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La Jolla Cove, March 21: 14 [or 19] brown boobies and other usual stuff

Have spent every morning and most afternoons at the Cove this past week. I have a new Swarovski scope, paid for with the newfound oodles of liquid capital I now have from the Trump tax refunds, and it has taken my ability to identify, or mis-identify according to members of the EIC, seabirds at great distances.
So I’ve been watching the day by day, hour by hour, and even minute by minute changes to Cove bird densities all week, since the dissipation of the vast congregations of shearwaters, gulls and pelicans that lasted for several weeks.
So a few notes:
Numbers of black-vented shearwaters in the Cove and offshore in the canyon have been between 500-1500. Hard to count because they are circling in and out of the Cove all day. Best times are first thing in the morning, and late afternoon. I’ve seen 2 of the leucistic individuals that were noted on the Bird Festival pelagic trips.
Gull numbers have plummeted from 5–8 thousand to just several hundred. Adult Heermann’s gulls have all but disappeared, and in fact there are few subadult Heermann’s gulls present as well. California gull numbers are in low triple-digits. The cliffs, carpeted by 400-500 brown pelicans last week, and hundreds of gulls, are nearly unpopulated except by Brandt’s cormorants.
Duck and loon migration is starting up. The loons are getting restless [title of a book on American politics?], flying into and out of the Cove, and then heading north. Small numbers of scoters are flying north as well.
Elegant terns are moving north in moderate numbers at a steady pace.
Today in addition to the black-vented shearwaters and one dark adult pomarine jaeger, I had an influx of brown boobies, all apparently adult females [some possibly subadult males?]. At 7:42 am, a group of 5 was just outside the kelp bed, and another group of 3 was slightly further offshore. These were followed 10 minutes later by 2 individuals and then a group of 4. All were headed north.
Then at 8:20, a group of 5 were heading south at the horizon; could have been the same group of 5 I had seen 40 minutes earlier.
Will be back there later, watching for frigatebirds blown north on the storm fronts….
Stan Walens, San Diego
March 21, 2019; 9:30 am

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