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Neotropic Cormorant, Sweetwater Reservoir shorebirds

Neotropic Cormorant, Sweetwater Reservoir shorebirds
By – 2:23 pm

On Saturday the 27th, I had an adult Neotropic Cormorant in the Tijuana River Valley at what is known as the “waterfowl pond” which is a three-minute hike on a path to the south off of the final, dirt section of Saturn Blvd. Unfortunately, I obliviously arrived at the observation area overlooking the pond just in time to flush the NECO off the pond and watch it fly well to the east, toward Tijuana.

Also this morning, at Sweetwater Reservoir there were large numbers of juvenile shorebirds and a couple other species of interest–mostly at the upper end of the lake. Highlights included 2 Baird’s Sandpipers, 5 Lesser Yellowlegs, and a by-far record “inland” total of 262 Short-billed Dowitchers. Also good inland totals of 45 Red-necked Phalaropes and 475 Western Sandpipers, as well as a continuing near-adult Bald Eagle, continuing Bank Swallow, my first fall-arrival Northern Shovelers, and 15 White Pelicans. WARNING: Many of these birds are a long way’s off, so a goodly number of observers would be frustrated or generally quite unhappy with the views. BUT, two or three of us will likely return there first thing tomorrow (Sunday) morning as well, so if you would like company, then be ready to enter the fishing access gate before the official 7AM opening time (Fri-Mon)–by around 6:40AM, when it was already open today. Go to the parking area, pay your $3 parking fee (exact change required), scan the lake from there, and then go back out 200 yards and park at the gated dirt road heading toward the upper end of the lake, to the obvious grove of eucalyptus trees, about 3/4 of a mile away. One needs to be at the gate at opening time because any shorebirds near the parking area are fairly quickly flushed by the arriving fishermen, and then if you scope the upper end even from the eucalyptus grove, you need there to be no heat distortion. I plan to arrive tomorrow at 6:40 at the gate, and then whenever it opens I will start walking up the gated road 15 minutes later, after scoping from the parking lot and paying the parking fee.

–Paul Lehman, San Diego