This week (Aug. 21-23) I conducted a sea watch (90 min.- 2 hrs.) first thing each morning from the southmost parking area of the Great Highway, joined on the 23rd by Hugh Cotter. Conditions have been relatively consistent so far this week with W-SW winds (increasing as the week has progressed), overcast skies, relatively flat seas, and excellent visibility to the horizon, though this morning it took some time for the visibility to get to that point. While there have not been big numbers of birds, there has been some good variety as is often the case for this time of year.
Observations of local interest for the 21st-23rd:
Mallard: 3 on 23rd -- dabbling in a tidal wash pool on the beach! GREEN-WINGED TEAL: on the 22nd there was a flock of 9 flying N low over the ocean Surf Scoter: observed each day 6/9/2 Pacific Loon: 1 on 21st, 2 on 23rd Common Loon: 4/5/2 W. Grebe: 1 on 22nd, 3 on 23rd SOOTY SHEARWATER: 56 flying N on 21st Pelagic Cormorant: 3/1/2 Great Egret: 3 on 23rd flying high over the beach and heading NW out over the ocean Osprey: 1 flying S over the beach on the 22nd (likely the same individual that is often seen over Ocean Beach in recent weeks) Killdeer: 1 flying over the Great Highway on 21st (may have nested nearby) Snowy Plover: 1 juv. (unbanded) was on the beach with Semipalmated Plovers on the 22nd. The species is uncommon at this specific location, even though there is the wintering flock of Snowies (recently 55-65 individuals) in the dunes N of Noriega. Semipalmated Plover: 13 on 22nd, 16 on 23rd Whimbrel: 2 on 21st, 3 on 22nd Marbled Godwit: 6/8/14 RUDDY TURNSTONE: On the 23rd, a juv. briefly flew-in and joined the flock of Semipalmated Plovers on the beach, then flew N up the beach and out of view. Sanderling: 1 on 22nd, 20 on 23rd Red-necked Phalarope: 1 on 23rd flying S low over the ocean BAIRD'S SANDPIP ER: On the 22nd I scoped a long-winged, slender, mid-sized shorebird flying rapidly over the ocean on a direct path towards the shore. When it reached the shore it did not set down but turned and flew N up the beach and out of view. In flight , particul arly when flying below the bluff it showed the distinctive brown scaly upperparts, buff head/face, and white underparts of a juv. Baird's. POMARINE JAEGER: 1 dark juv. observed flying N on the 22nd. On the 23rd, we observed 4-6 of this species. At one point, there were 4 Poms together on the water; 2 observed earlier may've been part of the same group. There were at least 3 adults, one of which showed full "spoonage". PARASITIC JAEGER: 1 light-morph ad. on 21st & 22nd; 3-5 on 23rd including several light-morph adults and a dark juv. LONG-TAILED JAEGER: 2 -- On the 21st, a light-morph juv. was observed as it circled up relatively high, carrying a small fish(?) in its beak with 2 W. Gulls in pursuit; it then flew further out and set down on the ocean. Whitish head and underparts, petite (for a jaeger), long-tailed structure but no tail streamers. On the 23rd, we observed a dark-morph subadult flying above and below the horizon -- dark underparts, grayish-brown upperparts, dark head, white flash in underwing, long tail (without tail streamers), buoyant flight. Common Murre: 11/6/14 (including quite a few juvs. on the ocean) Pigeon Guillemot: 23/38/33 (numerous birds on the ocean and flying N in singles or small groups, including several juvs. in their unique plumage) MARBLED MURRELET: 1 on 23rd flying N low over ocean (Hugh, only) Heermann's Gull: numerous, including 4 1st-summer individuals on the beach on the 21st. Caspian Tern: 2 on 21st, 6 on 23rd Elegant Tern: 200/60/150
Marine mammals: Humpback Whale: 2 on 21st, 1 on 22nd Bottlenose Dolphin: 5 on 23rd