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miscellanea, and true Ring-billed Gull status in summer

On July 1st, there was a high single-scan count of 7 Ashy Storm-Petrels at La Jolla–continuing the unprecedented numbers being seen close to shore this year since late May. Also a high-tying 4 Black Oystercatchers, all together. Today, 3 July, at La Jolla there was only 1 Ashy, and another southbound Common Murre. But few birds overall. On 2 July, a full-alternate Black-bellied Plover with the over-summering basic-plumaged birds on south San Diego Bay was probably a returning arrival and perhaps is the earliest ever locally in "fall"? Small numbers of both Wilson's and Red-necked Phalaropes have arrived. Small numbers of Brown Boobies continued recently in the early morning off the Tijuana River mouth area–a scope is necessary.

On 2 July, Sue Smith had an alternate-adult Ring-billed Gull in Del Mar. Given the plumage, it could well be an unusually early "fall" arrival. Normally, arriving adult and juvenile Ring-billeds (as well as California Gulls) do not start arriving until mid- (third week of) July. But this brings up the subject of the true summer status of Ring-billeds in San Diego County and along pretty much all of coastal California. The species in the past has been reported regularly between mid-May and mid-July, and there are even some published reports along beaches, mudflats, and rocky coasts of moderate numbers during this period. But, Ring-billed is actually quite rare in late spring and early summer, and such reports of most such birds along the immediate coast–particularly anything over just one or several birds–almost certainly involves young California Gulls (showing strongly bicolored bills), which are fairly numerous, although somewhat localized in numbers, through the summer. There formerly was a small number of Ringers almost every summer at Oceanside harbor, but even that annual occurrence seems to have waned as of late. Perhaps the best place to look for over-summering Ring-billeds is at lakes and park ponds inland from the coast, but even here they are rare. In 2020, I have yet to see a single Ring-billed Gull where I have birded on or near the coast since May.

–Paul Lehman, San Diego
Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports