Date: 4/9/19 8:15 pm From: Brian Fitch <fogeggs...> Subject: [SFBirds] Sutro: Sabine's Etc.
I did a sea watch from 7-9 this morning at the Sutro Baths. Common Murre numbers were very high, with a probable minimum of 20,000, most heading north, but many on the water or swirling around in other directions. One group of three Red-necked Phalaropes flew by northbound, and around 8:55, a/the Sabine's Gull flew out of the Golden Gate and out to sea, trending southwest. If it was the bird that Peter discovered last week, then it's flight strength suggests a return to some health, though the strong winds could have moved a different individual inshore. Two Humpbacks were much earlier than I recall seeing them in SF, and they spent the first hour feeding halfway to the horizon.
Around 8:30, a small shorebird flew by quite close, in full light, and just above eye level. It was roughly Sanderling sized, with a weak wing stripe, a perfectly straight black bill, no clear supercilium, a greyish-tan wash over the head and upper breast, gray-brown mantle with no rufous or other notable marks, and a dark central tail stripe like many Calidris have. It appeared to be a basic plumaged Baird's. After spending some time with multiple references, and ignoring the apparent size, the straight bill rules out most of the similar Calidris, the tail pattern excludes others, and the lack of a notable supercilium removes Semipalmated Sandpiper from the running. I'm aware that such an occurrence would be quite rare in spring on the West Coast, and while also being early, it doesn't seem to be unprecedented.
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