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La Jolla seawatch, and a word about the various “hybrid” oystercatchers

La Jolla seawatch, and a word about the various “hybrid” oystercatchers

By – 11:08 am
Highlights of a multi-observer seawatch this morning at La Jolla from 6:20 to 10:00 AM included an adult Black-legged Kittiwake flying south right along the shore, 1 Pink-footed Shearwater, about a dozen Northern Fulmars, 1-2 Brown Boobies, and an above-average 15+ Pelagic Cormorants. Also, in addition to the 2-3 Black Oystercatchers, an American/hybrid oystercatcher flew south at 6:36AM, being actively chased by one of the Blacks (perhaps the latter are setting up a territory here this year?). This is the third time in the past week or so that such an American or hybrid bird has been seen flying south here between 6:30-7:00 AM; and the question is then whether it is the same individual that has also been seen on multiple dates recently as early as 7:45AM at the tip of the Mission Bay jetties. And then there is also the somewhat similar-looking bird found the past couple days at Oceanside harbor, which is presumably a different bird. These birds are probably borderline hybrids, although it appears to be a close call. The Mission Bay jetty bird was rated by one person to be somewhere between 39-41 on the Jehl scale, right smack dab on the border between “countable” American versus hybrid, whereas a second person rated it a 28, a bit more in the hybrid category. The photos so far of the Oceanside bird would suggest it is at least as “good” as the Mission Bay bird, or perhaps even one or two points higher? The “Jehl scale” used to categorize these problematic individuals is a subjective scale that can be argued any number of ways. It can be accessed via Googling something along the lines of “Morlan Jehl Oystercatchers”. If anyone obtains clear photos of the Oceanside bird showing outstretched upper- and under- wing, undertail coverts, and/or rump/uppertail coverts, please share them!!–Paul Lehman, San Diego