Date: 9/13/20 9:15 pm
From: DEBRA SHEARWATER <debiluv...>
Howdy, Birders,

This is a late update on this afternoon’s birding at PACINES RESERVOIR in San Benito County.

After my last post, I returned to the reservoir, arriving about 4:20 p.m. Kent Johnson was looking at the SABINE’S GULL reported and found by Steve Rottenborn this morning, September 13. Kent left and I stayed another hour, watching the gull. Then, I shot up to Tres Pinos Inn to pick up my birthday dinner.

I returned to Pacines Reservoir about 6 p.m. John Luther arrived while I was having dinner and I spotted a LEWIS’S WOODPECKER on a fencepost along Highway 25, near the vineyard. (I had reported this woodpecker a few days ago.) John scoped the SABINE’S GULL. It is actually pretty easy to see it from the parking lot if it is flying because of the distinctive wing pattern. It did a lot of flying, and occasionally sat briefly on the water. I had a strong feeling it was eating dragonflies.

After a bit, John spotted a “another gull,” much larger than the Sabine’s Gull. He felt it was a WESTERN GULL. Then, he spotted yet another gull which appeared to be a CALIFORNIA GULL! Next, John spotted a BLACK TERN!

We were watching the BLACK TERN hunting while a BARN OWL and NORTHERN HARRIER were also hunting. There was plenty of light at that point.

As it grew darker and I was just about to leave, when another vehicle pulled up! Birders! Scott and Linda Terrill were able to see the SABINE’S GULL which was sitting at that time, seemingly tucked in for the night. Scott confirmed the Western and California Gulls, but we could no longer see the Black Tern. It probably went to roost for the night.

There are a LOT of birds at this reservoir. It is virtually the only place in the county where one can see shorebirds relatively well these days.

I have been granted permission to bring birders through the locked gate to walk the levee along the reservoir. This will give us much, much better viewing conditions as the water level is far out at the northern end from the highway pullout. If you would like to walk beyond the locked gate with me, please contact me directly at: <debi...> <mailto:<debi...> before 6 a.m. tomorrow. I will email the release form to you.

You will need to read and sign a release form for Paicines Ranch. Please note: While actually walking on the levee, we will be seriously birding, and not socializing. I will be doing an eBird checklist which I will share with everyone. We will be social distancing. Please wear a mask if sharing optics/spotting scopes. Please take into account the Air Quality Index and your own personal health. This is easy, level walking. Expect to be out there about 2-3 hours. There are no toilets. Please park well off Highway 25, but well away from the gate to the levee. Bring cameras, spotting scopes, a hat, liquids. My dog who is very people friendly, may be with me.

Paicines Ranch is a very beautiful ranch which offers pastured beef and lamb directly to consumers. You can order these items, including your Thanksgiving turkey! The ranch also has lovely overnight facilities. Need a break? Coming a long distance? Contact Mary at 831-628-0288 during business hours for more information on how to book rooms and cottages. Paicines Reservoir sits entirely on private property. No part of it is public property. See: <>

Many other birds have been found at Paicines Reservoir over the past 6-8 weeks: WILLET, MARBLED GODWIT, SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER, FRANKLIN’S GULL; early WILSON’S SNIPE and early LONG-BILLED CURLEW. There’s no telling what we could turn up tomorrow.

There’s a good chance I will be able to do more walks on the levee, if there is demand.

My hat is off to Steve Rottenborn who not only found this Sabine’s Gull, but many other great records for the county this year. As well, to John Luther tonight for looking and looking and looking! And, finally, I highly value my longtime relationship with Paicines Ranch. Please respect the private property— or face me.

For now, email me if you’d like to join us tomorrow, or perhaps another day this week, or weekend. Tomorrow, I will meet you at the Highway 25 pullout at 7 a.m.

Happy Trails,
Debi Shearwater

Shearwater Journeys, Inc.
PO Box 190
Hollister, CA 95024

Celebrating 44 Years of Seabirding with Shearwater Journeys
Siberia’s Forgotten Coast & Spoon-billed Sandpiper- 23 June - 6 July 2020
Northeast Passage: Northern Sea Route 27 July - 22 August 2020

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