more on the Safari Park (Escondido) COOK’S PETREL
By – 3:40 pm
The details as I understand them are that this bird was found at around 1:15 PM today (10 June) by Kris McMillan and Geoff Veith at the lower pond at the Safari Park near Escondido. The pond near where the Gliossy Ibis hung out last year and where a couple Neotropic Cormorants have been seen in recent years. They did not know what the bird was, so they sent a photo or two out for comment. Everyone commented that it appeared to be a Cook’s Petrel or similar species. It stayed around the pond for only a minute or two, and was actually seen dropping to the water and picking up what may have been some sort of food (although I doubt it was squid!!). The bird then flew off. Geoff and Kris departed very soon thereafter and then sent additional photos out. Some time later, Safari Park staff member Eric Lutomski (of Wood Stork fame) gave a look for the bird there and did NOT see it. He said staff would look again later this afternoon.
Photos will undoubtedly be posted elsewhere soon by the observers. The bird looks like a Cook’s Petrel. Similar species such as Pycroft’s and DeFilippi’s–neither of which have yet to be recorded in California–seem to be eliminated (as best we can tell) on the basis of bill shape and tail pattern. As for how the bird got way inland to Safari Park, there are two main options: 1) It got trapped in the Gulf of California and headed this way, directly or via the Salton Sea where there are two or three previous summer records, sort of the same route taken by some spring Brant, scoters, and loons; or 2) it was found stranded at almost any spot in San Diego County by a good samaritan who didn’t know where to take it so figured the Safari Park might be able to take care of it.
Other than the Salton Sea birds, the only other Cook’s Petrel I am aware of to have occurred inside the beach in CA is a bird found in a Santa Cruz driveway on 17 Nov 1983.
Hopefully this portends numbers of Cook’s offshore San Diego as well! So please come on the pelagic trip this coming Sunday, or in July (almost full) and August, and we’ll definitely try!
–Paul Lehman, San Diego