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some “final” wintering rarity/scarce record-high counts, & misc.

11:18 am

A little miscellanea on Monday morning the 15th include continuing Northern Waterthrush, American Redstart, and migrant Wood Duck in the Dairy Mart/Sod Farm area, and one of my exceedingly few migrant Violet-green Swallows this season, at Sweetwater Reservoir. Clearly there’s been a bit of a push of Vaux’s Swifts the past couple days.
The official winter season is over, but a number of wintering rarities and otherwise scarce species still hang on as of the past couple days (e.g., Lapland Longspur, Orchard Orioles, N. Waterthrushes, Black-and-white, Am. Redstart, Chestnut-sideds, Hepatic and Summer Tanagers). Following are some of the record high (or second-highest) totals of wintering notable species in San Diego County obtained during Dec 2023-Apr 2024. Most of these records are certainly the result of better and better observer coverage, rather than some actual increase in avian populations or that the habitat here locally is improving for them–as both these are likely declining instead.
Western Flycatcher:  14  (old record 10)
Plumbeous Vireo:  25  (old record 18)
Green-tailed Towhee:  40  (old record ??)
Orchard Oriole:  12  (old record 9)
Black-and-white Warbler:  19  (record is 21)
Yellow Warbler:  45  (old record 34)
Black-thr. Gray Warbler:  54  (old record 44)
Hepatic Tanager:  6
Summer Tanager:  65  (record is 71)
Western Tanager:  97  (old record 73)
The record totals for Orchard Oriole and Hepatic Tanager reflect also larger than normal numbers this past winter elsewhere in (southern) California.
–Paul Lehman, San Diego

Bobolink Agua Caliente Co Park -Early Morning

11:19 am

Female 1st year Bobolink at the horseshoe area where you park for day use.  Merlin initially identified the bird but it popped up onto a dead tree near the horseshoe pits for a short time. It then dove into thickets.  Merlin identified it again resulting in a brief view but it was extremely shy and quick.  Unable to obtain a photo but the bird was a perfect match for a female.  I observed this bird very early and spent about 30 minutes attempting to relocate but activity and winds picked up significantly   I just found WiFi so it took a while to complete this notification 

Mike Wittmer 

Mcgillivray’s push and another Orchard

9:02 am

Given that McGillivrays Warbler is a very uncommon coastal migrant, the fact I’ve heard about three already this morning, Sunday, before 9:00 a.m. suggests there’s a reasonable flight of them today. I had one at Pantoja Park this morning with the Chestnut sided that continues, Barbara W. had one at Chollas Reservoir, and Bridget had one at Doyle Park, where she also had a singing Orchard Oriole. Seem to be a reasonable number of Orange crowns and Yellow rumps around today. The private property Hepatic Tanager continues early this morning in Tierrasanta, just about the latest I’ve ever had it stay.

Paul Lehman, San Diego 

Minor South Bay stuff

9:58 am

Saturday morning, there’s a male Wood Duck on the flooded sod farm pond in the TRV, behaving shy, so it’s probably a legitimate rare spring migrant rather than a wanderer from one of the feral populations locally. First of season arrival group of four Wilsons and one Red-necked Phalaropes at the salt works off 13th Street. A few Chats have arrived in the Tijuana River Valley. The typical spring concentration of gulls on the J Street mud flats for the middle of April, with about 800 ugly immature California gulls and only 10 or so remaining Ring billed Gulls. Sweetwater Reservoir has continuing adult Bald Eagle. 

Paul Lehman, San Diego 

new Orchard Oriole & Pine Siskin masses

8:37 am

Friday morning at 8:00 a.m. a first-year male Orchard Oriole was feeding in the blooming coral trees along the edge of the San Diego Zoo parking lot, specifically in the trees at the end of the parking line with the hornbill sign, along with three of the wintering dull looking Western Tanagers that are still here. Got chased off after a while by a young male Hooded Oriole, at which time the size difference was stunning. Even before then, it was obvious that the Orchard was quite small, as it fed with a Western Tanager. An adult male Orchard was known to winter here and inside the zoo this year, but this is the first report I’m aware of of a young male here this year.

Yesterday, I reported that we tried to count the Pine Siskin masses at the seed feeders in Pine Valley across from the sheriff substation and came up with about 110 birds. But I asked Sally and Patti who were stopping there a little later to also count them and they found additional birds at a second feeder farther back in the yard and they estimated almost 200 siskins. If anybody is stopping there in the next number of days as they come back from Kitchen Creek Road or similar places, it would be worth trying to do as accurate a count as possible, as this is one of the all-time high single-site counts ever in the county.
Paul Lehman, San Diego 

Kitchen Creek Road

9:47 am

Several birders visited Kitchen Creek Road Thursday morning. And while all the hoped-for species were gotten, numbers were not overwhelming. A pair of Gray Vireos were in the swale on the right side of the road at about mile 2-1/4, which is about a quarter mile before you get to the Pacific Crest Trail crossing. Out the trail to the west of the road there were two more vireos. Several Scotts Orioles scattered, but only a couple black chinned sparrows, and several Mountain quail at the 2 and 1/4 mile spot. At Cibbet’s Flat Campground, there was a late Gray-headed type Junco with a couple Oregon type Juncos and White crowneds near the bathrooms. Very few migrants. 

At the bird feeders in Pine Valley, there are slightly over 100 Pine Siskins.

Paul Lehman et al., San Diego 

Re: Wilson’s Plover refound Emory cove

7:23 pm

At about 7:10 PM with only 4 of us remaining at Emory Cove, including Nathan French, and with the sun setting and the tide rising, the Wilson’s Plover flew west along the bay, across RT 75 and into the dunes area (Naval Property) adjacent to the ocean.

My guess is that it will overnight in the dunes.

Geoff Veith

Solana Beach

Wilson’s Plover refound Emory cove

6:08 pm

At 6:00 p.m. The Wilson’s plover was refound by Nathan French et al. at Emory Cove, on the bayshore north of the biological study area parking lot. Park at Biological study area parking lot and then trot north on the bike trail a quarter mile to Emory Cove. Currently the bird is tucked in on the upper edges of the mud flat. It is currently past low tide and so the bird was foraging here and actually it was seen to catch a crab here on the upper mud flat, and then at high tide the bird may well simply cross straight over the Silver Strand and end up exactly where it was this morning out in front of the new Navy Seals facility.

Paul Lehman, San Diego