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GRAY-TAILED TATTLER in San Diego

GRAY-TAILED TATTLER in San Diego
By – 1:46 pm

On Tuesday morning, 12 July, just before 10:30AM, and near high tide, tern & plover researchers found and photographed an alternate-plumaged adult GRAY-TAILED TATTLER on fully OFF-LIMITS property of the Chula Vista Wildlife Preserve, located near L Street in Chula Vista. The bird moved around a fair amount, was first on its own, but then joined a small flock of roosting Black-bellied Plovers, Short-billed Dowitchers, and turnstones. Those birds then flew off to the southeast toward the northeast edge of the saltworks just before noon and disappeared. (Just in the past couple days there has been a large increase in the numbers of arriving shorebirds, primarily Short-billed Dowitchers and Western Sandpipers.)

This is the second record for California. The first was back in the 1980s in later July of a one-day adult at the Lancaster sewage ponds.

So, the bad news is the bird was in an area that is totally off limits to the general public.The good news is that it immediately borders the J Street/Marina Parkway mudflats area. If one is standing at the J Street flats parking area and you look to the southwest you will see an Osprey platform on a tall pole, and the bird was slightly farther west from there. Gray-tailed Tattlers actually like feeding on mudflats and beaches, unlike our Wanderings, so any and all tidal mudflat area is fair game to search, as is also a mixture of rocks and mud. Today’s high tide on South San Diego Bay was at 10AM, so the bird was found at high tide roosting areas, but where it will disperse now at lower tide is anyone’s guess. Shorebirds in this area can disperse all over South San Diego Bay, and high tide roosts can shift from day to day as well. Other spots worth checking, as a Hail Mary, in addition to J Street would be farther-away sites such as the salt works from the end of 10th and 13th Streets, the area in front of the Chula Vista Nature Center, and the Biological Study Area parking lot & Emory Cove (s. Silver Strand) across on the west side of the Bay. Hopefully this bird will stick around a while so that it maximizes our chances of re-finding it somewhere–although the first state record bird was only a one-day-wonder. It is certainly worth spending the next week trying to find it somewhere at a publicly accessible site.

Needless to say, if you re-find the bird, please immediately post the news to the appropriate alerts and also stay with the bird until other people arrive so that if it moves you know where it went!!

Good luck!

–Paul Lehman, San Diego