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some spring trends, miscellanea, the Franklin’s Gull

1:04 pm

My impressions of Spring 2024 to date are that landbird migrant numbers in the county–whether coastal or inland–are somewhere between mediocre and so-so, with no truly good days. The most numerous migrant as of late has been Western Tanager, with fairly good numbers of them at many sites. Also OK for Black-headed Grosbeaks and Lazuli Buntings, but most warblers and vireos seem below average. It was a better than average April for both Rufous Hummingbird and Hammond’s Flycatcher. Small to moderate numbers of Red-breasted Nuthatches and Pine Siskins are still present at a fair number of sites. The weather has been poor virtually all spring so far for there to be a good morning flight at Mount Soledad.
The current celebrity Franklin’s Gull at La Jolla Shores is just one of a spring-record SEVEN birds seen since mid-April. The typical spring sees just one bird annually, and most spring birds remain only an hour or so, thus this long-staying bird in n. La Jolla is atypical–but seems very content to eat lots of small sand crabs. it is likely that this bird was first found by Alex Abela on 26 April at Los Penasquitos and which bopped around back and forth between there and Blacks Beach and n. La Jolla for several days before finally settling in at the latter site. There is even a slight chance it is the same bird first seen at Los Penasquitos way back on 15 April by Shougin Huo–but that would be a REALLY long stay if true. Someone might compare all the many photos of these birds which show the spread wing and compare exact primary patterns, as there is individual variation possible, and TWO-year-old Franklin’s are missing most of the white in the primaries but otherwise look mostly like an adult.
In addition to it being a very good spring for Franklin’s Gulls, there seem to have been more than the usual number of Bonaparte’s Gulls for recent years at many sites, and there also seem to be more than the usual number of lingering immature Ring-billed Gulls this year.
Today at Jacumba, the pair of Harris’s Hawks continue, a wayward Acorn Woodpecker was east of normal, and there were single getting-slightly-late Hermit Thrush and Brewer’s Sparrow.
–Paul Lehman, San Diego