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SCARLET Tanager photo, ANOTHER Mexican Duck?, miscellanea

SCARLET Tanager photo, ANOTHER Mexican Duck?, miscellanea
By – 11:12 am

Yesterday, 31 July, Mark Stratton ran into a couple folks at Morley Field in n. Balboa Park who showed him a photo of an alternate male Scarlet Tanager drinking at a leaky drinking fountain there and reportedly taken a week earlier, on 24 July. We obtained a copy of the photo, and with a bit of Google Earth sleuthing by Justyn, determined that indeed said exact drinking fountain is located there at the northeastern ballfield backstop at 32.73830, -117.13882. A number of us went there this morning (Monday) and had no luck re-finding the bird, but plenty of birds were going to drink at that fountain once it warmed up. There are exceptionally few summer records after June of Scarlet Tanagers in the state….In fact, there may be no more than about three records ever for July and early August, all of which also involve adult males. Given the exceptional nature of this record, we are still trying to confirm the 24 July date, especially given that the photo was passed through two levels of non-birders to reach us. If the bird was indeed there just a week ago, it may well remain in the general area for still some time, given that typically Scarlet Tanagers molt into basic plumage before migrating south, and this bird didn’t appear to have yet molted a single feather. But it is a bit of a needle in a haystack, as there is really no one especially attractive area for the bird there.

When I went to see the Mexican Duck early on 30 July at Lower Otay Lake, I also saw a female duck that also showed characters of Mexican Duck in the group of Mallards closest to you from where one stands to look for the male. Photos of the female (note bill color pattern) were then taken by Justyn who included them in his eBird report that day of Mallard/Mexican Duck. But given the ID difficulties, none of us felt overly confident of what it was. Since then, however, an expert at Mexican Duck ID has chimed in that he believes it could well be that species. Anyway, if one goes there looking for the male, be also on the lookout (and get more photos) of the female bird in question, which was in the group of Mallards closer to where one stands.

In other news, I went to outer Point Loma early yesterday, 31 July, to look for early fall landbird migrants, and was indeed “rewarded” with a Western Kingbird, Ash-throated Flycatcher, and Black-headed Grosbeak–all fairly regular migrants already in latter July. On the 30th, there was still a summering Ring-necked Duck, American Wigeon, and 3 Wood Ducks on Lower Otay Lake, plus multiple Least Bitterns; and on 29 July there was a continuing summering Ring-necked Duck at Lake #5 at Santee Lakes, whereas the infamous male scaup continued on Lake #4, looking actually a bit more Lesser-like than it had in the past….!!

–Paul Lehman, San Diego