Anyone reporting Red-crowneds at these sites should perhaps pay extra special attention to field marks seen, and especially try to obtain diagnostic photos. Those folks with photos might want to go back and scrutinize them again. And many folks who have routinely eBirded Red-crowneds in the past in many regions in the county when the birds have not been studied closely might wish to go back and resubmit them as Red-crowned/Lilac-crowned.
I do know that we eBird reviewers will attempt to re-review a bunch of the county parrot records at some point in the future. As best as can be done!
Perhaps too many observers rely too heavily on the perceived amount of “lilac” on the crown. Or they simply see red. They should also carefully study the size and exact shade of red of the forehead patch (averages very slightly smaller and a duller/deeper red in Lilac-crowned) and the color of the nares (darker in Lilac-crowned). Some folks have mentioned tail length differences, but this is likely fairly subjective. And also be aware of the presence of hybrids…..Good luck with those!
–Paul Lehman, San Diego

Re: Gray flycatcher

Re: Gray flycatcher
By {authorlink} – 9:34 am

Gray Flycatcher is still in the same spot Nancy described around 9:30am 2/6
For the GPS minded, it’s the trees around here: (33.0798365, -117.0621904)

Nick Thorpe
University Heights

Los Penasquitos Trail

Los Penasquitos Trail
By {authorlink} – 8:12 pm

For those of you who haven’t been to the trail that runs south from the parking lot on the SW corner of Canyonside Community Park be aware that the bridge is washed out.  Be prepared to rock hop to the bridge which is sideways and then cross the pilings (beware of the bolts sticking up) or just wear decent waders and bypass this.  The Western Screech Owl continues.

Alison Hiers
Carlsbad, CA

Inca Doves Continue at Borrego Resort & CC

Inca Doves Continue at Borrego Resort & CC

By {authorlink} – 6:23 pm

Posting because when we went in the morning looking for these, we and several other birders whiffed.  However, we tried again in the afternoon, and even though it was a bit windy, we managed to find them in palms just north of the maintenance building.  In the morning, a nearby Cooper’s Hawk may have discouraged them.  I think it’s been reported there before, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the doves had a previous encounter with it.  So for those worrying that the Coop might have made a meal of the doves, nope, they’re ok and still around.  A Sora joined the Coots and Wigeon in the eastern pond this morning, and the two Greater White-fronted Geese and a nice male Cinnamon Teal continued in the western pond.

Afternoon checklist with photos:

Tuck Russell

Orchid Oriole at Kendal-Frost Preserve

Orchid Oriole at Kendal-Frost Preserve
By {authorlink} – 12:59 pm

I’m sorry about the late report but I observed a female Orchid Oriole near the location for the Nelson Sparrow about 2 hours ago on the boundary fence.  

Mile Wittmer